Surprisingly, the Buffalo Sabres earned their first win of the season, in their 8th game, in overtime against the New York Islanders tonight. In my opinion, the Sabres three stars were:
3. Drew Stafford
Yes, I admit that Stafford is someone that I wish the Sabres were trade away. I do not feel that he puts forth an honest effort most nights, and he is wildly inconsistent. Stafford does indeed have hockey skills, but the fact that hockey is not/ was not his first life choice or interest raises questions.
Against the Islanders, Stafford generated some scoring chances, including a great chance where he had a fairly wide-open net, but fired the puck wide. Stafford gets a nod from me here because he was doing something most of the team has not been doing this season – standing in front of the net. Stafford provided an excellent screen in front of Evgeni Nabokov, which led to Marcus Foligno’s first goal of the season. He also picked up an assist on the first goal by Tyler Ennis.
2. Marcus Foligno
Foligno put forth a balanced effort, skating hard, and providing some energy to the team. He was rewarded with his first goal of the season, which tied the game with 2 minutes left. Hopefully, the goal will spark Foligno to better performances moving forward. He is the type of player that could be a difference-maker for Buffalo, due to his physical play and offensive potential.
1. Ryan Miller
The Islanders fired 44 shots on Ryan Miller, and he stopped 41 of them. In my opinion, any goalie who makes 40 saves or more in a game should automatically be the first star. Miller held the Sabres down not only in regulation, but also in the overtime and the shootout.
Miller is not only trying to make a strong push to be the goalie for Team USA in the 2014 Olympics, but he is also playing for a possible big payday in his contract year, and auditioning for a position on another NHL club. Despite his record moving to only 1-4, he is holding a sparkling .940 save percentage after tonight, which places him 5th among NHL goalies who have played 5 games or more.