Now I know the Sabres won 7-1 and they are still undefeated through their 1st two games but I am still not going to get all excited about them winning the Stanley Cup or anything like that. There is still a lot of hockey that needs to be played before I start talking about that.
Overall, I do think the Sabres will make the playoffs in the 6-8 seed but that is a different topic for a different day. Today I am going to explain two things that really have me excited about this team that I saw in today’s game.
The Use of the Backup Goalie
All of the Sabres fans out there who followed the team last year know that Ryan Miller was over used. We didn’t hear him complain about it at all, but he broke down as the season went on. Miller started 34 games in a row and a total of 76 games overall. Franchise goalie or not, that is way too many games for a goalie to play in.
The reason that Miller was overworked was because of the Sabres lack of a #2 goalie they could count on. Whatever it was, Jocelyn Thilbault just wasn’t the answer. He just didn’t get the job done when the Sabres tried to use him and, because they didn’t have much faith in him, the Sabres played a completely different game when he was in between the pipes. They tried to drop back into a more defensive game plan, which didn’t suit the team’s personnel at all.
Head Coach Lindy Ruff told reporters late last week that new backup Patrick Lalime would play “sooner rather than later” (you can also see the article I wrote up on diehardsportsfan.net by clicking HERE) and he sure did, starting in the Sabres second game of the season.
Now Lalime did look very sharp stopping 23 of the 24 shots taken by the Islanders but what I was more impressed with was the team’s confidence with him. They stuck with their normal, high flying offense and didn’t start getting into a trap system until they were up by a bundle of goals. That is something that we didn’t see with Thilbault at all.
Taking a look at the Sabres upcoming schedule, they play 3 more games this week. They play Wednesday at the New York Rangers, Friday at home against Vancouver, and Saturday at Atlanta.
I have a feeling that Lindy Ruff will play Miller against the Rangers and Canucks but I would look for Lalime to make his second start of the season at Atlanta.
Love a Little Fight in the Team
Sometimes the Sabres have been pushed around against more physical teams but that was not happening today. After the Sabres scored, center Adam Mair was hit with a cross check in the face by an Islanders center. New captain, Craig Rivet was not going to stand for that. He went right after the perpetrator and then dropped the gloves against another Islander foe that went after him. Fan favorite Patrick Kaleta and Mair also dropped the gloves. Mair had a good fight while Kaleta chose to body slam his partner into the ice.
This will send a message to the other teams in the league that the Sabres are not a team that they can just push over. It is expected from both Kaleta and Mair but Rivet was a very nice surprise. As a fan, I love that stuff coming from my team, especially my captain in Rivet.
Other Notes and Thoughts
…Center Jochen Hecht was injured in today’s game. It was called an “upper-body injury” by Ruff. If Hect is out for the Sabres next few games, either Center Tim Connolly will have to step in (he is still injured and is expected out for the next week) or another new player, winger Matt Ellis might be another choice to take his roster spot while he recovers…
…It will be interesting to see if Craig Rivet is eligible for the Sabres next game. He received two game misconducts which might cause him to miss his next game. If that is the case, it looks like 7thdefenseman, Nathan Paetsch will take his spot for however long he is out…