The Sabres Observer
by @DaveDavisHockey on 04/19/11 at 12:51 PM ET
We’re hearing a lot about how the Sabres have yet to play their best game in their series against the Flyers. Despite not looking like gangbusters themselves, Philadelphia to varying degrees has been the better team in all three games.
After their 4-2 win in Buffalo last night to gain a 2-1 lead in the series, it’s about time to accept the fact that this whole turn of events hasn’t been a coincidence.
For all the defensive schemes and systems that are out there, we all know that talent still usually prevails in a seven-game series. Compared to the Flyers, the Sabres just don’t have enough.
Their number one center hasn’t scored a playoff goal in five years. Look at Tim Connolly with Rob Niedermayer and Paul Gaustad as a comparison to Daniel Briere, Claude Giroux and Mike Richards. Is it even close? The Sabres top three up the middle combined for 30 goals this season. Briere topped that on his own.
Three of the Flyers top defensemen have a combined 23 years of NHL experience. Three of Buffalo’s top blueliners played in their first playoff game five days ago, and their top guy is in only his second season in the league.
The only advantage Buffalo has is goaltending, but being better in that department doesn’t seem to carry as much weight as it used to. Nevertheless, the local media heading into the playoffs was harping on Ryan Miller to make a difference.
Briere said that Miller stole Game One, and I agree with him. But with all due respect to Jaroslav Halak, asking your goalie to single-handedly win all or most of your playoff games nowadays is a tad bit unreasonable.
Too many fans and media folks harped on how the Flyers looked in March and early April. They went 7-4-6 in the last month of the season and people called it a slump. And that was without their stud defenseman. Truthfully, they were and are a bad playoff matchup for the Sabres. I’d personally have rather seen them play Boston or a Crosby-less Pittsburgh.
Lastly, there was a lot of talk about a perceived lack of energy in the crowd last night. Having been in both buildings during this series, it’s safe to say that’s not just a perception. The difference thus far in the noise levels between the Philly and Buffalo buildings has been like comparing a Metallica concert to the scene with your uncle butchering “Sweet Caroline” at a karaoke bar.
Taking on the personality of their hockey team, Sabres fans at HSBC Arena collectively didn’t bring their ‘A’ game last night. Perhaps the Monday blues or another shot of winter took a little out of them.
Or maybe, somewhat numbed by a dose of reality, they’re just smart enough to realize what their team is up against.
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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: firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: [@DaveDavisHockey]