I was gonna write a different recap tonight. In fact, I did, but deleted it an hour after the game.
The other was full of anger and frustration over the 50 minutes of god-awful hockey that Sabres and Hurricanes fans were subjected to before we got 10 minutes of quality, and it ranted about how such a poor effort could be rewarded with a win, but I scrapped that. If you follow us on Twitter (and if not, why wouldn't you?) or were in tonight's Game Thread, then you probably saw a fan who was at times bored, fed up, apathetic, and frustrated, but I decided to rewrite everything, and here's why:
Ryan Miller will soon be gone. We've known, or suspected this, for a long time, but the comments tonight from GM Tim Murray, coach Ted Nolan, and Miller's own post-game comments, in which he admitted that he won't re-sign in Buffalo and wants to play for a contender at age 34, really drove that point home.
Coincidentally, Ryan Miller was also the first star tonight. Not only did he assist on two of the three Sabres goals (becoming the first Sabres goalie since Daren Puppa to do so!) but he single-handedly kept his team in the game, as he's done so many times before, until they decided to wake from their unending slumber and actually give a damn. They won the game because of him, but with the trade deadline looming and Enroth to start tomorrow, Miller might have done it for the last time, and although we've had 18 months to prepare for it, that still seems incredible for me to say.
Ryan Miller has been the best thing about Buffalo hockey over the past five years, from his Vezina Trophy season and Olympic heroism, to his simple consistency and professionalism in the face of seemingly never-ending incompetence, he's been a very good goalie for a very long time in Buffalo. Buffalo, a city which has been blessed with goaltending talent from Barrasso to Hasek to Shields to Biron to Miller to, uh...who's next, exactly? Ted Nolan was asked a question tonight that many of us have been mulling over - what will this team look like without Ryan Miller? Nolan took a long, hard, pause before dancing around the question, but the unstated answer was obvious - I don't want to think about it.
The Ryan Miller Farewell Tour is giving its final few performances over the next week, and just like a roadie who's been following the same band for years, now that we're nearing the end, I don't want to see the music stop. Whether he's traded or not, Miller won't be coming back to Buffalo, and if what we saw tonight is any indication, this team without him will be absolutely horrifying to watch - yes, as sad as it is to say, there's still new depths of incompetence for the Sabres to mine. So tonight, I decided to put my anger aside (there will certainly be time for that later) and simply enjoy the last few moments with one of Buffalo's all-time greats.
1. What effect will the long layoff have on the two teams?
Well it certainly didn't give them any extra energy. The first two periods were snoozers that saw the Sabres total just nine shots. Aside from a few Buffalo breakaways and a couple nice hits, I found myself glancing at Twitter far more than the ice tonight, until the last ten minutes, that is.
3. Has the long break killed off Drew Stafford's hot streak?
Nope, Stafford assisted on Ehrhoff's goal to earn his tenth point in his last eight games. Oh, and did we mention there were 28 scouts in the building?
1. Ryan Miller - Two assists and he gets the first star? Oh, also 38 saves.
2. Christian Ehrhoff - Two goals
3. Tyler Ennis - A mere one goal
Comment of the Game
best defense pairing
Scott steps up and botches a check taking a tripping penalty and then the canes blow right past McBain.
Just imagine the tanking without Miller.