Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Sometimes, it doesn't matter what's on paper

Reprinted with permission from hockeybuzz.com

The are times in sports where a lop-sided match-up on paper doesn't really matter.

Yesterday afternoon the Buffalo Sabres entered "The Shark Tank" with a 1-7-0 record on the year. They were on a four game losing streak, had been shut out in three of those games, and had been outscored 11-1 during that stretch.

Last season the Sabres had the worst record, by far, in the entire NHL and entered the season with less weapons than they had last season. Their top scorer coming in was Matt Moulson, a player traded three times last year, and a player who has tallied only two assists (both in separate games vs. Anaheim) this year. The Sabres no longer had their only true top-line forward in Thomas Vanek and they moved on from their #1 goalie, Ryan Miller.

The Sharks, on the other hand, boast some of the most consistent, veteran scorers in the league like Joe Thorton, Patrick Marleau and Joe Pavelski while Logan Couture Tomas Hertl are two of the best young forwards in the game. San Jose' has not missed the playoffs in over 10 years and although they came in to the contest yesterday on a three-game losing streak, they still were a very respectable 4-3-1 and having scored 27 goals to that point.

Just how lop-sided and uninteresting was this matinee yesterday? For the first time since December 3, 2009, a span of 206 games, the Shark Tank failed to sell out. Maybe the 192 fans who opted to stay home, thus preventing a sell-out, either had something better to do or knew something was up.

Coming into the game, the Sharks have not beaten the Sabres since January 23, 2010, a 5-2 victory at home. Since then they are 0-5-1 (including a four-game home losing streak to the Sabres,) have scored 10 goals in those six games and were shut out twice during that span.

It's just one of those things.

"We shouldn't lose a game like that," Couture said.

Perhaps history had something to do with it or perhaps they were looking ahead to today's game vs. the rival Anaheim Ducks. For whatever reason the Sharks didn't feel a sense of urgency until they were two goals down with less than 15 minutes remaining in the third period. By then it was too late.

Cody Hodgson scored his first goal of the season after some good work by Zemgus Girgensons on the wall and Drew Stafford behind the net. Hodgson found a seam in the crease and when Stafford's feed to the front went off a skate, he was right there to bury it.

Hodgson was only the fifth player to score for the Sabres this year.

Nic Deslauriers was the sixth to score for Buffalo as he took a feed from fellow fourth-liner Cody McCormick and buried it.

Rookie Sam Reinhart made the play work as he followed the puck the length of the goal line, out manueuvered Sharks d-man Matt Irwin for the puck and got it to McCormick. The secondary assist was Reinhart's first NHL point.

After falling into the abyss before the San Jose' game, the Buffalo all of a sudden has two games that are winnable. On Tuesday they finish this four-game road trip vs. arch-rival Toronto and on Thursday they return home to take on the Boston Bruins.

The Bruins are adjusting to the loss of captain Zdeno Chara who will be out four to six weeks.

Chara defines the B's defense and his injury is a huge loss, especially in light of recent moves that have depleted Boston's blueline depth.  Defenseman Kevan Miller is on the shelf with a shoulder injury, and Johnny Boychuk was traded to the NY Islanders.

More on the way, but for now, the weight of futility has been temporarily lifted for Buffalo and the plane ride to Toronto certainly had a lighter aire to it thanks to our pals, the San Jo

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