It was tough, but I made it. Despite curling up on the couch towards the end of the third, I made it to the end of the game, and I am glad I did.
The Buffalo Sabres and Anaheim Ducks played into the wee hours of the morning WNY time, and it was well worth it for Sabres nation members who were able to stay awake.
While the Ducks did not present the same challenges the Boston Bruins and New York Rangers gave the Buffalo Sabres, desperation was on the tip of everyone’s tongue tonight regardless of the color of your sweater. This wasn’t your normal east vs. west matchup late in the season either, as tempers flared late in the game it had the appearance of a division rivalry match-up than anything else. Both team fought hard, and tempers flared several times, at both the referees, and the opposing teams, especially late in the game. The Sabres should have won this 3-0 Gerbe shoot have put the puck in the empty net and ended it, he must have had a bonus on the line for an assist tonight, as he chose to dish the puck off instead of taking the sure thing.
Ryan Miller deserved first star honors tonight, as he stopped a season high number of shots in route to his fourth shutout of the season. If the Sabres are going to make it into the post season and develop any chance of playing beyond the first round, Lindy Ruff will have to get some work for his backup goalie on this Western Conference road trip. Tomorrow would make sense for Enroth to make an appearance – but we have been in ride the Miller train mode for several weeks now, so Ruff might stick with his number one for as long as he can, especially as well as he has been playing. Miller was truly the story of the night, many were uncertain about how his play would be affected given his remarks about the trade deadline.
If there were any doubts that the team would feel the effects of the loss of Paul Gaustad; it certainly didn’t cause any problems tonight Late in the game the team stood up to the physical play that Anaheim wanted to throw at us. Weber stood up for his goaltender, and the team was able to hold on despite a huge third period surge by the Ducks. Regehr wasn’t going to allow the Ducks to muscle in on the Sabres. Myers and Kaleta wouldn’t stand for the post game antics that the Ducks were interested in playing.
There is still a lot of work to be done to this roster to be a true contender. The team might make an interesting run at the playoffs, and might surprise a team in the post season, but lets not kid ourselves beyond that, if that even comes true.
Bringing in a solid center in Cody Hodgson is a step in the right direction. He proved his worth tonight as he was solid at both ends of the rink. Lets hope that continues and he doesn’t pull a Brad Boyes disappearing act. Its only one game, so lets not go anointing the kid the second coming – just yet.
The Sabres got some help from the Blackhawks tonight, as they beat the Toronto Maple Leafs in the only game that really mattered. Tonight’s two points brings the Sabres to a tie with the Lightning, and are now only 5 points back with 19 to play.