Ryan Miller and the Sabres Steal Home Ice in Game One
Everyone was expecting this Flyers Sabres series to be a close one. It was easy to prove why either team will eventually win the series. Tonight proved just how tight the battle between the Flyers and Sabres is going to be. This series is going to be a long one, but with the Sabres coming out on top in game number one, this could very well turn out to be an upset,
You cannot get much closer than a one goal game, and you definitely cannot get any closer than a 0-0 game through two periods of play.
Tonight showed exactly why playoff hockey stands alone, and why no regular season game can compare. If any one of the first 82 games finished with a 1-0 score with no scoring until the third period, it would be regarded as a boring game. But not during the playoffs. Tonight's game was incredible. It was playoff hockey at its best.
The Buffalo Sabres were a determined team prepared to block any shot that they could. The hitting was upped a notch. And the battle between an Olympic MVP goaltender and a rookie goaltender was tremendous. The crowd was fantastic early and the animosity between the two teams was clearly visible in countless scrums after whistles.
For a long time it looked like no one was going to score. The Flyers, whose powerplay struggles were eminent, could not even beat Ryan Miller with a two man advantage. The Flyers were getting the bulk of the chances, but they could not seem to pounce on rebounds quick enough.
It all came down to the third period. Any break down or fluke play could turn out to be deadly. In a game so close, it would not be crazy to assume that a guy that no one expects would turn out to be the hero. That is exactly what happened tonight.
Patrick Kaleta is possibly one of the most hated players in the NHL. He is known as being a pest, but he actually does possess some talent too. 5:56 into the third period, Kaleta silenced a sold out crowd in South Philadelphia. Sergei Bobrovsky stopped the initial shot from Gragani, but Kaleta found the rebound and put it in the net.
All it took was one goal. The Flyers remained solid defensively, and Bobrovsky did what he had to do between the pipes, but the offense could not solve Ryan Miller. The Flyers outshot the Sabres 35-25, but that was not enough to break the shutout.
The Sabres picked up the all important game one victory. It is not even necessary to bring up the stats to prove the importance of winning the first game of a series. But what's done is done. The Flyers did not play bad aside from the failed power play opportunities, but the forwards have to get more traffic in front, or Ryan Miller is going to steal this series easily.
Saturday is obviously going to be a huge game. The Sabres have already taken away home ice from the Flyers. But if the Flyers can manage to get to Ryan Miller, then the series can easily turn around.