From Where I Sat: Section 107, Row 3, Seat 7

Unfortunately tonight I find myself writing yet another game recap after a loss. Tonight’s loss came at the hands of  the now 6th place Florida Panthers, with the final score of 3-2 (as if you needed to be reminded). The Sabres are now 1-3-0 at home (discounting the “home” win in Helsinki), with the only win coming against the 30th place Columbus Blue Jackets on Thursday. A game in which they managed to survive squandering a 2-0 lead for the second time in as many games. You know the drill: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly. In this case mostly The Bad and The Ugly.Crappy CrapBerry camera is crappy.The Good:

– Thomas “Atlas” Vanek. He scored the goal that got the Sabres back into the game. He is really carrying the team on his back thus far this season. Aside from the home opener against the Canes, he has been playing quite well (even in the shutout loss to the Bolts) through the first 10 games. I know that some would probably consider this a negative, but I like to see Vanek frustrated when he does not score, or when a teammate blows a beautiful chance that he created. It tells me that he actually cares; unlike some of his underachieving teammates (who I’ll touch on soon). There were two instances tonight where he was visibly frustrated with not scoring. The first was on a great feed from  Jason Pominville (I believe) where the puck never made it to his stick. Had that puck made it to his stick, that game likely would have ended much differently. I forget who it was exactly (Luke Adam I believe), but he made a great pass on the PP that someone whiffed on, which was practically a guaranteed goal.

– Matt Ellis. The man saved a certain Panthers goal. Need I say more?

– Brad Boyes. Being put on the #1 PP line with Vanek and Pominville appears to have been a confidence booster for Boyes. He may have finished -1 tonight, but I thought he had an otherwise decent game.

The Bad:

– Tyler Myers. I’m not sure what it is, but he has not looked very good lately. I have a theory that he is trying to do too much, but at times it seems like he is not doing enough. The second tallest player in the NHL is being outhit by the the shortest (Nathan Gerbe has 15 hits to Myers’ 13). Perhaps he feels a need to live up to his contract extension, but he might just be trying to do too much. He was moved off the puck several times tonight by guys smaller than he is. Do something Tyler.

The officiating. Yes, officials are human and they make mistakes, but as Alex pointed out in his post-game podcast, they need to be using their heads and not their hearts. Don’t like that a player asked you why he got a penalty called on him? Too bad. Get over it and send him to the box. If you are so fragile emotionally that you cannot take a little frustration over a penalty call, then get out of the officiating business and open a flower shop.

– The fans. Maybe I am a bad fan, but if the officials get the call right then there is no need to act like they did something wrong. Vanek drawing that hooking penalty is my main focus here. He lost control of the puck BEFORE he was hooked. Contrary to what the people around me thought, that isn’t a penalty shot. The officials got that one correct, just like they did the other night. Also, not every offsides call is wrong when it is against your team. Then again, maybe I am just a terrible fan because I don’t think they should get away with every infraction they commit.

– Ville Leino. Could anyone care less right now? I honestly don’t think so. He knows he needs to be better, but he certainly doesn’t appear to be performing better.

– Ryan Miller on the first Panthers goal. Ouch. You cannot expect a goalie to stop every shot, but that goal was ugly.

The Ugly:

– The PP. It pains me to say that I’m starting to agree with the “SHOOT!!!” fans. As entertaining as it would be, you cannot shoot pucks through people, so I understand the cycle game on the PP. You do have to occasionally throw a puck towards the net, however. With that said, the Sabres are  currently 7th in the league in terms of PP% at 21.9%. Not bad, I’d say. Did the PP click in the game against the Blue Jackets? Yes, but what did you expect when you play the team with the worst PK% in the league (69.2%)? It was lower than that coming into yesterday’s game, mind you.

– Losing a 5 minute PP opportunity. Was it good that Marco Sturm boarded Jordan Leopold? Absolutely not, but neither is giving up the 5 minute PP with stupid penalties. I will cut Drew Stafford a little bit of his break on his roughing penalty, but Nathan Gerbe will get no such break. Bad time to take a penalty, even worse time to mouth off about it. Take your two minutes in the cubicle of shame and move on. This was a team loss (save Vanek, Pominville, Robyn Regehr, and Matt Ellis), but that penalty sealed the deal.

– The game in general. Not sure why it is, but this team does not like to play very well in front of their own fans. Perhaps if  they wear their road whites at home they will think it is a road game and play better? Perhaps they are trying to be too flashy, but whatever it is needs to change.

– Marc-Andrew Gragnani. He just has not looked very good at all. He had a terrible turnover tonight which Ryan Miller fortunately bailed him out on. I think it is time to see Mike Weber in a game. I would wager good money that Lindy Ruff will still likely play Gragnani on Wednesday and leave Weber in the press box.

– The jacknut wearing the 1999 Dallas Stars’, Brett Hull #16 jersey. Not sure why this person felt it necessary to do that, but they certainly have brass balls. He is lucky that some of the crazier (and more intoxicated) fans did not cause him some harm. I was not a fan then, so perhaps it is me being somewhat detached from the emotions, but people REALLY need to move on. Regardless, that guy did grind my gears. It qualifies as the most egregious jersey foul I have seen lately.

Final Thoughts:

Something needs to be done about the inability to win at home. At least this season it did not take them until mid-November to win their first home game. As fans we have got to believe they will turn things around eventually, but only time will tell if they do. Besides, if they do not we will likely be treated to some more profanity laden videos of Lindy Ruff working on the PP with them. Those are always entertaining, even if the team on the ice is not.

On my depressing ride back home my brother and I were discussing the loss, and how the Sabres have been playing some teams that are desperate for wins lately, namely the Blue Jackets. As true as that may be, it is time for the Sabres to play like the more desperate team at home. You do not want to see another team waltz in to the F’N Thunderdome Center and walk all over them. Let us see some controlled desperation at home boys. Nobody wants to see “The fans show up. Why don’t you?” signs again this season. Frankly, I do not blame the fans for booing the team tonight, but I still yelled at the people leaving after the Panthers scored the GWG.

The next game is again at home against the Flyers on Wednesday. This will be the first meeting between the two teams since the season ending Game 6 7 loss in Buffalo Philadelphia. The Flyers are currently without Chris Pronger, and may very well be without him then as well. They may also be without Danny Briere, as he  is listed as day-to-day with an upper-body injury and did not play tonight against the Canes. If Briere and Pronger are both out on Wednesday, the Sabres could save face in front of their fans by beating the team that eliminated them in Game 6 7.

In Tylers we trust.


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