My Prediction

Sabres 5, Pens 1. Record in predicting winner: 7-5

Even Strength Offense: A

You know how I always say that the Pens make goalie X look like Jacques Plante? How they seem to have a knack for making goalies look good? Well, they also make Ryan Miller look like JS Aubin. They just torture him. And last night was no exception. The Pens only had 21 ES shots, but scored on 5 of them. It seemed like everything they put on the net found its way in. Make no mistake, the Pens dominated from start to finish. But that’s also because of the leaky goaltending by Miller early that basically took Buffalo out of the game. I’m not trying to discredit the Pens or anything. They played tremendous hockey, especially in the first period. When Geno is flying like that, the rest of the team just follows suit.

Even Strength Defense: D-DNM

For D-Did Not Matter. There were breakdowns that gave the Sabres their goals. But it was all moot.

Power Play: A

Three power play goals? Are you kidding me??? Depres already looks better than Martin on the power play. And Geno made a great play to Neal against a stickless Gaustad. Then Geno got his hat trick goal on a rebound of his own shot. They were moving the puck with ease last night.

Penalty Kill: A

Buffalo didn’t threaten on their two power plays.

Goaltending: C-DNM

Same as the defense. Fleury was adequate, but it just made no difference.

Overall: A

Just yesterday, I said this team stinks. I guess they looked in the mirror and saw the same thing. They came out from the first shift trying to assert command, and they did. The couple early goals were huge, as they got rewarded for their hard work. Then they just kept piling it on. It sure was fun to watch. About the only suspense entering the third period was whether Geno would complete his hat trick. Luckily, Buffalo scored a couple to make things slightly interesting, so HCDB could put Geno out on the PP without feeling like he was running up the score.

And now, the rest of the story…

Geno: A+

He gets the very rare A+. I can’t even describe how dominant he was. And he did it all in under 19 minutes of ice time. He is just doing everything right now, to the point that he’s probably the best player in the league at the moment. I guess this is one of the reasons I get on him a lot. I see what he’s capable of. But he only does it when he’s engaged. And he does seem to raise his game when Sid is out, too.

James Neal: A

He just keeps scoring and scoring and scoring. He’s only two behind Stamkos for the lead in goals.

Chris Kunitz: A

He set the tone with two huge hits on the first shift. And he was rewarded with a late goal.

Simon Depres: A

He doesn’t look the least bit out of place. He is cementing a spot for himself, though with the glut of defensemen when they’re all healthy, it’s no guarantee.

Minus Machine Martin: A

Take him out of the lineup, and look what happens.

Steve Sullivan, Brooks Orpik, Joe Vitale: Hmmmm

All ended up a minus for the night.

Paul Gaustad: A

He somehow ended up +3. Pretty amazing.

Bibsy’s Creative Language

“His feet were dislodged.”

Root Sports: F

Last night, the cameraman failed to follow the puck, and had to quickly pan down the ice as Geno scored.

Kunikaze

He had three in a row early on against Regehr, Ennis, and Gragnani.

I’m on Twitter.

A guide to the game grades can be found here