Game 29: The Ghost of Patrick Lalime

Well, the Sabres are now o-4-0 in the home games I’ve attended this season. They dropped tonight’s contest against the Rangers, 4-1.

1st Period: Not a good start for the Sabres. Robyn Regehr took a high-sticking penalty a few seconds into the game to give the Rangers an early power play. They tee’d off on Enroth during that sequence and the 2-3 minutes after the power play ended, but they failed to score, mainly because most of the shots were low-percentage scoring chances. Enroth’s job wasn’t that hard and the 8-1 shot disadvantage for the Sabres was somewhat misleading. Buffalo did pick things up around the 15-minute mark and ended up outshooting the Rangers the rest of the period, 8-7. Neither team scored at all, so we had a scoreless tie through twenty minutes. Buffalo was the victim of some shoddy officiating during the period. I thought the Vanek penalty was soft and the refs missed a holding-the-stick call on Roy and a hook on Jordan Leopold. All in all, outside of the first few minutes, I thought the Sabres played well. They just couldn’t finish. Their best chance to score in the period was on a great pass by Kassian to Adam who failed to redirect it past the goalie on the far post. This would be a recurring thing for the rest of the game.

2nd Period: The Sabres had a much stronger start this period than they did in the last one. All the lines were generating some solid zone time and scoring chances. Once again, they couldn’t finish. Drew Stafford and Jason Pominville all missed a couple of glorious scoring chances in close. Buffalo also refused to shoot the puck and insisted on getting cute and making one move too many. It was frustrating to say the least. The Sabres would get their first power play chance of the game at the 10:24-mark of the 2nd when Ryan Callahan took a cross-checking penalty. Some scoring finally took place during this time, but it wasn’t the Sabres who were doing it. After Pominville had the puck taken off his stick, the Rangers rushed back the other way on a 2-on-1 against Leopold. Sekera would jump in to even things up and take the passing option for the puck-carrier, Hagelin, but that didn’t matter. He placed a perfect shot into the top corner on Enroth’s glove-side to give the Rangers a 1-0 lead. I would have like to have seen Leopold step into the shooter a bit instead of letting him keep skating in since Sekera came back to take away the pass. Fortunately, that didn’t last for long. Vanek, Szczechura, and Pominville came in on a rush and for some reason, the Rangers left a lot of ice open for Vanek to work with and he sniped Marty Biron to tie the game up at 1-1.

Both teams continued to play evenly-matched hockey until late in the period when Buffalo would get another power play chance, courtesy of a Brandon Dubinsky boarding penalty. History repeated itself though. The Rangers would score another short-handed goal on a pitiful shot by Ryan Callahan. Ehrhoff blanketed him and the only thing he could do was fired a weak shot along the ice and some how, the puck went under Enroth’s pad. To play devil’s advocate a bit, Ehrhoff did telegraph the pass that sent Callahan on his way, but there’s no way that puck should have gone in. So thanks to some soft goaltending, the Rangers had a 2-1 lead going into the 3rd. Once again, I thought the refs missed the boat on some calls that should have gone against the Rangers, specifically, when McCormick got tripped, Pominville got hooked, and when the Rangers set a pretty blatant pick to setup a rush out of their zone.

3rd Period: It was pretty much a repeat of the 2nd for Buffalo. They were too cute with the puck and when they did have scoring chances, they botched them. Still, they did put in a very good effort and skated toe-to-toe with the Rangers the whole period, but that didn’t matter in the end. New York would add to their lead, thanks to a shot by Hagelin that somehow went through Enroth, even though he wasn’t screened on the play at all. There was a mass exodus in the First Niagara Center after they scored that goal with about five minutes left and while they turned out to be “right,” the Sabres were only down two goals and generating scoring chances. It was far from over at the time.

However, Derek Roy would take a stupid interference penalty with just over four minutes left in the game and the Rangers would seal the deal on this power play chances. New York rushed in and setup Gaborik, who had space akin to what Vanek had when he scored and blew a shot by Enroth to make it 4-1 and that’s how it finished up.

Quick-hits:

-I’m not mad at the Sabres effort at all. They skated well enough to win. When you have shoddy goaltending and a lack of finishing though, you aren’t going to win many games

-Enroth should have been on the bench for the 3rd period. He was doing a terrible job reading the play tonight and the goal he let in to end the period and give the Rangers the lead was unfathomably soft. The 3rd goal wasn’t as bad, but it was still very soft and it put the team in a terrible spot in the 3rd period.

-I thought Ennis was the best Sabres player on the ice tonight. He constantly had the puck on his stick, creating chances for himself and his teammates. Ennis also had a game-high 7 shots on goal.

-Not to take away from Adam and Kassian who both played great, but after watching tonight’s game, it’s obvious that Leino is the one who makes the Leino-Adam-Kassian line go. They had great puck possession and in my opinion had a certain swagger about them.

-Szczechura looked solid between Vanek and Pominville….definitely wasn’t a passenger.

-Gragnani, Ehrhoff, and Leopold were all bad for pretty much the same reason. All three were way to freaking tentative with their decision making.

-Conversely, outside of maybe a shift or two, Sekera, McNabb, and Regehr were rock-solid.

-I’m sick of watching the Sabres stand still on power plays and try to create scoring chances. Here’s an idea: rotate in the zone more and try thinking of more than one play to score, aka, pass the puck to Ehrhoff and hope he scores.

-Rangers fans continued to be the most obnoxious fans to grace the Sabres’ arena. Yes, they’re even worse than the drunken, delusional Maple Leafs fans that pour into the arena in droves for home games.

-Who’s idea was it to play “The Grinch” theme music,  “Enya”, and “Britney Spears?” The guys running the game presentation should be fired. It creates a sterile atmosphere in the arena.

Scoring Per Period

1

2

3

Total

Buffalo

0

1

0

1

NY Rangers

0

2

2

4

Shots On Goal

1

2

3

Total

Buffalo

9

12

12

33

NY Rangers

15

9

9

33

Team Stats

Hits

Giveaways

Takeaways

Faceoffs Won

PIM

Buffalo

17

10

7

26

8

NY Rangers

23

7

6

28

6

Scoring Summary:

Buffalo- Vanek (Pominville)

NY Rangers- Hagelin SH (Eminger, Del Zotto), Callahan SH (Unassisted), Hagelin (Del Zotto, Biron), Gaborik PP (Mitchell, Eminger)

Power Play:

Buffalo: 0-for-3

NY Rangers: 1-for-4

Game Scoresheet

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