What did we learn about the Sabres during their trip to the Left Coast?
This game followed the theme of most of the games during the Sabres seven game road trip. The Sabres played well but they made mistakes that ended up in the back of their net. Henrik Tallinder put himself out of position on the first Canucks goal and bot Steve Montador and Toni Lydman were caught pinching on the second Vancouver goal. The third Canucks goal was a thing of beauty and if you haven't seen it I suggest watching the highlights after the jump.
The Sabres battled for 60 minutes but in the end their blunders and a controversial call by Kerry Fraser were the difference in the game. Every Sabres fan, the Vancouver broadcast team and studio analysts Nick Kypreos and Doug Maclean all thought it was a goal but instead it was a cross-checking penalty on Paul Gaustad.
My issue is not with the call itself but with how the play transpired. Fraser disallowed the goal but never signaled penalty until he was summoned to the time keepers box by the in arena horn which usually means it will be reviewed. It was then that he signaled a penalty which made it appear that he was trying to decide why the goal wasn't allowed. Check out this video at Goose's Roost to see for yourself. Of course the NHL won't let their officials address the media so we will never know why he made the call.
I always believe that if a game was decided by one bad call, no matter how bad it was, you probably don't deserve to win anyway. The Sabres had chances to win the hockey game but failed. They had terrible breakdowns on two of the three Canucks goals and you could even blame the third on Mike Grier for a late backcheck. Hopefully the Sabres learned a lesson from this game and will use it for motivation down the stretch.
I choose to see the positive aspect of this West Coast trip. The Sabres found out they can play with the best of the West but they need to limit their mistakes. The Sabres were their own worst enemy in all three regulation losses to Anaheim, San Jose and Vancouver.
They finished the trip with a disappointing 2-3-2 record and I'm sure they are not pleased with the outcome. If they can learn from what went wrong on this trip, the team will be better in the long run.
- Tim Connolly assisted on a power play goal by Thomas Vanek to extend his point streak to 16 games.
- How did the Canucks have only two penalty minutes in the entire game? This is a team that is eighth in the league in penalty minutes and they had a total of two. I think that might be more controversial than the disallowed goal. The refs did not call very many penalties on either team despite plenty of opportunity to do so.
- The Sabres power play was 1-for-1 on the night. They seem to be getting at least one power play goal in every game recently and that is important to the teams success.
- The Sabres finally come back home but a game against the New Jersey Devils tomorrow means it won't get any easier. I expect the Sabres to come out and play with a purpose against the Devils on Wednesday.
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