Gerbe Derby Photo Finish: Post Game Reactions from Game 50 @ Montreal

First of all, I’ve decided to call my post-game reactions Photo Finishes to go with the whole Derby theme.  Now that we have formalities out of the way…

1) At first, this one looked like another snoozer, but surely I was wrong.  I actually enjoyed watching this game.  The Sabres continued to generate pressure on the Canadiens all night, and that’s without Thomas Vanek, the Sabres’ biggest impact player.  Buffalo out-shot the Habs 40-28.  Most importantly, Buffalo scored timely goals that allowed them to gain momentum when it was necessary.  Most importantly, they didn’t get down on themselves after the Habs scored the first goal of the game.

2) Ville Leino found some space and finally got onto the score sheet after a long drought to grab his 4th of the season.  Kudos to Leino making the most of his chance on the first line with Roy and Pominville after the Vanek injury.  Vanek, by the way, left the game in the 1st period with an upper body injury, something he’s been dealing with for quite some time now.

3) Brad Boyes made a nifty play leading to Paul Gaustad’s goal that put the Sabres ahead in the 3rd period.

4) Another initial thought: the Sabres couldn’t pass the puck to save their lives, which isn’t anything all that new, but as the game went on, that aspect of their game improved.  The Ennis-Gerbe-Stafford line was extremely impressive, especially with Ennis playing a “brand new position.”  Center is Ennis’s natural position, drafted out of Medicine Hat in the WHL for that specific purpose.  He won 8 of 15 in the faceoff circle.  He chased pucks, and his speed set him apart from many Montreal players on the ice.  Why the Sabres haven’t tried slotting him in at the pivot earlier in his career is beyond me.  The kid took his new role and skated with it.

5) Ryan Miller was a rock, tonight.  He looked like the Miller of old, making spectacular save after save.  I had absolutely no complaints about his game.  I would say he kept this team in this game, which he did, but to say that implies that the team in front of him didn’t do much, and that would be lying.  His only goal against was one in which Max Pacioretty had all the time in the world to put the puck by him.

6) Finally, the Luke Adam scratch was necessary.  17 games without a point for any player is unacceptable.  The M.A. Gragnani scratch was no surprise with a near fully healthy Sabres defense.  As soon as Brayden McNabb gets back, I expect Mike Weber to be the next healthy scratch, and for T.J. Brennan to be sent back to Rochester.

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