Just some thoughts during the intermissions of tonight’s Sabres-Ottawa game.
After the First
-This team is either flying or dying. No real middle ground. They’ve skated well the last three or four games and tonight is the best we’ve seen yet. They’re keeping their legs moving, getting the puck tape to tape and, for the lack of a better phrase, really playing well.
-I’ve liked Thomas Vanek’s game a lot the last three games and tonight is the best he’s played all year. He’s trying to take control of the game the way a superstar should. And he’s been great in his own zone too. I actually saw him on the face off dot in his own end while the clock was still rolling. His take away from Alfredsson in that period to set up the breakaway was a play we haven’t seen him make a whole lot, but one I wouldn’t be shocked to see him make more of as time goes on.
Vanek made two very good passes in the Ottawa end in that period and should have two assists. The first was to Connolly (nice to see him back and healthy) but Connolly forgot how to shoot and cranked it off the pipe of a wide open net. The second was to Roy on his goal with under a minute to play. A very smart, heads-up pass.
If Vanek can stay interested, look out opposing defenses.
-Hecht has impressed so much at the center position that it’s opened the Sabres up to allow players to settle into more comfortable roles, specifically Gaustad. Don’t get me wrong, I love the Goose, but he just doesn’t have the talent to be a consistent presence as a third line center right now. The first goal he set up for Mike Ryan was all guts, and that’s what the Goose is best at; not setting up dinky-dunk passes for Maxim Afinogenov. Whenever Mair is ready to return (assuming everyone stays healthy–a longshot) the Sabres should have three very formidable lines every night.
MacArthur-Hecht-Pominville (No way you send The General down)
Mair-Gaustad-Paille (An energy line with skill that we haven’t had in awhile)
-The Vanek-Roy-Stafford line has done a nice job so far neutralizing the Alfredsson line. The Ottawa offense looks like trash so far and I’d be surprised if that keeps up.
-Ronan Tynan is the man.
After the Second
-Well, Ottawa woke up. They capitalized on two miscues by the Sabres defense (Tallinder made a bad pass that set up the Alfie goal and fell after he was bumped in front of the net by Spezza on the Heatley goal).
-Despite the two goals, Miller is having a very strong game. It’s good to see him back in the swing of things and coming up big for his team.
-Good to see Stafford put one in. Great lead pass by Miller to Roy and the he gave it to Vanek to do the rest. Great play all around.
-Sabres can’t get complacent at all. Need to keep up their great forecheck and stay out of the penalty box. Should be a great period.
After the Final Horn
-Goose had a great shift mid-third period where he outworked two Sens to beat out the icing call. Just give the guy a letter now, please. I don’t care if he’s a third-fourth liner. The guy plays with heart night in and night out. If he doesn’t get the “C” then at least give him an “A” and give the captaincy to Hecht. On the ice at least, I think those are the real team leaders.
-Great home win. Sabres got some much-needed production out of their top line. They played well enough to win and held on. And since when are we sponsored by cheese?
-Need to keep the momentum going against Montreal on Friday. If the team keeps playing like this, then the league is going to start taking notice. They played a great game and there’s still a lot of room for improvement, but as scarce as the wins and goals have been lately, it’s nice to have one against the best team in the league.