Week 12: Short and Bittersweet

The shortened holiday week was a veritable roller coaster for the Sabres, and it was a long climb before they reached the exciting apex against the Islanders on Saturday night. Or, conversely, it was a long, dreadful fall before pulling out of a fatal drop and climbing back up to the top. I’m not really sure how that metaphor works…

fansided

Deslauriers lights the lamp against Detroit. Photo from fansided.com

On Tuesday, December 23rd, the Sabres took on the Detroit Redwings in Motor City. Halfway through the game, it appeared that our boys in blue and gold had the Wings handled, with a 3-1 lead. Goals by Nicolas Deslauriers, Chris Stewart, and a short-handed goal by Andre Benoit had fans fairly confident, despite the fact that they had mustered fewer than 10 shots. As the clock wound down in the second, things began to take a turn. At 17:54, Detroit’s Stephen Weiss ignited the Red Wings comeback. Less than five minutes into the third, perennial all-star Henrik Zetterberg scored to tie the game at three, and the Sabres began to fall apart. Before the dust settled, the Red Wings power play, ranked first in the NHL, opened the flood gates and scored three more goals. The Sabres fell 6-3 and took that loss into the brief Christmas break.

The Sabres returned home on Saturday to face the New York Islanders, who, despite preseason predictions, hold second place in the Metro Division. Led by their young captain, John Tavares, the Isles jumped out to a 3-0 lead by the end of the second period. The outlook was bleak, as the Sabres were 2-16-2 when they give up the first goal. Deslauriers extended his point streak when he opened the scoring for the Sabres at 6:39 of the third. Goals by Girgensons and Stewart, who also scored for the second time in as many games, secured the tie and the Sabres took the floundering Isles to overtime. OT was an end-to-end affair, with goaltenders Enroth and Kevin Poulin (who had his first start of the season, after being called up from the AHL) each making three saves. The Sabres had to be confident about their chances, with Enroth being 4-0 in shootouts, and Poulin facing his first NHL talent this year. Indeed, Jhonas stood strong and shut the Isles down, while

Ennis beats Poulin and the Isles.  Photo from nytimes.com

Ennis beats Poulin and the Isles. Photo from nytimes.com

Ennis was able to beat Poulin, stealing two points from yet another league powerhouse.

Enroth continues to be sharp. His play has improved exponentially since Neuvirth went out with an injury a few weeks ago. Enroth is sixth in the league in shots faced, despite being 18th in starts.  Deslauriers and Stewart have been on fire; in fact, the entire team has. The Sabres have scored at least three goals in six of the last eight games. The scoring has not necessarily translated into wins, but it makes the losses a little more fun.

Enroth has been a brick wall, facing more shots than all but 6 goalies so far this year.  Photo from foxsports.com.

Enroth has been a brick wall, facing more shots than all but 5 goalies so far this year. Photo from foxsports.com.

This week, the Sabres make up for lost time, with four games in six nights. Monday, they face the Ottawa Senators, who are one spot up on us in the Atlantic. A win against the Sens would bring us within a couple of points from moving out of last place. New Year’s Eve, the Sabres bring back Tux & Pucks, where attendees dress to the nines to help ring in a new year. If you’re attending this game, don’t forget; puck drop for this game against the Tampa Bay Lightning is 6pm. Tampa is second in the Atlantic, behind the Canadiens, but they are first in the league in scoring and lit Buffalo up for five goals earlier this month. Friday, the Sabres host the Florida Panthers. With only two more wins than Buffalo, the Panthers sit in fifth place in the Atlantic. The Cats hold a 2-1 record against the Sabres this season, but all of the games have been decided by one goal.

On Saturday, the Sabres travel to Madison Square Garden to take on the Rangers. Because of Snowmageddon, this is the first meeting between the two teams. The outlook for the week is not good, unless you’re still sitting comfortably in the tank. In that case, this week should work out in your favor.

Thanks for making 2014 great!  Photo from dreamstime.com

Thanks for making 2014 great! Photo from dreamstime.com

This is my last post of 2014, so I just want to express my gratitude for all of the people who take time out of their crazy schedules to read my inane ramblings, and an ultra-mega thanks to those who share it with friends and engage in conversations. I have wanted to be a writer since I was a kid, and thanks to What’s Going on in Buffalo, I am a writer, but honestly, I am nothing without you, the reader. A million thanks. I hope 2015 is great for you and your family and the city and region as a whole!

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