Ugh! How I hate writing posts on the Senators kicking our asses! I bet the word “domination” is mentioned like 10x in this post.
The Rising Stars
First Rising Star: Brian Elliott
Can you say Roman Cechmanek? In case you don’t know about the history of Cechmanek, he was the Flyers starting goaltender during the 2000-2001 season, and completely owned the Sabres. During the regular season, Cechmanek had a record of 4-0, with two shutouts and gave up just TWO goals in four games. Roman wasn’t anyone special. But for whatever reason, he completely owned Buffalo.
Flash forward nine years later, and Brian Elliott is on a similar streak against the Sabres. Going into tonight’s game, Eliott had won all seven of his career starts against Buffalo; sporting a GAA of under two goals a game. Tonight, Elliott looked awesome in turning away 41 Buffalo shots. Even though Elliot has been hot as of late, it shouldn’t justify his domination over the Sabres. Against the rest of the NHL, Elliot is just an average goaltender on a talented hockey team.
If the Sabres meet the Sens in the playoffs, they need to figure out a way to solve the riddle of Elliott. Maybe it’s having Adam Mair take a run at him. Maybe it’s having Marty Biron make a special appearance and pick a goalie fight with him. How about taking Elliott to the same restaurant that all of the Sabres players had food poisoning at. They have to do something to figure this guy out.
If they don’t, the series is going to end in five. As for whatever happened to Roman….well, the Sabres met the Flyers in the playoffs that year and won the series in six games. The Sabres were finally able to figure out the hot goaltender, especially in game six, when the team scored eight goals. So, maybe all isn’t lost.
Second Rising Star: The Senators
What the hell can you say? Ottawa owns Buffalo. If you want to give me the history of Derek Plante’s game seven goal or sweeping Ottawa in 99′, well, go ahead if that makes you feel better. It’s not even a rival anymore. I mean, you have to win once in a while to make it a legit rivalry, right? Dating back to last year, the Sens have dominated the Sabres; winning nine straight games. You don’t even want to know their record against the Sabres since the lockout.
There are a ton of factors involved in the Sabres inability to beat the Sens. You pick it, the Senators have dominated it. They have had better goaltending
, better star player performances, better coaching, better physicality…just better everything.
Seriously, take away the playoff series in 2006 and the Senators have completely outplayed the Sabres in every facet of the game. Oh, and I’m not even going to get into the Sabres psyche against Ottawa, because like Ryan Miller said once about his team, “It’s fragile.”
Third Rising Star: Sabres 3rd and 4th lines
I know there are times that I bash Lindy Ruff for giving so much playing time to the 3rd and 4th lines. However, for tonight, those forwards definitely earned it. Welcome back Paul Gaustad. Goose, along with Grier, Mair and Ellis were all over the ice . They were constantly pressuring the Senators in their own zone and were all over Elliott. You can tell those guys really wanted to end the losing streak.
The Sabres started the game on a mission…a very psychical mission. They wanted to beat the crap out of the Sens and it almost worked. If you can’t skate with the Senators, you may as well try and slow them down by playing old-school hockey. How about that fight Patrick Kaleta
started? Unfortunately, the effort was there, but the end result was the same.
1st Falling Star: The Sabres top six forwards
Tell me if you have heard this one before? Where were the top six forwards tonight? I don’t care if Pomer
got a goal on a two on zero. When your 3rd and 4th
lines are showing the most effort and getting the most scoring chances, you have issues. This is the only, and I mean only reason why my confidence is shaken for the playoffs.
The Sabres top six forwards have been so inconsistent this year. If the Sabres really want to make noise in the playoffs, they are going to need at least two of their top six forwards to go on a nice point streak. Yes, you can talk all you want about goaltending, but you can’t win all four games of a playoff series by a 2-1 score.
I’m in no mood to see Mair/Ellis/Kennedy go up against the Spezza
line with 2 minutes left in a game, because Lindy is pissed off at Roy and Vanek
for being invisible. You want to know why Ottawa kicks the Sabres asses all the time? It comes down to the star players on both squads. Guys like Alfredsson
are Sabres killers. The last time the Sabres top six forwards did anything against Ottawa was when RJ
was screaming “these guys are good, scary good!!”
Yeah, it’s scary alright. So scary that someone needs to call Ghost Busters, because since Pominville beat Alfredsson and Ray Emery, the Senators have been haunting the Sabres.
2nd Falling Star: The Sabres Memos
Memo to Toni Lydman: It may be funny to try and stick your leg out when the waiter walks past your table at a restaurant, but it sure doesn’t work on the ice. Dumb, DUMB tripping Penalty that lead to the Senators 3rd goal of the game.
Memo to Tim Connolly: Thanks for the nice fricken slashing penalty that nullified a five minute power play. Really, thanks a lot.
Memo to The Whip: Please, just end the segment. Interview the Senators beat writer or talk about the Water Front Project that your boss is designing. Your topics are nothing more than rehashed garbage from a slow sports day on a talk radio show.
Memo to the Sabres Power Play: I don’t care if you score two power play goals a game for the rest of the season, the power play will always stink.
Memo to the Sabres feelings: I was reading on Sabres Edge that prior to the game, there were a number of Sabres that were rolling their eyes at the questions about the Sens domination. Um, start manning up, wimps! Stop sticking up for Patrick Lalime getting booed and realize there are bigger fish to fry! The Sens have dominated your ass over the last four years! I’m sick of you guys acting as if you’re kids, who are sick of being disciplined because you’re constantly getting detention in high school. You’re professionals, and you shouldn’t be rolling your eyes at anybody else but yourselves. Welcome to professional sports, boys.
3rd Falling Star:Ryan Miller
Look, I’ll be honest, it’s very hard for me to give Miller a falling star. He was good tonight, especially in the third period, but not great. However, this falling star is more of an indictment of his play against the Senators overall. For Miller’s career against Ottawa, he’s 8-14-2 with a GAA of just over three goals a game. That’s not very Miller like.
Without a shadow of a doubt, Miller is the heart and soul of this hockey team. You can always tell that he treats every single game as if it’s his last. But, enough with the cliches. Miller just doesn’t seem right against the Sens. Even the first Ottawa goal tonight, which wasn’t really a bad goal, kind of made Miller look as if he was pressing a bit.
Miller knows that the key to the Sabres survival in the playoffs rests on his shoulders. He knows there are plenty of questions and concerns about the Sabres being dominated by the Senators. I’m sure he wants to win the most out of any of his teammates. But, if you were to look at the season series, and ask me which Sabres player has had the worst game against Ottawa, you gotta put Miller up there.
I’m hoping that Miller’s performance against the Senators is just a hick-up for his career. Hick-ups can always go away. He’s proven that he can dominate the best in world (which is something we can’t say about his teammates).
I’m just hoping that if Miller meets the Senators in the playoffs, the outcome isn’t the same. If it is, well, Pedro Martinez and Ryan Miller are going to have something in common with their division rivals. “Just tip my hat and call the Senators/Yankees my daddy.”
You really can’t bag too much on the Sabres effort tonight. There was definitely a hop in their step. You can tell they wanted to end the streak and clinch a playoff birth. If it wasn’t for a couple of bad bounces and some stupid penalties, they could have won and ended the streak. However, there are no scraps in my scrap book.
I’m sick and tired of writing posts about the Sabres losing against Ottawa. Sorry, but youtubing the 7-6 victory over the Senators in the 2006 playoffs…isn’t helping my state of mind. I can already hear the homers, “Dude, the playoffs are a different ball game and we have defense and solid goaltending.” Awesome, I get that…but what about f$%ken Ottawa?! What is it? seven regular season victories in five years? Sorry, but you can take your blue-collar work ethic and your lunch pall…and stick up it up your ass!
Read my lips: I DO NOT WANT TO PLAY OTTAWA IN THE PLAYOFFS! I don’t care what anyone out there says. If you feel better because they gave an honest effort tonight, well, ah salute.
However, we have seen these types of efforts before, and the end result is always the same against Ottawa. Tonight, the Sabres tried a different tactic with getting physical and it just didn’t work. The Sabres have made Elliott look as if he’s a Hall of Fame Goalie. The Senators have a REAL version of an NHL first line.
You want to know what this rival has become? In a nut shell, compare Vanek’s shot off the crossbar to Alfredsson’s game winning goal in the last meeting. Great players aren’t always great, they are just great when they have to be.
Sorry, but I’m not seeing that with the majority of Sabres on this roster.