The Sabres began 2009 with a much needed 4-1 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs. Lindy Ruff has been asking for the Sabres best players to be their best players and Jason Pominville and Derek Roy each scored twice. It was really a complete game by the Sabres who seemed to smother the Leafs while coverting on their offensive chances.
It's only two points against a team they should have beaten anyway but it is something to build on heading into a difficult stretch in the schedule. Just how difficult? It begins this weekend with an afternoon game in Boston and continues throughout the month. The Sabres play only three games at the HSBC Arena in all of January. That may be a good thing for a team that has struggled at home and looked pretty good on the road for most of the season.
Special teams are something we have talked about as a key all season. As of late the Sabres penalty kill has been faltering and the power play has been less than spectacular. Tonight they scored two power play goals and killed off all five Leaf power plays. The Leafs were able to get some chances on the power play but they were kept mostly to the outside. When they did get a good chance, Miller was there to make the save. Miller has been key to the penalty killing all season and his team seems to feed off him.
It was hardly noticable that they changed the lines tonight. They rolled through all four lines without missing a beat. I really can't point to one line that was either dominating or subpar. The biggest change was Jochen Hecht getting bumped to the fourth line but was it really a fourth line? Sure it was Roy and Pominville scoring the goals but it could have been anyone scoring goals tonight.
Harry Neale Quote of the Night
It wasn't so much a quote from Harry tonight as much as a stat. He mentione dthat last season it took 94 points to make the playoffs in the Eastern Conference and that meant the Sabres needed 55 points (now 53 points) to make the playoffs. James Mirtle also posted his points totals today as well. Although it's early to start thinking about the playoffs this gives us a number to shoot for. Sometime in the next couple of days I will post a widget in the sidebar with the unofficial countdown to the playoffs.
As I mentioned earlier, the Sabres will head to Boston to play an afternoon game on Saturday. It will be a 1 PM face-off which means I won't be able to watch it live). The Sabres have enjoyed some success against the Bruins who have become one the Eastern Conference powerhouses this season.
Another slow night in the open thread...
Roll Call: qdloser, D.O., Joan O., HO