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First Month Observations November 12, 2011

Posted by calvin in Uncategorized.
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Last night’s win against Ottawa marked the start of a grueling week for the Sabres, where they play six times in nine nights, with no more than a day’s break between games. They play division rivals in the first three tilts, though mysteriously, they don’t play Toronto for the first time until Dec 16th, well over two months into the season.

The defense for the most part has played very well, 7th in the league with 2.27 goals against per game (GA/G). The game against Winnipeg marked a new low for the D, plagued by errors and turnovers they gave up a season-high five goals.

As a team, there has been a marked improvement in taking faceoffs, with the Sabres fourth in the League at 52.5%. The Sabres have built a reputation for being a ‘soft’ team – this trend has continued with the team dead last with just 241 hits. In stark contrast, bottom-dwellers Columbus are leading the league with 418, which is a whopping 16 hits more per game than the Sabres.

Derek Roy has really turned it on after a slow start. He has points in every game of the Sabres four-win streak, with 4G & 4A, and a sixth-round penalty shootout winner as well. Roy now has 12 points (5G & 7A) in 15 games, getting closer to the point-per-game pace expected of him. Of his linemates, Drew Stafford is not far behind with 4G & 6A, while Ville Leino is continuing his resuscitation with 2G & 2A now.

On the top line, Thomas Vanek (10G & 9A) & Jason Pominville (6G & 13A) are tied for fifth in scoring in the League, with 19 points in 15 games. Vanek is tied for top as well with 5 powerplay goals (PPG) and tied for second with 3 game winners (GWG). Pommers is tied for sixth with 13 assists. Their pivot on the line Luke Adam stands third among rookies with 12 points.

Nathan Gerbe is solidifying his place in the team, leading with a +8 differential, along with his 3G & 6A and feisty play, especially in the offensive zone. Center Paul Gaustad is third in the League winning 59.8% of his faceoffs (Derek Roy is sixteenth, with a 55.7 FO%). A quirky note about Brad Boyes’ 2G & 5A –  none have come on the road and none against division opponents.

Lindy Ruff has confirmed that Patrick Kaleta will be back in the lineup after returning from his four-game headbutting suspension. Corey Tropp will be returning to the Rochester Amerks after posting 1G & 1A, +1 and 6 hits in his four games with the Sabres.

Backup goalie Jhonas Enroth has continued his electrifying start to the season, winning all five games he has started. He is currently third in the League in both save percentage (.956SV%) and goals allowed (1.34GAA) for goalies with five or more starts. His hot run stretches back to last season, with his record over his last eighteen games started over the two seasons now reading 14-2-2, .923SV% & 2.29GAA.

Interesting that while Sabres fans are often critical that the players don’t crash the net enough, Ottawa captain (and often Sabres-killer) Daniel Alfredsson thinks otherwise “They are probably one of the best teams around the net in the League.”



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