The Sabres have been on a surreal run in the second half of the season; 9-9-2 in the last 13 games the Sabres have gone from 15th in the east to 9th just 2 points back of 8th place. If the Sabres are to make the playoffs it will be historic, no team has ever come back from 15th at the all star break to make the playoffs. There's still work left for the Sabres to make a full comeback and sneak into the playoffs; but with the play of Miller, Ennis, the third line and the new "beastness" Tyler Myers has found I wouldn't bet against the Sabres quite yet. There have been three "beasts" for the Sabres as of late: Ryan Miller, Tyler Ennis and Tyler Myers, today we'll be talking about the later.
Myers has been on fire of late and last night against the Canadians he scored the OT winner, and likely saved the season/playoff push. The tying goal being scored with .4 seconds left was a potential back breaker for the Sabres, if they hadn't rallied together and scored the OT winner, then our playoff push, everything that's been happening for the last couple months would be for nothing, it would have broken this team mentally and they likely would not have been able to rebound from it. But 2:02 into OT the Sabres had a 3 on 2 rush into the Habs zone, Derek Roy sent a beautiful pass over to Myers who made no mistake and buried the game winner! I'm going out on a limb and saying Tyler Myers is the dark horse MVP of the Sabres this season; he had a rough start to the season, he got benched, got hurt, then came back and recently has been on fire! With his overtime goal last night, Myers solidified his name in the Sabres records; his OT goal was his 8th game winning goal of his career which ties him for the lead for Sabres defense with Brian Campbell and Alexei Zhitnik. It was also Myers 3rd career overtime goal which puts him in first among all Sabres defenseman! Not bad for a guy who was being thrown under the bus at the beginning of the season.
Myers "coming out party" for the season was the game against Anaheim, when he got in his first fight and recorded 7 penalty minutes. At the end of the game in which the Sabres beat the Ducks, a scrum ensued and Myers dropped the mitts with Sheldon Brookbank. The passion in his eyes during that fight spoke volumes, he literally looked like he wanted to rip Brookbank to shreds! But that moment was so extremely important for Myers, he's starting to come out of his shell and take a leadership role on the team, and that's what the Sabres are looking for from their gentle giant. The Sabres drafted Myers and signed him long-term so he could be their next "franchise players," perhaps a future captain, Norris trophy and hopefully bringing the Cup home to Buffalo! The Sabres have big plans for the kid, and he's starting to understand his role more and more, and the fact that he can and should take a leadership role. Since his fight against Brookbank, I've noticed a more relaxed and pumped up defenseman. He's hitting harder, playing smarter defense, taking more chances/shots, jumping up in the play and really laying down the foundation for an excellent defense game in the future. I'm really excited to see Myers develop further in the future; he's going to be a great defenseman.
I love watching Myers on the ice right now, he's so full of confidence, he commits fully to a hit or poke check and doesn't chicken out, he's not afraid to rush the puck and shoot. Although his numbers are down this season (8 goals 13 assists), he's starting to really find his game. But what I really like from this "new" Sabres season in the second half, is how they're banding together and starting to play for their line mates, defensive partners and teammates-- they know how important these games are to the team, the fans and each other and they're finally playing that way. The embrace between Miller and Tyler Ennis after the shootout against Ottawa on Saturday shows it all, these guys are finally playing like a team. It's not just an individual effort each night anymore, they have faith in each other. When Miller was asked what was different about his game in the second half he said "I've learned to TRUST my teammates more!" A good hockey team, and a team that wins a Stanley Cup is team that plays for each other!
The only blunder in Myers game as of late, was the hit from behind on Scott Gomez last night. It was a bit of retaliation for a hit Gomez put on Myers, but Myers is the one meeting with Brendan Shanahan today. I'm guessing he'll receive a 3 game suspension or a $2,500 fine; nothing to serious but serious enough to get the point across, good news is Myers isn't a repeat offender. The hit looked viscous but Gomez did leave himself open for the hit, but Myers did hit him with a little extra aggression. So look for a wrist slap attention grabber.
This Sabres team is dangerous; they're coming together, players are playing amazing, Miller is back, Myers is out of his shell and the shorties (Ennis and Gerbe) are playing like they're 6 feet tall!
I wouldn't underestimate this team, in fact if I were the Rangers I'd be rooting for someone else to take 8th!