Ben Bishop watched from the bench on Tuesday as Evgeni Nabokov was the goalie of record in Tampa Bay’s 2-1 shootout loss to Buffalo — and from his vantage point, Bishop saw what he considers to be a pretty good hockey team.
Just ask him.
“It’d be good to get a lead against these guys,” Bishop said prior to Thursday’s rematch, per the Buffalo News. “They’re a very good team. I don’t think their record shows what kind of team they are. They’re hot right now. They’re on a pretty good streak, so hopefully we can stop them.
“They had a tough start to the year, but they’ve won six of seven. They might be the hottest team in the league right now.”
Bishop’s right about one thing — Buffalo has gotten results lately, racking up big wins against Toronto, San Jose, Washington, Montreal (x2) and the Bolts. That said, many of the problems that plagued the Sabres in the early parts of the season still remain; Buffalo is getting woefully out shot on a near-nightly basis, and still has trouble putting pucks in the net.
In the last five games, the Sabres (boasting the NHL’s 30th-ranked offense) have scored just nine goals. Twice they’ve surrendered 44 shots on net (against the Caps and Habs) and, over the course of this stretch in which they’ve won six of seven, the Sabres have been cumulatively out shot 236-168.
But, as the old saying goes, you don’t critique wins. Buffalo has done well to climb out of the league basement (if the results go a certain way tonight, the Sabres could climb to 12th in the East), something else Bishop acknowledged while pumping tires.
“As you can see, they can be the worst team in the first month and the best team right now, so it shows you how much parity there is in this league,” he explained. “I don’t think we take anybody lightly.”