Thursday, April 22, 2010
What a great goal. Let's break it down.
Ryder gains the zone by feinting left, then going right. This gets an exhausted Grier out of position, and gives Ryder entry into the offensive zone.
Three Sabres are back to defend against two Bruins. Ryder takes one with him along the half-wall, this guy tries to challenge Ryder, but he gets away from him. Another Sabre is covering Sturm as he crashes toward the net. A third defends against a Ryder-Sturm pass. This is problematic for Buffalo, as they're on the penalty kill. Along with the afore-mentioned Grier, these are ALL of the Buffalo skaters on the ice. And they're only covering two of the five Bruins out there.
3. Miller Challenges
Ryan Miller is super aggressive. He plays high in his slot, he's not afraid of committing. He's also excellent at getting back into position, as we repeatedly saw in the first OT period. He shifts himself to the post, trying to stop Ryder from a bad angle shot, which the Bruins have been firing at Miller all series long.
3. The Greatest Trick Satan Ever Pulled
After getting beat, Grier lazily hovers in the neutral zone. He's tired. He's also got a lot of work to do. His three fellow penalty killers are covering two Bruins. So he has three of his own to cover in the neutral zone. This leads to indecision. He doesn't even try to stop Satan from entering the zone. And if he had, other Bruins would have been open anyway.
4. Carte Blanche
Satan can do anything he wants. He has two full seconds (an eternity in hockey), and a few yards of free space. Miller's moved back to the top of his crease. Sturm and two Sabres are banging around there as well. Miller has little choice but to commit to Satan's most likely shot attempt. He comes out and tries to decrease the angle. It's much harder for a skater to shoot the puck over a goalie, the closer a goalie is to the shot.
Satan reads Miller, so he pulls the puck to his backhand. But he still has two Sabre defenders to bear. But neither can do much as they're preoccupied with Sturm. Satan casually slips it between Tyler Myers' legs and into the net.
The NHL didn't want Miroslav Satan. He was on the so-called scrap heap. And the goal hungry Bruins picked him up. And thank God they got Satan.
The Sabres have scored the opening goal in all 4 games of this series. Considering that, along with their Ryan Miller, they should be up 3-1 instead of down 3-1. But they're not a team well-suited for the playoffs, apart from their goalie.
The Bruins continue to dominate the physical game. They continue to rely on Rask, who has been almost as impressive as Miller. They continue to lean on Bergeron's line. And somehow it's all working according to plan. Later in the playoffs, more Bruins will have to contribute. But right now, things have been working well.
The Sabres are up against it. They're under pressure, and I think their skaters will fold. Maybe they'll steal Game 5, but can they win 3 straight? Unlikely.
Game 5, Friday night in Buffalo.