Kukla's Korner

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Sabres Observations: Close Games, Gerbe, Miller

There’s a fine line between winning and losing in the salary cap era, but some statistics can show how slanted that line can be.

Here’s one for Sabres fans to ponder:  Buffalo’s 3-2 overtime loss to Boston last night continued a disturbing trend.  Since March 12, if you disregard last minute empty netters, the Sabres have been in 31 games (including playoffs) that have in effect been decided by one goal. 

Buffalo has only managed to win 5 of those 31 games in regulation or overtime.  This is not the stuff contenders are made of.

* * *

It’s time for coach Lindy Ruff to put this Nathan Gerbe-on-the-top-line thing to sleep.  A team that needs every point it can get just to make the playoffs shouldn’t be dragging down its top line with a guy who has 2 goals in 38 career NHL games. 

In the 3 games since this awful idea came to fruition, linemates Thomas Vanek and Derek Roy have combined for one goal and zero assists at even strength.  Tyler Ennis was a better and more dangerous player than Gerbe a week ago, and we can now confirm that this hasn’t changed.

* * *

This just in: The Sabres are going nowhere without their franchise goaltender.  While many folks were all over Ryan Miller last night for the weak goal he gave up to Milan Lucic, the rest of us were noticing how many big stops he was making on shots from the point, many of them with heavy traffic in front of him. 

Miller made 33 saves on 36 shots in last night’s game and, bad goal or not, stole a point for his team. 

* * *

Taking an optimistic view for Sabres fans, losing ground in an overtime loss to the team they were chasing for eighth place wasn’t as big a deal as some made it out to be, because it was Boston.  Who really thought that Buffalo had a legitimate shot at finishing higher than the Bruins in the standings even had they won?

The Sabres went into a hostile building where they haven’t been winning, blew a lead courtesy of a Mike Weber early Christmas present to Nathan Horton, nearly lost during a Bruins onslaught in the dying seconds of regulation, and still picked up a needed point on two teams that they have a much better chance of catching - the Atlanta Thrashers and New York Rangers.

* * *

This would be a great time for Buffalo to figure out how to win in Buffalo.  The Islanders are the only team that has been worse on home ice this season, and five of the seven games that the Sabres play before Christmas are at HSBC Arena. 

Twitter: @DaveDavisHockey

Filed in: NHL Teams, Buffalo Sabres, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: buffalo+sabres, hsbc+arena, nathan+gerbe, ryan+miller


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About Kukla's Korner Hockey

Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.

From breaking news to in-depth stories around the league, KK Hockey is updated with fresh stories all day long and will bring you the latest news as quickly as possible.

Email Paul anytime at pk@kuklaskorner.com


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