Game #69 Late Recap: Offensive Outburst In Memory Of Rico
One more goal would have been fitting, eh?
The Sabres could’ve easily folded given the circumstances of the day. Rick Martin’s tragic and unexpected passing no doubt hung heavily over the long-time employees of the team. If it wasn’t that, it was the weeks-long fatigue that had built up following the season-long road trip. If it wasn’t either of those, it was the two early leads they had given up that could’ve snowballed on them. But they perservered and the fans in HSBC Arena on Sunday evening were treated to a high-scoring affair that saw the Sabres climb back into 7th place.
Tyler Ennis, Thomas Vanek, and Mike Weber all had very strong games. Ennis’ two goals, while spectacular in their own right, helped raise his rookie scoring place to 3rd in the league to go with his first place ranking in rookie assists. He sits at 7th in rookie goals. Vanek continues to play strong games in both ends of the ice and his breakaway goal (highlighted by his use of his signature “around the world” move) was hard work incarnate. Mike Weber, billed as a stay-at-home defenseman, quietly dropped three assist next to his name on the scoresheet and his play in his own zone continues to show his growing importance to this team.
Despite allowing four goals, three of them soft, Jhonas Enroth had a good game punctuated by clutch saves and now has three wins in a row. His confident play in net, and the confidence he inspires in his teammates, has all but solidified his role as Ryan Miller’s back-up in 2012. Most importantly, he instills confidence in Lindy Ruff. This confidence will go a huge way to keeping Miller rested and Enroth sharp in coming years.
No one really had a bad game except for Chris Butler. His fine play aside, he took three stupid and completely avoidable minor penalties. It’s not unreasonable to expect that Butler will be taking a seat on Tuesday to allow room for Steve Montador’s reinsertion into the line-up.
Over at Buffalo 74, Scott summed up the season-defining road trip and coming game against the Hurricanes. The implications of the game are huge. A win would keep the Sabres in 7th, move them within five points of Montreal in 6th, but most importantly give the team a six-point buffer between themselves and Carolina. A loss moves the Canes only one win from Buffalo and puts a considerable amount of heat on the climbing Sabres. It’s gut check time. The day of reckoning.