Game 1: Sabres Open Up With a Win

I’m very happy to say that the Sabres started the year off on the right foot by winning 4-1 against the Ducks.  Given that it was the first game of the season, I thought Buffalo played pretty well. The Vanek-Adam-Pominville line was a thing of beauty to watch. That line combined for 3 goals and 5 assists. I’m particularly happy that Pominville had a great game. The last thing I wanted to hear was a bunch of  negative overreactions over his captaincy if he wasn’t productive today. We all knew that Vanek and Pommer work well together, but Adam fitted in well between these two for two reasons: his footspeed improved and he’s very good at getting shots to the net which is perfect for a guy like Vanek. Just a hunch, but I think Luke will stay up here with that kind of play, regardless of Hecht’s health.

Stafford didn’t register any points, but I loved his forechecking and backchecking today. The points will come with that kind of hard work.

Robyn Regehr played as advertised. He was very solid in his own end of the ice and made life very hard on the opposing players by hitting them when he could.  Regehr lead the team with five hits and six blocked shots as well. I was happy to see that unlike the start of last season, there were no “yips” in Myers’ game today. He looked very calm in his own end and made a few nice rushes too.  I think that pairing is going to be great.

Special teams played a huge part in this game. Buffalo killed off all five Anaheim PPs, including a 5-on-3 that was masterfully defended by the Gaustad-Regehr-Myers unit and the Sabres PP went 2 for 4.

Ryan Miller didn’t have much work to do early on, but when the 3rd period came along, he was spectacular. I’m not sure what exactly happened on the first goal though. It looked to me like Miller got beat clean, but he was staring out there afterwards at Sekera like he had done something wrong. Oh well, it’s nothing to really fret about I guess.

There were some things that I didn’t like in this game though. I didn’t think Ehrhoff-Leopold looked strong at all at even-strength. Break that pairing up Lindy. Also, I didn’t like Boyes on Ennis and Leino’s line. I’d like to see Stafford and Boyes flip spots. Finally, that 3rd period was an abomination. I hated the way Buffalo just sat back in the 3rd because of that three-goal lead. You’ve got to attack a bit. They had zero shots on goal that period (that’s not a typo, they really had no shots). If you are going to sit back like that though, you have to get the puck deeper on dump-ins. There were lots of neutral-zone turnovers in the 3rd.

In the end though, you can’t complain about a 4-1 win to kick off the year. To sum it up, I want to see more of what they did in the first two periods and I don’t want to see another atrocity like that 3rd period ever again. Buffalo plays against LA tomorrow at 2:00. I’ll be interested to see Gragnani plays over Weber again. Have a good rest of the day!

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