Knee-Jerk Reactions: Sabres at Penguins

So tonight there were no distractions from the game. Just that I was driving home during the first two periods, listening via the WGR app which is a life-saver when you live south of the Mason-Dixon line. No re-caulking a bathtub, though, and I didn’t have anything to drink that could steal my concentration. Just some vodka, which as we all know gives you a “focus buzz.” So enough prefacing, here’s the blow-by-blow of the game you just finished watching.

  • Jhonas Enroth, I am so glad you’re in the NHL. I’ve followed him through the AHL in his time there, constantly thinking, “This guy is good.” I was extremely happy to hear that Lindy Ruff has enough confidence in him to play him so early in the season. If Enroth plays in back-to-back situations, that’s going to keep the goaltending fresh.
  • More than that, Enroth has an entirely different style from Ryan Miller. #30 plays a positional, steady, and intentionally boring game of hockey. I’ve heard him say on Jim Rome that if he could lull the other team to sleep by having the puck hit him in the chest every time, he would. While that’s very effective, any system can be figured out. It’s a very big advantage to have a different style of goaltender, the smaller and more reflex-based Enroth, so that other teams have to shift their offensive style.
    We’re lucky fans to be able to watch a team with two very good, different, dynamic goalies.
  • I felt that Ville Leino was a great upgrade at center to the similarly-priced Tim Connolly, but Jeez Louise say hello to Luke Adam if you haven’t already. He is this year’s X-factor: the fact that he showed up from the minors ready to step right in to a top center role puts this team’s offense in an upper echelon. The center position has been weak on this team ever since Drury and Briere both left, and now fans have finally got a solid core of playmaking, clutch, strong men in the middle of the ice. Even if Roy, Adam, Leino, or Goose go down there are serviceable guys that can step in like Ennis, Gerbe, Boyes, McCormick, and Hecht (when he’s healthy).
    Who still wants to break the bank on Brad Richards?
  • A note to Luke Adam: I realize you quite possibly do not follow me on Twitter. What a shame. In any case, if you do not nickname a wrist shot or backhand shot “The Coolhand,” you are wasting a great marketing potential.
  • Let’s talk Pens. This is a really, really good team. It’s a damn shame we can’t see Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby in action tonight,  but even without THOSE TWO INCREDIBLE PLAYERS the Penguins are solid and deep. Luckily the Sabres don’t seem to be taking the Pens lightly, which is a nice change of pace from last night.
  • SHAZZAM! The first goal I had the privilege of seeing was Drew Stafford putting the Sabres up 3 – 1. Gerbe gets his second point of the night, as does Ehrhoff. With Adam having a two point night as well I dare say this offense is pretty high octane.
  • Fleury, meanwhile, plain and simply has Vanek‘s number. Some great breaks by The Camel and the Pens goaltender has stoned him every time. That’s all well and good, because #VanekIsTheCamel
  • Sigh. Two nights in a row, and yet again a Staal brother ruins my vodka focus. A complete defensive breakdown makes me realize that yes, in fact, it was Andrej Sekera on the ice and not paying too much attention. Maybe I come down on Dmitri Kalinin I mean Sekera, but man oh man that Weber kid has got to be getting antsy.
  • Matt Cooke has really cleaned up his game a lot. On one hand that’s really good, because it’ll keep the skilled players of the world healthy. On the other hand I specifically picked him up on my fantasy team for his hits and penalty minutes. Little known fact: my fantasy team is primarily composed of players I can’t stand. Derek Roy has become such a more complete player that, sadly, I cannot have him in the fantasy league.
  • Jeez Enroth looks great! I can’t say enough great things about some of the high-pressure saves he made at the end of this game! He shut the door, and on 32 shots he only let in 2 against a Pens team that is going to be a powerhouse this year.
  • This is the Sabres team that played in Europe. Maybe they took Carolina lightly, or maybe it was home ice excitement. Either way I’m really glad to see they came out and played a very straightforward, simple game and cut down on those nasty shorthanded and odd-man rushes. Last night there was a 4 on 1, for crying out loud. Tonight they contained a Pittsburgh team that is much better than Carolina.
  • Time for some sobering gin.

 

 

 

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Tags: Buffalo Buffalo Sabres Carolina Hurricanes Christian Ehrhoff Derek Roy Drew Stafford Eastern Conference Evgeni Malkin Fansided Hockey Jason Pominville Jhonas Enroth Lindy Ruff Matt Cooke NHL Northeast Division Pittsburgh Penguins Ryan Miller Sabres Sidney Crosby Stanley Cup Stanley Cup Playoffs Thomas Vanek Tim Connolly Tyler Ennis Tyler Myers

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