I don’t think fans of the Buffalo Sabres or Ottawa Senators could have complained about the entertainment value of tonights game. While the first twenty minutes left something to be desired for; the last 45 minutes plus the shootout was some of the most entertaining hockey you could imagine.
There were some key notes that I took from tonights contest with the division rivals:
- If there wasn’t a goalie controversy before tonight other than the manufactured one amongst fans and members of the media, giving Jhonas Enroth back to back starts did nothing more than fan the flames of that talk. Enroth continues to roll well, and is still undefeated in this young campaign. The question is now, does Lindy continue to ride the hot goalie, or does he return to his regularly scheduled program?
- While were talking goaltending, Craig Anderson played one hell of a game tonight too. He kept the Senators in the game a couple of times by weather small pockets of pressure by the Sabres.
- There is not much to complain about when it comes to rookie prospect Corey Tropp. He has come as advertised, and you know when he is on the ice. While Kaleta is a fan favorite and will be reinserted into the lineup when his suspension is over, Tropp is definitely an upgrade over Kaleta. I think he did the right thing by going after Neil when he did. He wanted to spark his team, and he picked a willing partner. I also think that Chris Neil did the right thing by skating away from the kid – Tropp would have been outclassed by a veteran fighter. I think this is the only time that I would actually agree with Neil’s decision making process. Thankfully the refs saw it for what it was worth and put Tropp right on the bench. He could have ended up with two minutes because he shed the gear.
- Speaking of two minutes, did a memo go out to the teams that the fans were not aware of changing the rulings on what is and isn’t a high sticking penalty? Derek Roy took one early in the game, and Thomas Vanek took an exceptionally nasty one in the final ticks of the game that drew blood – all with no call. Vanek’s came late – should have been a four minute but happened at the very end of time and wouldn’t have resulted in a PP – but at the same time the ref’s just seemed to ignore what Ottawa was doing with their sticks.
- I know it was two close games in two nights, but there were several passes that were several feet short, and/or right to opposing players. Turnovers are going to be a huge deal if the Sabres continue to give up those opportunities.
- On the road the Buffalo Sabres have still only lost once, being blanked in Tampa Bay.
- I have said in the past that rivalries are dead in this league for the most part. Tonights battle was a good sound game between two rivals. While it was slow getting to that point, the battle from the start of the second period to the 18th shootout shooter was edge of the seat action for both teams. Neither team was willing to settle down and let the other guys make a mistake – it was old time hockey where you attacked to win, not sat back and let your opponent beat themselves; even in the final seconds, it seemed like both coaches told their guys damned if we do, damned if we don’t. I think both teams benefited, and most of all the fans got the most of it.
- Kudos to the Ottawa organization for putting on a display of patriotism in honor their Armed Forces Day. I especially liked the fact that they allowed a US Marine to partake in the festivities and carry the American Flag. Hopefully when the Buffalo Sabres play on Veterans Day against the Senators they will return the favor and bring in a member of the Canadian Armed Forces to carry the flag of his country during our opening ceremony.
- The sweaters the Sens wore in the warmups were cool as well, I know they will be auctioned off for charity, but the team should have kept them on in tribute to the armed forces the entire game. I think it would have meant more. In fact, you could have had four jerseys, the guys could have played in a new jersey for warmups, one for each period. Raffle the warmup jerseys for charitable profit, and then donate the game warn jerseys to a veterans hospital or organization. Yeah, it would have cost the organization probably a few dollars, but hell – the men and women of the armed forces put a much higher price on their job then hockey players and owners. When they take that oath they are basically writing a blank check to their government redeemable in an amount up to and including life. All and all though. for classy organization.
- I liked having Kevin Slyvester and Danny Gare doing the broadcast, but it just doesn’t seem like Sabres hockey without RJ calling the game. I think Slyvester over thinks his calls by calling everything by a nickname or its traditional name, the cage, the sweater etc. Keep it simple Kevin, and the one liners will come much smoother. RJ lets the words just flow as they flow; thats how we got great calls out of him. If your going to try and fill those shoes; learn from the great.
- Ville Leino seems to be growing into his role a little. Definitely saw more out of him tonight that I had in previous games.
- Derek Roy just might be getting over that injury that has been ailing him. His game has been much more improved now that his skating his stronger.
The Buffalo Sabres are off until they face the new Winnipeg Jets on Tuesday. With Miller sitting the last two games, and having two complete days off between the next games, I would expect Ryan Miller to play against Winnipeg and Friday against Ottawa. With another set of back to backs next weekend, I would hope Enroth gets the start against the Bruins on Saturday.