One of the things that I am tired of hearing from Bruins fans, even when it has no bearing on the conversation at hand, is the softness of the Sabres. If you look at the numbers (which I have done), based entirely on Total Hits, you cannot really argue with them on that fact. We will, of course, consider only the numbers since the lockout.
As you can see above, the Sabres have been at or near the bottom of the NHL in hits since the lockout. Whereas the Bruins are generally in the middle of the pack.
I am not entirely convinced that the Sabres absolutely must be the most physical team in the league in order to win the Stanley Cup, however there are those of that mindset. Certainly being a more physical team would be helpful, but each team has its own identity. Speed is the Sabres’ identity, not physicality. Be that as it may, I do believe that there are certain aspects of being a tough team that the Sabres need to work on, namely standing up for one’s teammates. Milan Lucic’s hit on Ryan Miller tonight is a quintessential example of this.
I am not trying to make excuses for anyone, but for the most part nobody that could stand up for Miller was on the ice at the time. The lone exception was Paul Gaustad, who by his own admission, did not see the hit and therefore did not retaliate. Lindy Ruff could have sent someone out after Lucic on his next shift, but obviously chose not to. Patrick Kaleta made his return tonight after serving a four game suspension, so it is likely that he did not want to play his typical game and risk further punishment. Regardless, the Sabres did not do what was necessary to stand up for their goalie tonight. This, in my opinion, is a reprehensible offense.
The next meeting between the Bruins and the Sabres is on November 23 at the F’N
Thunderdome Center. I think that should be an interesting game, given the fact that Gaustad said he was embarrassed that nobody stood up for Miller. I can only imagine what Miller must be thinking about what his teammates think of him after tonight…
In Tylers we trust?