This picture sums pretty much everything about last night:
Well okay, this one does too.
I think it’s pretty clear the differences between the two teams. The Washington Capitals pinned their hopes on a superstar making a spectacular play, while the Sabres had theirs riding on an utter disappointment getting really, really lucky. Is that really where the Sabres are right now? I know injuries have taken a toll and the backup was in last night, but can Maxim Afinogenov really be the hero of this team?
What we saw last night was a flat hockey team after a holiday that’s supposed to refresh. Single digit shot totals all night, and a lackluster performance that even the final score overstates. The Sabres were given a chance to score on a bad turnover and put it in. The Max goal late was a complete surprise to everyone, and a mistake to begin with. (Either Max isn’t supposed to leap out of the way of that, or it was supposed to hit the net. Either or.)
But that was it. Not many chances, not much of a forecheck, and sloppy play in their own end. Again. It feels like the same old story over and over again, this time with a different all-world player ending it. Alexander Ovechkin played another fantastic hockey game, and showed why he is the best goal scoring talent in the league. He probably should have had two last night, but the completely inconsistent goaltender interference penalty calling took one away. Give credit to the officials for making the right call last night, but how many times is that not called this year?
What was so disheartening about last night was that there really wasn’t much effort to get excited about. The two previous games were theirs for the taking but slipped away, last night was never in doubt. You knew after the first that there was no way the Sabres were coming out of there with two points. That’s not good, and that’s not even something we can “build” on. That was losing a game you need with a complete disinterest in playing hockey. What, did Jason Pominville get Animal Crossing for Christmas? Did he have other things to do?
He wasn’t the only one. There was no forecheck at all last night; only Adam Mair looked like he gave a crap. That’s not a good sign when guys like Kaleta and Gaustad are still missing time. I’ve said it before, but the more and more I watch this team the more obvious it becomes that something needs to change. The Sabres have gone to the farm once again, but when that injection of fresh rookie excitement fades what will be left?
Tonight the Sabres come home to face a team much worse than they are. It’s two points they absolutely should take, but I feel like we’ve heard this story before. A home game with your starting goalie in net against a team just as “tired” as you are should be a win, and a convincing one at that. Then again that’s quite a mouthful, and last night the Sabres showed they can’t focus on much.
Let’s hope the up and down play continues, and this one will be an up.