Having the fathers and mentors travelling with the Buffalo Sabres seems to have inspired the Sabres, that and having the new voice of Ron Rolston behind the bench. Sabres, despite giving up the 3-2 lead with 2 minutes left, managed to defeat the Florida Panthers in a shootout grabbing a much needed 2 points.
After it seemed like the Sabres would never win a game again, they now have themselves a modest 2 game winning streak. The 2 points allow the Sabres to climb out of the bottom of the Eastern Conference making them just 4 points shy of a playoff spot- yes the Sabres are still not out of the playoff picture.
Ryan Miller has been fantastic over the last few weeks and he’s now backstopped the Sabres to a 2nd straight victory. While there were some shaky moments and a questionable 2nd goal, there’s no question that without him between the pipes this would have been chalked up as another loss. Miller was good when the Sabres needed him to be killing off multiple penalties and stoning 2 Panthers during the shootout. Ignore his less than flattering numbers and the Sabres position in the standings, without Ryan Miller playing as well as he has this season the Sabres would be much much worse. He has faced more shots than any other NHL goalie, has virtually been the only player to actually show up and a goaltender that 29 other teams would be killing to have. Sabres fans, for the love of Pete stop taking Ryan Miller for granted!
Aside from Miller once again standing on his head, Nathan Gerbe stole the show tonight with his first 2 goals of the season. This was by far Gerbe’s best game
of the season and he finally has something to show for his efforts, potting 2 huge goals in tonights game including the 3rd goal which looked to be the winner for most of the night. There’s been a lot of people on twitter saying that Gerbe is useless and a waste of a roster spot but I beg to differ. Gerbe is the type of player who comes to the rink every night and gives it his all every game, he plays with so much heart and passion and it’s unfortunate he hadn’t been rewarded until tonight. Gerbe is a heart and soul type of player and a guy that every successful team needs on their roster, you don’t see him taking a shift off or ever complaining.
It appears having the Gerbe and Tyler Ennis on a line with Steven Ott is paying off as the three have nice chemistry and Ott seems to bringing the best out in the Sabres short ones- as both found the back of the net tonight. Ott also had 3 assists on the night (a point on all 3 Sabres goals) becoming the first Sabres player to have 3 assists in 1 game since Tyler Myers in 2009. I tweeted it out during the game that Steve Ott is the Sabres under dog this season, not a flashy goal scorer and known more as a fighter but he’s come up big for Buffalo and has put up a solid 10 points. While he may be lacking the goal scoring that the old number 9 Derek Roy had, I’d take a player like Steve Ott who plays more of a character role and brings out the best in his linemates any day.
Now that new head coach Ron Rolston has had a few games and practices under his belt with the Sabres it appears he’s finally putting his own stamp on the team. The Sabres didn’t become as bad as they got over night so they sure as heck weren’t going to get better over night either, but I can safely say I saw a different and more confident Sabres team on the ice against the Panthers tonight. Rolston preaches detail and I saw a much more detailed hockey team tonight, sure there were some defencive lapses but passes were crisp, they skated together as a unit, there was more communication and it appeared everyone knew their role and played to it. In summary it’s simple hockey, going back to the basics and that’s what Ron Rolston has gotten the Sabres to do. They are also playing a more “wide open” style of hockey relying more on Ryan Miller to make those big timely saves, saying to the opposition “our goalie will beat yours.”
Tonight marked the first time all season I saw a confident and “gelled” hockey team and as a result the Sabres skate away with 2 points. They didn’t calapse when they went up 3-2, they kept attacking and let Miller worry about the saves- they were hunting all night for goals. The Sabres have themselves a 2 game winning streak and if they keep playing the type of hockey they’ve played the last few games they may be able to turn this ship around.