You may have noticed that I have been playing around with different ideas on the game recaps. I think I have finally settled on the best way to do recaps. They will be similar to the recaps done at Lighthouse Hockey. I have found a site that has the Corsi Numbers automated so I will be using those numbers instead of doing my own. Consider this post a how to post. The faceoff stats and other stats I used are listed at the Event Summary at NHL.com.
I don't think many people gave the Sabres a chance against the Penguins on Saturday night. I found myself making excuses before the game even started while in conversation with Penguins fans. The Sabres were starting Patrick Lalime and they were without one of their leading scorers in Thomas Vanek. How wold the Sabres be able to keep up with the high powered Pens offense?
The answer...they didn't have to keep up, they just had to limit their opportunities. There are plenty of ares the Sabres need to improve on but let's just enjoy the way they played on Saturday night. The Sabres outshot the Pens 32-24 and completely frustrated Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. This was a defensive masterpiece by the Sabres with some help from Lalime who has looked much better in his last two outings
|Final - 12.19.2009||1||2||3||OT||SO||Total|
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Lalime Building Confidence
I'm not sure if Patrick Lalime is gaining confidence in himself or his team is gaining confidence in him, but whatever it is, it's working. Patrick Lalime looked great in his last two starts, coming eight days apart and against two of the best teams in the league. The Sabres are in good shape if they can realy on their backup to get three points against two teams that are currently competing for the top spot in the NHL.
The improved play of Lalime allows Lindy Ruff to have some options as the team moves forward. There is a decided difference between Miller and Lalime but the last two games have proved the team can play well in front of either guy.
Has the Big Guy Hit a Wall?
We all love Tyler Myers because he was able to step into the NHL and play at an elite level as a 19 year-old. We are almost halfway through the season and it's hard to ignore some of the mistakes he is making. He looked tentative with the puck on the power play last night and that allowed the Pens to get two odd man rushes that Lalime was able to stop.
His giveaways are becoming evident and his defensive zone play was suspect in this contest. He was bailed out on a couple of occasions by Henrik Tallinder. He has also made some bad decisions when pinching in from the point that could have cost his team.
Every player is going to go through struggles and this is his time. Myers will be fine because his mistakes have not been too costly yet. He has great goaltending behind him and Tallinder has been playing great which allows Myers to learn from his mistakes...he is just 19 years old, right?
Powerless Power Play
With every game that passes, I grow more and more frustrated with the Sabres power play. As good as the Sabres played against the Pens, just one power play goal would have given them a regulation win. The Sabres were 0-for-8 with the man advantage and never really put any pressure on the Pens.
I'm not an NHL coach but I know exactly what the Sabres are going to do with the puck when they are on the power play. Players like Derek Roy and Tim Connolly are creative with the puck and yet on the power play they are very predictable. Is it because the coaches want to keep it simple, or do the players lack confidence because of their recent struggles? Either way it needs to be fixed and fixed fast because they can't continue to rely on their goalies to win hockey games.
Penalty Killing Continues to Impress
Everything that is wrong with the power play is right with the penalty killing. Penalty Killing has been a strength of the Sabres for years and this year is no different. The Pens had five opportunities of their own with the man advantage and they weren't able to convert any of them.
The Sabres plan on the penalty kill is a simple one...limit the quality of the shot. They force the opposing power play into low percentage shots as opposed to pressuring the puck and forcing turnovers. With Ryan Miller and the resurgence of Lalime that plan has worked to perfection.
@ Toronto Maple Leafs
Monday, Dec 21, 2009, 7:00 PM EST
Air Canada Centre
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