Niagara Gazette

Sports

November 22, 2006

PAT MURRAY: Sabres Offense resembles well-oiled machine

Buffalo — Remember the great Edmonton Oilers teams of the 1980s?

The ones with Wayne Gretzky, Mark Messier, Jari Kurri and a host of others who could put the puck in the net?

That’s what this year’s Buffalo Sabres are starting to resemble.

Not in the aspect that the next Gretzky is wearing Sabres blue and gold, but by the fact that this year’s team, like those Edmonton teams, can score in bunches.

Just ask the Philadelphia Flyers, the Tampa Bay Lightning, or Buffalo’s latest victim, the Toronto Maple Leafs.

The Sabres have a more-balanced scoring attack than those powerful Edmonton teams. Buffalo has two players in the top 10 in scoring (Daniel Briere at ninth and Thomas Vanek at 10th), but the Sabres are running away in the race for most goals scored. After Wednesday’s game, the Sabres have 101 goals, well ahead of Anaheim's 80.

Like those Edmonton teams, the Sabres also give up a fair share of chances to the opposition. They don’t need their goaltender to stop every shot, just come up with the big saves when needed.

Ryan Miller may not lead the NHL in shutouts or goals-against average, but he doesn’t have to. All he has to do is win games, and judging by his 11-2-1 won-lost record, he’s doing just fine in that regard. Just ask the Maple Leafs, who were stoned time and again by Miller with the Sabres clinging to a 5-4 lead in the final minutes Wednesday.

But the best thing about this year’s edition of the Sabres is that they’re entertaining. This what the National Hockey League was hoping for when it revised its rules in an attempt to create more offense.

Ask anyone in attendance at HSBC Arena on Wednesday night for Buffalo's 7-4 win over the Maple Leafs. Sabres fan or Leafs fan, it didn’t matter. They may have gone home disappointed because their team lost, but they certainly went home thoroughly entertained.

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