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Game #56 Recap: Return Of The Powerless Play

02/16/11
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The Sabres had the perfect opportunity to finally move into the top 8 for the first time since opening week but did something they’ve done so many times before this season – shot themselves in the foot when they had a great chance to jump ahead.

It was another shorthanded goal surrendered by the Sabres – their 11th allowed on the season – that sank the Sabres’ chances to advance into a playoff spot. The home team’s powerplay unit on that goal against is evenly to blame, crapping away a wave of momentum built by a stupendous penalty kill that included suffering through a 5-on-3 disadvantage.

The one goal the Sabres did get was fairly fluky, going in off of James Reimer’s jersey. The Sabres only had single digit shot numbers in each period, and of those none were of good quality down low. Looking past the shorthanded goal, lack of slot presence, low shot numbers, and brutal turnovers were the killer tonight. In fact, that shorthanded goal was the direct result of an ugly turnover.

As pointed out on Twitter, however coincidentally, this is the second straight loss with Patrick Kaleta in the line-up in place of Paul Byron. Kaleta, who’s made a name for himself as a premier pest in the NHL, has not played with nearly enough energy or snarl to maintain his place on the bench. Paul Byron, on the other hand, has been a sparkplug in nearly any situation he’s been thrust into and has looked firmly at home in the NHL. At this point, the only reason Patrick Kaleta should be on the ice is if Lindy Ruff finally sits Rob Niedermayer for the Angolan native.

Miller made up for his bad game, but the forwards decided to slack off today instead. The next game is at home on Friday against the Blues, who have a sharp young offense that can score in bunches. The Sabres will need to look practically the opposite of what they featured against Toronto to win. Hopefully the power play will find its groove again and help even the season-long home stand at 1.

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