Game 8: Bad Luck & Horrible Officiating

I had the pleasure of being in attendance for tonight’s game. Unfortunately, Buffalo was on the wrong end of a 4-3 final against Tampa Bay, but I can’t say that I’m too mad at the way they played. Sure, I would’ve liked them to be a little less cute with the puck, but the effort was there. Myers unfortunately made a couple of bad plays that were the catalysts for Tampa Bay’s first and fourth goals and their other goals were the result of a bad bounce from Ehrhoff’s skate while the other went in on a redirection. As a goalie, there’s not much you can do. If you put this loss on Miller and are clamoring for Enroth to be the starter, give your head a shake.

The first period started off very well. Buffalo was buzzing all over the place and Vanek & Boyes were able to score early on to give the Sabres a 2-0 lead. It felt like a rout of the Lightning was imminent, but it didn’t work out that way. Myers lost his man, St. Louis behind the net, which allowed the puck to cycle around out to the front of the net to Lecavalier who cut the lead to 2-1. Also, to my great delight, Kaleta fought and won his fight against Steve Downie. Where I thought the momentum of the game really started to turn was towards the end of the first when the puck bounced in off of Ehrhoff’s skate to tie the game up going into the 1st intermission.

In the second period, not too much happened. It was actually reminiscent of how the whole game went the last time these two teams met. Both teams played an even period and were very conservative. There were some interesting moments though. Robyn Regehr laid out Vinny Lecavalier for the “Carruba Collision” of the game and Thomas Vanek had a breakaway chance foiled by Victor Hedman who hooked Vanek. To everyone’s surprise and anger, somehow, a hook on a clear-cut breakaway resulted in just a two-minute minor penalty instead of a penalty shot. The bad officiating didn’t end there. There were several instances where the refs screwed up on off-sides calls as well as icing calls. The missed icing calls were so bad, that even up in the 300 level, I could see and hear the puck get tipped going into the zone, but somehow, the refs missed them. So at the end of the 2nd, we had a 3-2 score in favor of Tampa Bay.

Buffalo was a little slow to start the 3rd, but after that, they were dominant, out-shooting Tampa Bay 17-7. The problem is that they couldn’t finish anything and the bad calls continued. Off-sides and icing calls were still getting screwed up and the goaltender interference penalty McCormick received was bullocks. It was obvious that the Lightning defenseman, Gilroy was the culprit for bumping Garon. The score remained 3-2 until late in the 3rd where Ryan Malone walked in all alone on Ryan Miller to make it 4-2. Myers and Leopold really screwed the pooch on the play. Myers made a nice play to side-step a defender on the point to setup a shot, but he whiffed, which allowed Malone to go in on the breakaway. Jordan Leopold caught up to him, but instead of laying out, he tried stick-checking his mid-section. I think Miller thought he was going to do that as well because he never really moved from his position. Buffalo would add a goal with under a minute to go, courtesy of Nate Gerbe, but by then, it was too little, too late.

Overall, this is another game where you kind of shrug your shoulders as a fan. The Sabres certainly played well enough to win. They dominated the game everywhere, but the scoreboard. In the end, they just couldn’t overcome some bad bounces, a lack of finishing ability, and some shoddy officiating. Again, fans shouldn’t get too mad. Stuff happens. I don’t think anyone expected the Blue Jackets to handily beat the Red Wings 4-1 tonight to get their first win of the season. The wins will come more often than not with efforts like this.

Time to wrap this up with some quick hits:

-Loved the puck possession of the Sabres, but they were too cute with the puck at times.

-The only thing that really bugged me was that the Sabres were being stubborn with the puck during a good number of shifts, refusing to do nothing but trying to skate the puck in. What the team needed to overcome the Tampa trap was a simpler game. Dump and chase and cycle the puck. The Gerbe-Gaustad-Kaleta/Boyes line was the only who could do that on a consistent basis. I was annoyed that Lindy didn’t use that line more towards the end of the game.

-Vanek was everywhere tonight. He should have had two goals, but Hedman robbed him of that.

-Luke Adam’s not really known for his back-checking prowess, but he did a fine job tonight and was also effective in the offensive zone.

-Myers had a horrible game. He made bad reads in the offensive and defensive zones on a regular basis and even when he started to make good plays, he’d ruin them. The most glaring example was the sequence that resulted in the Malone breakaway.

-As I alluded to earlier, I love the Gaustad line tonight. They kept it simple and were dangerous most of the night.

-Matt Ellis had a solid first game as a Sabre this year, assisting on Brad Boyes’s goal.

-Robyn Regehr was his usual, solid self. I love how dependable this guy is.

-Nice to Sekera get a promotion. He played with Ehrhoff tonight and outside of one bad pass, I thought he played very well.

-Miller had a solid game, despite giving up four goals. You could make an argument for wanting your franchise goalie to make a big save to keep the team in the game, but there’s no way you could fault him for the other goals.

The Sabres next game is at home against Columbus at 7:00. The Blue Jackets did just beat the Red Wings, so I hope the Sabres don’t take them too lightly.

Scoring Summary:

Buffalo– Vanek (Pominville, Adam), Boyes (McCormick, Ellis), Gerbe (Boyes, Gaustad)

Tampa Bay– Lecavalier (St. Louis), Thompson (Pyatt, Moore), Stamkos (Gilroy, Bergeron), Malone (Clark)

Scoring Per Period

1

2

3

Buffalo 2 0 1
Tampa Bay 2 1 1
Shots On Goal

1

2

3

Total

Buffalo 15 7 17 39
Tampa Bay 10 6 7 23
Team Stats

Hits

Giveaways

Takeaways

Faceoffs Won

PIM

Buffalo 18 4 11 36 13
Tampa Bay 16 7 5 26 13

Game Scoresheet


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