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Immediate reactions: Panthers 2, Sabres 1 (F/SO)

blog by Ryan Nagelhout  • 

“It’s tough to win with this team,” Sabres goaltender Jhonas Enroth said to end his postgame press conference on Thursday night.

I usually don’t use quotes, but this one was too good to ignore.

The Buffalo Sabres have scored 17 goals in his 13 starts this season.

Enroth, an Olympic goaltender for Sweden, got the help of a handful of goalposts against the Florida Panthers but only got a goal from the Sabres in a 2-1 shootout loss in front of 17,872 at First Niagara Center in Buffalo.

Enroth got beat midway through the third period when a rebound came out to meet Tom Gilbert near the right point. The American blueliner ripped a shot toward the prone Enroth, which deflected off former Sabre Brad Boyes and hit the top of the net to level the game at one.

Deflections would doom the effort of the backup goaltender who is winless in his last nine starts.

Boyes scored the winner off a deflection in the shootout, the only goal either team scored in the skills competition after a Jonathan Huberdeau shootout attempt was called off.

Enroth’s only win of the season came against these same Panthers on October 25. Darcy Regier and Ron Rolston were both employed by the team back then.

The loss came after Buffalo had a number of chances to extend the lead and even more chances were handed to Florida to tie the game.

Buffalo killed off a two-man advantage and John Scott took a trio of penalties, but the lead Jamie McBain’s second-period tally gave the squad was never extended. It’s a reoccurring theme for a team that has made Enroth’s numbers look worse than his play all year.

The good news, if you’re looking for it, is that the players stood in their stalls afterward, “taking accountability” for the chances they left unconverted.

Johan Larsson, who rarely speaks, talked about a missed point-blank chance he had to win the game in regulation. Brian Flynn and Linus Omark (pictured above, left) were available, if you needed them.

It was a character showing in the locker room, one that finished with Enroth delivering the line of the season.

He’s right, you know. It is hard to win with this team. Especially if you’re an Olympic goaltender.

First Impressions of Tim Murray*

— Wears Darcy Regier glasses.

— Nice hair.

— Said good things about Bryan Murray

— Looks a bit like Dwight Schrute.

— Looks a bit more like Garth Marenghi from Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace. If you get that joke, you’re one of the cool kids. Either way, he’s my new Twitter avatar for the foreseeable future.

*All of the above are strong red flags.

Fresh Hot Takes
— McBain’s goal came off a great pass from Steve Ott along the half wall on the rush. I’m always surprised when Ott makes a good offensive play.

I suppose I should stop that at this point, but it really is a bit shocking to watch him send a perfect pass to the middle of the ice with a waiting defender ready to shoot.

That’s not really what they brought him here to do, but he’s done a nice job of making a few of his offensive opportunities count. The same can be said for McBain.

These are players that are not expected to do the jobs of the guys they were acquired with (Derek Roy and Andrej Sekera, respectively) but are being forced into service because of a lack of scoring depth elsewhere. Well, everywhere.

— The line of Omark/Flynn/Foligno showed some serious zazz at times on Thursday night. Metalocalypse zazz, not that dude from Sonic. That guy was a putz.

Omark fed Flynn a breakaway pass just over six minutes into the second period that was downright divine. He sent it through a defender’s legs to a streaking player who had half the ice to work Tim Thomas over on. He didn’t score, which is a shame because Omark deserves credit for the spark he’s given that line.

He anticipates defenders well and can make something happen on every shift. I know he needs work defensively, but the work he’s done and the chances he’s created on a team that truly struggles to score goals is very encouraging.

I really think Invisible GM really made a smart move in acquiring him. He would look smarter if this team could find the back of the net a bit more often.

— I don’t want to talk about the third line too much here, but Flynn made a play in overtime that was pretty great as well.

He took a pass into the zone and cut to the middle, delivering a pass back to the point that he took a big hit for. The shot goes on net and he’s the guy who goes cross-crease to get the rebound on Thomas, who makes the save and gets a whistle. Not bad work for an overtime shift.

Omark later took a huge hit from Ed Jovanovski a few minutes deeper into overtime that had him a bit roughed up after the game. I think he would be willing to lose a little bit of blood for a goal, but it just wasn’t happening on Thursday night.

— Good on the Sabres for congratulating former defenseman Brian Campbell on his 800th NHL game on Thursday. A bit surprising given the lack of acknowledgment of past players in-arena over the last few years, but it’s a step in the right direction.

These people don’t turn evil as soon as they leave the team. Well, unless they become Maple Leafs.

— In the third period the Panthers believed they scored a go-ahead goal, but the whistle blew before the puck went across the goal line.

The play was reviewed, and the official’s mic went out while he was explaining the call. A confused crowd started yelling, then the sound cut back in as he said “No goal,” which made the crowd erupt. A master of timing, that audio deity. 

Zenon Konopka’s Rabbit, Hoppy, Surveys His New Home

I made it.

The journey was arduous, as all car rides are. My supply of pellets held strong, but I accidentally ate half of my chauffeur’s passport, which delayed us for a bit at the border in Sarnia. I knew I should have called Uber. They probably would have let me sit in the front seat, too.

I am now in Buffalo, with no sign of the massive land animal in sight. Maybe they hibernate in the winter? I’ll have to check Wikipedia the next time Zenon leaves the MacBook open on the bed.

My living quarters are less than ideal. The hotels here all smell like Tom Brady, and the faucet drips at night. I am weary from travel and emotional about the swift changes that have rocked my once-steady existence in the Land of 10,000 Lakes. This place only has one lake, but I hear it is Great. I will make it my own.

I will persevere. It is the rabbit way.

Let’s Check in with Noted War Criminal John Scott

He took an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for that. I think it was worth it. (via The Sporting News)

Hot Twitter Takes of the Game

This is about all I have to say about the new Sabres general manager. He’s going to do his job. I’ll watch. It’ll be a time.

Really good game for the kid everywhere but on the scoresheet. He was all over the place and had lots of chances. He just can’t seem to finish.

Ennis had two separate incidents in overtime where he deked the entire team out of a scoring chance. Get that kid a case of calcium juice, stat.

Hometown Hero Villain of the Night
Krys Barch — Barch is from Hamilton. There are too many hockey players from Hamilton. I don’t like it. (Note: I let Andy Rooney write this part. He also wants you to stop buying bottled water, you yuppie fool.)
Did You Know? — Hamilton is sometimes called The Hammer. Speaking of Canadian home improvement products, did you know that Canada has its own style of screws? P.L. Robertson thinks your Phillips head screwdriver can go to hell.

Hit of the Night
DJ Synth Organ managed to play the opening bars of Billy Joel’s “You May Be Right” before sliding into a Let’s Go Buffalo. The crowd, as usual, was bewildered. I was floored. We also got Rickrolled during the first intermission. I am falling in love with DJ Snyth Organ. He’s the Radio Raheem of our generation.

Stat-line I liked:

Stat-line I didn’t like:

Next Game:
Sunday (1/7) at Washington (3 p.m.) — Can’t wait to see that power play at work again. Truly fun to watch.

(Top photo courtesy of Bill Wippert at the official Sabres Facebook page.)

Ryan Nagelhout is a freelance writer who blogs at The Goose’s Roost when he’s not writing children’s books.

TAGGED: buffalo sabres, downtown, hockey, immediate reactions, ryan nagelhout

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