Usually the Sabres and Leafs play exciting hockey games at the HSBC Arena. Tonight was anything but exciting. It was nice to see the Sabres get a 5-0 victory and plenty of nice things happened but it was painful to watch. It should be fun beating the Laughs but this game was almost as fun as a root canal.
As good as the Sabres were, let's not give them too much credit. The Leafs must have been still sulking over their overtime loss on Tuesday because they did not show up tonight in Buffalo. Every time the Sabres let us down with a poor effort, we can always fall back on the fact that we aren't Leafs fans.
We have come to expect Ryan Miller to be good lately and tonight was another expected performance. Miller was not tested too much by the Leafs but he made every save that he needed to. It was the second consecutive shutout for Miller since having what he termed a bad game in Calgary. Miller had never earned more than three shutouts in a season but he earned number four on Saturday in Phoenix and number five in the game against Toronto.
Miller needed to make only 16 saves in the game but seven of those saves came in the third period. It's been over 126 minutes since the last goal has been scored on Miller. I now take back every bad thing I said about Miller.
Vanek is Back
Thomas Vanek has been criticized by some people for his recent lack of production. He silenced his critics tonight with his fifth career hat trick. His first goal came with relative ease as the Leafs decided they shouldn't cover him and allowed him to stand in front of Pogge before sliding the puck around him.
As nice as his first goal was, it was the second Vanek goal that was most impressive. Vanek was streaking down the wing and rifled a slap shot that rang off the post and beat Pogge.
Drew Stafford is Sick
No, Drew Stafford is not out of the lineup because of illness. He did however beat Justin Pogge with an unbelievable shot that followed an unbelievable move. It promted a post game comment from Ryan Miller saying "Drew made a sick move".
We have talked about the emergence of Drew Stafford as a legitimate goal scorer and he proved that tonight. Stafford now has 14 goals and has finally found his stride in the Sabres lineup.
Power Play Cashes In
That is a misleading headline because the Sabres power play could have been much better tonight. Thomas Vanek scored two of his three goals on power play but those were the Sabres only two power play goals. The Sabres had a total of nine power plays that totaled over 15 minutes but only had 11 shots-on-goal with the advantage.
Hopefully the two goals will help the power play to gain some confidence but it's evident that there needs to be some improvement.
Harry Neale Quote of the Game
It's been awhile since we have been able to use the harry Neale Quote of the game but tonight we had an opportunity to listen to Harry and Rick converse on air. It was an off night for the Harry Neale one-liners but there was one thing that stood out to me.
The Leafs have built a reputation as a tough team to play against but not tonight. They have not been playing hockey tonight.
Yes that is a weak quote but I love to rub it in on the "Laughs". I'm sure I'm not the only Sabres fan that would consider them one of their three least favorite teams. The other two are the Ottawa Senators and Carolina Hurricanes if you were wondering.
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The Sabres play another important division game on Friday night when they welcome the Montreal Canadiens to town. All of a sudden the Habs are within striking distance of the Sabres and it will be an important two points.