Games in hand are only important if you win them. The Sabres had two games in hand on the second place Montreal Canadiens and Ottawa Senators, with the win tonight they have only one but lead both teams by nine points.
Jochen Hecht will be the guy that gets talked about after scoring twice for the Sabres but Ryan Miller deserves a lot of credit. Miller made a huge save on Eric Staal a couple minutes in to keep the score tied 0-0. The Sabres went on a power play a couple of minutes later and Tim Connolly scored to give the Sabres the 1-0 lead. The Sabres are 29-4-4 when they score first and just 10-18-6 when their opponent scores first. If Miller doesn't make that early save, we could be talking about a Sabres loss instead of a convincing win.
The Sabres power play came to life at the right time because the Sabres seemed to have trouble creating offense in the first period. The first goal was a power play marker by Connolly and the rest of the period was spent clearing pucks and making sure that Ryan Miller had an easy time in net. Despite a somewhat sluggish start, the Sabres played the perfect first period.
After an impressive first period, the Sabres and especially Jochen Hecht, cranked up the offense in the second period. Hecht showed surprising speed to skate around the defender and beat Justin Peters to give the Sabres a two goal cushion. Hecht looked good all night and his confidence was evident on his second goal that came on a wrap around that Peters was slow to cover.
The Canes probably should have pulled Peters after the second Hecht goal but they waited until Toni Lydman beat him with a no-look shot on a 2-on-1 break. The Sabres had just about all the offense they would need although the Canes gave them a little scare with the goalie pulled. Carolina netted one power play goal with the net empty but the Sabres defense was tough in the closing minutes.
- Jochen Hecht has four goals in the last three games and has 19 on the season. Count me as one of the people that are eating crow after the way he has played this season. This is more like the Jochen Hecht we all remember instead of the guy that wore a Hecht jersey last season.
- Ryan Miller gave away another goal when he mishandled the puck. How can a goalie that is so good, give away so many goals by misplaying the puck?
- I am really liking the line with Roy-Vanek-Kennedy. Kennedy scored a goal tonight and that wasn't even the best shift for that line. They played well all night and Kennedy fits perfect with Roy and Vanek.
- Watching the team play this weekend has me wondering about Raffi Torres. Where does he fit when he comes back from injury? Does he replace Stafford on the line with Mair and Kaleta? Does he go on theline with Goose and Grier? Does Stafford get moved up with Roy and Vanek and Kennedy move back to Center? There are so many possibilities and I think a line of Torres-Kennedy-Kaleta could be pretty good but why move Kennedy off the line with Roy and Vanek. This will be something to take a look at.
Harry Neale Quote of the Game
If you are new to the site you might not be familiar with this recap feature. I have stopped doing it because I haven't heard as many good "Harryisms" this season but tonight he let out a doozy. During the second intermission he was talking to Kevin Sylvester and then it happened...
"When I say Tyler Myers is a good icer, I don't mean he works in a bakery. I mean he is a good penalty killer who can clear the puck"
I hope you enjoyed the Harry Neale Quote of the Game. I might try to bring this back as a regular recap feature.