A View From The Roost: Choking Away Critical Points

By Chris

So did Sidney Crosby knock the puck out of the air with his stick above the crossbar last night? Sure looked that way.

But neither the officials in Buffalo nor Toronto saw the puck hit the shaft above the crossbar and that’s all that matters.

Sure it’s Crosby. On national television. In overtime. On a month-long goal drought.

Do those circumstances make it even harder to overturn the initial call? Absolutely. But none of that matters. It was a goal and the Sabres missed out on the opportunity to collect two points.

The Pensblog tries to break it down here but I really can’t tell what the hell’s going on in that picture. It looks like the screenshot was taken from a TV with rabbit ears.

If the Flyers, Caps, and Rangers weren’t around, there wouldn’t be a bigger waste of an organization and their fans than the Buffalo Sabres.

And to think I’m Facebook friends with Pensblog Charlie…

More importantly, however, the Sabres gave Pittsburgh two points on a night where the Penguins probably shouldn’t have even gotten one.

The Sabres took Pittsburgh into the third period with the lead and gave it away in the blink of an eye. Daniel Paille takes a roughing penalty, a mental lapse for sure, giving the Pens the only powerplay they needed.

As soon as the ref’s arm went up to signal the penalty I got a text message from Ryan with the words “Tie game” in it.

Next thing you know, Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Jordan Staal, Petr Sykora and Alex Goligoski are doing fist bumps down their bench. Tie game.

Should goaltender interference been called on Crosby during that powerplay? Maybe. But those are the breaks of the game. A floater from the point gets through, over Ryan Miller’s shoulder and the Sabres give away a point to a team they’re chasing in the standings.

It happened in Montreal on Saturday and it’s another opportunity wasted last night against Pittsburgh.

-Jochen Hecht left the ice in the second period and left the Sabres extremely thin at center. Adam Mair did an adequate job matching up against Malkin (until Crosby and Malkin were paired together mid-way through the third). I’m not sure when it exactly happened, but Mair has become a reliable top eight player. He’s put together a solid season of hard work and while he’s not lighting up the scoreboard, he’s generating a boatload of opportunities. The first and second Sabre goals were results of Mair’s grinding (the screen on the Paille goal and the strong neutral zone play on the Ales Kotalik goal).

Lindy Ruff also decided to put Matt Ellis out there with Vanek for a few shifts and while it didn’t produce much (Ellis and Vanek were also both out there on the penalty kill for the tying goal), it showed confidence in Ellis’ play. Ellis has been much better in this most recent stint with the big club. He plays a very similar style to Mair and Paul Gaustad and as long as he puts in an honest effort I don’t have a problem with him filling in while guys are recovering from injuries.

Losing Hecht certainly hurt the Sabres’ chances of winning last night. Sure it gave MacArthur a chance to step up (he would have even been on the bench for his goal if Hecht wasn’t in the locker room) but the lack of skill centerman is taking its toll on the team. According to Ruff, Hecht should be fine for Friday’s game in Washington but another injury (and they tend to come in waves for this team) and you could be looking at Mair as a No. 1 centerman. I don’t care how well Mair’s played–that’s a scary thought.

-Speaking of Vanek, he made some nice plays tonight but it was disappointing to not see him get one in the clutch. He’s had a dream season so far and played very well last night (especially early on you could tell he was frustrating Malkin on the backcheck) but this was one of those games where you would expect him to turn it up another notch and go into full-blown Atlas mode.

-Was anyone else a little surprised at the amount of powerplay time Maxim Afinogenov got last night?

And with the powerplay, as soon as they didn’t score on the one opportunity with about six minutes to go, the sense of impending doom swept over the crowd (or at least it felt that way). The team needed a special teams goal there and couldn’t get it done.

-I’ve been impressed with Toni Lydman’s play every time I’ve watched him play live this season and he made some strong plays (stopping Crosby from cutting in front of the net late in the third) and looked comfortable being reunited with Henrik Tallinder. But that is supposed to be the Sabres top defensive pairing and they each finished with a -3 on the night. That’s just not good enough–especially Lydman’s weak play on Crosby on the winning goal.

-Watching Malkin and Crosby play in person is electrifying, especially when both are on their game. Like Ryan says, it’s not fair that they get to have two of them…maybe the Sabres should just tank for five or six years to collect top three draft picks every season.

-Miller was OK tonight. He came up big at times but the tying goal is one he needs to at least get a piece of.

-This was the last meeting of the regular season between the Sabres and Penguins. The scoresheets show they split the series but both Penguins wins came in third period rallies in games the Sabres were perfectly capable of winning.

If the Penguins are considered NHL elite, then the Sabres shouldn’t be far behind–they just have to find ways to be more consistent.

And that’s been the story of the last two-and-a-half years.


  1. twoeightnine

    Hey I can draw a straight line to prove my point to! All while completely ignoring the laws of perspective!

    Also Cindy Crosby stands only 3′ tall therefore he can’t possibly get his stick 4’1″ off the ground.

    (A hint on perspective. If Cindy makes contact with the puck around the midpoint of the crease a line perpendicular to the crossbar will not touch the crossbar at the intersection of the crossbar and the post.)

  2. Jonathan

    All you have to know is the net is 4 feet high. Crosby is around 6 feet tall minus skates.

    He hits the puck above the logo

    His legs and mid torso is only 3 feet 11 inches high?

    The officials just wanted to get out of there. If it were Vanek it would have counted too.

  3. dani

    And to think I’m Facebook friends with Pensblog Charlie…

    Would it be wrong of me to bitchslap him?

  4. Ogre39666

    Your sentiments about The Pensblog are spot on with mine. The team I root for most after the Sabres is the Pens and my best friend (who is a Pens fan) turned me on to their blog. I used to enjoy it a lot (especially the photoshops) but I don’t know where they get all this hatred of the Sabres and Sabres fans from; just because they might have sat near some obnoxious people at the winter classic, doesn’t mean we’re all whinny, conspiracy theorizing, morons.

    …Oh, and I’m friends with PB-Charlie too…

  5. Zach

    The hatred of Sabres fans is not just Pittsburgh though. Its Carolina, Atlanta, Washington and pretty much everywhere else around the league. The other fans of the league perceive us as obnoxious a*******s. Apparently, there are a bunch of people out there that are giving us bad names.

  6. Keller

    Pens Blog tries way too hard to be cool…I think they come off as a bunch of putzs.

    As for Sabres fans…due to the Buffalo diaspera…they get their moments 1 or 2x per year in away rinks. They make it a party and usually act like punks. Think Leaf fans at HSBC…it’s myopic not to see the irony.

    Having moved away from Buffalo and deciding to root for my new home team (the Blues), I don’t regret the decision. It opened my eyes to how other cities enjoy their teams. Buffalo fans are bitter but nowhere as bad as Pens Blog describes.

    The away fan is perhaps the worst fan alive…uninformed…louder than normal…not helping the future of Buffalo in any way whatsoever….yet representative of the city…yikes.

  7. Slacker867

    Can some stats wizard look up the number of times the sabres have led after one only to lose? They simply HAVE to lead the league.

    Seems like it wasn’t all that bad a game. Refs owe us one in the future…though we still haven’t cashed in that IOU from the foot in the crease business.