Puck Moving Defense is Questionable in Weekend Play
About 10 minutes into Saturday night's 6-3 stinker, right about the time that Tyler Myers put one past the outstretched leg of Ryan Miller and into the back of his own net, you got the feeling that this one was going to get ugly.
It didn't get much better when shortly after, Myers blew a tire behind his own net and turned the puck over. Brandon Dubinsky put that one away to make it two-nothing.
The Rangers 5th goal came when the tall sophmore and his center Derek Roy got caught chasing the play behind the net and left the slot open.
The blame for the lone goal scored by the Ottawa Senators in Buffalo's 2-1 win on Friday was also on the defense. Jordan Leopold was overpowered by Ottawa tough guy Chris Neil at center ice. The puck was turned over, and quickly converted into a score to send the Senators into the dressing room with a tie and some momentum, after getting smoked most of the 1st and 2nd period.
The defense is supposed to be one of the strengths of this team. Last season, the Sabres were 4th in the league in goals allowed per game. While Miller played a big part (after all, your goalie is your last defense man), the blue liners were also responsible. It was one area on the team that got addressed in free agency this summer as Leopold and Morrisonn were brought in to replace the departing Toni Lydman and Henrik Tallinder.
Lindy Ruff is going to have to talk to his defense and get them to pull it together. There needs to be better communication. There needs to be smart and accurate outlet passes. No more of this trickster action skating the puck all over your own zone to find some room.
We'll see what happens on Monday night when the Sabres play the heavyweight champions of the world, the Chicago Blackhawks. Were this weekend's miscues just part of a bad dream, or are they part of the reality of the next 80 games?