Sunday, January 21, 2007

Slipping at the Top

We're at the midway point of the NHL season and there could be cause for concern on both coast. First, the Anaheim Ducks, who were very dominate in the first quarter of the season, have fallen to the #2 team in the Western Conference, while losing seven of their last nine games. In the East, the Buffalo Sabres continue to be atop the conference, but haven't seem as dominate as they did at the beginning of the season.

The main question now is what is the problem with both sides??

With Anaheim, the easy excuse is injuries. Chris Pronger has been out for almost a month, J-S Giguere is still out with a groin injury, Francois Beauchemin's spleen issue, and Scott Niedermayer not at 100% with a stress fracture. However, the main issue is inconsistency. They haven't been scoring at the torrid pace they started with, which could be a cause for concern when your goaltending is suspect and your defense depleted. Veterans like Teemu Selanne and Andy McDonald need to lead by example to show the young kids like Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry how to fight off adversity.

The Sabres have an issue with some consistency as well, this time it's in goal. Ryan Miller has been a great goalie for the Sabres, yet there are some parts of his game that need help. He seems to let in very late goals and loses confidence into the next game. Martin Biron hasn't been much better as of late in net, though he can get wins. It also seems that the goal-scorers at the beginning of the season aren't producing that much heading into the break. Chris Drury and Thomas Vanek have slowed their pace, which I'm sure the Sabres would love to have back coming down the stretch.

It's much to early to tell if this trend will continue for the Sabres and Ducks. I know fans of both teams don't like to see the slumping happen, but in this game-- it's inevitable. I'm sure once the walking wounded are back and the consistency returns; these teams should become dominant again, hopefully sooner, rather than later.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Ryan Miller is not slipping. The quality of defensive play in front of him will be the same at the ASG.

And to all those bitchin' and moanin' about Brodeur not starting and having better year statistically- The Devils play a very defensive game, whereas the Sabres are a very wide open team.

So while the team's style accounts for some of the goals scored against them, they have also been playing poor defense to boot. And No Tallinder.