If you truly want to read my knee-jerk reaction of what transpired tonight, there it is. Well, maybe not. I imagine my initial reaction to the end of tonight’s Buffalo Sabres – New Jersey Devils game involved a whole lot more swearing. Fortunately, my seven year-old didn’t stay up to watch the game, or else he would have been heading to school tomorrow morning with quite the colorful vocabulary.
Before I get into some of the more depressing aspects of tonight’s game, let’s all stop to celebrate Brain Flynn’s first NHL goal. It sure didn’t come easy – it involved him fighting for the puck on the boards, getting knocked on his ass in front of the net, then springing to his feet to smack a rebound past Johan Hedberg – but it was well-deserved, since Flynn has been busting his tail ever since he was called up from the Rochester Americans.
I’d also like to take a minute to go on the record as saying that Jhonas Enroth deserved a better result than what he got tonight. For someone who has not won a game since 2011, and who has not played this season since February 5th, Enroth stood tall in between the pipes all night long, keeping New Jersey off of the scoreboard until the 13:30 mark of the third period. He showed he was ready to notch a win right from the start, making some huge saves in the first period and continuing his stellar play all night long. The fact that he got injured trying to get back in position to stop Patrick Elias’ shot late in the third just shows you how fickle fate can be. If anyone in the NHL needed a win, it was Enroth . . . and all he got to show for it was a freaking injury. That’s a damn shame. Hope you’re okay, Jhonas, because you played a hell of a game.
Now: I’m setting myself up for being called too negative again, but once again, I cannot walk away from this game with the same “Well, the Sabres picked up a point and that’s all that matters” nonsense. Come on, guys at MSG: you can do the math. For starters, the New Jersey Devils are ahead of the Sabres in the standings, and they picked up two points tonight to the Sabres one. So, at the end of the night, the Sabres fell even farther behind a conference rival. To make matters worse, both the New York Rangers, the Washington Capitals and the Winnipeg Jets also picked up two points tonight, which means the Sabres lost ground to pretty much everyone except Philadelphia, who lost to the Penguins, and the Islanders. If we were discussing a team that was already in the playoff mix, and was simply jostling for position as to which seed they would be in the playoffs, the one point they secured tonight might impress me. But we’re discussing a team that needs to pass five other teams. These one point games will not get it done. I’m not being negative; you guys are being way too optimistic.
Besides, it’s not just the fact that the Sabres only got one point that bothers me; it’s the fact that this is the second time in three games that the Sabres should have won this game, but failed to hold on. Is it a coincidence that in both the Ranger game and tonight’s tilt against the Devils, it was a Buffalo penalty that handed their opponents the chance to get on the board? Penalties were not a huge issue for the Sabres tonight, since they only committed three in regulation, but it all boils down to timing, and late in a game, you cannot really put someone in a headlock and drag them down to the ice. Refs usually call that, and we all saw what happened: goal, and life for the Devils.
It’s definitely a good sign, seeing that, ever since the Sabres got embarrassed at home in a 4-0 loss to the Islanders, the boys in blue and gold have been in six straight games that were decided by a single goal, with four of those games going to a shootout. They are playing everyone tight lately, and they are displaying emotion and determination on the ice. They seem to be on the verge of getting some positive momentum going, but unfortunately, they are running out of time. I still feel the Sabres don’t have enough firepower on offense, and I’ll point this out as long as Darcy Regier continues to hold onto all of his cards in lieu of making some moves. Regardless, tonight was another fun game to watch, but the third tough pill in a row to swallow. Sabres Nation, I feel your pain.