Hurricanes-Sabres: Defensive Zone Woes Draw Canes Closer

Robert FischerContributor IFebruary 15, 2009

Its an old adage that every hockey player has heard since pee-wee hockey or earlier, "If you have no options, glass and out!".

Perhaps the Sabres problems are no more complex.

For those of you not familiar with the phrase "glass and out," it refers to when a player in his defensive zone has no options he flips off the glass into the neutral zone.

As we watch the Sabres make the pretty play on the breakout, you wonder if one of hockey's easier plays may make Ryan Miller's, or in tonght's case Patrick Lalime's, life a little easier.

Tonight the Hurricanes shut out the Sabres on the strength of Eric Staal and Cam Ward's great individual nights.

Staal scored the first goal of the night and assisted on the other with a great individual effort finished off by Chad Larose.

As has been the case throughout the last four games, the Sabres assisted the opposition with defensive and neutral zone turnovers.

The HSBC crowd did not let this go unnoticed and the team was met with a chorus of boo's several times throughout the evening.

If the Sabres need guidance on how to fix their defensive woes, they need not look any farther than the other side of the ice tonight. Several times throughout this contest the 'Canes blocked shots and made the simple plays to break out of their own zone.

This was most evident in the first period when Buffalo had a four-minute power play after Clarke MacArthur was clipped with a high stick.

On this effort, the Sabres were only given the perimeter thanks to an aggressive box utilized by Carolina throughout the night. Each perimeter blast met a Hurricane defenders' shin guard.

This set the tone for a frustrating evening where Buffalo seemed lifeless until about ten minutes were left in the contest.

This plagued Buffalo in the home-and-home series with Ottawa where they only came away with a point.

If there was a silver lining in this dark cloud, it was the terrific performance of the backup goalie, Lalime. He was particularly impressive in the second period where he faced a barrage of shots including a highlight-reel save on a breakaway.

This was Lalime's second strong performance in a row.

He was solid in his last outing, albeit it came in a loss to Anaheim. This should be encouraging to fans, since it is likely he will remain the backup the duration of this season.

The Sabres have committed the cardinal sin of giving up points to teams behind them in the standings. This draws the Canes within three points of the eighth playoff spot which the Sabres currently hold.