Goaltending is key in the NHL playoffs

As a native Buffalonian and lifelong Sabres fan, I am as excited as anyone about the team’s success this year. Thanks to NHL Center Ice, I follow nearly every game from Austin. The second loss in a row against Philly is very frustrating and I hate to say it but goaltending is the difference right now. After game 2, I thought the series would be over in 5 for sure. Had the Sabres figured out Esche on one or two of their many chances tonight, that prediction may have come true.

This is less a knock against Ryan Miller and more of a compliment to Robert Esche. Quite simply if it was not for Esche’s play (forget about Game 2 entirely) the series may very well be over … or at least heading for a finale on Sunday in Buffalo. In fact he nearly singlehandedly enabled Philly to win the first game.

Miller has not been bad, but he did let in soft goals in each of games 3 & 4. Without those softies, the Sabres may have won one or both of those games.

I thought Esche was the difference tonight …. I think we had 4 breakaways in the first two periods (including the penalty shot) and only scored once – and barely did so.

The Sabres clearly are the better team here …. but they need to figure out Esche again like they did in Game 2 very soon.

Goaltending is usually the key to winning playoff series and Stanley Cups. Buffalo needs to convert on more opportunties and Miller needs to step it up a notch to not only put Philly on vacation, but to reach the Cup finals.

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— bkm