Buffalo Sabres: New and Improved in 2009

Andrew McCabeContributor IJanuary 20, 2009

When I started watching the Sabres this year, I got sick of seeing the same thing— dumping the puck, no one going for it, and the puck ending up on our side of the blue line.

Now, that isn't the story anymore.

You always see at least one player going into the corner fighting for that puck. If the opposition sends two guys, we send three just to generate an offensive opportunity.

Since the Sabres have been playing great, they are 7-2 in 2009. They are seeing the results of their hard work and goaltender Ryan Miller is getting the help he needs.
Miller faced a penalty shot early in Monday's game against the Florida Panthers and he was beaten. But, as any good goalie should, he shrugged it off and continued to play a solid game.

With Miller playing that well, it takes some pressure off of the team. They don't have to go out every night and score four goals to stay in a game.

Miller stopped 27 shots and had two crucial saves in the shootout. It was just another stellar performance—improving his record to 22-11-4. The Sabres have gone 7-3 in their last 10 games—much better than any team trying to catch them.

The Sabres are making noise and everyone around the league is looking. No team in the NHL wants to play the Sabres right now. They have one of the hottest goalies in the league and they are known for playing solid defense and good forechecking.

Last week, we were talking about having eight healthy defensemen—a good problem to have. Now two of them—Teppo Numminen and Andrej Sekera—are out with injuries. Head coach Lindy Ruff isn't shuffling up defensive pairings based on who is playing the best—even though I liked it that way.

This Sabres' team is on a relative hot streak right now. Let's see if they can keep it going against the Tampa Bay Lightning.  If the team is not plagued with injuries, they can compete with any team.