Mike Milbury’s least favorite team, the Buffalo Sabres, skated into Tampa Bay tonight hoping to build off of their win against the Florida Panthers last night. Instead, failure was on the menu for the Sabres against the Lightning.
Once again, giving up nearly 40 shots or more per night is NOT a way to win hockey games, unless your goalie is Dominik Hasek in his prime. The Sabres allowed 39 shots on goal, with a mere 22 for themselves. Ryan Miller now sports a depressing 1-8 record, which is exceptionally deceiving, since he has kept the Sabres in most games, including tonight.
Ville Leino made an unspectacular return to the ice. Still not sure why Drew Stafford continues to “play.” I would rather see Ted Black have a raffle where a Sabres fan gets to take Stafford’s spot on the ice each night. I am not impressed with Tyler Myers – unsurprisingly, he was on the ice for the first 2 Lightning goals, doing his worst scarecrow impression.
Thomas Vanek…Vanek, Vanek, Vanek. He has been my favorite Sabre for around 5 years now. Yet, it looks to me, like he is just…uninspired. Disinterested. Disengaged. Yes, Vanek scored tonight. He gets his points. He has 4 points in the last 4 games. He also blew a chance to get the game tied with 2 minutes left. Vanek was one-on-one in the slot with a Tampa defender, and he just couldn’t out-maneuver the D and either get a shot off, or get a pass to a wide-open Steve Ott. For $7million a year, Vanek should be making a game-breaking play there.
Steve Ott was on his game tonight, being a pest, throwing hits, and even had 2 breakaways that he could do nothing with.
Rookie Nikita Zadorov continues to look marvelous, whereas his rookie counterpart Rasmus Ristolainen was a goat on the Lightning go-ahead goal. There is no reason that TWO Lightning players should be left alone in front. But, really, how much longer do we have to wait for Myers to “break through?” How much longer do we hold onto hope that he will actually develop into a Norris Trophy contender?
Above all else, there is NO reason that the Sabres should have given up two goals in the final 5 minutes. They had earned themselves a 2-1 lead at that point, and despite the poor play so far this season, it was still gut-wrenching to watch them let this one slip away. Overall, this was one of their more solid efforts (the early 2nd period penalty procession aside), yet the Sabres came up empty in the end.