All season long Buffalo’s Ryan Miller has looked a little bit off. After a Vezina Trophy winning season last year and an Olympic tournament that saw him lead the way for Team USA, it only made sense that he would have a bit of a down year this year.
Leave it to Miller to make his biggest impression of the season when it started to matter the most as he stopped 35 shots in Game 1 of the playoffs to lead the Sabres to victory 1-0 over Philadelphia. The shutout was Miller’s second in his career in the playoffs and while he didn’t get a lot of offensive support tonight, he got just enough from Patrick Kaleta of all people to get the win.
The loss for Philadelphia continues a bad trend that carried them through the final month of the season as the Flyers struggled to the end. The Flyers closed their year from February 26 til the end of the regular season going 7-8-6 and now they’re dealing with a red hot Sabres team that finished their season strong.
Some of you may have given us some grief for going against the Flyers as long as they’re playing without Chris Pronger, but tonight was a prime example of how things can change without their best defenseman as it was Danny Syvret who was caught not defending Kaleta on the game’s only goal.
It’s unfortunate for Philadelphia as James van Riemsdyk played an outstanding game for the Flyers. They’ll need more of that from him as the playoffs roll on. While the stars are always counted on to be big performers, getting production from the depth players goes a long way.
For Buffalo, stealing home ice advantage away from Philadelphia goes a long way for them as they’ll at least head back to Buffalo for Game 3 with a split in the series and at most with a 2-0 lead and the Flyers on the ropes. Either way, seeing Miller shut things down does wonders for the Sabres confidence on a night when their offense was able to muster just one goal.
If the Flyers want to get wins in the playoffs, fixing their power play would go a long way towards helping that out. The Sabres were 0-5 with the man advantage and looked bad on all of them. It’s been an issue for the Flyers all season as their power play ranks out as the sixth worst one amongst teams in the playoffs during the regular season scoring just 16.6% of the time. Against Buffalo tonight they looked like a mishmash of players attempting to do something but that something wasn’t putting the puck in the net.
While Buffalo would love to see the offense pick up, if Miller plays outstanding like he did all playoffs… Buffalo looks a lot scarier to face.
It wasn’t pretty, and they might have lost key defenseman Matt Niskanen to injury, but at least the Washington Capitals managed a win against the Boston Bruins.
For a while, it was looking pretty ugly.
After going up 3-0, the Capitals went more than a period’s worth of time without even managing a shot on goal. Whether you lean more toward giving the Bruins credit for fighting back or beating up the Capitals for “sitting on a lead,” it’s staggering that such a dangerous offense could be held in check for so long.
Luckily for Washington, Nicklas Backstrom salvaged the night with an overtime goal to give the Capitals a 4-3 overtime win.
Both teams have had a knack for extending games beyond regulation lately, by the way:
Capitals over the last three games:
Shootout loss to the Lightning
Overtime win against the Sabres
Overtime win tonight against the Bruins
Bruins over the last five games:
Shootout loss against Flyers
Shootout win against Hurricanes
Regulation win against Sabres
Overtime win against Panthers
Overtime loss to the Capitals
Maybe that’s what gets it done in 2016-17: finding ways to carve out wins and shake out rough patches, like the Caps did tonight.
Patrice Bergeron doesn’t have a reputation for dirty hits, but he drew the Washington Capitals’ ire for a hit on Matt Niskanen.
The Capitals consider Niskanen “probable” to return to Wednesday’s game against the Boston Bruins with what they’re calling an upper-body injury. Bergeron received a two-minute boarding penalty for the infraction.
(Check out video of the hit above.)
The Capitals’ Twitter acknowledged the brewing bad feelings.
Does Bergeron deserve supplemental discipline for that boarding hit?
Washington currently leads the game 3-2.
There are plenty of hazards on an NHL rink even if you’re not a player.
Barry Trotz ranks among the coaches who’ve been hit by pucks, though he’s one of the tiny sliver of humans who would shake off a puck to the forehead. It can be dangerous for officials, too, whether it means a wayward puck or wayward player.
The latest example comes in the form of linesman Steve Miller needing help off the ice after a puck hit him in the knee area. As you can see from the video, it looked like he was in serious pain.
It’s refreshing that hockey fans have, for the most part, moved on from debating Tyler Bozak‘s merits.
The general feeling is that the Toronto Maple Leafs use him in appropriate ways these days, so we can simply enjoy his work as a pretty spiffy hockey player.
Speaking of spiffy, check out the sweet moves he made against the Minnesota Wild for the goal above. Feels like you could dub over a Chris Berman “whoop” or two in there, right?
(If you’re into that kind of thing.)
Here’s that gaudy move in isolation and in GIF form: