creative title, eh? As a Sabres' fan it is hard not to be completely disappointed in the effort put forth last night by the team. As someone who has watched all but maybe four or five games all year, this may have been their worst effort of the season. Sabres that showed up and played hard all game:
Feel free to correct that "list" - actually I thought Daniel Briere played pretty hard with not much help - Tim Connolly had a few notable shifts but was invisible for many others....actually that's the problem. Other than Zubrus and Briere, I didn't see any forwards skating hard all night. Thomas Vanek was terrible. Derek Roy? One notable post aside, practically non-existent (aside: I got upset when earlier in the season he was called for a number of faux-dives but sometimes his behaviour is borderline embarrassing.). Chris Drury - Mr. Teflon - must be called out. Rather than having announcers late in the game start saying "This is his time!" they should be noting that he had one shot on goal in the third period, that being a long slapper with about 30 seconds left. Jochen Hecht? Arguably the team's best two-way player a year ago, Hecht has been awful thus far. He's not going to get a lot of points, I get that, but when he is effective is when he skates into traffic and helps fight for the puck in the corners. His name hasn't been called much at all and he's been bad on the backcheck as well. Drew Stafford has looked like a raw rookie out there. Hank Tallinder was avoiding contact way too much for a supposed #1 defenceman - a few lame poke-checks while Jaromir Jagr comes flying down the wing is embarrassing.
Also, here's some second-guessing: Lindy Ruff's benching Maxim Afinogenov for Dan Paille left me stunned. How'd you like that 4:52 of ice time Danny? It's simply wrong that Max got the press box. Max hasn't been at his best but he hasn't been bad either, and even when he doesn't play smart he plays hard - he's one of the few players that open up the defence and create a little space. I hate the standard knock on Max, it reeks of Don Cherry-itis. Max isn't a perfect hockey player because he doesn't play smart sometimes, but he's rarely out there not giving an effort - something sorely lacking in at least half the entire roster last night.
I don't entirely mean to short-change the Rangers on credit - they brought a great game plan this series (after the first game) and it's working. Henrik Lundqvist almost had the shutout but if possible he was average last night - aside from a few big saves on the infrequent Sabres' threats he left some bad rebounds that Buffalo wasn't in position for...to say nothing of the near-monumental gaffe with 20 seconds left behind his net.
Speaking of which, the replay isn't worth mentioning. OK, I'll let someone else do it - I think Mark over at Bfloblog summed it up nicely:
I think that everyone who sees the replay will have to admit that the puck made its way over the line. The league’s “inconclusive” stance is technically correct but it hurts as a fan to know that the puck went in and should have forced overtime.
Yes, maybe they'd have won it in OT, but last night the Sabres beat themselves - had they been playing a better team than the Rangers the outcome would have been well beyond a doubt even in the second period. Buffalo is lucky the game wasn't 6-1.
Two-day layoff until game 5, 7pm Friday night in Buffalo.