Reprinted with permission from hockeybuzz.com
No one will ever be able to convince me that bad officiating has nothing to do with a loss.
Momentum plays a huge part in every sport and a bad call during the course of a game can keep a team from gaining or stopping momentum at any point in the contest. It happened yesterday in the Bills vs. New England as it did the week before at Detroit. What bad calls at crucial times do is keep a team at bay, just out of reach of the favorite (maybe, favored?) or it will keep an underdog team from getting too far ahead.
Although the Bills didn't lay an egg in the second half because of poor or one-sided officiating, a couple of bad calls at crucial moments made their task much more difficult, if not insurmountable. That's how officiating affects the outcome.
It happens in football, it happens in baseball and it happens a lot in basketball.
Bad calls happen in hockey as well and may have something to do with the outcome, but it's something that can be countered by the great equalizer--the goaltender. A tough goalie can single-handedly swing the momentum back.
The Sabres have been getting some quality goaltending through the first two games, unfortunately there hasn't been nearly enough to cover all of the holes on this team. And that would include the holes in Jhonas Enroth's game.
Enroth has played well, at times standing on his head while facing 87 shots over the first two games, but he has gaping holes top-shelf which have been exploited. Add that to a couple of softies and you come up with nine goals against over the first two games with a .897 save percentage.
It's not all his fault as turnovers and defensive breakdowns routinely occur, albeit not with the frequency they happened to begin last season, and the Sabres did kick off the season against two quality opponents in the Columbus Blue Jackets and Chicago Blackhawks. Having the Jax score three and Hawks lay six goals on this team with this goaltender isn't all that far-fetched especially with the firepower Chicago has.
With the defeats comes the opportunity for changes and it looks as if a couple of changes will be made for today's matinee with the Anaheim Ducks.
Early indications are that Michal Neuvirth will step in front of the shooting gallery for his first start in goal on the season. Neuvirth played for Anaheim bench boss Bruce Boudreau for Washington from 2008-2012. Also, it looks as if Andrej Meszaros will be taking his two shots on goals and minus-5 rating to the pressbox in favor of Tyson Strachan.
Still on the injured list are defensemen Jake McCabe and Mark Pysyk as well as forward Patrick Kaleta and goalie Matt Hackett.
Forward Brian Flynn looks to be a healthy scratch for the third straight game.
Tonight will be the first of a back-to-back with a contest tomorrow at Carolina and it will be the first of 18 scheduled back-to-back games Buffalo has on the season. Last season they went 4-9-0 on the first game while going only 1-8-4 in the second.
The Sabres have not done particularly well against the Ducks as of late going 4-6-0 over their last ten games. The two teams will meet again in Anaheim on October 22 as the Sabres kick off a three-game west coast road trip that features stops in Los Angeles and San Jose' before they come back east to finish out the trip in Toronto.
It's a part of a brutal October schedule that will also feature two tilts with the Boston Bruins. Of the 11 games, only three are against non-playoff teams (Carolina, Florida and Toronto.)
Over in Rochester, the Amerks came out of their season opening back-to-back home tilts with a split. They opened the season with a 6-1 win against the Adirondack Flames then dropped the following game 6-4 to the Hamilton Bulldogs.
Nine players scored goals for Rochester with Akim Aliu netting two. Aliu is on a 25-game pro tryout with the club. Of note is that he also had two goals in the preseason.
Forward Johan Larsson and defenseman Chad Ruhwedel lead the team in scoring with a goal and three assists each while Willam Carrier, Tim Schaller and Matt "Friggen'" Ellis lead in the plus/minus column with a plus-2 rating.
Nathan Lieuwen has been in net for both games. He's faced 58 shots allowing six goals against for a 3.02 gaa and a .897 save percentage.
Defenseman Nick Petrecki was auto-suspended for the Hamilton game for instigating a fight in the final five minutes of the Adirondack game. He pounded on the Flames Trevor Gilles sparking a brawl that saw Mikhail Grigorenko, Joel Armia and Schaller all squaring off with dance partners.
Gilles was also automatically suspended for one game.
The AHL is reviewing the matter.
Down on the farm, prospect Justin Bailey is on a tear since being sent to his junior team. Bailey has a five game point streak with six goals and 10 points for the Kitchener Rangers of the OHL and is also two-for-two in the shootout. On Saturday he scored his second career hat trick.
The 2013 second round pick (No. 52) was left off the U-20 Evaluation Camp this summer but according to Kris Baker in his Sabres Prospect Report for sabres.com, "maintaining the productive pace could land Bailey back on the radar come December when Team USA builds their (IIHF World Junior) selection camp list."
Bailey's father Carlton played for the Buffalo Bills from 1988-1992.
And, finally, the Buffalo Sabres are holding a press conference today with NHL Commisioner Gary Bettman on hand to announce that, according to the Buffalo News, the 2016 NHL Draft will be held in Buffalo.
The hits just keep rolling for the Pegulas. Now if they can get that off field/ice success transferred to their teams.