Left for Dead

by Ryan

There was a point last night where you had to wonder if this was good.

The Sabres probably had six or seven goals by then, and you started to think about Calgary and the road trip and all those other things you think about as a fan. Karma, using up all your goals at once, saving energy for Wednesday; all of those things were issues that came up. Was it really such a good thing that the Sabres skated a full 60 minutes when they didn’t necessarily have to do so?

Yeah, it was a good thing.

It’s easy to get excited about ten goals in a game, but it really was a solid team effort that made it happen. Lost in all the goals is a great performance by Ryan Miller and a quiet game from all those question marks on defense. The latter was the great worry for this team with all the injuries on the blueline, but it’s hard to hate anyone’s performance on a night like this. (Except maybe Paille, who’s the only person on the team with a minus. He also failed to register a point or a shot last night.) The forwards took the pressure off the blueline and Miller made some great saves early when the game was still in doubt. For being slightly outshot it never felt that way, but that probably had something to do with the scoreboard.

I know scoring ten goals looks like a team running up the score, but I don’t think that’s exactly the case. Three goals were scored on the power play after it was already 4-1, and you can’t exactly skate in circles with it from the second period on. In the third Buffalo was noticeably holding back, and even the tenth goal was benefited by a defensive mistake for Edmonton. I think one thing that’s obvious is that while Buffalo wasn’t going 100% all night, the Oilers helped them out quite a bit.

Let’s be honest here, the Sabres just aren’t that good. Not ten goals on the road good. We’ve seen them drop seven on an Islanders team looking for a scrap instead of playing defense, but not a playoff team in a (usually) loud building. Tonight Edmonton completely shot itself in the foot. Then Erik Cole put a band aid on the wound and shot himself in the foot another six times.

They were undisciplined, mistake prone, and downright terrible at times. When your head coach says, “It was a debacle of monumental proportions,” and wasn’t talking about “Paul Blart: Mall Cop” you know it’s more than just the Sabres playing well. Buffalo capitalized on almost every chance they god, but Edmonton gave up a ton of chances. They were good, but not ten goals good.

Still, when was the last time the Sabres beat a “playoff bound” team this badly? How often does Stafford really feel it, and don’t we want to see Connolly scoring goals like that? For as many mistakes as Edmonton made, Buffalo was there to force the play with a great forecheck, and even when the game was out of reach the Sabres were working. I’d rather see that out of this team than half a game of bad habits and coasting.

We said this road trip will say a lot about the Sabres, and so far it’s all been good. It’s just as possible that the Sabres can go get shutout tonight in Calgary, but I’ll take ten goals worth of momentum on short rest any day of the week. Seems to me you don’t mind a road trip as much when you leave a team for dead on your first night.