The Sabres Observer
by @DaveDavisHockey on 11/23/11 at 12:19 PM ET
The Buffalo Sabres, outscored 17-9 since Milan Lucic played their star goaltender like a fiddle to expedite the post-Cup hangover recovery of his own team, aren’t going to impress anyone by throwing down with the Bruins tonight. That ship has sailed.
Say what you want about Lucic, but his dastardly deed in that landmark game eleven days ago was effective, bordering on brilliant. Meanwhile, Patrick Kaleta was too preoccupied with visions of the defendant chair in Brendan Shanahan’s office to regain some dignity for his club at the expense of Tim Thomas. Nobody else in the Buffalo lineup was up for the challenge that night either.
Boston has outscored their opponents 18-5 since The Hit, although they were already in the process of staking their claim as once again the team to beat in the Northeast Division before then. Proving to be tougher and more physical than the one club that was expected to challenge for that title certainly helped clear the path.
Sadly, it’s too late for the Sabres to salvage enough face to make up for the embarrassment that took place in Boston. When you forget your wife’s birthday, buying her a belated gift eleven days later isn’t going to earn you a get out of jail free card. You’re still sleeping on the couch.
Even though Lucic and the Bruins aren’t trembling in fear at the prospect of this rematch, they’re certainly expecting that there will be some theatrics in front of a bloodthirsty Buffalo crowd tonight. Truthfully, there isn’t anyone on Buffalo’s roster capable of giving the 6’3” heavyweight forward the beating he deserves. If the Sabres really did want revenge, they’d be better off going after Thomas - and accepting the inevitable suspension that would come with it.
Alternatively, however, this is an opportunity for the Sabres to assert themselves as the superior team in the skill department. The Bruins could be expecting their pride-stricken opponents to be unfocused and distracted. You just know the officials are going to be all over this game, which could afford Buffalo the chance to put its 9th ranked power play to good use.
The strict enforcement of the obstruction rules right after the lockout was a security blanket for a contending Sabres team built solely on speed and skill, but that era didn’t last long. GM Darcy Regier realized that help in the jam department was needed. As a result, the likes of Zack Kassian, Marcus Foligno and Brayden McNabb are coming up through the system and eventually may transition the Sabres into a team that isn’t pushed around so easily.
But that time has not yet arrived. Unless the Bruins get frisky again and do something that demands a response, the Sabres won’t fool anybody by going around looking for trouble. They’d just be mocked as the team that did something not as a result of their character makeup but rather in response to an outcry from fans and media. Buffalo needs the story tonight to revolve around big games from Thomas Vanek and Jason Pominville, not Paul Gaustad and Patrick Kaleta.
Just go win the damn game.
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About The Sabres Observer
Dave Davis has covered the Buffalo Sabres for various NHL accredited websites and newspapers since 2003. He was the senior writer and Sabres correspondent for The Fourth Period, covered hockey for Western New York Sports and Leisure Magazine, and has had articles featured on NHL.com, FOX Sports, Yahoo Sports and in New York Sportscene. Sabres news and notes can be found on his Twitter page.
Email: email@example.com Twitter: [@DaveDavisHockey]