Buffalo - October 10, 2014 - Following every Sabres game, we’ll be taking a little look at the previous night’s action with a little segment called “good, bad and ugly”. Expect a loooooooot of ugly.
There are really only two to point out here, but the overwhelming good was goaltender Jhonas Enroth. On a night where the Sabres looked incredibly sloppy, the diminutive Swedish netminder faced 40 shots, turning away 37. He made a few saves of the spectacular variety and kept the Sabres in it until the end. This is going to be a long season and the Sabres are going to be bad regardless, but Enroth is making sure the drop in net following the trade of Ryan Miller isn’t going to be too steep.
The other good comes from young center Zemgus Girgensons. All he did was answer the call after the Jackets had scored to make it 1-0, taking the puck in the neutral zone and creating a highlight reel goal:
That would be the only sliver of offense the Sabres would muster all night, but man, what a sweet, sweet goal.
The Sabres were on the business end of some questionable officiating last night and in the end, it cost them. Buffalo had five penalties against them to Columbus’ two, including one very dubious call that led to a Rasmus Ristolainen holding call. On the play, it was clear that Matt Calvert had grabbed the young defenseman’s arm on his way to the ice. The linesman closest to the play hadn’t signaled anything and was going to let it go, but a ref from the far zone made the call. I understand it’s not a perfect size, but it is a bit maddening when calls like that are made.
Of course, none of that really mattered because the Sabres were sloppy as all hell on the night. Bad pass after bad pass created chances that should have never happened and the Sabres couldn’t find a rhythm all night. I’m not sure what the NHL defines as a giveaway, but it seems like the Sabres had a helluva lot more than the five they were credited with. They should have lost this by a much larger margin if it weren’t for Enroth’s performance.
So part of the problem with last year’s team was their penchant for giving up a lot of shots. Like, the most in the league. On paper, they improved the defense, yet they still gave up 40 shots last night. Without going back to review every shot on goal, checking to see how many were of the outside variety, it still is a staggeringly high number and a strong indication that the Sabres aren’t much better than they were last year, if at all.
The other ugly was the possession game. I couldn’t find any official numbers for last night’s game, but suffice to say the Blue Jackets dominated it. You kind of have to in order to amass 40 shots on net. It was even more evident down the stretch, with the Sabres trailing 2-1 late. The Jackets pretty much never relinquished the puck and the commentators were frustratedly pointing out that the Sabres simply couldn’t get it from them. The team seemingly got better, but they’re still not in any danger of making a real impact this season. It’s still going to be treading water until they drown, which should be sometime in early December.
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When not inanely bantering about the Sabres, Ryan Womeldorf can be found here and at TwoPadStack.net talking all things hockey. He's usually got a lot to say, but sadly most of it is wrong. If you have any questions, feel free to contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org