It didn’t look well heading into the stretch of games after Ryan Miller was injured. The Sabres offense sputtered and died, hanging goaltender Patrick Lalime to dry, despite his playing well. No longer is that a problem for the Sabres. After two straight offensive explosions, and superb efforts by Patrick Lalime, it seems the trade deadline moves by the team have sparked this team into some life.
After another slow start, the Sabres quickly got on the board, scoring on two of their first three shots, deflating Coyotes goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov.
What is helping the Sabres right now is the play of players who should have been performing all year. Afinogenov figured into the score sheet, probably inspired by the fact that he is not only playing for his next contract with who knows what team, but even his NHL career, with no teams wanting to trade for the stigmatic winger. Jason Pominville scored with very little room in the net, and Connolly has really had his play step up the last two games after signing a deal that will keep him in Buffalo for two more years.
The most impressive player on the roster by far has to be the play of Patrick Lalime. I am not the only one that will say it, but the minute Ryan Miller is cleared to play and is game ready, he goes right back in, but Lalime is making an extremely strong case and is showing that he is worth the two year contract the Sabres invested in him.
While the Sabres are doing everything they can right now to make the playoffs, they are getting little help this time of the year from the out of town scores, as Carolina won last night, keeping them tied with Buffalo for the ninth playoff spot, one point shy of the top eight teams.
Phoenix was not happy with the Sabres late in the game, using four forwards and a defensemen with the game already secured at 5-1:
“We understand Connolly has two goals and they want to go for the hat trick, but we don’t understand using four forwards with a D-man when it’s a 5-1 game with a minute to go,” Coyotes captain Shane Doan said. “That’s disrespectful to the other team, and it causes some emotion.”
The Phoenix coaches must not have been pleased either as they started heading to the locker room before the players, and even before the final horn sounded, with the last seconds ticking away and Buffalo holding the puck behind their own net. For a Coyotes team that had just beaten the best team in the East on the night before in the Boston Bruins, being routed by the Sabres cannot feel real good, and could spark some bad blood between these teams for next years matchups.
Tags: Andrej Sekera Boston Bruins Buffalo Sabres Eastern Conference Ilya Bryzgalov Jason Pominville Maxim Afinogenov Patrick Lalime Phoenix Coyotes Rivalry Shane Doan Stanley Cup Playoffs Tim Connolly