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Buffalo exposes Anaheim’s shaky defense in Finland

Toni Lydman, Thomas Vanek

Buffalo Sabres’ Thomas Vanek (26) of Austria, shoots the puck under pressure from Anaheim Ducks’ Toni Lydman (32) of Finland, during the third period of an NHL hockey game in Buffalo, N.Y., Tuesday, Dec. 21, 2010. The Sabres won 5-2. (AP Photo/David Duprey)


Teemu Selanne’s every move was applauded in Finland on Friday, but the Anaheim Ducks’ dreadful defense stole the spotlight.

Maybe you can attribute some of their troubles to the Buffalo Sabres’ waves of quality forwards or a rusty Jonas Hiller, but Anaheim’s biggest weakness was clear in a 4-1 loss. Even considering Lubomir Visnovsky’s impressive scoring numbers, the blueline ranked as the Ducks’ Achilles heel last season and it’s hard to imagine that changing.

Sure, 25 shots allowed isn’t bad, but the Sabres were able to assert themselves in a troubling way on three of their four goals. (Check out the video highlights at the bottom of this post for examples.)

A pillow-soft defense puts incredible pressure on the Ducks’ top-heavy offense to rack up goals and Hiller to stand on his head. That formula worked - barely - last season, but it’s dangerous to expect the team to walk that tight rope again.

Then again, there are two important qualifiers:

1. It’s just one game.

2. The Buffalo Sabres might do this to a lot of teams.

Simply put, the Sabres’ scoring depth might make a lot of defenses look silly. One cannot help but wonder if the Ducks defense will look daffy one too many times this season, though.