WAT’s-THE-WORD on The Buffalo Sabres?! They are close to the top of the NHL and deservedly so! With players like Tim Connolly and Jochen Hecht heating up, the skys the limit for this western New York team. Of course, the secondary scoring has been there all season and indicates good things for the second half of the season.
As we are half way through this regular season here is my report card for the team: A.
Is there any other grade possible? The team leads the Northeast Division and has nine more points that last season’s midpoint. Of course there is nitpicking to be done (better starts) and things to improve upon (power play), but this team has put itself in great position to make the playoffs.
I think that the MVP so far this season has to be Ryan Miller. No explanation needed.
Rookie of the Year has to be Tyler Myers. He could win a few of the mid season awards despite a few recent hiccups. He doesn’t play like a 19 year old and let’s hope it stays that way.
Another player who has stepped up his game this season is Sabres backup goaltender Patrick Lalime. He has played great in his last two starts and relief appearance against the Pens. I think it was just a matter of confidence, which he got by going to Portland for a two game conditioning stint. Oddly, he didn’t win either game, but played very well.
Probably the best performance in a single game this first half of the season had to have been Drew Stafford vs. Pittsburgh on December 29th. Stafford was back in the line up one game after being a healthy scratch in St. Louis. The Sabres trailed 3-0 in the second period when the team was awarded a penalty shot. Lindy tabbed Stafford, and after a lengthy wait due to a video review, he beat Marc-Andre Fleury five-hole. Stafford would then score the next goal a few minutes later corralling his own rebound for his ninth goal of the season. He wasn’t done. He beat a defender and went hard to the net to set up Paul Gaustad for the game-tying marker. It was awesome and something we need to see more of from No. 21.
I think that the Best Game Of The First Half of the season was the shootout victory vs. Calgary on Friday November 13th. The Flames scored at 1:04 of the first period when Daymond Langkow beat Ryan Miller in front for the quick lead. That’s the last goal the Flames would score until the shootout. Derek Roy tied the game late in the period on the power play. From there on, it was tight checking and hard hitting. The game had a playoff atmosphere. Jarome Iginla had a chance to win it for Calgary in the shootout, but Miller turned him away. Jason Pominville then beat Mikka Kiprusoff for the shootout-deciding goal and the 2-1 win.