0Posted by Scott Michalak on March 28, 2012 at 8:51 am
If there is any doubt over Pominville’s captaincy of the Buffalo Sabres, it should be silenced now.
Since being named the captain of the Sabres before the start of the 2011-12 season, #29 has been Buffalo’s most consistent forward, leading the team in goals and points. He plays in all zones of the ice. He’s on the power play and the penalty kill. He never gets too high, and he never gets too low.
And oh, after the Sabres hit rock bottom with their 12th straight road loss (5 in a row overall) in St. Louis on January 21st, Pommers called a team meeting. I have no idea what he said to the guys after that game, but the results speak for themselves. Since that game, the Blue and Gold have gone 19-5-5.
All that being said, sometimes being the captain is all about one moment – one big statement. Something clutch. Meetings aside, for Pominville, his best statements come on the ice, and he made a big one in Washington.
Triumph and disaster. It's nice to be on the triumph side of this play.
Much has been said about the “biggest game of the season” for the Sabres and Washington Capitals.
In short, the Sabres played 60 minutes of smart offense and suffocating, collapsing defense. The Caps rookie netminder, Braden Holtby, predictably succombed to the pressure under what his coach labeled as a “Game Seven.” The Ennis-Stafford-Foligno line continued to dominate, thrilling the raucous contingent of blue and gold clad fans at Washington’s Verizon Center with more of their patented 2 on 1 rushes.
Much has been said, but even this 5-1 victory was not without high drama. This thing almost got away from us.
The Caps dug deep, and had broken onto the scoreboard to make the game 3-1. Christian Ehrhoff and Andrej Sekera had left with injury, and with Robyn Regehr in the box, the Sabres were down to 3 defensemen as they tried to kill off a powerplay and a Caps rally.
We all know what happened next.
Triumph and disaster.
Here’s another look:
Could this be The Goal of the 2011-12 season? With those Caps in position to rally, the Sabres’ captain met the Caps’ captain at the blueline, and the game became just that – captain versus captain. Pominville versus Ovechkin.
Pommers charged at Ovie, forced him to lose control of the puck, dragged him down to the ice, and then skated in for what turned out to be the back breaking goal of the “biggest game of the season.”
Pominville summed up the Sabres’ strategy after the game:
We wanted to take their will away.
Mission accomplished on that play on Ovechkin.
Then, a tip-of-the-hat from Ovechkin, captain to captain:
The goal on the short-handed — I should play [the puck with] my skate, not stick, but it happens. This mistake probably cost us the game.
For now, Pominville and the Sabres’ efforts cost the Capitals the 8th seed as well. Here is where we stand this morning:
For Ottawa, Buffalo, and Washington, it is now down to a 5 game playoff series. One team will be left out when the final whistle is blown on the regular season. The Sabres are the hot team of the East right now, while both the Caps and Sens have been suspect in net, giving them both an equal share of troubles. Still, there is plenty of hockey left to be played.
That’s a big stack of games for these three teams.
At least for now, the Sabres sit in the driver’s seat, alone in 8th. It’s been a long climb since January 21st, but who’s to say that they are done climbing the standings yet? Much work is yet to be done, but #29 and his Sabres have proven a heckuva lot in the last 29 games.
19-5-5. Let’s keep this thing going.
And again, as for Pominville’s leadership, there is no need to question it anymore, and there certainly isn’t any need to ask him about it. All he’ll do is continue to answer on the ice.
1Posted by Scott Michalak on March 20, 2012 at 7:23 am
The resemblance is uncanny.
But hey, like father like son, so they say. Still, it is uncanny how these two clips resemble each other. Hard to the net, own the slot, score on the way to the ice, get up, leap. For older(-ish) fans like myself, watching Marcus is like going back in time to watching Mike.
And it’s wonderful.
What’s even more uncanny is the resemblance. I mean, again, “like father like son,” but check out this picture shared by BSN writer Tamara on the Twitter last night:
OK, it's just the jaw and the chin. And the cheekbones. And the brow. And of course, the guts per pound ratio. Marcus' nose, so far, is straight.
Talk about #SeedsOfGreatness. Mike sure helped raise a winner, and Marcus is in full bloom now as his own man, as his own NHL hockey player.
All father/son references aside, Marcus is really emerging unto his own as late – his 5 goals and 2 assists (+5) in 6 games puts him in some elite company. As pointed out in the post-game interviews last night, only two Sabres have had a better start than #82 – Phil Housley and Ray Sheppard. We won’t go as far to say that Foligno can keep up that kind of pace, but wowee-Housley, the future is bright for the youngest Foligno.
Oh yea, he also has 15 hits.
I’ve said it before in the social medias, but I’ll record it here too for the sake of Public Record – the real winner of the Kassian/Hodgson deal isn’t any of the guys who changed zip codes. Well, actually, it is – but it’s the one who changed his from 14621 to 14226.
Many Sabres fans had grave concerns about losing the toughness and upside of Kassian. Still, questions regarding his maturity, consistency, and development are dogging him. I was worried about Kass since he was drafted. I’ve never been worried about Foligno. Just continually more and more impressed.
2Posted by Scott Michalak on March 1, 2012 at 12:33 pm
OK, so this GIF is “under construction.”
There aren’t many highlights on Youtube this morning, which makes GIF construction very difficult. There’s only one Youtube highlight actually – Miller’s stretch-pad save on Corey Perry’s wrap-around (unless you count all the fight videos from last night – I don’t count ’em as hockey highlights these days).
Still, there was one save of Miller’s that I did not want to see slip away into ungiffed oblivion.
At 17:29 of the 2nd period, there was a scrum in front of the net as Bobby Ryan tried to lift the puck up over a sprawling Miller. Ryan was foiled by Miller’s “reach under the fridge with a ruler to retrieve the cat toy” save. It’s a patented Miller save, actually. At least it is, now:
Heck, all he needed in his glove hand was a flashlight.
This sign doesn't feel as gray today. It feels a little bit more blue and gold.
I dunno, but they’ve got 22 games to close that gap. Suddenly, anything feels possible again. #SeedsOfGreatness are silently still being planted while we’ve so recently abandoned them (as seeds of greatness often do), and the draft lottery, at least for one more day, seems like a thing of the past.
What a buzz! Maybe it’s the magical buzz of Pegula Day, who started this whole Hockey Heaven thing on 2-22-11, but I’m feeling pretty swell about our plucky Sabres today. I hope you are, too.
Aside from Pegula Day, I hope you also enjoy this wild GIF from last night’s Paczki Day performance by Ryan Miller. We’ll call it the “Miller Snow Angel Save,” as Millsie adds yet another remarkable moment to his Youtube career.
Beer Miller earned!
Enjoy the day, folks.
Oh, it also just so happens to be the birthday of Pat LaFontaine (1965) – his 1.17 points per game still ranks tops among all American born players, retired or active.
Roy and the Sabres gave the home fans a real and rare treat with their drubbing of the Pens. There is no doubt that this Gretzky-esque backhander by Roy will make an appearance on that “2011-12 Sabres Season in Review” DVD that no one is going to buy.
Boom! Boom! Boom! Everyone falls down! Blindsided by the Roydazzler.