Getting set up in the pressbox for tonight’s visit from Martin Biron and the New York Rangers. It’s the Sabres’ first game against the Rangers, and Jhonas Enroth gets the call after Miller played in the win last night. Leino comes back from his suspension, but Hecht (‘lower body’) and Corey Tropp (concussion) are both out, so Colin Stuart gets the recall from Rochester. The wheel turns, does it not? Eventually all of this focus on head hits might mean you don’t have a new player concussed every night.
Some notes from the Sabres’ gameday crew: Vanek has only been held scoreless in consecutive games twice, gaining a point or more in 20 of 28 games. Stafford has 1+1 in the past two games. Ehrhoff leads the team in ice time with 24:33 per game on average.
I’ll be updating this post after each period with my thoughts.
Buffalo begins the game by taking a high-sticking penalty, Robyn Regehr 9 seconds in. PK is no big deal for this team, and with some help the lineseman’s leg, they get a break. Biron almost mishandled the puck right in front of him. The penalty was killed. Beautiful play from Kassian to Adam but it didn’t go in. Enroth is absorbing shots, good sign. Ehrhoff joins Gragnani with early giveaways. The Sabres aren’t generating zone time or chances, though Drew Stafford is working hard. Excellent opportunity from Chewie/Vanek/Pominville, then another partial break by Vanek afterwards. Play picked up after the 8 minute mark, with the top three lines finally getting some chances. Enroth had a big save on Brad Richards. Cody took a number after getting knocked down in front of the net shortly after. Rangers and Sabres trade interference penalties. Vanek with a near-beauty out of the box. Buffalo got a little scrambly at the end but managed to avoid the late goal being allowed. Scoreless after one.
Stafford/Ennis/Roy some solid work to start the period. Seems to be more balanced early, Buffalo making some plays. Not so many stoppages. Good steal by Roy, and save by Biron. Nice breakup by Ehrhoff coming back on a Rangers rush. On the power play Vanek seems to forget how to puckhandle for a minute. The Rangers score on a short handed rush when Hagelin picks his corner on Enroth. Vanek answers not long after on a ‘fuck you I’m scoring’ blast from between the circles. Brandon Prust took exception to Vanek giving old friend Marty Biron a show shower. This is fun. Not so fun when Callahan scores another shorty. Ehrhoff has to knock him down there. The crowd let’s the Sabres hear it at the end of the second for that second shorthanded goal. 2-1 Rangers.
A few good chances to start the period. Adam just missed on a great pass from behind the net. And then Enroth lets in another softy. Just a killer, that one. Not even sure what really happened. Ennis and Stafford had some great chances not long after that but to no avail. Just don’t seem to be making good decisions when the puck. Vanek has 2 great chances, then Kassian decks a dude along the boards and gets a penalty. PK letting too many Rangers stand in front of the net. Puck possession is a problem. The Rangers ice the game on the power play, whistling a shot past Enroth’s glove hand. It’s Gaborik. There is a baby crying nearby, I don’t blame him or her. 4-1 Rangers. Your three stars: 3 – Callahan, 2 – Biron, 1 – Hagelin. Biron got a big cheer.
Lindy felt the powerplay was too stationary, not making the defenders change their angle of attack. He also felt that they had more and better chances than last night, but made more mistakes. There were a lot of shots missed high, he noted that they had discussed shooting high on Biron, but they couldn’t make it happen. Marc-Andre Gragnani had been coached to join the rush more, but he still made some tough plays.
I’m honestly not sure where to go with this tonight. They weren’t terrible, though maybe Enroth was in the second and third. Some blame can be laid on his teammates on a couple of the goals, but none of them were impossible stops. It’ll be interesting to see if Miller starts to get more starts or if Lindy sticks with The Schedule.