One week ago the naysayers were out after the Sabres dropped both games of a back-to-back, losing Friday to the Philadelphia Flyers and Saturday to the Boston Bruins. Those critics have been quiet this weekend as the Sabres beat a tough Calgary Flames team in a very entertaining physical hockey game on Friday night and they followed that up with an impressive road win in Philadelphia on Saturday.
The win on Saturday would be classified as a good road win, despite the third period meltdown that allowed the Flyers to get back in the game on two seperate occasions. It was a combination of timely goals, good penalty killing and of course great goaltending.
Ennis Makes Good in Debut
Tyler Ennis found out on Saturday afternoon that he would be playing in his first ever regular season NHL game. It didn't give him much time to thin about the game but I'm sure the nerves were unbelievable. Ennis handled the pressure and had a couple of scoring chances in the first period. He actally led the Sabres with two shots in the first period.
The second period is one that Ennis will not soon forget. He scored his first NHL goal on a spin around wrist shot that appeared to go under the arm of Ray Emery. The goal was eerily similar to the goal that Tim Kennedy scored on Martin Broduer to notch his first ever NHL goal.
In all it was an impressive debut for the 20 year-old Center from Edmonton, AB. Ennis played 14:13 and scored the Sabres only even strength goal. He led the team with four shots-on-goal and blocked two shots. It's likely the youngster will be returned to Portland when Stafford returns but if the Flyers game was any indication, the future is bright for Ennis and the Sabres.
Let's Go Streaking
On Friday we talked about how this would be a difficult weekend for the Sabres, especially with their history in back-to-back games. The Sabres won both games and now have a three game winning streak heading into next week.
The criticism of this team has been they haven't beat any good opponents. That changed this weekend when they handled the Calgary Flames on Friday and the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday.
The Sabres started their own winning streak by ending the winning streaks of two good hockey teams. Calgary had their four game winning streak ended in Buffalo on Friday night and the Sabres squashed the Flyers five game winning streak on Saturday.
|TOI = Total Time on Ice||GV = Giveaways|
|FO% = Faceoff percentage||TK = Takeaways|
|Hits = Total Hits||BS=Blocked Shots|
I knew the Sabres did a pretty good job of blocking shots but I was not aware just how good they were. They blocked 16 shots with Steve Montador leading the way with six.
Montador has been a pleasant surprise for the Sabres this season. He was brought in to add toughness to the Sabres blue line but he has brought much more. Monty is consistently blocking shots and filling shooting lanes. The most surprising part of his game is his willingness to jump into the play and create offensive chances.
The other interesting statistic is the faceoff percentage. Buffalo has been a good faceoff team this season, with Paul Gaustad leading the way. Gaustad struggled through two periods on Saturday but he rebounded in the third and won some really big draws in the closing minutes.
|Even Strength Individual Stats||Even Strength On-Ice Totals|
|#||Player||Pos||EV TOI||G||A||Shots||S A/B||S Miss||SOGF||SOGA||SOG Diff||Tot SF||Tot SA||Corsi|
|EV TOI = Even Strength time on ice||SOGA = Team shots against while on ice|
|EV TOI = Even Strength time on ice||SOG Diff = Difference shots on ice|
|S A/B = shots attempted and blocked||Tot SF = Total shots including blocked/missed|
|S Miss = Shots missed the net||Tot SA = Total Shots Ag. Including blocked/missed|
|SOGF = Team Shots while on ice||Corsi = Difference in Total Shots|
The Corsi number is a statistic that what created by Sabres goalie coach JIm Corsi. It is the difference in total shots for and the total shots against. It factors in all shots that were on net, attempts that were blocked and shots that missed the net. The idea is that it is a better reflection on a players two-way play because it shows puck possesion as opposed to only shots on goal.
This game is the perfect example of when the Corsi number will only tell part of the story. The Sabres won this game with good goaltending, blocked shots and timely goals. The Flyers were obviously the better team for most of the game and the Corsi numbers reflect that. Every Sabres player finished with a negative Corsi number with Jochen Hecht leading the way at minus-19.
The Corsi will be affected negatively when leading against a good offensive team. The Sabres were obviusly trying to protect their lead while the Flyers were pressing to score the tying goal. The Flyers have plenty offensive talent and know how to get the puck towards the net. I think the negative Corsi numbers actually show how good Buffalo really was last night.
The Buffalo Sabres will try to extend their three game winning streak with a home game against the Florida Panthers. The Sabres beat the Panthers in Florida in the only meeting between the two teams this season.