(This is going to be a weekly piece on my thoughts about the Sabres and the rest of the NHL. Expect one of these every Monday morning.)
1) Either the Boston Bruins showed why they were the Stanley Cup Champions last year (physicality, toughness, cheapness, etc.) or the Sabres pulled up lame this past Saturday night when push came to shove over who the better team in the Northeast Division is. Or both. Probably both. Lucic hit or not, this team showed that if they’re bullied, they don’t have an answer for it. It wasn’t just the lack of effort answer for Lucic’s brutal hit on Miller, it was everything else that happened after that. The Sabres looked as if their heart wasn’t into it. The defense was non-existant, and Andrej Sekera showed why being 2-on-1 with him as the lone defender is really like having a 2-on-0 with just the goalie in front of you. Keep in mind, Sekera is under contract for the next 4 years.
2) I don’t know if it’s just me, but scoring seems to be way up this year compared to years past. Between that thrilling 9-8 Jets-Flyers game, or even the 6-5 OT win the other night when Winnipeg came to Buffalo, the speed of the game seems to have shifted in favor of more offense. (The Philadelphia Flyers respectfully disagree with that statement and will sit back and wait for me to attack some more.) In all seriousness, of all the players who have played in 15 or more games, 28 of them have averaged a point or more per game. Considering both Jason Pominville and Thomas Vanek are both averaging 1.25 points-per-game, I’m not sure to think if this will continue, or just work itself out.
3) Is Phil Kessel for real? He leads the NHL in goals and points, and has the Leafs in first place in the Northeast Division and third in the Eastern Conference. Will this continue, or is he just this year’s version of Clarke MacArthur? I’m not comparing the two players based on talent, but it’s interesting that the Leafs usually have that one player who has a hot start, and then trickles off as the season goes off. In his last five games, Kessel has two goals and four points and his +/- is 0. Another thing: Kessel’s career high is 64 points last season, so perhaps the only way to go for the 24-year-old is up. At the very least, he won’t be the last guy picked at the All-Star Game this year. Alexander Ovechkin eagerly awaits who he can point, laugh, and take a picture of with his phone next.
4) Pittsburgh is a great team with a great coach. Even without Sid the Kid, they’re first in the East with 23 points. Evgeni Malkin has missed seven games for the team, and still, in his absence, the Pens have found ways to win. By the time it’s all over, Bylsma could be one of the NHL’s greatest coaches with the productivity Pittsburgh has without its star players.
5) If you have the money, purchase NHL Gamecenter Live for $20.99 a month. It’s well worth it. Not only do you get access to all the NHL hockey you could ask for (except for local market games, because you can get those on your TV anyways), you also get access to the NHL Vault, a nifty little feature that allows you to view games from the NHL’s history, such as Game 1 of the 1997 Stanley Cup Quarterfinals between the Ottawa Senators and the Buffalo Sabres. I spent a good portion of my week exploring this awesome service that the NHL puts out, and I’m telling you, it’s well worth the money you would be paying for it. Sure, you can look up your silly little illegal feeds, but do they allow you to put live action into slow motion? Nope. Didn’t think so.
That’s it for me this week. I should be starting to get slightly more active here as the semester ends and winter commences. I’m definitely going to try to get one of these out every week, though. It allows me to blow off steam and share my thoughts over the week.