Knee-Jerk Reactions: Sabres vs Lightning: Part Deux: The Revenge: This Time It's Personal

The Buffalo Sabres are playing their second home game of the season, and it’s against an opponent who shut them out on Saturday night. The Tampa Bay lightning aren’t exactly known as a shut-down group, so methinks something was off with this Sabres club that should be rectified in this game. Hopefully they’re charged up by a hometown crowd, and with many of the skaters having something to prove this game should be emotionally charged and a no-holds barred thrill ride for the whole family. Or, you know, a barn burner.

I’ll be typing as I watch, so my take on this game will sway wildly as to whether it’s the greatest thing to happen to sports or the biggest atrocity since the return of the McRib.

  • Matt Ellis will be playing his first game of the season in place of an injured Tyler Ennis. I don’t have anything against Ellis, as he’s a hard working plugger that has some NHL experience. But I’m itching for when Lindy Ruff thinks that Kassian, Foligno, or one of the other youngsters is ready to step in. Ellis has earned his major league ice time, and there will be plenty more injuries, so whatever.
  • BOOM! The Camel makes it 1 – 0 right off the bat! Leave it to the red-hot Thomas Vanek to put the weight of this team on his back, carry them through to the oasis, and thread the needle. #VanekIsTheCamel
  • See, that kind of heads-up play is exactly what separates Vanek from a bum like Brad BoyesAND THERE’S BRAD BOYES WITH A GOAL!!! Man, that Boyes is one under-rated asset who just needed to get going. Also his trade value just went up. In all seriousness, happy 500th consecutive game to him with that goal.

Pictured: What could be acquiring for trading Boyes as of 7:00pm (courtesy of

  •  For all the Leino hate that’s been going on lately, what with him having a couple off games and switching to wing, I really feel that Derek Roy and Drew Stafford have underwhelmed. I was hoping that Leino joining their line would kind of wake all three of them up, but they haven’t been able to finish.
  • Vinny Lecavalier got that goal to tie the game because he’s really big, really fast, really skilled, and knows where to go. Also, defenders seem to forget about him all the time, which confuses me.
  • And Kaleta just played right into Steve Downie’s hands. Downie hunted him down for the fight because he needed to get some momentum, and he’s also a much better fighter. Kaleta should’ve let Downie take the penalty for that one, and really dug under his skin. Instead one of the better penalty killers is heading to the box.
  • Welp, that’s a goal Ryan Miller’s going to want back.  Nothing like seeing the puck go off the $18 million defenseman’s skate and see your Olympic MVP goalie fail to hug the goal post. I’m positive they’ll both bounce back from it, but it’d be great to see a bounce go Buffalo’s way.
  • Robyn Regehr just absolutely cold cocked Lecavalier. Those are the kind of hits that made Darcy Regier and Lindy Ruff want to corral Regehr into coming here, and it’s the kind of physical play that’s been missing from the defense for years. The ensuing fight with Ryan Malone should’ve been a slobberknocker, but a whiff by Regehr ended it very lack-luster.
  • Don’t expect Regehr to remain quiet, though. That soft goal that put the Lightning up 3 – 2 is going to require some fire to counteract. Also the FN Center sounds absolutely dead.
  • I read an article in the Buffalo News that said that a fast start was needed for Buffalo to  do well in this game. You don’t get much faster than scoring two goals right away, and yet they’re down by one. Here’s an idea, maybe they should play a full sixty minutes instead of worrying about starting fast. Just a thought.
  • Where Tyler Myers goes, the Sabres tend to follow.  Unfortunately he’s having a pretty off night tonight, so here’s hoping he can turn it around in a hurry.
  • Thomas Vanek deserves a penalty shot for that hook on his breakaway. You don’t get much farther ahead than that, and Hedman very blatantly hooked him from behind. Usually I prefer two minutes on the power play, but if it’s The Camel I’d rather see him thread the needle. #VanekIsTheCamel
  •  I can’t be convinced that Marc-Andre Gragnani is a better choice than Mike Weber in a game as physical as this.
  • One thing I absolutely love about Nathan Gerbe: he has no problem shooting the puck while he’s falling down. It must be that low center of gravity or something. Still, his shot on the power play is one of the better chances they’ve had tonight, and that’s not saying much.
  •  Into the third period, the Sabres haven’t had more than a couple of sniffs at beating Garon. He’s come up big since the first five minutes, and he’s looking to tell Dwayne Roloson to have a nice, long sit on the bench.
  • Plus of the night: Thomas Vanek wanted it and wanted it bad, coming in alone on Garon several times. If the rest of this team wanted it as bad as him, this game wouldn’t have been close. Also Nathan Gerbe, who took it right to someone a foot taller than him in Vinny Lecavalier, and who almost tied the game a couple of times. Gerbe ended up bringing it to within one, and he looks absolutely great.
  • Minus of the night: Tyler Myers seemed to have puck bronchitis, coughing it up as much as possible. He needs to wake up for this team to really get going.

So, the Lightning have now beaten the Sabres two different ways, two games in a row. NHL coaches often say that they have two clear cut goals for the year; to not get shut out and to never lose two in a row. The Tampa Bay Lightning have now handed the Sabres both of those things, and the Blue & Gold is now 5 – 3 – 0. Fans left and right seem to be losing faith in big signings like Ville Leino and Christian Ehrhoff, and a lot of people are jumping off the bandwagon early on. Like I’m shocked.

Here’s the deal. Those two goals are gone. Now it’s time for the Sabres to set them behind and consider them lost, and concentrate on simply returning to solid 60 minute games. Because playing well in the first 5 and the last 5 just isn’t good enough.



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Tags: Brad Boyes Buffalo Buffalo Sabres Darcy Regier Derek Roy Drew Stafford Eastern Conference Fansided Hockey Jason Pominville Lightning Lindy Ruff Marc-andre Gragnani Matt Ellis Mike Weber Nathan Gerbe Patrick Kaleta Robyn Regehr Ryan Malone Ryan Miller Steve Downie Tampa Bay Lightning Thomas Vanek Tyler Ennis Tyler Myers Vanek Is The Camel Ville Leino Vincent Lecavalier

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