Backed by another solid effort from Ryan Miller (his highlight reel saves are becoming pretty routine at this point. Hart, anyone?), the Sabres looked like a completely different team against the Capitals last night than they did against the Rangers and Devils.
Jose Theodore gave up some pretty bad rebounds and Buffalo, to their credit, capitalized. He may want those Nathan Gerbe and Henrik Tallinder goals back but those are the types of goals the Sabres needed to score.
Gerbe stuck with the puck in front of the net and Tallinder went coast-to-coast in one of the best individual rushes we’ve seen by a defenseman in a long time (probably since Toni Lydman went Gilbert Perreault on the Hurricanes in the 2006 Conference Finals). And Tallinder’s goal was a small part of the great game he played with Tyler Myers. The defense flat-out shut down Alexander Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom.
The Sabres were in a funk and climbed out of it because they skated and played with effort for a full 60 minutes. They’re still not a team that can go into any game thinking that it will be “easy,” especially with grinders Paul Gaustad and Mike Grier out of the lineup.
At the core, the team has done a better job of addressing their consistency and accountability problems. There’s still work to be done but it’s a good sign that they can overcome that type of adversity.
Need proof Lindy Ruff’s voice still matters in that locker room? He dropped the hammer after the Devils game and the team came back to shut out the hottest team in the league. Ruff worked for that win as much as anyone on the ice.
Now if they can only get Thomas Vanek going…