Log another April 14th into the history books for the Buffalo Sabres and Philadelphia Flyers.
Patrick Kaleta joined John LeClair and Jay McKee last night, as the latest player in that trio to score a big playoff goal in a playoff game between the Sabres and Flyers on the 14th. At 2:35 of the video:
So far, big goals on the 14th have translated into moments that help to decide series between these two teams. Let’s hope that trend continues.
I admit, I was not thrilled to hear that Kaleta and Grier would be in in the lineup. The Sabres have been on a tear, and Lindy Ruff’s decision to shake up the lineup sparked an internal debate in my head throughout the game. After so much success, was it was it wise to change the chemistry on the ice?
Well, yes it was.
Grier responded with a dominant game along the boards. He skated like a bull around the ice, tying Kaleta and Tyler Myers for the the team lead with 5 hits, and earning the “Carubba Collision of the Game.” His play set the tone for the Sabres, who were outshot by the Flyers, 35-25, but were certainly not outworked. As Harry Neale pointed out in the second intermission, the Sabres had yet to allow one odd man rush against Ryan Miller.
Rob Ray also addressed Ruff’s decision to include guys like Grier and Niedermayer in the lineup, opining that “this is where they earn their paychecks.” The regular season has been a long grind for these these two vets, but they responded with solid, calm play.
Philadelphia had the edge in flash last night, but Buffalo had the better depth of grit. It was no coincidence that Kaleta was there to finish off this season’s April 14th contest – the Sabres’ checking players were wholly dominant on the ice. Guys like Kaleta, Grier, McCormick, Gaustad, and Gerbe had the Flyers sweating and reeling throughout the game.
As noted previously here on buffalo74 – it’s not how many 20 goal scorers you have on your team. What matters more is who has the most guts:
“The Sabres’ consistency, proven depth, and goaltending should allow them to outlast the Flyers’ best efforts.”
So far, so good. Last night, Kaleta and the other checking players for the Blue and Gold would not be outplayed, and it was their kind of gritty, finishing depth that won the night.
Kaleta scored against the Flyers top line of Briere, Leino and Hartnell, in the third period, breaking a 0-0 tie. Talk about clutch. Talk about hitting the Flyers right in the guts.
On to Game Two.