Thursday, May 10, 2007

GAME 1: Senators 5, Sabres 2

What can one say? This was by far the worst effort of the Sabres in the playoffs.

Despite some shoddy play, the Sabres managed to crawl out of a 2-0 hole to tie the game after two, then totally became unhinged in the third period. Oleg Saprykin's tap in 7+ minutes into the third turned out to be the game winner.

Buffalo's power play has been a sore point all season long, but the special teams took the ineptness to a new low tonight, failing to generate any real scoring threat despite numerous opportunities. Buffalo's first power play resulted in a shorthanded goal as Kalinin made one his first dumb plays of the night giving away the puck and allowing a breakaway. "We weren't very good with the puck, and Dmitri wan't the only player who struggled out there. Our puck management wasn't very good." said Coach Lindy Ruff after the game.

With Ottawa clinging to a 3-2 lead with 5 minutes to go, I turned to my seatmate, Matt Ondesko from Metro Source, and said "Matthew, if Ottawa wants to salt this one away, they should now commit a double minor penalty. That would be lights out." He laughed. He didn't argue.

Ruff also criticized his players for the unforced turnovers. "It was a turnover that led to the winning goal." said Ruff, adding "We came out great to start the game, maybe our guys got a little rattled."

If there was one bright spot on the Sabres team, it was the play of the Afinogenov-Roy-Vanek line. Max was absolutely filthy out there, making plays, controlling the puck, taking hits and dishing it right back to the Senators.

Bottom line - special teams! Five on five the Sabres win 2-1.

Peter was in the seats tonight, I was in the very crowded pressbox, and I'll have a story up on all that hubbub tomorrow. But the report from the 100s was that there were only a very small and scattered contingent of Senators fans in the audience. We expect that to increase in game 2.

As always, Peter likes to spot the cool jerseys in the crowd, and tonight he reports that it was a toss up between an Afinogenov Moscow Dynamo and a Hecht Team Deustchland.

Here's a scary stat - Buffalo has dropped the opener in a best of seven series 14 times in franchise history. They have come back to win the series but one of those times.

One could sense a lot of confidence, perhaps even a swagger, among the Sens players after the game tonight. Unless Buffalo figures this team out and fast, this series could be over soon.

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