Monday, February 2, 2009
Well the Sabres have completed the grueling January schedule in a convincing fashion. 13 games total, 3 home games, 10 away, with a 9-4 record. It was definitely an important stretch and I know a lot of fans were worried about how the team was going to stack up once everything was said and done. The road seems to be a friendly place for the Sabres, which is a real asset. The Sabres have had their troubles on home ice, but they did win all 3 of the home games in January. There are a lot of games at home in February, so we'll see if they've really turned things around at home. I have a feeling they have.
It's no coincidence that our top players have been really on their game during this nice stretch. Roy has really found himself and it looks like Stafford is coming around as well. It's not only our top players, but energy players like Gaustad and Ellis have really done their jobs well and have played with effort and passion which can drive a team to success. Our blueline continues to face injury problems but we are still winning regardless. Our young players like Chris Butler have really been solid for us when we've really needed them to step up. But I think the biggest story for us is Ryan Miller. A goalie is the most important player and when he's on his game he gives us a chance to win every single night. Luckily for us, he's been really on and he's been very consistent. I know a lot of times fans will complain about his consistency, but he's really been excellent over these past several weeks. I think goaltending can be a position where it can make goalies out to be really inconsistent, but that's neither here nor there... He's been named NHL's Third Star for January and he's earned the recognition.
While he's been extremely hot (zanggg baby boy) and he's just coming off a shutout, I'm glad that Lalime is getting the start tonight. If we want Miller to continue playing this well, then he's going to need to get some rest. Plus Lalime needs to playing time to ensure that he can be sharp enough to compete. While Lalime has let in some questionable goals, I also believe that the team has not been playing well enough in front of their backup goalie to win many games. Patrick Lalime isn't Ryan Miller. He's not a starting goalie anymore. He's our backup goalie and the team and fans can't expect him to steal any games for us. During the month of January, there were several games where Miller faced 40+ shots a night and we picked up victories in the process, but I just don't think we can or should expect that type of outcome with Lalime in net. It'd be nice to see them buckle down better when he's starting and try to help him out a little more. With a goalie like Miller, for the most part he can be there when the team has a breakdown and he will bail the team out, but I don't know if the same can be said when your backup goalie is in net. It would be great for Lalime to get another win for us tonight because he seems to be a great teammate to have in the locker room and he seems to be very supportive of Miller. It would just be nice to see him get a win. Obviously because we need the points but also because of the type of player he seems to be.
So all in all, I just wanted to make a post talking about what a great month January was for the Sabres and all the wins were well deserved and it came from strong effort and hard work. We picked up valuable points and hopefully the team has some more confidence and they can be proud of what they accomplished over the past month. Now let's hope they can finish the road trip on a positive note before we welcome them home...