West Coast Posts: Part 3 – Phoenix Burst into Flames/ The Road to the Not-So-Mighty Ducks
Before you get started reading what I have to say, here are some other Sabre’s road trip posts that may interest you:
- Greg Wyshynski of Yahoo! Sports (he’s been popular around these parts lately) breaks down the Sabres’ phenomenal record against the West. [Puck Daddy]
- It’s not West Coast related but former Sabre Mike Peca has decided to retire after 13. Best of luck, Mike. He’s a class act. [NHL]
- John Vogl breaks down last nights weak attendance by Coyotes fans and the abundance of Sabres fans [Buffalo News]
- Part 1 of my West Coast Posts is a good read if you haven’t seen it yet. It provides a broad overview of the trip. [The Ruff Writers]
Today marks day two of the Buffalo Sabres trip to trough the West Coast. Last night the Sabres pounded on the Phoenix Coyotes 7-2 as they improved 8-0-1 against the Western Conference. Now, I have saying around here. And that saying is this: When you’re wrong, you’re wrong (and I’ll admit when I’m wrong) and when you’re right, you’re me. Because I think I know things (and stuff). Why am I bringing up this saying? Well, see for yourself (as I quote myself):
The first team that the Sabres face on this left coast bonanza is the Phoenix Coyotes. In my opinion, this game will set the tone for the entire trip. If the Sabres can rout the Coyotes (with something along the lines of a 5-1 win), they will be rejuvenated after their recent loss to the New York Islanders.
So, as you can see when you’re wrong, you’re wrong and (in this case) when you’re right, you’re me. But enough of this shameless self-promotion. The Sabres truly did look rejuvenated after last night’s victory. MSG was playing a re-run of the game today so I watched what I could. And boy did we look good. We we’re all over the Yotes in nearly every facet of the game. Here is a breakdown:
Checking: As Rob Ray noted (quite well, actually) a couple times, the Sabres seem to play a really physical game against the Western Conference. And not like open-ice-hits-of-Carubba-Collision-proportions type of physical play. It seems to be more of a hard nosed, get your nose dirty, diggin your nose in the corner (and other hockey nose puns) type of play. Guys like Goose, Greir, Kaleta, Rivet and Montador wore down the Coyotes on the boards the entire game. If someone keeps punchin’ ya in the mouth, eventually you’re going to wear down and let in goals.
Shooting: Yesterday I said we needed to get good quality shots on net and that is exactly what we did. It was great. The D jumped into the rush just as much as the Offense did. It was great. Tyler Myers had numerous, quality shots as did Rivet. Butler’s shot was so high quality that it went in. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Pucks on the net equals pucks in the net.
Passing: With Vanek picking up two assists alongside Tim Connolly, you really can’t go wrong. When the Sabres play the West it seems that the only game they are willing to play is their own. And when the Sabres play their own game, it works. Their game centers around passing and is something that, when executed correctly, is done very well with good precision. Yesterday, their game was in fine form. The defense cycled the puck with ease and the wingers were able to set up shop in the corners and along the boards. This allowed for the set up of perfect plays and the Sabres were able to take control of the game. Nice.
So yeah, all you need to win is good checking, shooting and passing. Who would’ve thought? Seems simple enough…
Next up, we look to the future: The Anaheim Ducks.
So, let’s talk travel. It takes 5 hours and 38 minutes (via Google Maps) to drive the 355 miles from Phoenix, Arizona to Anaheim, California. For reference that would be like driving from Buffalo to Albany. Geez. If the team is taking a bus, I can’t imagine the fatigue that is setting in.
I said on Sunday that travel fatigue would be a big factor in this trip. So far, it doesn’t seem to have put a strain on the team but we’re only one gameday into the trip. Watch out tonight to see if the team appears to be sluggish or tired from the night before.
Anaheim is 11th in the Western Conference and last in the Pacific Division. Tonight, I’ll break down who is doing what for each team in the first ever night addition Game Preview (the game isn’t on until 10:00 PM, so… yeah).
I’ll see you later on tonight for the aforementioned game preview.
Until next time…