Sabres vs. Flyers: Thoughts – Sports
The biggest story in Buffalo going into Game 5 yesterday was whether Marty Biron should get the start in net over Ryan Miller. Miller gave up two soft goals in Philly, one in each game, but its not like he fell apart in net and let every puck get past him. Listening to the callers to the local sports station in town you would have thought that Miller let in twenty soft goals in those two games instead of two. Of course, that is what makes “sports talk” entertaining – listening to know-it-all idiots who actually know nothing.
I called out Miller in both Sabres losses but never suggested that he should get pulled in favor of Biron. Why? Because it was only two goals for a rookie playing his first games on the road and the series was still tied 2-2. Not only that, the entire team was to blame in both losses. The power play went south and the players were scrambling around in both games and turning pucks over left and right. Lindy Ruff made the right call by sticking with Miller in Game 5. Not only did Miller come back strong with a shutout but he gained confidence in himself by winning a “clutch” game. That performance could pay dividends down the road, both this year and in years to come.
Having said that, if Miller had completely tanked at home yesterday and let in another soft goal or two, I would have probably been in favor of turning to Biron, if only to spark the team into action. The problem with that decision would have been the fact that Biron has no playoff experience and he hasn’t played in two weeks. It would have been a tough call for Ruff and I’m sure that he is glad that it is a call he won’t have to make.
As far as the rest of yesterday’s game is concerned, I still believe that Buffalo should have played more dump-and-chase with soft dump-ins to the corners. Philly was clogging the neutral zone with four men and daring Buffalo to carry the puck in. With the exception of Connolly’s goal, that doesn’t work very well too often. Any time a team turns the puck over within ten feet of the blue line there is likely to be an odd man rush going the other way. The Sabres are playing a dangerous game by taking that chance. They have the speed to get around the Philly defenders when they dump the puck in. I’m beginning to question their desire to take hits in the corner in the race for the puck. The Sabres will need to be physical in Game 6 to close this series out. There is no room for timidity.