Week 8: The Habs Had Not

When in doubt, Ramones.  Photo from itvs.com

When in doubt, Ramones. Photo from itvs.com

“Baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaabababaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa…my brain is hangin’ upside dowahown…” When the world isn’t making any sense, and everything seems to be crashing down on around me, I know I can always find solace in The Ramones, and it seems that they’ve come through for me again with just the right sentiment. It’s been a harrowing two weeks for Sabres fans. First, it was the winter storm that devastated the city and ended with the Sabres on a three-game winning streak. And then, after a poor performance against the suffering Winnipeg Jets, the Sabres pull out two quality back-to-back wins against one of the league’s top teams, the Montreal Canadiens. That makes five of the last six, good enough for fourth-worst record in the league and placing the Sabres out of a top three draft slot. WHAT IS HAPPENING?!?!?!

Weber prepares for landing.  Photo from NHL.com

Weber prepares for landing. Photo from NHL.com

Our first matchup last week took place on the biggest party night of the year. If you like good hockey with a lot of scoring chances and great offensive play, you had very little to party about. The teams combined for only 46 shots, and in seven total power plays, only six shots were taken. The Jets got on the board early after the returning Patrick Kaleta predictably took a roughing penalty less than five minutes into the game. The Jets capitalized on the man advantage and never relinquished the lead, with netminder Pavelec stopping 19 of 20 shots. The Sabres gave up a short-handed goal in the second when Andre Benoit turned over the puck behind the net, allowing for the wraparound goal. Chris Stewart scored in the third to ruin Pavelec’s shutout bid, but there was never really any chance for the Sabres to come back in this game. They played like a team that was on a mission. A mission for McDavid. Imagine Roger Daltry screaming “YEAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!” while I remove my sunglasses.

The Habs took it on the chin, in more ways than one.  Photo from mercedsunstar.com

The Habs took it on the chin, in more ways than one. Photo from mercedsunstar.com

Friday, the Sabres played host to the Canadiens – the first of a home-at-home with our neighbors to the northeast. Tyler Ennis opened the scoring with one of the best hockey goals I’ve ever seen. Google it. You will be amazed. The Sabres held their lead until early in the third when the Habs tied it up on the power play. The rest of the game was close, and a little bit chippy, so when Montreal’s Emelin went to the box for shoulder check to Brian Gionta’s head with less than two minutes to play, the game felt as though it might be in reach. Less than a minute into the power play, Matt Moulson got a gift from the hockey gods – a strange bounce on a dump-in that went right to his tape, and he buried it before Montreal’s Price could scramble back to the net. The Sabres had stolen one at home, and it felt really good.

Enroth stonewalled Montreal for two straig games. Photo from mercedsunstar.com

Enroth stonewalled Montreal for two straig games. Photo from mercedsunstar.com

Saturday, the Sabres traveled to Montreal for the back end of their matchup. The timing seemed right for a good old fashioned beatdown – the Sabres had embarrassed Montreal the night before, and they’d been somewhat successful over the last few games; surely Buffalo was due for another 6-0 rout. When the Sabres took a 1-0 lead into the first intermission, you could hear a pin drop in the Bell Center. It was a good, clean, back-and-forth game – only three penalties were called, and one of them was for Too Many Men. As usual, the Sabres played a lot of defense; Montreal owned their zone, but the Sabres had their opportunities as well. Montreal built a 3-2 lead at 13:15 of the third, but less than a minute later, Brian Flynn would score to tie the game and take the tilt into overtime. Sabres’ goalie Jhonas Enroth had another great game, and he was solid in OT and the shootout, not allowing a single goal. Flynn would again play hero in the 5th round of the shootout, beating Dustin Tokarski between the skate and the post. The loss dropped the Habs from sole possession of first to a tie with the Lightning, who had a game in hand.

Ennis cuts in for his highlight reel goal - photo from article.wn.com

Ennis cuts in for his highlight reel goal – photo from article.wn.com

Fans of the NHL have begun to take notice of some of our standout players. Zemgus Girgensons leads the league in fan voting for the NHL All-Star game, so be sure to take the time and vote! Amerk’s forward Tim Schaller was called up to replace the injured Drew Stafford and played a solid game from his fourth-line position. Young defensemen Nikita Zadorov is a +5 with 13 games played, and Tyson Strachan is 4th on the team with a -1 with 14 games played. Goaltender Michal Neuvirth is 11th in the league in save percentage, and Jhonas played two strong games against Montreal and has been a veritable rock since Neuvirth went down with an injury a couple of weeks ago.

 

Girgensons LEADS THE LEAGUE in fan voting! Photo from NHL.com

Girgensons LEADS THE LEAGUE in fan voting! Photo from NHL.com

This week is a rough road, with a home-at-home Tuesday and Thursday against the Atlantic Division leaders, the Tampa Bay Lightning. The Lightning are on a four-game winning streak and lead the league in regulation wins. Our goaltenders will be tested, as the Lightning’s explosive offense comes in leading the NHL in goals scored (90) and goals per game (3.6 .) Saturday, the Sabres will face off in Florida against the Panthers. Last time the two teams met, the Sabres lost a 1-0 decision, and the teams seem to be evenly matched on paper. I think the Sabres can catch a win here, especially if Panthers’ goalie Roberto Luongo is still playing with a minor injury.

It’s been an exciting couple of weeks, to say the least. Not too long ago, we were horrified by the team on the ice; now, we seem a little more copacetic. Perhaps the next losing streak won’t have such a bluntly traumatic effect – we can always look back to these last two weeks and the great individual performances we’ve seen.

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One Comment on “Week 8: The Habs Had Not”

  1. erikwollschlager December 3, 2014 at 9:07 am #

    Reblogged this on ewollschlager and commented:

    Anothet winning streak? Cannot compute…

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