1st rising star: Zdeno Chara
They always say you shouldn’t wake up a sleeping giant. Well, that Giant is awake and he’s angry. Yes, I hate Chara just as much as you do. But the guy played great tonight and proved why he’s a Norris Trophy winner. Chara is just so tough to move off the puck and when you try and hit him, you’re the one that’s going to be taking the brunt of it. Chara decking Ennis into the Bruins bench at the end of the first period, might have been the wake-up call that Boston was looking for.
2nd rising star: Tuukka Rask
Yes, Rask let in some soft goals in the first period. But it could have been a lot worse for the Bruins. The Sabres were all over them in 1st period, and it could have very easily been 4-0. Rask stood on his head and weathered the storm. I think we can start throwing out the “He’s just a rookie” crap out the window.
3rd rising star: Derek Roy
I’m going to tell you right now that Roy is making the falling star list. On the rising star part, I thought he had a ton of energy tonight. I thought he was the Sabres best forward for the first two periods. He was great on the forecheck and was even better in the defensive zone. With the injury to Vanek, Roy has to pick up the slack.
4th rising star: Tyler Myers
Played a nice game tonight and proved that his game one short-coming was nothing more than first game jitters. Myers made some nice plays, especially helping the Sabres get out of the defensive zone when the Bruins pressure was relentless during the 2nd period.
5th Rising Star: The Bruins psyche
You have to give the Bruins credit for not shutting down after having such a lackluster first period. They came out of the gates hungry and determined for the 2nd
period; erasing the two-goal deficit pretty quickly. Even more impressive was how the B’s didn’t put their heads down after the Sabres scored a late 2nd
period goal to take the lead. At that point, it seemed like the Bruins were reliving game one all over again. However, they came out strong in the third period. Even after taking the lead, the Bruins were still all over the Sabres, out shooting them 8-6 in the third.
1st Falling Star: Thomas Vanek injury
Nice fu#$en slash, err…hook by Boychuk on Vanek. I couldn’t help but do my version of Obi Wan Kenobi; “That’s no hook, that’s a space station.” OK, I just wanted to use a Star Wars reference.
Look, I’m not blind. The Vanek
injury hurt the Sabres tonight, and looked as if it stopped all of the team’s momentum. But even his injury, shouldn’t be an excuse for the way the Sabres played in the 2nd
and first half of the 3rd period. They had absolutely no passion and couldn’t get the puck out of their own zone. This isn’t just an isolated incident. Hell, just go back to game 1, when the Sabres played like crap in the 2nd
As for the Vanek injury, there was a lot of buzz on twitter with fans looking to stab themselves in eye because of it. Hold up there, One Eye Willy. Remember what happen three weeks ago in Boston? The Sabres played pretty well with Gerbe, Ennis and Mancari in the line-up. Listen, Vanek has played great since returning from injury, but how big of a factor was he during the regular season? Sorry, but the Sabres played just fine with him playing average.
If the Vanek injury is long-term, I still think the Sabres are in the driver’s seat against the Bruins. Yes, Boston scored five goals tonight, but a lot of those goals seemed to be fluky and just mental mistakes by the Sabres. In the end, before all of you start jumping off the Peace Bridge because of the Vanek injury, realize how successful this team was with Vanek playing subpar hockey this year. And consider that this piece of advise is coming from a Sabres cynic.
BTW, If the Sabres somehow lose this series, don’t blame it on the Vanek injury! I can already hear the talking heads for WGR blaming injuries; just like they did last year when the Sabres didn’t make the playoffs. The Bruins best offensive player can’t cross the street without having visions of Matt Cooke cleaning his clock out. Again, everyone is playing at a disadvantage and the Sabres just need to find guys that can step-up.
2nd falling Star: Tim Connolly
The gloves are off, Timmy. You played like absolute crap tonight. You were passive and extremely lazy. Those are two traits that I can’t stand for a hockey player to have. Your play on the game-tying goal was a complete joke. If you didn’t see the replay, check out how lazy Connolly was when he was chasing Boston’s 4 on 2 break on Miller. Dude was strolling like it was a training camp scrimmage.
I’m so sick and tired hearing about how great this guy is suppose to be. He’s been living off his dam eight game playoff performance from five years ago. Instead of flashing back to Philly, when he was playing on the 4th line, how about focusing on what he’s done in the playoffs as a whole. Connolly hasn’t scored a goal in his last 19 playoff games. This is a prime example of me being worried about the Sabres star players stepping up in the post season. Tim, you aren’t riding the coattails of Drury and Briere anymore. You need to step-up.
I guess the only time Connolly can go on a point streak is when Team USA didn’t consider having him play for them in the Olympics. I assure you, I don’t care if the Sabres win the cup, if Connolly plays like this for the rest of the postseason, I’m taking on a personal vendetta for this team to trade him.
BTW, Jason Pominville came really close to making this list. He played like crap during the first 35 minutes of the game. He’s lucky he scored a goal.
3rd Falling Star: Sabres trying to do their best Harlem Globetrotters
Look, I’m all for having as many highlight reel goals as possible. But can we stop with the dam drop and no look passes. Too many times tonight the Sabres tried being too cute with the puck. Sorry, but drop passes may work against defensively challenged teams, but not against the Bruins.
4th Falling Star: Raffi Torres
Real quick…I’d like it if Raffi could at least score a goal before his rental contract expires. Is that so much to ask for? Yeah, he’s a grinder, but I thought the Sabres were getting a scorer, not Dominic Moore version 3.0.
5th Falling Star: Derek Roy
Derek, I thought you really skated hard tonight, but you really stunk in the 3rd period. You need to stop doing your “take on the world” mentality when you’re facing four Bruins at the blueline. Dump the puck in. Stop trying to Max Afinogenov your way to the net.
6th Falling Star: Sabres defensemen
Too many turnovers and not enough getting involved in the offensive zone. If the Sabres are going to miss Vanek for an extended period of time, they need to have there defensemen pinch in more. Hell, I’m only asking for what Lindy Ruff always preaches about. As for the giveaways, the play by Lydman on the empty net goal was one for the blooper reel.
7th Falling Star: 2nd Period
I already touched on this earlier, but I think it deserves its own category. It’s the second game in a row that the Sabres played like crap during the second stanza. There are no excuses to give up a two goal lead against a Bruins team that can’t score. Yes, Vanek was hurt, I get it. But it’s not like Vanek is a Selke Award winning forward that has to contain the likes of Michael Ryder and Miro Satan.
Look, I’m not going to panic over the Vanek injury…yet. Not to beat a dead horse, but this team has proven they can win when Vanek isn’t playing at a high level. I think the Sabres need to get back to basics and play solid defensive hockey. There were just too many turnovers and too many odd man rushes.
Plus, the Sabres need to get back to the hitting like they did in game one. You know that the Bruins are going to be completely amped up in their home rink. The Sabres can’t let the Bruins dictate the style of play. Buffalo needs to go out and initiate the hitting against Boston.
Again, Vanek is good, but he’s not the end-all-be-all that everyone is making him out to be.
PS: Totally forgot to mention the power play. It stunk again tonight. Get better, guys. Because if the Bruins are going to play physical and take liberties on your team, you’re going to have to make them pay on the power play.