Game #62 Recap: [Insert Brad Boyes Pun Here]
Yet again, the Sabres were shaky late. This time, Miller rose to the occasion and strongly reminded people of the level of play he’s capable of. The result (with goals from Myers, newcomer Boyes, and Hecht) gave the Sabres two huge points and set up a massive showdown with the Carolina Hurricanes on Thursday night.
For the fourth straight game, the Sabres were a pain in the butt to defend down low, using their new favorite forechecking scheme that I love so much – the two man crease crash. Once possession is established, one forechecker sits on top of the crease while the other streaks out front to grab the point shot’s rebound and put it home. I’ll be posting about it more in-depth later. The transition game is also on the upswing, much to Sabres’ fans delight.
But of course, the defensive zone breakout was slow and uninspired yet again. It’s not that the Sabres don’t have the chance to get it out, but rather they aren’t taking those chances for reasons unknown. That hesitance will cost them sorely against teams with an aggressive forecheck.
Brad Boyes had a great game in his Sabres debut. Besides his powerplay goal that at the time was the game-winner, he had a number of big hits and backchecked well enough to break up a few rushes. He seems quite suited to playing in Lindy Ruff’s system and will look plenty comfortable once he’s practiced with the Sabres.
Tyler Myers had a defensive game unlike any other he’s had before. He was a rock in his own zone, looking very different from the Myers who started out the season in an epic rut. The desperation of battling for the playoffs manifested itself in the sophomore tonight, and it showed in his play.
Speaking of manifesting, the spirit of George Vezina seemingly possessed Ryan Miller, especially late. It’s been a refreshing resurgence for the reigning goalie of the year, who’s posted stats of 1.85 GAA and .938 SV% since sitting out one game against Montreal. He’s making the kind of clutch saves again which overshadowed his above-average that he hadn’t been early in the season.
Thursday is undoubtedly the single biggest game of the season for the Buffalo Sabres. Their host, the Carolina Hurricanes, currently sit two points ahead of the Sabres with 2 more games played. A win in regulation for the visitors will create a tie for 8th place with the Sabres winning the games played tie-breaker. Also of the utmost importance is the fact that if the Minnesota Wild beat the New York Rangers in regulation as well, the Sabres will then sit one point back of 7th place with three games in hand.