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The playoff "extra gear"

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Old
04-19-2011, 12:03 PM
  #1
BackGroundMusic
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The playoff "extra gear"

The biggest problem that this team has is the top six lack that extra gear, that extra drive and desire, that is needed to succeed in the playoffs. Pominville and Connolly have proven to me time and again that they lack it. Vanek showed it last year in the Bruins series, but needs to bring it more. Roy's out. Boyes is being forced into a position he sucks at. Hecht is out. I'm willing to give Ennis a bye since he's technically a rookie, though he was outstanding in last season's series.

When Gretzky and the Oilers lost in the Cup Finals right before their dynasty started, he and some teammates walked from their dressing room past the Islanders room. He glanced inside and there was no celebrating, no loud music, just a bunch of beat up guys with ice packs and bruises. It just seems to me that the Sabres' top six forwards are like a bunch of frat boys who are more interested in what happens after the game than how to succeed DURING the game.

I think there's no way this team makes it deep into the playoffs until the top lines get some serious shakeups. Hopefully it starts on Draft day.

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04-19-2011, 12:24 PM
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Jame
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eh... they limited the 2nd highest scoring team in the league to 26 shots on goal... offensively, they put 37 pucks on net.

they lost because their all world goaltender played all average, and their high paid forwards didn't finish their chances, and their #1 defensemen looks like a #4.

separating who's to blame... misses the big picture entirely.

They look like the #7 seed... not the team that finished the season so strong. They look like they spent everything to get here, and winning game 1 in Philly was their cup winning game.

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04-19-2011, 12:39 PM
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Originally Posted by Jame View Post
They look like the #7 seed... not the team that finished the season so strong. They look like they spent everything to get here, and winning game 1 in Philly was their cup winning game.
Pretty much. The talent just isn't there. And by talent, I don't just mean "skill" - I mean the combination of skill, consistency, mental toughness, and just plain wanting it more than the other guy, and doing whatever it takes to get there. Most of these guys don't have it. You can run down the list of our forwards - they're either young guys with minimal playoff experience, or secondary/niche players paid like top tier talent, and given primary roles. Same for the defense - it's a combination of very young guys and aging vets who've spent most of their career on the 2nd or 3rd pairings.

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04-19-2011, 12:40 PM
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I'm not sure what to think to be honest.

A couple of takes on their struggles the last year in the playoffs and so far this season


1) We've yet to actually see our top 6 healthy and playing together in the playoffs. Last season Vanek and Hecht were banged up. This year its Roy and Hecht. I can't say those 2 in the lineup this year (and Vanek/Hecht last year) means we win. But I think it would certainly change the dynamic quite a bit.

2) Building on #1, we still don't have that much high end depth yet. Particularly on defense and at center.

3) We are up against better and deeper teams. I would be more concerned if we were the deeper, more talented team and were still struggling to win.


There are few top players that excel without a strong supporting cast and just carry their team to success.

Take Chicago's current playoff struggles. Guys like Toews, Kane, Keith and Seabrook haven't forgotten how to play in the playoffs. But they no longer have the deep team they used to have. The Hawks are overmatched depth and talent wise in the playoffs for the first time in 3 post seasons after losing players like Byfuglien, Ladd, Versteeg and Sopel. Plus Bolland is out injured.

Success in the playoffs is about depth of talent, a little luck with your health and guys rising to the occassion. I suppose its fair to get on our top guys for not being better than they have been. But is the problem their lack of battle or are they overmatched by who they are up against?


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04-19-2011, 01:00 PM
  #5
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I dont think the Sabres are playing particularly bad... I just think they are what they are... they just have to play perfectly on most nights, against a top team like Philly.

It doesn't help that Ryan Miller can get outdueled by Brian Boucher in consecutive games. it doesn't help that Lindy Ruff gets outcoached by Peter Laviolette (some things never change).

I mean... is anyone surprised that Tim Connolly hasn't scored a goal in forever, but at the same time has been a machine on the PK?

Is anyone surprised that Pominville is blasting pucks into shin guards on the PP?

Is anyone surprised that Gragnani, Goose, Gerbe were 3 of our best players, yet our coach kept them off the ice when a goal was needed in favor of tweedle dee and tweedle dum?

The Sabres can beat Philly on any given night, and they could lose to the Florida Panthers on any given night.

I know this team... I'm not surprised at the last 2 games, and I won't be surprised if they win this series, or lose in 5.

They play like a team HOPING the bounces will go there way, and if they don't, they have an excuse.

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04-19-2011, 01:05 PM
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Originally Posted by Jame View Post
I know this team... I'm not surprised at the last 2 games, and I won't be surprised if they win this series, or lose in 5.
I think that's a large part of what was so infuriating, to me, about the game last night.

It was all so very ****ing familiar. It's like watching the same episode of a bad show, over, and over and over.

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04-19-2011, 01:07 PM
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Originally Posted by Jame View Post
I dont think the Sabres are playing particularly bad... I just think they are what they are... they just have to play perfectly on most nights, against a top team like Philly.

It doesn't help that Ryan Miller can get outdueled by Brian Boucher in consecutive games. it doesn't help that Lindy Ruff gets outcoached by Peter Laviolette (some things never change).

I mean... is anyone surprised that Tim Connolly hasn't scored a goal in forever, but at the same time has been a machine on the PK?

Is anyone surprised that Pominville is blasting pucks into shin guards on the PP?

Is anyone surprised that Gragnani, Goose, Gerbe were 3 of our best players, yet our coach kept them off the ice when a goal was needed in favor of tweedle dee and tweedle dum?

The Sabres can beat Philly on any given night, and they could lose to the Florida Panthers on any given night.

I know this team... I'm not surprised at the last 2 games, and I won't be surprised if they win this series, or lose in 5.

They play like a team HOPING the bounces will go there way, and if they don't, they have an excuse.
What a shocker, you dump on your favorite whipping boys; Miller, Ruff and Pommer.

Yet curiously no mention of your boy Vanek who is supposedly getting it now and captain material.

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04-19-2011, 01:07 PM
  #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jame View Post
They play like a team HOPING the bounces will go there way, and if they don't, they have an excuse.
I agree with this. Watching Sabres games is unlike watching any other team in the league. You can just tell a lot of the time if the Sabres are playing well, it's because they're having a really lucky night, not because they're playing balls out.

Watching the San Jose/LA games, and the Nashville/Anaheim games, then going back and watching the Sabres games is crazy. The ANA/NSH and SJ/LA games are fast paced, intense, and both teams are making lots of good offensive and defensive plays. Watching the Buffalo games is just a cluster**** of bounces and defensive gaffs.

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04-19-2011, 01:08 PM
  #9
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Originally Posted by jlr View Post
I think that's a large part of what was so infuriating, to me, about the game last night.

It was all so very ****ing familiar. It's like watching the same episode of a bad show, over, and over and over.
i didnt think they played that poorly last night. Philly locked it down in the 3rd. ruff didn't adjust. miller didn't bail them out when they made mistakes.

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04-19-2011, 01:12 PM
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Originally Posted by joshjull View Post
What a shocker, you dump on your favorite whipping boys; Miller, Ruff and Pommer.

Yet curiously no mention of your boy Vanek who is supposedly getting it now and captain material.
you mean the Vanek who single handedly kept them in game 2?

you like to pretend like you dont have your own whipping boys, biases, and agendas...


Last edited by joshjull: 04-19-2011 at 01:31 PM. Reason: personal attack
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Old
04-19-2011, 01:16 PM
  #11
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Originally Posted by Jame View Post
you mean the Vanek who single handedly kept them in game 2?

you like to pretend like you dont have your own whipping boys, biases, and agendas... like you are so above the rest of us.

get over yourself... you're not that interesting
Like Miller's shutout in game 1? Vanek was great scoring two PP goals. But any fair assessment of his play at ES throughout this series comes to the conclusion he has been piss poor.

Its not a matter of being above anyone else. Its about actually breaking things down with your brain and not your hate.

How in the world could you skip over Vanek struggles in any fair breakdown of the problems this team has had?

Btw what adjustments should Lindy have made in the 3rd last night?


Last edited by joshjull: 04-19-2011 at 01:30 PM. Reason: baiting/no need
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04-19-2011, 01:41 PM
  #12
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Originally Posted by Jame View Post
eh... they limited the 2nd highest scoring team in the league to 26 shots on goal... offensively, they put 37 pucks on net.

they lost because their all world goaltender played all average, and their high paid forwards didn't finish their chances, and their #1 defensemen looks like a #4.

separating who's to blame... misses the big picture entirely.

They look like the #7 seed... not the team that finished the season so strong. They look like they spent everything to get here, and winning game 1 in Philly was their cup winning game.
You can argue the first goal was soft, but are you seriously suggesting the last two Philly goals were Miller's fault? What NHL goalie has a chance on those?

Briere had a wide open shot in the slot after a bad turnover, and Zherdev was allowed to stand wide open in front of the net.

The Flyers haven't given the Sabres those same chances. That's why the Flyer goalies haven't given up goals like that.

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04-19-2011, 01:45 PM
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Originally Posted by joshjull View Post
Like Miller's shutout in game 1? Vanek was great scoring two PP goals. But any fair assessment of his play at ES throughout this series comes to the conclusion he has been piss poor.

Its not a matter of being above anyone else. Its about actually breaking things down with your brain and not your hate.

How in the world could you skip over Vanek struggles in any fair breakdown of the problems this team has had?

Btw Toe Blake what adjustments should Lindy have made in the 3rd last night? Oh I know, tell Vanek/Connolly/Pommer "I want you guys to be good this period".
he should've adjusted the forecheck early in the 3rd as Philly was standing up in the neutral zone and there were better lines to possession through F1/F2, then there were trying to consistently go to the outside of F2 or F3.

he shoudl've adjusted the puck support to take advantage of Philly's quasi neutral zone trap. if he wasn't going to go to a more aggressive dump/retrieve forecheck, then he should've atleast tightened the lanes to create quicker passing lanes to break smaller windows in the trap.

he should've broken up VCP completely and moved them to lines with guys that can retrieve the puck. Pominville has never seen the pine in his career... Vanek and Pominville aren't known for their forechecking ability, nor are they the best at creating lanes with their skating. the line is completely useless in the 3rd period when playing from behind. even down the stretch, when they were dominating offensively, that was the case.

he should've straight up benched Ennis... how Vanek 2006 can be benched in the playoffs, and Ennis can't... is beyond me.

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04-19-2011, 03:01 PM
  #14
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Originally Posted by Jame View Post
he should've adjusted the forecheck early in the 3rd as Philly was standing up in the neutral zone and there were better lines to possession through F1/F2, then there were trying to consistently go to the outside of F2 or F3.

he shoudl've adjusted the puck support to take advantage of Philly's quasi neutral zone trap. if he wasn't going to go to a more aggressive dump/retrieve forecheck, then he should've atleast tightened the lanes to create quicker passing lanes to break smaller windows in the trap.
IMO he problem was forwards were cheating. Vanek/Connolly Pommer were the worst in that regard. Constantly cheating out of the zone early and giving the dmen no outlets or forcing the dmen to make perfect passes.


I would buy the idea that the cheating out was by design if the bottom 6 wasn;t having success doing pretty much what you're taslking about. I doubt the top 6 and bottom 6 were being asked to play different systems. So I would lean in the direction of the players not playing the system properly.


The bottomg 6 had success. They kept it simple and were able to break out and the dump it in and get going. If the top 6 could follow that example we would be in much better shape.

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he should've broken up VCP completely and moved them to lines with guys that can retrieve the puck. Pominville has never seen the pine in his career... Vanek and Pominville aren't known for their forechecking ability, nor are they the best at creating lanes with their skating. the line is completely useless in the 3rd period when playing from behind. even down the stretch, when they were dominating offensively, that was the case.
I agree and disagree with this part of your post. I agree they should have been broken up but I disagree that they struggled down the strecth in the situation you layed out. I also disagree that Pommer is not good on the forechek/cycle. He certainly has had problems in this series but he and Hecht have been know for their strong forechecking/cycling game.

The issue on that line is, for what ever reason, the 3 of them have become incredibly dumb with their decisions with the puck. Connolly effort level has been decetn IMO but he has made some horrendous decisions with the puck. Pommer has been like that as well. It negates any puck battles they may win since they usually give the puck right back.

Now to Vanek. I have no idea whats going on with him but watching him live yesterday has reinforced my feeling that he has reverted back to the Vanek of old in these playoffs. He constantly leaves the zone early looking for the breakway pass. Then if he doesn;t get that breakaway pass he stays hovering in the neutral zone in the hopes the breakout will still happen and get him the puck. This leaves the dmen in a jam since it takes his side of the ice away for a clean breakout. He has struggled on the boards to win battles but that is more about him having to get back into the zone and being in a bad postion than lacking the will to battle.

On the rare occassions that line gets the puck deep he doesn't join the cycle like he did down the strecth. Not that they were a cycling maching or anything. but the 3 of them did a decent job cycling the puck.. Now Vanek mostly goes to the net waiting for the puck to get to him. Leaving Connolly and Pommer with a task they obviously can't handle. Which is having a successful 2 man cycle that can win the puck and get it to Vanek in front of the net.

I'm truly baffled by Vanek to be honest. All the little things he was doing right down the strecth he has gotten away from. Why that is I have no idea. I can't imagine its the playoffs intimidating him based on his play last year. While I know it wasn't a full series, he was flying against the Bruins last year.



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he should've straight up benched Ennis... how Vanek 2006 can be benched in the playoffs, and Ennis can't... is beyond me
I can tell you why Vanek 2006 can get benched and Ennis 2011 hasn't been yet. Its as simple as we had a far deeper team back then. Vanek also wasn't benched until 7 games into the playoffs (after game 1 of the Sens series).


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Old
04-19-2011, 03:01 PM
  #15
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Is the "extra gear" kind of like the switch?

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04-19-2011, 03:28 PM
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Jame
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Originally Posted by joshjull View Post
IMO he problem was forwards were cheating. Vanek/Connolly Pommer were the worst in that regard. Constantly cheating out of the zone early and giving the dmen no outlets or forcing the dmen to make perfect passes.


I would buy the idea that the cheating out was by design if the bottom 6 wasn;t having success doing pretty much what you're taslking about. I doubt the top 6 and bottom 6 were being asked to play different systems. So I would lean in the direction of the players not playing the system properly.
So your belief is that the V-C-P line continually ignored the coach (in terms of system/strategy), and then continued to see ice time throughout the 3rd period?

Yes, teams do employ different schemes with different lines.

Quote:
The bottomg 6 had success. They kept it simple and were able to break out and the dump it in and get going. If the top 6 could follow that example we would be in much better shape.
and it was a coaching failure not to recognize and adjust to bring the elements of forechecking success to linemates with the skill to score.



Quote:
I agree and disagree with this part of your post. I agree they should have been broken up but I disagree that they struggled down the strecth in the situation you layed out. I also disagree that Pommer is not good on the forechek/cycle. He certainly has had problems in this series but he and Hecht have been know for their strong forechecking/cycling game.
How many 3rd period goals did that line score, when trailing? Pominville is solid when the cycle is established, but from a retrieval perspective... no one on that line is capable.

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04-19-2011, 04:05 PM
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Extra gear? I distinctly remember a play late in the 3rd period last night where Danny Biere got stripped of the puck just inside the blue line and the Sabres were going to break the other way on a 3 on 1, instead of that happening, Briere dove to knock the puck off the stick of the Sabre puck carrier keeping the puck in the ozone and Philly ends up with a scoreing chance. That's extra gear.

A similar play by the Sabres and Philly scores on an easy back door tap in while Monty plays the shooter instead of the passer and hangs Miller out to dry.

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04-19-2011, 04:07 PM
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The Sabres lack skilled players who can play dump and chase. They're just like a football team that has no running game. If opponents don't respect it they only have to defend the passing game. The only way they're going to hang in this series is to play the trap and be opportunistic.

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04-19-2011, 04:35 PM
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Originally Posted by Jame View Post
So your belief is that the V-C-P line continually ignored the coach (in terms of system/strategy), and then continued to see ice time throughout the 3rd period?

Yes, teams do employ different schemes with different lines.
Like who? I've seen some teams allow certain players some leeway but rarely are those teams successful. Teams that win have a group of players that buy into a system whatever it may be.

I can say with confidence that the Sabres do not have seperate schemes for different lines. Ruff's systems have always been based on how all 5 players on the ice interact. He even toyed with the idea of actually creating 5 man units. To expect the dmen to adjust their game depending on the line they are out with would cause utter chaos.

What I observed is a line not doing its job well not a line doing whatever it wants.

Btw their ES ice time was impacted by their poor play, Vanek and Pommer in particular. If they weren't our top line and we weren't playing from behind they may have played even less.


ES ice time among the forwards last night
1. Boyes ----> 14:58
2. Gerbe ----> 13:47
3. Goose ---> 12:59
4. Nieds ----> 12:55
5. Connolly --> 12:51
6. Ennis -----> 12:20
7. Pommer ---> 11:57
8. Vanek ----> 11:42
9. Grier ------> 11:04
10. McComick -> 10:55
11. Stafford --> 10:51

With the way Nieds and Boyes clicked getting rotated on the 4th line after Kaleta went out and play with Gerbe/Goose. Those two lines shouldn't have been broken up. Nieds was also having some success with Stafford/Ennis. I think its safe to say that Vanek and Pommer's ice time was impacted by their poor play and the improved play from the other lines. The big jump in Grier and McCormick ice time tells you that.

Quote:
and it was a coaching failure not to recognize and adjust to bring the elements of forechecking success to linemates with the skill to score.
Two sides to that story. By the 3rd we had 3 lines going. McCormick/Grier with Nieds (occassionally Boyes still), Ennis/Nieds/Stafford (due primarily to Nieds + Stafford) and Gerbe/Goose/Boyes.

It easy to say he should find players to put them with to make them effective. but who would that be and which of the 3 lines that were working get disrupted on the hopes of those guys get going. At the end of the day thats what you're doing. Hoping that switching things up gets them going. I can guarantee if it didn't work you would be one of the first posters to get after Ruff for breaking up the chemistry of the lines that were working.

With the goalie pulled Ruff did try some of whats working Gerbe/Goose/Grags with what hasn't been but needs to be Vanek/Pommer/Myers. Unfortunately it didn't work.


Quote:
How many 3rd period goals did that line score, when trailing? Pominville is solid when the cycle is established, but from a retrieval perspective... no one on that line is capable
No idea and I'm too lazy to look this up. So Ill let you do it


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04-19-2011, 04:51 PM
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eh... they limited the 2nd highest scoring team in the league to 26 shots on goal... offensively, they put 37 pucks on net.

they lost because their all world goaltender played all average, and their high paid forwards didn't finish their chances, and their #1 defensemen looks like a #4.

separating who's to blame... misses the big picture entirely.

They look like the #7 seed... not the team that finished the season so strong. They look like they spent everything to get here, and winning game 1 in Philly was their cup winning game.
That first sentence is the stupidest thing you've ever posted, Jame.

Shots on goal is not the end all be all of a hockey game. The Sabres as a team were horrendous in the 2nd period, and if not for Miller they would have been down more than just the one goal going into the locker room. The Sabres would have gone into the dressing room down at least a goal with whichever goalie you'd like to put back there. Both goals were completely unstoppable.

I think Game 3 showed that this is, overall, a very young team, especially defensively. They came out complacent after closing the 1st strong and starting the 2nd on the power play, and Philly took it to them. The top 6 needs to compete harder as well - the veteran leaders are doing their job in the bottom 6, but the top 6 hasn't followed their lead.

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04-19-2011, 05:02 PM
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I think Game 3 showed that this is, overall, a very young team, especially defensively.
This.

I was super bummed on the 2nd goal. Especially since Butler has been their best defensemen in the series overall and he's had a tough assignment cleaning up all Myers' garbage. That play reminded me of Kennedy/Recchi last year. Young guy getting schooled by a vet.

Myers has been

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04-20-2011, 07:51 AM
  #22
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That first sentence is the stupidest thing you've ever posted, Jame.
yea... jim corsi is an idiot

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04-20-2011, 08:49 AM
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In game 2 a big part of Vanek's uselessness was the fact that he was barely getting icetime due to all the penalties being called against Buffalo. I would not count that factor out. It still does not take him out of the responsibility to simply step up his game. His puck handling in this series has been atrocious, he basically lost it almost every time he had it on his stick.

Vanek had 3 real scoring chances and he cashed in on two. This has to get better. And Buffalo has to get their best offensive weapon into the game by not taking too many penalties. That has to get better as well.

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04-20-2011, 10:10 AM
  #24
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Perhaps they should sneak into the Flyers dressing room and look for a free switch?

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04-20-2011, 10:31 AM
  #25
Sche3067
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by joshjull View Post
Like Miller's shutout in game 1? Vanek was great scoring two PP goals. But any fair assessment of his play at ES throughout this series comes to the conclusion he has been piss poor.

Its not a matter of being above anyone else. Its about actually breaking things down with your brain and not your hate.

How in the world could you skip over Vanek struggles in any fair breakdown of the problems this team has had?

Btw what adjustments should Lindy have made in the 3rd last night?
wounded deer is that you.....

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