Ah, yes. The Buffalo Sabres taking on my least-favorite team in the NHL – the Boston Bruins.
Although the Sabres lost the game, 4-1, there was little to not like about the efforts of the Buffalo players. The team competed hard, and had plenty of opportunities to score, but just could not cash in. The Sabres rang the goalpost a few times. Buffalo battled, and stayed physical against the Bruins throughout the game.
The highlight of the game? Probably when Tyler Myers dropped the mitts and squared off against longtime softie Patrice Bergeron. Another highlight was when Christian Ehrhoff temporarily knocked perpetual pest and nuisance Brad Marchand out of the game. Linus Omark was mostly impressive in his Sabres debut, and was about 2 inches of a puck lift away from scoring a goal. Coach Ted Nolan did not seem to know who to have Omark skate with just yet.
The lowlight of the game? The officiating. The refs leaned heavily in the Bruins favor, missing blatant calls, including a series of numerous crosschecks by Zdeno Chara on Steve Ott. Later, the refs called slashing on Ott against Chara, even though Stevie Wonder himself could see that Chara was the one that broke his own stick by slashing Ott.
The Sabres also blew a pair of lengthy 5 on 3 powerplay opportunities. Capitalizing on one or both of those would have had the Sabres right in the thick of pulling off victories in both games of this home-and-home matchup. I would also like to mention that I am not impressed with the play of Jamie McBain thus far, and that I think Alex Sulzer has been downright sloppy since returning to the Buffalo lineup. I would much rather see potential future backliners like Mark Pysyk, Brayden McNabb, Rasmus Ristolainen, or Nikita Zadorov developing their game with the big club, instead of what appears to me to be spare parts in McBain and Sulzer, and the ancient and ineffective Henrik Tallinder.
It might be hard to tell from the final score, but I felt that Jhonas Enroth played a gem of a game. Ryan Miller has been red-hot all season long, and if the Sabres can get a nice return for Miller in a trade, I would be fully confident in Enroth handling full-time duties for the foreseeable future.
Lastly, whatever happened to Milan Lucic? This guy always wanted to portray himself as a big, bad, tough player – but I saw none of this in the last 2 games against Buffalo. Lucic clearly backed off from fighting Mike Weber on Thursday, then shied away from throwing fists with Zemgus Girgensons tonight. Lucic even appeared to get punked out by Matt D’Agostini, and had no response to a solid hip-check laid on him by Ott.
The Sabres obviously sensed how soft the Bruins have become, by sitting the NHL’s baddest boy, John Scott, in both contests.