Sabres mastering art of one goal wins

Posted on December 21, 2009 by Dave Drews

After 11 weeks of the season, those who are performing are sticking out from those who aren’t. Ryan Miller is obviously doing his part, most of the defense has been solid, and the bottom six forwards for the Buffalo Sabres (21-10-3) are doing the jobs they’re supposed to do. Who does that leave? If you’ve followed the team at all, you know it’s the top six.

Thomas Vanek is leading the team in goals (well, he’s tied…with Clarke MacArthur).  But he only has 10. That’s not even half of league leader Marion Gaborik’s 24. Point leader Derek Roy only has 26, as compared with Joe Thornton’s 48. If you take a glance at the team’s +/- leaders, you have to go down to Jason Pominville in 6th place before you find someone who you’d call a top six forward. The Sabres are in the bottom third in the league in goals for with only 89. The Washington Capitals have 127.

Now, Buffalo is still doing well in the wins category, for probably two reasons. One, obviously, is Ryan Miller. The second is their ability to win one goal games this year, which stems more from the heart and determination of lines 3 and 4 that the scoring prowess of 1 and 2. The Sabres are 9-1-3 in contests decided by one goal this year. If they can get that scoring engine from the top two lines started, they just might be able to lift themselves into the elite status in the league.

This Weeks Opponents

  • Monday – Away Against the Toronto Maple Leafs (13-16-7)
  • Wednesday – Away Against the Washington Capitals (22-8-6)
  • Saturday – Home Against the Ottawa Senators (18-13-4)

Buffalo, like the rest of the league, will get a bit of a Christmas break this week. After two weeks of four games apiece, they will only play three times this week. They get a relatively easy start as well, as they visit the Maple Leafs for the second time this year.  Toronto has been doing better as of late, but they are still last in the division, and were      trounced by the Sabres this past Friday, 5-2. On Wednesday the Sabres travel again, down to Washington to play a Capitals team who is still vying for first place in the Eastern Conference. Then, after two days off, they will attempt to get their first win over the Ottawa Senators since February 7th, 2009.

Division Update

  • The Sabres are holding a comfortable 5 point lead over the Sens in the Northeast Division, and still hold games in hand over everyone in the Division except for the Boston Bruins (16-11-7). Still, Ottawa will definitely hold tie-breakers over the heads of Buffalo if they manage to tie it up, especially if they continue their dominance on Saturday. Meanwhile, the Montreal Canadians (16-18-3) might just take over last place if they keep dropping and the Leafs keep rising. It’s not looking good for the end of the Habs 100th year celebration.

Quote of the Week

“As a goaltender you feel bad for Vesa on that play,” he said. “You know what he’s trying to do … he’s looking for an option. But playing against the Maple Leafs, I don’t really are too much.”

- Ryan Miller on Vesa Toskola during Lydman’s goal Friday night.

If there’s one thing we love in Buffalo more than beating our rivals, it’s having our players love beating our rivals too.

Goalie Update

  • Miller is still leading in GAA, S%, Shutouts….blah, blah, blah, you knew all that. I mean, the guy is probably the best goalie in the league right now, we get it. Let’s talk about something different.

How about Patrick Lalime, huh? He got his first win recently, and took another game into a shootout on Saturday. He’s allowed only two goals in regular time in two games, both         against division leaders in the Chicago Blackhawks and Pittsburgh Penguins. His trip   down to Portland seems to have done him good, and if he can keep this up, he might just quiet the Marty Biron Talk from most people.

Quick State to Ponder

  • Clarke MacArthur is tied for the team lead in goals (with Thomas Vanek) with 10 while simultaneously being tied for the worst team +/- (with Chris Butler) with a -7.

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