There are three things that I took away from the Buffalo Sabres game against the New York Rangers tonight as I watched the game unfold from the confines of my living room.
1. I hate the fact that MSG/TWC talks are still stalled and that no headway is being made on the negotiating table, keeping most of Western New York in the dark for the rest of the season. If taking the Rangers tonight to 65 minutes plus extra shooters is what the rest of the season is going to look like, watching it on a pixilated internet feed is not going to make me happy .
2. This team might just be able to turn the freaking switch on in the second part of the season to make a run at the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
3. This team is still lacking a fair amount of talent before they can be considered serious contenders for any of the hardware handed out in the warmer months.
There was energy in the stands, there was emotion on the ice. Guys were selling out and getting in front of pucks. There were still several immature plays that almost cost the Buffalo Sabres throughout the game; in fact they happened on too many occasions for my liking – but they were able to recover and keep the tempo that the Rangers were throwing at them. The stats throughout the game showed that the Buffalo Sabres, despite their shortcomings and their momentary failures throughout the game, were pretty much going stride for stride with the New York Rangers.
We were, the beneficiary of a referee who wasn’t going to play games tonight, losing his partner via a puck to the face early in the game. Despite being gifted multiple chances on the power play to include some 5 on 3 time, the Buffalo Sabres could not find the back of the net while the Rangers were short handed. Ever the politician behind the bench, Rangers coach John Tortorella pled his case over and over again that the ref should call a fair game and give his Blue shirts the chance with the man advantage.
It seemed like the ref was ready to gift wrap the win for the Rangers, giving them a 4 on 3 advantage in the middle of overtime, calling a questionable two minutes for boarding on Sabres forward Tyler Ennis. While Ennis was just trying to finish his check and playing with the heart and emotion of a Tyler Myers sized forward trapped in a hobbit sized body, he did hit Girardi in the numbers.
The shootout would ensue, and without Thomas Vanek, only Jason Pominville was able to find the back of the net against Henrik Lundqvist, and Ryan Miller was beaten by Marian Gaborik and Ryan Callahan. The Buffalo Sabres were able to pick up a point in the contest, hey your not going to be able to win them all. Tampa Bay was idle tonight so for the time being the Sabres have crept closer to the bottom of the playoff heap, and have another team between them and the bottom.
The Sabres are off again until Saturday when the blackout returns, as they face the Islanders on MSG.