The lowest scoring team in the NHL, the Buffalo Sabres, took on the New York Rangers tonight, and one of the best goaltenders in hockey: Henrik Lundqvist.
The Sabres entered the game with a paltry 48 goals scored in 28 games (the next lowest team has 61). Based on that stat alone, it was fairly predictable how the game might turn out…The Sabres lost, 3-1.
Buffalo, as usual, was outshot – 31-28. The team also performed pitifully on faceoffs, only winning 23 of 64 draws. The stats themselves were a recipe for disaster – let alone the fact that a team that has only won 6 of 28 games doesn’t have a high chance of winning.
Admittedly, these Ted Nolan-led Sabres are noticeably better than Ron Rolston’s version. In games like the one tonight, the defense is much-improved; the team is also more aggressive physically, and puts forth a better effort. Many of the Sabres players do their best to hold on to the puck, and play a possession game. Yet, the team is simply not skilled enough or has the talent to win many games.
Ryan Miller continues to be a stud this season. Despite what any stats or records say, he has been one of the best goalies in the NHL this season. Mike Weber wanted his presence to be known, and was physical for most of the game. Tyler Myers and Mark Pysyk were trying to create more offense by jumping into the rush. Coach Ted Nolan decided to try and employ a 4-man attack, in hopes of jump-starting a dead offense, to no avail. The tactic led to the Rangers first goal.
While Ville Leino, Tyler Ennis, and Steve Ott put forth decent efforts, the lack of effort by Cody Hodgson was absolutely dreadful. Tell me that you did not see Hodgson, with one minute left in the game, avoid going after a puck that Christian Ehrhoff tossed towards the boards? PATHETIC. Ehrhoff had to chase after the puck as soon as he realized Hodgson was not going to skate for it. This type of behavior is unacceptable, and uncalled for. The Sabres should not be paying, nor playing, anyone who has given up in a 3-1 game. Normally, I like Hodgson, but seeing that made me flip a lid.
I am still not sure what Henrik Tallinder’s role on this team is, other than being useless. A player like Nikita Zadorov or Brayden McNabb should be getting ice-time over Hank The Stank. I also do not understand the point of having both Cody McCormick and John Scott eating up minutes – especially if they are not going to spark the team with a brawl or goad the opponents into penalties. Just another opportunity for a youngster to be learning on-the-job that is being wasted.
The season is over for the Sabres at this point. This would be the time to start auditioning players, putting players in different situations, and seeing what you have. While I understand sending most of the youngsters to various other outposts to log minutes, I do not understand limiting the opportunities with the Sabres, in consideration of their current state.