Share, , , Google Plus, Reddit, Pinterest, StumbleUpon

Print

Posted in:

Epic Comeback Saves Sabres, For Now

The results coming out of the All Star break have been discouraging. In two losses in a row in so called must win games, the team looked flat and disinterested. Then a resounding win over Ottawa on Saturday night at home gave us some hope. How did they follow that up? With a thud and a loss in New Jersey in a game that was right there for the taking. Out of a possible 8 points, they got 3. I think that stretch is basically a microcosm of the season so far. 1 win, 2 losses, and an OT loss. This is just not good enough.

Fast forward to last night when the San Jose Sharks came into town at the start of an East Coast road trip. They were in the Finals last year and almost won the cup. They are looking to make another run this year and surely were up for this game, looking to start a long road trip off on the right foot. For the Sabres, they had points against the Sharks in their last 10 straight games, going 9-0-1. That is an amazing stat against such a talented, veteran team.

Out of a possible 8 points coming out of the break, they got 3. That stretch is basically a microcosm of the season so far. 1 win, 2 losses, and an OT loss- It is just not good enough.

Last night the game started off well for us. We had a 1-0 lead in the first period after scoring on the power play. Then all of a sudden, we stopped skating and let San Jose score 4 unanswered goals. First it was Brent Burns with a wicked one-timer that Joel Ward redirected in front of the net, then Logan Couture pounced on a puck that Nilsson initially saved, then lost and left sitting on the goal line for him to slap in. After 2 periods it was 3-1 San Jose and fans booed the team off the ice. The second period lull struck early last night, in the second half of the first and lasted until about 10 minutes left in the third.

After Pavelski scored early in the third, fans began to head for the exits, and I have to say, I cannot blame them this time. As the third began, the Sabres just looked bemused and uninterested. They weren’t skating and some of the players looked like they would rather be somewhere else. I felt to myself, why am I watching this right now? I felt that, but then I said to myself, I’m watching right now because this team has magic and they have stars, and they are better than this, so I must keep watching and hoping for something to happen. Then lightning struck: on the power play with about 11 minutes remaining, Magic Jack hit O’Reilly with an unreal cross ice pass from below the goal line. O’Reilly smashed it home and with that goal, life was jolted back into this group who had sleep walked through more than half the game. It was as if that goal, and that play by two of our stars, was like a giant smelling salt packet that guys use to pep themselves up, for the whole team. In a span of just over three minutes, the Sabres poured the pressure on San Jose and had tied the game, with Kaner and Okposo muscling in goals. After the game, Bylsma said that with the way they flipped a switch and were skating, he thought that his team was going to get the winner in regulation. They almost did, but had to settle for overtime, and a late, but well deserved point. Their performance for the majority of the game did not deserve a point, but the game is 60 minutes, 65 minutes in this case, and they found a way.

In OT, Bylsma started O’Reilly and Okposo, and while this may be looked at critically by some, last night it almost worked out but there was a terrible no call on a trip on O’Reilly that almost gave the Sharks an odd man rush. The Sabres were able to make a change, and Eich and Kaner got on the ice. Once Eich picked up the puck in the defensive zone and began to skate up ice, you knew something amazing was going to happen. His speed is just incredible. He took three strides and the Sharks were all left in the dust. Kane busted up the ice to his left and the Sabres had a 2 on 1. Eich brought it into the zone, hesitated, dropped a shoulder and threaded a pass under the defenseman’s stick to Kane crashing the net. Kaner got his stick on it and roofed it for the big OT winner and his second goal of the night. He scarily caught his skate on goalie Martin Jones’ pad and crashed face and shoulder first into the boards and was down on the ice as his teammates rushed to him to celebrate. He was down for a few moments and as he got up, he looked shaken up. However, he did a post game interview with Duffer and Mayday and he said he is fine and that he was not injured, just shaken up.

It was a great finish to a game, that up to the second half of the third period had been a real disappointment.

What a finish. I am not going to lie, during the second and early third period of that game, I felt like I was watching the rest of the season collapse. I had thoughts in my head similar to when the Bills were losing games they should have won and getting eliminated from playoff contention. It was a dark feeling and depressing. But I kept watching and believing because I believe in the talent this team has and the heart of their leaders. I still have questions about the goaltending, but I am not ready to give up on these guys yet. Like I said, I don’t blame the people who booed or left early; as paying, dedicated, bleeding blue and gold fans, we want to WIN! We want to see greatness, and we deserve greatness. When the team is somnambulating through games that they themselves call must win, people get ticked off and angry. We fans want to see action, heart, fighting, big hits, scoring and we want to see the players succeed. I am glad that they pulled it out last night, but it is disheartening to see the kind of effort they displayed in the end of the first, second and first half of the third periods. We have to figure out a way to play with fire and determination for 60 minutes. The guys in the room talk about it, but we have to do it. I think we have the talent to make a run, but we cannot have anymore of these sleepwalk games. In the NHL, you have to play the whole game like they played the second half of the third.

Tomorrow night we have Anaheim in town for their only visit of the year. They are a good team and it will be a good test to see if the boys can carry over what they did last night into tomorrow night and put up a good fight.

Follow us on Twitter, @BLORisingSports

Go Sabres!

Share, , , Google Plus, Reddit, Pinterest, StumbleUpon

Written by Philip Wilkins

Philip Wilkins

Philip Wilkins is a Baseball, Hockey and Football fan and an avid Orioles, Sabres and Bills watcher. He moved to Buffalo in 2009 and has an MBA from Canisius College. He has a BA from the University of Colorado- Boulder-Go Buffs!, and has been a Buffalo fan ever since NHL '94 and the 4 Bills Super Bowls. He also can’t wait until Ryan O’Reilly gets the “C” on his jersey.

View All Articles by Philip Wilkins

Follow

Hide Comments
Show Comments
  • OldFirstWard

    At least Bucky Gleason gets what I have been saying about Eichel. I think for now, we can squash this captain talk, at least until the 2018-2019 season.

    “Buffalo was two games under .500 without him this season. They’re three games over .500 with him in the lineup. One man can only do so much…
    But he also failed to score in 24 of 32 games and does not have a point in more than half of his contests. At 20, he’s a young player searching for consistency.”

    BTW, San Jose goalie Jones deliberately tripped Kane with his goal stick after he scored the game winning goal sending Kane awkwardly hard into the boards and apparently injuring his shoulder.

  • Ivan Putski Jr

    This might sound crazy but I would test the waters with Eichel in trade bait. I still like Eichel a lot but if they can somehow parlay a deal with Colorado. Maybe offer Eichel and Ennis for Duschene and their number one pick, which would likely be Nolan Patrick….it could be a win win for both organizations. A lot of hockey people still hold Eichel in the highest regard potential wise and Colorado might prefer building their future around him over drafting Patrick. The way things are going now I don’t see the Sabres making the playoffs let alone a potential run at the cup for at least a few more years with Magic Jack

    • OldFirstWard

      Even Boston traded away Joe Thornton (former first overall pick in the 1997 draft) and Tyler Seguin (former second overall pick in the 2010 draft) both terrible moves for the Bruins.

      I still think that Eichel eventually wants to play for Boston. I don’t think he really likes playing for Buffalo.

      • Ivan Putski Jr

        Jumbo Joe is great player..probably HOF material but ultimately disappears in the playoffs. Sequin is talented no doubt. Kind of a head scratcher trade giving up on an immature player that soon…size isnt the issue with the sabres. they need more scoring and grit.

        • OldFirstWard

          Size does matter. Every undersized talented Sabres player has been pummeled and injured over the years. Small players are concussion prone and cannot take the pounding along the boards. Don’t forget cheap shots take out a lot of players. Especially on this team.

          • Ivan Putski Jr

            you’re watching too much Coach’s Corner. size is overrated in today’s NHL. We haven’t been relevant since Briere and Drury…too small guys leading the way

          • OldFirstWard

            No, I’m watching Anaheim dump three third period goals in 10 minutes and buckets of pucks on the overmatched Sabres.