Almost Immediate Reactions: Game 1
The Buffalo Sabres entered the playoffs as the number 7 seed in the Eastern Conference against the second seeded Philadelphia Flyers. In an oranged out crowd that looked like a Syracuse basketball game, the Sabres prevailed 1-0 on a Pat Kaleta goal 5 minutes into the third. Marc-Andre Gragnani and Paul Gaustad got the assists as the boys in blue took a 1-0 series lead in the best of 7 series. Here are some nuggets of thought for you to chew on:
-The first period was heavily dominated by the Flyers. Home ice+orange crowd=pure domination..at least for the first 10 minutes. After that, the Sabres seemed to get their legs and their heads in check and get more focused. The period was dominated by physical play, and the first penalties of the game were offsetting minors to Mike Richards and Mike Weber. (Hey, I liked those odds at the time. Get rid of a third line defenseman for a first to second line forward).
-If anyone had left Ryan Miller out of the Vezina Trophy race, I reference tonight’s game to place him back in the race. The Man, The Myth, The Miller stopped all 35 shots that came his way, and I counted at least 14 that Rick Jeanneret went ballistic over.
-Another point about Miller: the team cannot keep relying on him to get wins. I understand he’s an amazing goalie, but at some point the team has to rally and score more than one goal per game. This isn’t to say that they haven’t been scoring, it just needs to transfer over into the playoffs.
-I missed the part of the pregame where Craig Rivet begged Darcy Regier to let him wear Steve Montador’s jersey and play…Wait, THAT was actually Steve Montador? WOW. He looked worse than Tyler Myers when he turned the puck over to Martin Erat against Nashville a couple weeks back. I think this game has earned Montador a trip to the press box. Either that, or a stern lecture from Brian McCutcheon.
-The fact that Pat Kaleta got the goal is just awesome. My mother teaches in Angola, Kaleta’s hometown, and she told me stories about her friend who taught him in the second grade. It’s great that his career has come full circle to where he’s playing for his hometown team. Great work.
Stat I Liked: Philadelphia 0-5 on the Powerplay. WOW, the Sabres penalty kill looks scary good. They not only killed off every penalty they took, but they killed off 38 seconds of 5-on-3 play using Tim Connolly, Chris Butler and Tyler Myers. That’s a filthy combination for a 3 man PK.
Stat I Didn’t Like: Thomas Vanek 13:28 time on ice. That’s way too low for someone making $7.1 million per year. He has got to improve his play if the Sabres are to make a deep run in these playoffs.
Game Puck: Ryan Miller. Is there any other choice?
Lindy’s Doghouse: Steve Montador and Shaone Morrisonn. The two of them together didn’t equal one good defenseman. When a rookie defenseman (Gragnani) looked better than both of them combined, there is a problem. Get on ’em Lindy!
Game 2 is Saturday (4/16) at 5:00pm.
Keep the razors hidden, Sabres fans. Until Saturday, LET’S GO BUFFALO!