It didn’t have to end the way it did. The Buffalo Sabres needed extra time to defeat a team that had only won once in their last twelve tries.
It got to that point because the Buffalo Sabres sat back on a 2-1 lead for most of the game, letting the Ottawa Senators come back in front of a home crowd and force the extra period. Once again, the boys in Blue and Gold played down to their opponent, thankfully, this time it did not cost them two points.
The brightest spot on the roster was playing in only his second NHL game – and his first one in front of his hometown city. The newest member of the Buffalo Sabres is making a case for himself to remain on the parent club roster – much like Tyler Ennis did last year during the playoffs. Paul Byron now has more goals than Rob Niedermayer, and only needs one more to beat Craig Rivet, Shaone Morrison (who got his first tally last night), and Andrej Sekera on the score sheet.
If you look at his stats on Sabres.com – he has taken only two shots at the opposing goalies he has faced, but he has one goal and one assist. His shooting percentage is – in the grand scheme of things 3rd in the NHL right now. Those are numbers that you can take to the bank. It is unlikely that he will continue to score at that pace – but it is refreshing to see that the Buffalo Sabres have a group of young guns that they can build a new team around when new owner Terry Pegula finally gets control of the roster.
Just a week ago it looked very bleak when you talked about playoffs and the Buffalo Sabres. Into the All Star break, the Sabres are now just four points behind the fading Atlanta Thrashers. The Thrashers face off against the Washington Capitals tonight – the Sabres fans will be watching the scoreboards – a Caps win is in the best interest of the Sabres. While it still looks like a mountain to climb to get to the playoff race, the Sabres have fewer games played then every team in the top eight, with the exception of division leader Boston Bruins, who have played the same number of games as Buffalo, but leads the Sabres in points.
Other games of interest for the Sabres are Carolina vs. New York Islanders and Florida vs. Boston. Carolina is three points ahead of the Sabres – so if the Islanders can pull a win out I would be grateful, and while it might seem impossible, the Sabres could use the help to catch the Bruins for the division if Florda can beat the B’s in regulation time.
The Sabres have a nice long break off to evaluate how they need to play the final 32 games of the season – and what players they need on that roster in order to complete that task. As much as I have been down on this team, they are a few changes away from being competitive at a much better level. Can you imagine where this team could be if they started the season on a better note? We wouldn’t be battling for a final playoff spot – we could be sitting atop of the division. The playoffs would be nice this year, even if it is just one round – I am already looking forward to next year, where hopefully Ryan Miller comes back in Vezina winning form – and a new look team takes to the ice – hopefully.
The Buffalo Sabres next matchup is against the Pittsburgh Penguins on February 4th.