1. Have Miller be Miller-like
If the Sabres have any chance of advancing past the first round Miller must play to the best of his abilities. Everyone has seen how great Miller can play from the Olympics and all of last year and even parts of this season. If Miller plays like he did in game 1, unlike how he played in games 2 and 3, the Sabres will send the series back to Philadelphia all tied up.
2. Stay out of the Penalty Box
The Sabres have had a hard time early on in this series of staying out of the penalty box and taking bad penalties. If the Sabres didn’t take so many penalties they wouldn’t have been outshot in any of the games. By taking fewer penalties it keeps the better players on the team on the ice more and the Sabres on the offensive. The Sabres have done a great job on the penalty kill at 88.9% but they need to avoid bad penalties at all costs.
3. Score early
If the Sabres score early they can get full momentum from the crowd inside and out of HSBC arena. An early goal could be a huge confidence boost and change the entire momentum of the game. The early goal scored by the Flyers in game 3 was costly to the Sabres as it killed the crowd in Buffalo.
4. Get traffic in front of Boucher
The Sabres need to get traffic in front of Brian Boucher as much as possible. Boucher is not an outstanding goaltender at all. If the Sabres block the vision of the sub-par goaltender their chances of goals goes up greatly.
Same as number #4. Brian Boucher is not a dominate goalie like Miller so shots from all angles are necessary. It’s simple, the more shots you have the more chances you have of scoring. The offense of the Sabres needs to pick it up since Marc Andre Gragnani is leading the team in points and that is not a good sign.
6. Avoid giveaways
The Sabres defense at times has looked sloppy in their zone and thus resulting in bad penalties. Solid play in the defensive zone can go a long way in moving the puck out and leading in fast breaks. Turnovers could be deadly and in a must win game a bad giveaway could have the Sabres down 3-1 in the series.
7. Ignore Hartnell
Scott Hartnell is an agitator and has done a great job of distracting the Sabres from doing their job of winning games. Hartnell has the same job as Sean Avery to get the opposing team more focused on payback on him rather than scoring goals. If the Sabres focus just on putting pucks in the net instead of retaliating and the Sabres could draw some penalties and get some chances. It is well known that Hartnell will take his one dumb penalty a game but the Sabres must stay focused on the task at hand of winning, rather than getting even.
The Sabres must fore-check and put pressure on the Flyers Defense. It seemed that every time the Sabres dumped the puck in last game the Flyers could easily pick it up and get it out of their defensive zone. The harder the Sabres fore-check the more time the Sabres can spend in the offensive zone.
9. Play with Urgency
This is a must win game for the Sabres as they must play with as much heart as possible. If the Sabres don’t play with complete heart they will be in a situation they could be eliminated on Friday in Philadelphia. If the Sabres come out and play with heart and start out fast they can make the series a best of 3.
10. Give Vanek the puck
The Sabres need to give their best offensive weapon the puck if they want to win. Taking too many penalties will leave Thomas Vanek on the bench and not allow him to score. Vanek on the ice as much as possible gives the Sabres the best chance to win.