11 May 2007

Game 1 thoughts - BUF/OTT

Kind of a strange game last night. The Versus crew kept saying "what a game we have" and yes, it was tight for the first ~57 minutes. But it was not a smooth game, not very well played. From the Buffalo Sabres' point of view, I've never quite seen a frustrating pattern like that - they began to generate offence early with an excellent forecheck, good cycling... their 5-on-5 play was quite dominant at times. Outside of the Heatley-Spezza-Alfie line, Ottawa couldn't generate much of anything.

The Sabres quality work led to them drawing penalties....which cost them the game. Each Buffalo power play sucked all the life out of the team. The Sabres' powerplay actually generated far more chances for Ottawa, leading with the shorthanded goal by Mike Fisher. There could have been more.

Each PP was truly a momentum-killer for Buffalo - how can that be? 5-on-5 for the first ~30-40 minutes the Sabres were in control.

Neither team really brought their best - Ottawa was still relatively weak after their first line (who were fantastic, btw. Dany Heatley owns the Sabres).

Two players who stood out with their poor play for Buffalo:

Thomas Vanek. Merely invisible for the first 2 periods, switched over to awful by the third with some brutal giveaways.

Dmitri Kalinin
. Kalinin has been a focal point for Buffalo fans' ire over the past few years - he's a player who when he is on can sometimes justify the faith that Lindy Ruff and Darcy Regier have put in him over the years. Last night was bit of the old "low-confidence" Dmitri. A bad pinch led to Fisher's goal...lazy coverage let Oleg Saprykin get free in the third for the game-winner on a deflection. Other times he just failed to make the right play on a breakout. He was flat-out terrible last night.

Chris Drury had a rough night, and I only bring him up because there has actually been some talk about him being a Conn Smythe candidate which I think is overstating his contributions to date. Obviously as a Buffalo fan I love Drury but he's the type of player that when he scores (and obviously his Friday night goal will become legendary in Western New York) he's the most clutch player in history. When he doesn't score he's "doing all the little things" (which means "we can't quite tell what he's doing out there but he never smiles so he must be working hard"). Last night he didn't really do either - Daniel Briere rightly gets called out when he's not producing (and he should be again for last night's rather dispirited performance), and Drury needs to be held to the same standard.

Overall there were a shocking number of lazy or stupid giveaways last night, and from everyone. The official scoresheet has Buffalo with 19 giveaways - it certainly seemed like more.

In the end - it was one game, and one in which both teams could find many faults. Had the Sabres played better (and had an average power play) they would have won. Had the Senators been able to bring more offence and play well 5-on-5, the game would have been over after two.

Game 2: Saturday night at 8pm EDT.

1 comment:

Bleu, Blanc et Rouge said...

Definitely agree with you, Briere's been a no-show and the Sabres are lucky to even still be in the playoffs.

Shows you how much depth this team has.