No matter what you may want to say about the officiating tonight, I think we can all agree on one thing: the Sabres aren’t going to win many hockey games with that defense.
It wasn’t a terrible effort, but a twenty shot second period for Anaheim sort of tells the story. Better yet, take a look at the box score and look at the TOI for defenseman.
Take into consideration the fact that Rivet had 12 minutes in penalties, which only hurt the defense that much more. You have to like the fact that the defense didn’t back down and defended Lalime, but each penalty against hurt the team’s chances of keeping the lead intact.
You couldn’t complain about the first period, with the Sabres literally taking it to the Ducks. Patrick Kaleta wrecks Bobby Ryan’s life, then swings around for the early goal. It’s a hell of a shift from a guy this team has sorely missed, and it’s good to see him working hard after a tough injury. No matter what you take from this game, remember that the Sabres refused to back down, and that’s a great sign despite losing two points.
It does seem odd to me that Anaheim didn’t register penalty minutes that didn’t match Buffalo until halfway through the third period, but there’s not much you can do about it I suppose. The Weber penalty in the second period was meant to send a message to the players to calm down; the old “send the first guy” routine to get things calm again. It didn’t work, but it wasn’t the penalty that cost the Sabres.
Do the Sabres win this game if Ryan Miller starts? Maybe. Lalime wasn’t fantastic and the game winner was weak, but he played quite well and didn’t look rusty for being off ice so long. It’s clear that Miller needs a game or two off down the stretch, and although Lalime didn’t get the win he was serviceable tonight. It will look bad in the statistics, but Lalime came up big at times and did get a rough ride from the Ducks.
The fact of the matter is that if the Sabres can’t rely on the back end to keep the puck out of the net they can’t do much of anything. The lack of pressure from the forwards wasn’t from a lack of effort, but rather knowing that there won’t be much support on the blue line if things get past them.
Butler can’t play over 20 minutes and be effective, Gragnani isn’t ready, and Weber looks like a rookie recovering from a knee injury. I think we all know how the staff feels about Nathan Paetsch when three rookies have more ice time than him. Rivet and Lydman can’t do it all, and when Rivet spends over 1/6 of the game in the box you can’t expect a win.
It’s a frustrating game to watch, but you have to think that this will be the worst of it, right? The end of a six game road trip, your defense decimated well beyond the ordinary mid-season injuries. Someone has to be getting healthy soon, right? I mean, when the next step is putting your third leading scorer back on the blueline; someone needs to get healthy right now.
Please, please someone get healthy right now.