The Sabres recent struggles have brought out the skeptics and rightfully so. They did their best to quiet those critics with a hard fought 4-2 victory in Philadelphia this afternoon. The goal heading into the game was to earn two points at any cost and the Sabres paid dearly. Patrick Kaleta was sent to the locker room early in the first period after his hit on Jared Ross drew a five minute major and a game misconduct. Paul Gaustad left the game in the second period with an apparent hip injury and Craig Rivet left in the third with a leg injury.
The biggest reason for the Sabres recent skid was a lack of offense. It wasn't always pretty but they found some offense this afternoon. Tim Connolly led the way with a pair of goals and four points total to give him six goals and 21 points on the season. Connolly scored the final two goals of the game, the first on a lazer from inside the blueline that beat Emery over his shoulder, the second on a flop shot that went over the top of Emery and into the net.
Despite the Sabres victory and the four goals scored, this wasn't the most entertaining hockey game. If you were a fan of the style of hockey before the lockout, you were a fan of this game. Every once in awhile I see a game like this where the clutching and grabbing sneaks back in but they mostly happen in the Western Conference. Everything that was right with the game against the Calgary Flames a couple of weeks ago, was wrong with this game.
Both teams were allowed to hold up forecheckers on almost every rush up the ice. It took the Sabres a period and a half to figure out there would be no calls and they were able to match the Flyers style of play. The energy level of both teams appeared to be very good but the speed of the game was altered slightly.
Stafford a Beast
Tim Connolly will get all the glory because of his four points but Stafford was the man that made it happen today. He put the Sabres on the board with the games first goal on determination alone. Staff drove hard to the net from the left wing and he switched from backhand to forehand to beat Emery. Stafford was also the reason for the Sabres fourth goal. He battled hard along the wall and eventually fed the pass out front to Connolly for the goal.
Live by the Sword, Die by the
Above is the line that Rick Jeanneret used during the broadcast today.
Patrick Kaleta was crunched into the boards by Alex Ovechkin on Wednesday night. Ovechkin earned a five minute major and a game misconduct for the hit. Today it was Patrick Kaleta that hit Jared Ross into the boards and earned himself a five minute major and a game misconduct.
After watching the hit by Ovechkin, I thought it was the wrong call by the refs and I feel the same way about this hit. Ross turned his back at the last minute because he seen Kaleta coming at him. It's unfortunate that Ross was injured but he needs to responsible for his actions and not turn his back.
Take a look at the video and judge the play for yourself. Ross clearly passes the puck and turns his back on Kaleta who is charging in for the hit.
Bad Day for the Stripes
I already mentioned the absurd amount of clutching and grabbing that was allowed in this game. That wasn't nearly the worst ting the officials did in this game. The worst call of the game may have been the call that took a goal off the board for the Flyers. Toni Lydman clearly pushed Mike Richards over the top of Ryan Miller and the referee blew the whistle. The Flyers put the puck in the net with Richards inside of it but the referee ruled the whistle had blown.
It's impossible to remember all the bad calls but I'll try my best. Mike Richards hit Tyler Myers in the side of the head with his stick while trying to brace himself for a hit. The referee called a two minute minor for roughing but could have easily called more on such a dangerous play.
Possibly the most comical moment of the game was when Andreas Nodl hit Tim Kennedy with a high stick. The whistle blew and Nodl went and sat in the box but after a discussion among the refrees they determined there was no penalty...nothing says guilty like volumtarily going to the box. To make matters worse, they called Toni Lydman for a very questionable slash just minutes later.
Physical Game Takes it's Toll
It was definitely another physical game between the Sabres and Flyers. There were two seperate altercations between Craig Rivet ad Dan Carcillo and there were plenty of other scrums in the corners. It was nice to see the Sabres stand up to the big bad Flyers but some of the Sabres tough guys are now expected to miss some time.
Paul Gaustad ran hard into the boards after missing a check in the second period and he didn't come back. It was difficult to see what was wrong with Goose but it appeared to be a hip injury.
Sabres captain Craig Rivet will also be out of the lineup for quite some time. Rivet crashed akwardly into the boards behind the Sabres net and skated gingerly to the locker room. It looked like it was a left leg injury and it left Rivet in considerable pain on the ice. My best guess is a broken foot or an ankle injury.
The Sabres return home to take on the Carolina Hurricanes on Saturday night. The Canes allowed five goals in the third period in a 6-4 loss to Atlanta on Friday night. The Canes had a 4-1 lead in the third period.