Los Angeles - October 24, 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 times when the Sabres almost seem to be willingly taking the beating we all know they’ll receive. Last night wasn’t one of those nights. Things got chippy pretty quickly, thanks in part to a questionable hit by the Kings’ Brayden McNabb (a former Sabre as well). McNabb might have caught Torey Mitchell with an elbow and Drew Stafford came roaring in to stick up for his teammate.
Before I continue, a quick tangent: I’ve given Stafford a lot of flack over the years, but he seems to be a quality leader. He doesn’t hesitate to jump in and defend his teammates and that’s really one of the big things you look for in a player. I still don’t think he fits into the long-term plans in Buffalo, but he’s not nearly as bad as I’ve made him out to be.
And though they were again shut out (third time in four games), this one was a lot closer than it seemed. The Sabres generated some quality chances only to have Jonathan Quick shut the door on them. They battled with the bigger, faster, better team – who, by the way, is only the defending Stanley Cup champions – and stayed with them for the most part. This is going to be a season of moral victories and I’ll take this one.
The penalty kill isn’t normally something you’ll see here, but it was not very good last night. Both Kings goals were of the power play variety and both featured some pretty nifty puck work from a team that’s in the bottom five or six of the league on the power play.
That’s not to totally disparage the Kings – they have a ton of talent, but just can’t seem to make it all mesh together for some reason – but the Sabres’ on strength is the penalty kill and they struggled last night. Part of that has to do with Enroth and his inability to totally make up for his size, but the Sabres were getting beat by quick passes by the Kings. It happens to the best of them, but it cost the Sabres on Thursday night.
Normally, this would be a rant about how the team can’t possess the puck to save their lives (and they still had stretches last night where they looked like they were in a whole other, lesser league than the Kings), but instead we’ll focus on the sloppy play that continues to plague this team.
I’ll be the first one to sing the praises of Tyler Myers these days. He looks as though he’s regained his confidence, he makes better plays and he seems to be at least using his size to wall guys off from the puck. He looks like a better overall defenseman. But like the rest of the team this year, he’s still got that penchant for making an awful play that leads to a turnover.
Part of the problem for the Sabres this year is that they can’t control the puck yet give it away in a terrible manner at least a handful of times per game. I can’t recall who made the pass, but the Sabres have excelled in making terrible passes cross-ice in their own zone, usually leading to a chance for the other team. Sure enough, it happened last night and Tanner Pearson, the red-hot rookie leading the Kings in scoring, had an open blast that Enroth had to use his snazzy glove to nab.
I’m sure this is a talent/confidence thing, but Ted Nolan needs to drill it in their heads that those passes are never okay when you’re a team like this. Hell, they’re not okay when you’re the champs, but when you’re the Sabres, a 1-0 lead could mean game over.
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