Cam Atkinson, 1:51 into the First Period
Agh. We’re only a minute and change into the game, and Buffalo is already displaying terrible defensive awareness and positioning. As the video begins, all five of Buffalo’s players are already too deep in their own end. Every Sabre within the face-off dots, and it’s an even-strength situation? Meanwhile, there are only three Blue Jackets on Ryan Miller‘s side of the dots, which makes it impossible for the Sabres’ forwards to cover enough ice to contest the shot that Marian Gaborik launches. Just look at how open Gaborik is, and how good a look he gets – the Sabres are lucky that shot wasn’t the one that went in. Sorry, Rob Ray, but the Sabres didn’t “do what they had to do there.” The forwards do try to come out and pressure the point, yes – but look how far they had to go. They were scrambling to catch up to the passes, and never really made the Blue Jackets work very hard – Columbus swung the puck around way too easily during this sequence. And Johan Larsson was way too deep in his own end, forcing Weber to come out late, which is why Gaborik got that high-quality shot off uncontested.
The Sabres getting too deep in their own zone was a defensive breakdown on the part of the forwards, but the rebound that Atkinson has all day to stuff into the net is the fault of the blueliners themselves. Not sure what Tyler Myers was looking for, but by the time he realized the puck was up for grabs, Atkinson was already banging it home. Why is Atkinson all by himself over there, anyway? Do the Sabres not believe in putting a body on opposing forwards? Not a good way to start the game, and just a sample of things to come.