Sabres lose yet another d-man in 8-7 thriller, but new additions impress.

Discussion in 'HFNHL Talk' started by Chuzwazza, Mar 7, 2007.

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  1. Chuzwazza

    Chuzwazza Registered User

    Mar 5, 2002
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    8-7. Hardly the scoreline you'd have expected 12 months ago, but its safe to say that parity is in, and scoring is definitely up.

    After blowing Montreal out of the water in the 1st, and taking a 4-1 lead, the Sabres looked to be a little more tired than their north of the border counterparts, and watched Montreal drag the scoreline backto 4-3. A quick PP goal in the 3rd saw the game tied at 4-4 and despite a brilliant bit of teamwork from the Sabres top line which temporarily nudged Buffalo back in front, an avalance of goals in a 4 minute span saw Montreal lead 7-5. The Sabres, who had been losing momentum all game, picked themselves up and went after new goalie Michael leighton, who had come in for Giguere after the Sabres 5th goal. the end result? goals from Jokinen, Briere and Frolov (the last two set up beautifully by Eric Cole) to push Buffalo past The Canadiens 8-7 in an absolute thriller.

    Unfortunately, the Sabres 4th win in a row, which takes them to 5th in the East and only 1 point back from 2nd came at a cost, as star blueliner Jay Bouwmeester was injured by a Rob lang cheap shot (Which saw the center ejected), where he rode the defenseman into the boards long after Bouwmeester fired the puck out of the Sabres own end.

    With tomorrows big game against Tampa Bay, its uncertain if J-Bo will play, but if he's even close to being healthy, you can be certain that management will throw him into the lineup. That puts even more pressure on Sergei Gonchar and new addition Willie Mitchell, who logged 59 minutes of ice time between them, and posted 1 goal and 3 assists. Brooks Orpik took up a lot of the rest of the load, logging 25 minutes on his own. The team has added journeyman Alex Henry to try to ease the pressure after trading a 7th round pick for him. It is doubtful the team will use Crash Test Dummy again, despite his +1 rating in the 8 minutes he played.

    Rumours are that Bryan Berard is set to return, despite not being 100%, and that Scott Hannan is maybe only a game or two away. Nikolai Zherdev is also reported to only be a game or so away from a return.

    But on to the good news. Buffalo's 3 newest additions, marleau, Cole and Mitchell, have all been superb so far, settling in very quickly despite the expectations of playing for the defending champs. Both Marleau and Cole have 4 assists each and a +5 rating, while Willie mitchell was thrown in the deep end due to injuries, and responded playing big minutes whilst posting a goal and an assist whilst being +1 since his arrival. Not bad for the first 2 games with the team.

    After the game, Their team-mates could do nothing but praise them...

    SERGEI GONCHAR: "When Jay went down, I knew I was going to have to step up offensivel to get things done from the back, but Willie stepped in and played great, letting me jump into the play whenever I saw even the slightest opportunity. Scott (Hannan) is one of the best stay at homers around, so i know good when i see it, and Willie is right there with him. I might have left him on his own a bit too much, but we were aggressive and we won, so we're happy...and hey, high scoring games are always fun!"

    ALEXANDER FROLOV: "Eric came up huge tonight. 4 assists and a +4 in a game is massive, especially given he set up the game tying goal and then the winner. He didn't have a point last game, but he gives you so much room, that Danny (Briere) and I had all the room in the world to operate. Its great. We all used to fight over which skill guys got to play with Scotty (Hartnell) for that very reason, but now there's two of them, so there's twice as much love to go around!"

    While none of the Sabres top line were available for comment, their chemistry was easy to see, as they each racked up 3 points and a +3 rating on the night. Marleau's speed adds another dimension to a line that although no the most defensively responsible, not the most physical, is big enough to not need protection and does enough in their own end to allow their offense to really make a difference. Most checking units are going to struggle to handle so much offensive weaponry, and anybody looking to throw out an agitator line might want to make sure that there are a few defensive experts out there as well, cause these guys will skate with anybody.

    However, there is a number of questions going into tomorrows big game with the Lightning. Will Miller (who's been struggling to physically handle the workload in the high-stress HFNHL) start in goal, and which Miller will show? the one that shut down the leafs or the one that had to get dragged tonight? The rookies inconsistency, combine with the teams inaccurate shooting until recently has been the two biggest issues.

    and how many blueliner will actually suit up? will bouwmeester and Berard be there? or will Crash Test Dummy play 1 more game?

    Stay tuned for tomorrows game!

    That's all...for now, and remember....


    Buffalo Bill
    Hockey Editor for The Buffalo News

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