The series is tied 1 - 1. That's better than 0 - 2, but not nearly as nice as 2 - 0. I would say that each team deserves their respective victory.
Tyler Myers got his first playoff goal as he lit the lamp on a deflected point shot. Later on in the 1st, 4th liner, Matt Ellis threw a harmless backhand on net and found nothing but net, far post for the 2 - 0 Buffalo lead. Tim Connolly narrowly missed a put-back attempt in the 1st period to make it 3 - 0. The 2nd period saw the Bruins fight back and net 2 of their own. Late in the 2nd, Tyler Ennis capitalized on a Milan Lucic giveaway, passing to Jason Pominville, who sniped home a point blank short side wrister to make it 3 - 2. The 3rd period saw Ryan Miller give up 2 more goals, one to Michael Ryder and another screened point shot to Chara which gave the Bruins the lead for good. The Sabres pulled Ryan Miller with 1:30 to no avail. Michael Ryder & Zdeno Chara each netted 2 goals for the Bruins.
There are two seperate issues to attack. The first is the series as a whole. Can the Sabres win this series/Are they in good shape to do so? I believe, yes. Even without Thomas Vanek (Which is issue #2) the Sabres still hold the edge in scoring power. Defense and goalie are fairly equal. Physical play is surprisingly an equal matchup.
Tonight's game was even more physical, but not quite as chippy as game 1. The Sabres have made a statement that they will not be intimidated. Unfortunately, the Sabres have more to lose as far as injuries go. The Sabres scorers are smaller and more susceptible to injury.
Issue #2 Thomas Vanek:
The huge lingering question is how long The Sabres will be without the services of Thomas Vanek. During the 2nd period, Johnny Boychuk gave Thomas Vanek a hard slash, for which he was penalized. The two slid into the end boards and Vanek sustained an injury. Early indications are that it may be a foot injury.
The long term loss of the teams leading scorer would have literal and psychological affects. The injury would weaken the top 2 scoring lines, necessitating a call-up or moving a non-scoring player to fill the hole. Nathan Gerbe, Drew Stfford or even Hecht will not come close to filling the gap left by Vanek's absence. Psychologically, the team loses it's superstar. vanek is far from a locker room leader, but everyone on the ice recognizes him as a threat. The Bruins won't have to respect his presence, which was a factor in creating breathing room for Tyler Ennis. The second tier players such as Tim Kennedy and Ennis may feel more pressure to fill the scoring gap.
We all hope that Thomas will return on Monday, but the simple fact that he was ruled out of todays game so quickly does not bode well for a quick return.
Buffalo is in full playoff mode. The Party In The Plaza has looked strong when shown on TV. It's getting tougher to concentrate at work. On a good note, Sabre fans across the US are gathering at local watering holes to watch playoff games. The spirit of the playoffs is back, and even with today's loss, I feel it and I love it.
It's been a while since i've felt a true hatred for a player not on the Ottawa Senators. I hate Milan Lucic. I hate Chara. I hate Johnny Boychuk. I hate Tuukka Rask and he didn't even do anything. As many Sabres fans learned to hate the Bruins in the 1970's and 1980's, I am learning to hate the Bruins in 2010.
The Series is tied 1 - 1. As of 10 pm Saturday, no series was 2 - 0. All series are either 1 - 1 or 1 - 0. Buffalo is in good company, having dropped a home game.
See you Monday, 7pm.