It's not that the Buffalo Sabres were the better team tonight, they were just accurate. That's not to say Ryan Miller wasn't outstanding because he was, but the Ducks just couldn't find the net. They were either trying to push pucks under Miller or shooting half a foot wide (or above) the net. Everything just felt a bit off.
The Ducks just don't know how to make things easier for themselves. With only 18 games left on the season, the margin for error is getting even more slim. Somewhat luckily, the Ducks didn't damage themselves to horribly by losing to an Eastern Conference team, but they certainly didn't help their cause. As tired as the cliche "must win game" is, I have to use it to describe the next two contests on the Ducks calendar - Calgary (Friday) and at LA (Saturday). Without winning those two outright, the Ducks can consider their playoff hopes dead in the water.
But that is the weekend, we still have tonight to discuss.
-- For some reason, I love the fact that Boudreau wears his orange Duck-tie every other game.
-- Even though they didn't do anything, I was happy to see the reunion of the RPG Line. Bobby Ryan plays OK with Teemu Selanne and Saku Koivu, but he plays even better with Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry. I don't know if it's a mental road block or whatever but this was his best game in a while. That line combined for 12 of the 43 shots on goal, by the way.
-- Jonas Hiller was good. Those two goals were tough. The second one he should have stopped, but otherwise another solid game by him. Glad to see that he was OK after Kaleta barreled into him in the beginning of the third period.
-- Luca Sbisa was an animal tonight. He had five hits and was skating circles around the Sabres. He's turning out to be quite a catch for the Ducks. Glad to see at least one piece of the Chris Pronger to Philly trade has worked out in out favor.
-- Really pleased to see the penalty kill returning to it's earlier season form. There were multiple short handed chances for the guys tonight, lead mostly by RPG and Andrew Cogliano.
-- Ducks fans were completely drowned out by the Buffalo fans at the game. What happened to the people that packed the game on Sunday?
-- I am all for fighting in the game, but the thing I take issue with this late in the season is the stars fighting. Should Getzlaf, Perry, or Ryan have gotten hurt in their respective bouts, we would be screwed the rest of the way. I know they're frustrated, but sometimes you have to put your personal well being in perspective. Plus, that Getzlaf "fight" (if you even want to call it that) was lame. I miss the days where he would actually take a swing at a guy. Yes, I realize that totally contradicts what I wrote earlier in the paragraph.
-- I wasn't thrilled with the seemingly endless neutral zone turnovers (yet again), the Ducks at least were able to re-gain control quickly after turning over the puck. Nothing something I'd like to see made into a habit, though.
-- Shot accuracy. I hardly believe that the skills showdown is the best indicator of who on the team has the most accurate shot because the winner for the past few years has been George Parros. Then again, he wasn't playing tonight and they lost after majorly outshooting the opposition...
-- If you haven't heard yet, the Ducks and Crunch have seemingly broken up. I am devastated by this news only because we're going to be losing some of the best AHL writers on the planet, Alex and Magics from Chairman Hows Glorious Army. No word on who will be our dance partner next year.