Coming off one of the more emotional efforts of the season before the holiday, the Sabres came out lifeless and allowed the last-place Columbus Blue Jackets lay a beat-down on them, taking a 5-1 loss.
Jordan Leopold scored for Buffalo.
“I don’t know if I’ve seen it this bad before,” said Buffalo’s Lindy Ruff, the league’s longest-tenured coach. “I think we’ve got seven regulars out of the lineup. We need to make better plays than we did tonight. Obviously when you’re short-handed you’ve got to be good with the puck.”
And make that eight regulars, as defenseman Robyn Regehr left the game with an upper body injury.
Jhonas Enroth took the loss, allowing four goals on 18 shots before giving way to Drew MacIntyre, who stopped 15 of 16 he faced.
- Buffalo had a good number of opportunities early in the game to take the lead and it bit them in the ass. Jochen Hecht had a glorious opportunity that he decided to pass on. They left the door open for Columbus, and by the time they finally beat Columbus goalie Curtis Sanford, it was too late.
- Lindy Ruff waiting a long time to shuffle lines, as there wasn’t major shuffling until midway through the third period. With the Vanek-Hecht-Pominville line being ineffective, Ruff decided to break up the scoring duo who’ve carried the team through the first quarter of the season instead of just getting them away from Hecht. Not quite sure why. Derek Roy was having a decent game at the dot, you’d think the logical move would be to put Roy in the middle there as he was a few games ago. Guess not.
- Zack Kassian picked up an assist in his NHL debut, but exhibited the play that will disappoint many fans who see him as a physical presence. He registered one hit on the night. Read the rest of this entry
In a rare below-average showing from the rookie sensation, the lack of finishing and lackadaisical defense doomed the Sabres in a 5-3 loss to the New Jersey at First Niagara Center.
The Sabres fell behind early, surrendering two goals in the first 5:21 of the game, and they never recovered. Enroth allowed five goals on 19 shots before being pulled in favor of Drew MacIntyre in the third period, who made two saves.
“It wasn’t good enough,” Enroth said. “I’m very frustrated. A real bad game from my side.”
Buffalo got two goals from Tyler Myers and one from Jordan Leopold. The forwards were quiet as they saw a large number of opportunities skitter just wide of the goal late in the game.
It was Enroth’s first regulation loss since November 24, 2010.
- Tyler Myers was improved in his first game back after being scratched for Monday’s win. He scored two goals, but defensively, was still incredibly shaky. He made a couple horrible giveaways in the defensive zone, made some questionable passes on the powerplay and frequently got caught deep in the offensive zone on transition. He’s been awful for a good part of the season, and tonight was an improvement, but he’s far from where he should be.
- I thought Jordan Leopold was the team’s best defenseman tonight. He had a very good game, was solid in all three zones, and got rewarded with a late goal, his fourth on the year. He was calm and made smart decisions. Great game for Uncle Leo.
- Corey Tropp played a team-low 7:42, but he had a great game. Aggressive on the forecheck, strong on the puck. As long as he’s around, they gotta find ways to get him on the ice more. He’s been good. Read the rest of this entry
As the Buffalo News reports, Miller is out for the forseeable future with a concussion.
The illegal hit by Boston’s Milan Lucic that caused the injury will be reviewed by the league, as Lucic has a hearing scheduled with Brendan Shanahan at 1 pm on Monday afternoon.
“If this hit and other types of hits like this are not suspended, we are opening up the possibility of losing goaltenders to injury. And not just injury, but concussion,” Regier said. “… When I look at the position of goaltending, in a lot of ways it’s not unlike quarterback in football. I feel very strongly the protection has to be provided and players committing these types of action should be punished.”
The Sabres have recalled Drew MacIntyre from Rochester to backup Jhonas Enroth. MacIntyre is 3-4-1 on the season with the Amerks, and he will surely look to take advantage of the opportunity.
As the goaltending debate has raged over the last few weeks, unfortunately we’re going to get an extended look at Enroth. The undefeated rookie will start against Montreal on Monday night, and will be the horse for the time being. With four games in the next six days, it’s entirely possible MacIntyre may get a start Friday night in Carolina.
The story now will be how Enroth responds. The young Swede who is 12-0-1 in his last 13 decisions will get another chance to be the guy. His stellar play at the end of last season earned Buffalo a playoff spot, and has done nothing but perform at the highest level this season. Another extended stretch of good play with Miller on the sidelines may start pushing the team to reevaluate the future plans the team has in goal.
The Sabres as a group were unhappy with the way they responded to the hit Saturday night, so it’s a good bet that they’re going to come out and play with passion in Montreal. A loss on the heels of the massacre in Boston could be devastating to the team’s self-confidence.
Faceoff is at 7:00 Monday night.
Hitting the ice for the first time in the newly-named and remodeled First Niagara Center, the Buffalo Sabres opened the 2011 exhibition slate with a 3-1 win over the Carolina Hurricanes.
Earning goals from Paul Gaustad, Nathan Gerbe and an empty netter from Patrick Kaleta, the team came back to get the win on the strength of 11 saves from Jhonas Enroth.
Sure, the game presentation still sucks ass, but who cares when the buildings full and the team wins, right? I’ll save that for another post. I won’t let that ruin the insight on the game.
Points to make after a meaningless win:
- It seemed to me like a lot of the rookies played very tentative. The Zack Kassian-Luke Adam-Marcus Foligno line was ineffective for most of the night. It took a while for Alex Biega and T.J. Brennan to settle in. They seemed afraid of making mistakes.
- Yes, the Sabres failed to crack the scoresheet with Brian Boucher in net for Carolina, but they really didn’t generate any offense whatsoever anyways. Opportunities were limited until the third period.
- Zack Kassian is going to need at least a year in the AHL. I’ve been fully unimpressed with him in this game, at camp and in the one game I saw from Traverse City. The tools are clearly there. But he’s not ready. Read the rest of this entry