Game 33: We Don’t Need To Play No Stinkin’ Defense!

With all of the injuries up front, I expected the Sabres to struggle on offense, but I thought they would muster up more than one goal on only 23 shots on a porous defensive team like the Senators. Buffalo dropped their 2nd-to-last game before Christmas by a score of 4-1 in Ottawa.

Oddly enough, it was the Sabres who were the ones playing the worst between the two teams with regard to defensive play. Buffalo, especially in the 3rd period was giving the puck away like crazy and not playing positionally well in their own end. Mike Weber and Jordan Leopold had an especially hard time out there tonight. Both guys had the “deer in the headlights” look on their faces most of the night. On the first Senators goal, Weber whiffed on a check he attempted to throw at Chris Neil which allowed him to skate in freely on Ryan Miller who made a very nice save. However, there was a rebound, and Zack Smith was there to put it in the open net. How was he open you ask? Well, Leopold did a horrible job tying up Smith and Paul Gaustad just glided in on the backcheck and watched Smith score instead of trying to break-up the play. Fortunately, the Sens would only score just that one goal in the first.

Buffalo would score their only goal of the game to tie things up for the time being on the power play. After not generating much on their other power play chances, Jordan Leopold put a well-placed shot along the ice with Vanek screening Anderson and the puck found its way through the Ottawa goaltender. The score would remained tied until the 3rd period where things really went south for the Sabres.

Paul Szczechura turned the puck over to Erik Condra near the Sabres’ blueline and he broke back into the zone with Kyle Turris joining him. Once again, Weber whiffed on a hit, this time on Condra as he made a pass to Turris who got a shot off on Miller which he redirected to the side, but Weber failed to recover to take Condra who was sitting on the doorstep for an easy goal. Luke Adam also did a horrible job coming back on the backcheck during this sequence.

The score stayed at 2-1 until late in the game when Paul Gaustad took a roughing penalty to give the Sens a power play chance. Ottawa worked the puck around and Jason Pominville failed to account for Erik Karlsson pinching from the point and Karlsson had a wide-open net to shoot at and he gave the Sens a 3-1 lead. Buffalo would pull their goalie in a desperate attempt to get back into the game, but they failed miserably. Instead of getting the puck down-low into the Ottawa zone, Vanek ate the puck and tried to work it back to the point which resulted in a turnover. From there, Erik Condra notched his 2nd goal of the night with a shot on the empty net to put the Sabres out of their misery.

 

Here are my quick-hits:

-It’s sad when your 4th line is by far your best line. Whitmore-Ellis-McCormick was very good. They worked the puck very well down-low and generated some nice scoring chances. Whitmore was probably the best forward for the Sabres tonight.

-I wish Mike Weber could be more consistent. He can play a really good, simple, physical game at times, but tonight, he was just a mess.

-…His partner, Leopold didn’t fair much better.

-I felt bad for Vanek. You can tell whatever kind of UBI he had was bothering him when he was handling the puck. He still looked better than a lot of forwards on the team.

-Ryan Miller played a great game tonight. It’s not his fault his teammates didn’t do their jobs on defense.

-Regehr and Sekera continued being rocks on defense

-Marcus Foligno’s NHL debut was a solid one, but he definitely needs more seasoning. Hopefully, the Sabres can get a body back for their game against Toronto.

-In a game where the Sabres had limited firepower on offense, Drew Stafford insisted on forcing a pass to Derek Roy on a 2-on-1, short-handed rush. That’s been this team’s problem the whole year. They refuse to make the simple, smart plays that win hockey games.

-Chalk up another concussion victim. Winchester was the latest casualty, courtesy of a hit in the corner by Paul Gaustad. The play itself was pretty clean….just tough luck for Winchester.

Scoring Per Period

1

2

3

Total

Buffalo

0

1

0

1

Ottawa

1

0

3

4

Shots On Goal

1

2

3

Total

Buffalo

8

8

7

23

Ottawa

10

13

16

39

Team Stats

Hits

Giveaways

Takeaways

Faceoffs Won

PIM

Buffalo

22

13

7

30

6

Ottawa

28

16

13

30

8

Scoring Summary:

Buffalo- Leopold PP (Ehrhoff, Vanek)

Ottawa- Smith (Neil, Carkner), Condra (Turris, Karlsson PP (Alfredsson, Spezza), Condra ENG (Karlsson)

Penalties:

1st Period

(13:27) Erik Condra: 2:00 for Goaltender Interference

2nd Period

(3:33) Kaspars Daugavins: 2:00 for Holding

(7:51) Kyle Turris: 2:00 for Hooking

(8:38) Drew Stafford: 2:00 for Slashing

(12:18) Colin Greening: 2:00 for Hooking

(15:52) Thomas Vanek: 2:00 for Tripping

3rd Period

(16:55) Paul Gaustad: 2:00 for Roughing

Power Play:

Buffalo: 1-for-4

Ottawa: 1-for-3

Game Scoresheet

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