Sabres blown away by the Leafs in ‘home’ game

Buffalo’s big week is off to a poor start after a flat performance last night

Score: Sabres 3 | Laffs 6

Shots: BUF 32 (8-11-13) | TOR 29 (15-8-6)

Buffalo Sabres Goals: Jack Quinn (9), Alex Tuch (27), Jeff Skinner (22)

Toronto Maple Leafs Goals: Ryan O’Reilly (13, 14, 15), John Tavares (26), Michael Bunting (19), William Nylander (32)

Minus-1: An Absolute Stinker

Not gonna mince words here, this one was bad. The Sabres were crying out for a save early on here as starter Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen was hung out to dry in the crisp leafy breeze downtown. The youngster was probably left on for about five more minutes than he should have been in all honesty. Once that third goal went in you knew he shouldn’t have been between the sticks tonight, and unfortunately when that inevitable fourth goal went in it was pretty much over.

A couple of saves here and there and this might have actually been a contest tonight.

I know I know, score effects and all that. The Sabres have been on the giving end of some of these games this season, so by the law of averages it was eventually going to come back and bite them, but we’re all probably that extra bit cranky that it happened with our neighbors from the north.

There’s going to be a lot of overreaction to this one, so Imma just drop this here from Chad.

Minus-2: ROR can still Roar

Welcome back to Buffalo, Ryan O’Reilly, drive safe on your way back home. The veteran forward had a hat trick and ended the night with four points, including the insurance goal when the Sabres were (very) briefly threatening to rake the Leafs back in after spotting them five goals in the first two periods.

There was speculation among certain parts of the hockey world that ROR was pretty much finished at this point, but it appears coming back to within driving distance of a large number of Tim Horton’s outlets has immediately changed his worldview from ‘being okay with losing’ to remembering what he is being handsomely paid for again.

Kudos to the TML for swinging for the fences with the big trade bringing ROR and Noel Acciari to the 6ix - maybe they’ll actually get past the first round this time. His comment after the game though saying -

“Oh ya ... it feels a little better doing it in this building.”

That’s classless, that’s what that is, especially since he never recorded a multi-goal game for Buffalo at home in his entire time here. Any goodwill left for him went out the window right there. Someone on the Sabres roster better have circled March 13th on the calendar.

Minus-3: Loyalty versus Wallets

It’s an age-old debate - should we be judging the season ticket holders and game-going regulars for selling their tickets to Toronto fans, especially when just this one game alone can often cover the cost of an entire season ticket? This season the phenomenon is even more emphasized because the Maple Leafs only come to town once, so this is the sole opportunity you are going to get to cover costs for the year.

The argument against it is that this is a home game and the fans should ensure that the Sabres get home barn advantage. Undoubtedly, if this match-up is repeated during the postseason then you could bet there would be more Buffalo fans in those seats.

There is a counter-argument again that playoff tickets are that much more valuable in which case again, it’s hard to fault hardworking locals for trying to make some extra bank when an opportunity and willing buyers exist. Difficult choice this, especially when the local economic situation is as grim as it often is.

Plus-1: Building Character

This is twice now in recent weeks that in a blowout the Sabres have pulled back a couple or more goals in the third period. That in itself is a sign of maturity that the players are not just rolling over and playing dead late on in games that are essentially already decided.

More than that, it at least helps wash out some of the stink that the first two periods left in the mouth, and gets them in a more positive frame of mind with even more important games coming up.

Final Thoughts

Man I’m getting kinda tired of pulling the sh*t straw of writing game recaps when we get humiliated. To be brutally honest, it’s why I stopped doing these a few years ago during the long, dark nights of the Tank Years™. I asked to be put back into the rotation recently because a) we needed the help, and b) there have been some absolutely glorious spectacles to enjoy again this season.

Okay I’m just being greedy because I looked back and saw that I had two ‘Goathead-Six’ recaps in the mix as well (if you got the nod to KV there then call me, we need to have a drink together).

Back to the Sabres - well, what do you say here. This week’s schedule is bigger than this one game. A loss here doesn’t doom our playoff chances, but it does mean the players will be holding their sticks just that much tighter when they play the rest of this week’s schedule (at the Lightning, at the Panthers, vs the Capitals). Those last two games especially, Buffalo will need to ensure they get at the very least four points there to remain relevant.

Comment of the Game

Apologist42 nailed it for me with this comment.

If you wrote a gameplan for this one, pretty much everything you had under the “Don’t” category happened in this one.