Hopefully the Sabres have short memories because they will want to erase this 6-2 loss to the Panthersfrom their mind immediately. After a promising start to the game the Sabres had the ground crumble from under their feet and everything that could go wrong...went wrong. It was one of those nights when right from the beginning, you just knew it would not turn out in the Sabres favor.
It was a game we have grown all too familiar with over the past couple of seasons. The Sabres proved they were the more talented team in the opening moments of the game, unfortunately they were more interested in displaying that talent than they were in winning the game. They spent more time trying to make fancy passes and score the pretty goals than they did shooting the puck and getting the ugly goals.
Ironically enough the Sabres scored the games first goal on a hard working ugly goal by Drew Stafford in his return to the Sabres lineup. Stafford lowered his shoulder and drove to the net and had his shot stopped but it deflected off Keith Ballard and into the net. That was the end of the good bounces for the Sabres as the night went sour quickly.
As bad as the Sabres were tonight, and they were really bad, they had their share of bad luck as well. The first Panthers goal was scored off a faceoff that occurred because of what the linesman determined intentional offsides. It didn't appear to be the type of play that would constitute intentional offsides bu that was the type of night the Sabres had.
The second Panthers goal came on an uncharacteristically bad play by Ryan Miller. Miller made an outstanding save on Michael Frolik but Miller tried to play the puck in traffic and Stephen Weiss stopped it and chipped it into the goal. If Miller had allowed Frolik to score, everyone would have been upset with Sekera instead of Miller but he made the difficult save and gave away a goal.
The Sabres did pull within 3-2 in the final six minutes but a late penalty on Patrick Kaleta did them in and the Panthers poured it on in the final minutes. The game was closer than the 6-2 score indicated but maybe an embarrassing loss will motivate the Sabres for a big weekend.
More will be added in a bit.
Changing Lines - Adjustment or Panic?
The Buffalo Sabres have now lost five times this season. In all five losses they have not finished the game with the same lines they started with. It wasn't because their was an injury or because a player was ill. It is because Lindy Ruff wanted to give the team a spark.
In one sense I understand why a coach would want to make a move of that nature. I understand it but a don't agree with it. I feel like you start the game with what you feel are your best lines, I want those same lines trying to push to bring the game even again.
I don't think this is the reason the Sabres lost the hockey game because they just seemed to be too fancy tonight. I do however think this is a big reason why the Sabres have struggled to be a comeback team this season.
It Can't be Miller Time Every Night
There have been plenty of times when the Sabres would lose and Ryan Miller would play a good game, this wasn't one of those nights. This had to be the worst game of the year for Ryan Miller. Most of the Panthers goals were not his fault tonight but when you allow five goals, you have to share the blame.
The Panthers second goal came on a horrible play by Ryan Miller, immediately following an outstanding save. That goal may have been the difference in the game because it allowed the Panthers to play with the lead. I'm sure Miller would like to have that one back, although he wasn't willing to accept blame in his post game presser.
I don't want to be too hard on Miller because he was just one of 19 players that had a bad night, we'll spare Patrick Lalime because he gets enough criticism. Miller has won this team more games than he has lost them and there is way to determine if they cold have won if he was good tonight.
Power Play Continues to Struggle
The Sabes power play percentage is actually going to increase after going 1-for-4 tonight. That is not a fair assessment of how bad this power play was in this game. They had almost no presence in the offensive zone with the man advantage. They had trouble gaining the blue line and the Panthers seemed to be all over them when they dumped the puck into the zone.
The Sabres did eventually get a power play goal and it came from just throwing the puck on net. Vokoun made a couple of saves and the puck slid to the open post and Clarke MacArthur just fired it into the gaping net. It was as much luck us skill but it came by getting the puck on net.
The Sabres will remain home to take on the Boston Brins on Friday night. The Sabres lost their only other meeting with the Bruins this season in the debut of Jhonas Enroth.