Game 3: Immediate Reactions

In a y pivotal game 3, the Sabres appeared to be a team content coming home with the split in Philadelpha while the Flyers possessed the determination and desperation to take back control of the series.  Now with the series 2-1 in the Flyers’ advantage, game 4 will present an opportunity to completely take control while the Sabres need regain their composure and not let this slip away heading back to Philly.  Long and short here are some thoughts about the game:

  • The Sabres forecheck didn’t create nearly enough pressure on the Flyers who seemed to be able to take the puck out of their zone with a lot of ease.
  • Conversely, the Flyers really stepped up their pressure in the second period and forced the Sabres hand, especially on the Briere goal on a good play by Hartnell. 
  • The Zherdev goal to put the Flyers up 3-1 was terrible defense.  Montador was left with a two-on-one that seemed to last forever allowing Richards to pick his spot and dump an easy pass to Zherdev.
  • Marc-Andre Gragnani led all Sabres with 23:51 of ice time.  It is hard to really see how next year will pan out for the Sabres, but you have to think he’ll be a part of the future.
  • Ryan Miller needs to be better than he was tonight.  He wasn’t terrible, but if he’s the rock of this team it needs to show up more consistently
  • The Sabres have too many “offensive” defensemen where their offensive production seems to not compensate for their defensive problems.
  • Although both had over 20 minutes of ice time, if Tim Connolly and Drew Stafford really want big time money this offseason I would like to see more from them offensively.  Connolly’s penalty killing is important and will bring value, but they are setting their market value for this summer.
  • Nathan Gerbe has been the Sabres best and most consistent player 5-on-5 and more so than Connolly makes Stafford’s price have a ceiling to stay in Buffalo.
  • Stupid penalties hurt the Sabres early with Kaleta’s poor decision and then there were still too many moments of questionable decision making.  Game 4 may be decided on the Sabres ability to maintain their composure.
  • The Flyers are so much stronger down the middle with Briere, Carter and Richards and it is showing how much the Sabres miss Derek Roy.
  • The Flyers defense played a real solid game in front of Boucher and minimized the Sabres attack
  • Did anyone else think the last ten minutes of the game seemed irrelevant to the Sabres?  They seemed to lack an urgency and had a lot of trouble generating any sort of rush.
  • The atmosphere inside HSBC arena was a disappoint
  • The atmosphere outside HSBC arena was a beautiful sight
  • Boucher taking off his helmet was unfortunate, but not malicious
  • I missed Doug Allen for the national anthem

There were a lot of different aspects that went into this game and could be broken down to every microcosm, but the Sabres seemed overmatched and outworked which is a bad combination going forward.  I expect Lindy to work them very hard on the off day and to come out extremely energetic in Game 4.  Not using the cliché of must wins, but the Sabres need to avoid putting themselves in a hole heading back to Philly.  The Sabres ‘stars’ need to elevate their game and carry this team to a victory and tie the series.

Follow me on Twitter: @brianbund

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