Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Sabres host Cats. Of the 2016 draft, Sabres' prospects, and ESPN

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The Buffalo Sabres return to the ice tonight against the division-leading Florida Panthers tonight for their the fourth and final meeting between the two clubs. The Cats lead the season series 2-1 and smoked the Sabres 5-1 early in January. It was one of the few outright clunkers that Buffalo has played this year.

From Sabres PR we come to find out that the Sabres have not had a lot of success against Florida as of late as they're a paltry 2-8-0 in their last 10 overall, 3-6-1 at the First Niagara Center.

The Panthers could be ripe for picking tonight as they've cooled down considerably. They're 5-4-1 in in their last 10 games but have dropped two in a row since a five-game winning streak which included wins over Chicago (4-0,) Tampa Bay (5-2,) Toronto (5-1,) Washington (5-2) and Detroit (6-3.) That 23-goal outburst represents about 17% of their output in less than 10 % of their games. Surrounding that five-game streak, however is a 0-4-1 record where they were shut out twice and scored a total of five goals.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

No Eichel magic in Beantown last night. B's drop Sabres in OT.

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The last time the Buffalo Sabres were in Boston, Massachusetts native Jack Eichel had a whale of a game scoring 2 goals and adding 2 assists while leading his Sabres to 6-3 comeback win in Beantown on the strength of five unanswered third period goals.

Not so much last night as the Bruins won in 2-1 in overtime on a penalty shot goal by longtime Buffalo nemesis, Brad Marchand.

Marchand was awarded the penalty shot after Buffalo's Rasmus Ristolainen coughed up the puck to him a second time. The first was at the Boston blueline but Sabres captian Brian Gionta saved the day and on the second one Ristolainen's pass labeled for Johan Larsson was picked off by Marchand who streaked in on goalie Robin Lehner. Ristolainen went with a stick-check, Marchand promptly smacked that weak effort into the air and headed towards the net with Ristolainen mugging him the rest of the way.

Was it penalty-shot worthy?

Meh. I think not. Ristolainen didn't grab him. He just kept shoving him to try and knock him off stride. The ref, however, thought so and pointed towards center ice. Marchand went in, deeked Lehner and roofed a back-hander. Game over. Bruins take the season series.

Rookie scoring race weekly recap--Panarin still tops, Gostisbehere cracks top-five

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Chicago Blackhawks rookie Artemi Panarin will be hard to catch in the NHL rookie scoring race as he plays on the most potent line with the league's leading scorer in Patrick Kane. That and the fact that he's 24 yrs. old and spent seven seasons playing in the KHL. Props the defending Stanley Cup Champion Blackhawks for finding and bringing aboard a Russian who scored 102 points (46g, 56a) in 105 games for St. Petersburgh SKA of the KHL.

Dude has mad skills and when you put him on a line with a premier player like Kane, who leads the league in scoring, it's a recipe for big-time success.

Panarin picked up where he left off in the first week of play after the All-Star break netting a goal and adding five assists in three games while adding to his rookie leading 18 goals, 34 assists and 56 points.

It will be hard for any rookie to catch him in the overall points-race as his next closest competitor is Dylan Larkin with 37. But Detoit's Larkin did tie Panarin in goals on the strength of three goals in three games. The Detroit Red Wings forward has 18 goals and 19 assists on the season.

In what could end up as a race for second amongst scoring, Buffalo's Jack Eichel is third in points (35) and goals (16) and is tied for third in assists with 19. Eichel had a rough week scoring-wise as he was only able to register one assist in three games for the week.

Arizona's Max Domi sits fourth in the rookie scoring race with 34 points but is second in assists with 21. He added two in three games for the Coyotes last week.

Props to Philadelphia defenseman Shane Gostisbehere who cracked the top-five in points on the strength of five points (1+4) in four games this past week. Gostisbehere who was taken by the Flyers with the 78th pick in the 2012 NHL Draft has season totals of nine goals and 18 assists (fifth amongst rookies) in 33 games, easily tops defensemen in points.

The Coyotes' Anthony Duclair and the Calgary Flames Sam Bennett round out the top-five in goals with 14 each as listed on, but Buffalo's own Sam "The Forgotten One" Reinhart also has 14 goals in one less game then Duclair.

Although he's miles behind because of an injury that kept him out of the lineup 37 of his teams 54 games, Edmonton's Connor McDavid is scoring at a feverish pace. In 17 games he has 18 points (7+11) and rattled off a post All-Star break stat-line of two goals and four assists in four games last week.

Because of that lost time McDavid is far off the pace and catching Panarin is a distant dream, but who amongst us would count him out of making it into the top-five in any or all three scoring categories?

Not I, types the man at this keyboard.

Rookie Leaders (via




Sunday, February 7, 2016

Of the Buffalo Sabres present 28th place standing. Plus some prospect stats.

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The NHL Standings say that the Buffalo Sabres have 47 points, tied with the Calgary Flames, Toronto Maple Leafs, Winnipeg Jets, Edmonton Oilers and Columbus Blue Jackets at the bottom of the league. At 52 games played, the Sabres have played more than the Flames, Leafs and Jets and because of it sit behind those three in the standings. They've played two more than the Jackets who are in 30th place and have played the same number of games as the Oilers but because Buffalo has three more regulation/overtime wins than Edmonton they presently hold down 28th-place in the league standing.

For some in Sabreland it's an abomination that a team like Buffalo, who went to the bottom of the league two-years running, should be in this predicament. And in typical fan-fashion, begin to throw blame around.

Some of it is thrown head coach Dan Bylsma's way, especially in light of his shootout choices in the home loss to the Boston Bruins on Thursday. Some of the blame is directed at GM Tim Murray who finished the tear-down his predecessor started. It could be said that this is almost wholly Murray's squad as there are only a few holdovers from the previous regime.

Then there's blame directed at individual players and in a real head-scratcher, some throw a heap of blame towards Terry Pegula and Pegula Sports and Entertainment.

And, of course, there are those who believe there's a "stealth tank" going on as our own 22sabresQ mentioned. That Murray's looking for one more top-end pick before the team really gives it a go.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Letdown at the F'N Center. Bruins beat Buffalo in shootout.

For Buffalo Sabres fans watching last night's game vs. the Boston Bruins, the 3-2 shootout loss at the hands of the Bruins was a letdown, especially after blowing a 2-1 third-period lead on a goal that caught the entire team napping.

Boston's best penalty killer, Zdeno Chara went to the box for tripping and an inept Sabres powerplay couldn't convert. To make matters worse, just after the penalty expired, the Bruins' Brad Marchand, the second-most hated Boston player behind Chara, caught the entire Sabres team napping as he went one-on-six and lifted a backhander past a surprised Buffalo goaltender, Chad Johnson. The game-tying goal.

Even though Johnson was stout in net the rest of the way, including a sterling save in overtime, it was "that one goal" that he and all of Sabreland wanted back.

C'est la vie.

Although management, coaches and players are saying all the right things about this season, the playoffs are a far too distant dream at this point. The Sabres have 47 points, good for last in the Atlantic Division and they're 11 points back of the last wild card spot with six teams ahead of them. If they're not sellers at the February 29 trade-deadline it would be really surprising.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Notes from Montreal. Boston in town.

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The Sabres pulled out a real good road win last night as they scored three unanswered in the third period for a 4-2 victory over the Montreal Canadiens. While Montreal was on the second of a back-to-back, Buffalo was coming off of the All-Star Break after a seven-day hiatus. And it looked like it.

Les Habitants swarmed the Sabres early in the first period, at one point holding a 10-2 edge in shots on goal. But as the period wore on the Sabres found their legs, turned the table and by the end of the first the Sabres narrowed the SOG to 12-11 in favor of Montreal but more importantly went into the intermission with a 1-0 lead.

On the Montreal broadcast last night there were a number of occasions where the broadcast team mentioned that the Canadiens were "fragile." Montreal had gone from 17-4-2 prior to an injury to No. 1 goaltender Carey Price and are now 24-24-2 after last night's loss to Buffalo. To those of us who remember "the core" years, the word "fragile" made it into the broadcasting vernacular all to frequently.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

McDavid serves Calder notice. Of Montreal, Robin Lehner and John Scott.

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It's too bad that those who subscribed to NHL GameCenter Live (like myself) couldn't watch the "Triumphant Return," as was's headline this morning, of Connor McDavid to the ice. The rookie phenom had been sidelined by a broken clavicle that cost him 37 games and it would have been great to be able to watch him dazzle on the heels of an impressive NHL All-Star Weekend. But, the note from the website was:  Media Error. Video not available.

So, we're left with the highlights and if you haven't seen it, McDavid's goal last night was the stuff of legend. With the game tied at 1-1, McDavid took the puck in the neutral zone and hit the blueline as two Columbus Blue Jackets players converged on him. He left Jackets' d-man Jack Johnson looking for his jockstrap, had defenseman Justin Faulk literally tripping over himself as he fell to the ice while he whizzed past him and made Columbus goalie Joonas Korpisalo look like the 21 year old rookie he is.