The Difference

by Ryan

Two chances in Saturday night’s game. Which one gets the red light?

Or… this one:

Yeah, I thought you’d pick that one.

They are two completely different plays, but when compared side by side they can summarize Saturday quite nicely. The Sabres’ chance is a 2 on 1 operated by Hecht. Not a lot of speed, it looked iffy the entire way, and the pass to Pominville was led just a bit too far. It goes up on end and Pominville never gains proper control of it, so no shot gets off. It’s just one opportunity, but one late in a tie game with very few chances for the Sabres.

The Detroit opportunity was just the result of hard work. A good cycle and a great shot/pass from Hudler puts it right on the tape, and with Miller down Samuelsson doesn’t miss. There may be a bit of luck involved, but when Detroit got good chances they made them count, and less than 30 seconds later Hossa puts the game away. A good effort from Miller wasted in the dying minutes of a winnable hockey game.

What’s interesting about these two scoring chances is that their results reflect exactly how I felt watching the game. There was never a doubt in my mind that Detroit was going to win. I kept saying that “the hammer is going to drop”, and with each chance and each big save I wondered when it would happen. I never felt that way with the Sabres’ chances, the few of them that they had.

The Sabres were outshot 48-22 on Saturday, and the first two periods they had single digit shot totals. It’s obvious that the effort necessary to beat a team like Detroit just wasn’t there, and even with Miller standing on his head they wouldn’t be able to get that second goal. It should go down as a frustrating game, but to be completely honest I never expected them to be in a position to win in the first place. The Roy line produced a crash-the-net goal and nothing more all night, and the few chances the Sabres had weren’t a problem for Ty Conklin.

I should probably be upset with the effort the team showed this weekend, but they did split the weekend series with very little going for them. Miller was great against one good team and one great team; and a loss that late in the third is frustrating I can’t say it was unexpected. Despite the anemic play in front of Ryan, the Sabres are slowly climbing the standings while the teams around them continue to struggle.

It’s not really progress and the schedule is still tough, but the Sabres are better off then they were a week ago. I guess that’s all you can ask for on a Monday in January.