Thursday, December 30, 2010

zack kassian, the sabres' chris neil

or maybe the sabres' daniel carcillo or sean avery...

not doubt the kid brings a tough, gritty package to the table for the blue and gold, but he's starting to come off as a mental midget in the vein of the aforementioned...

yesterday on wgr, host mike schoopsie was just gaga over kassian--an unadulterated, johnson-throbbing man-crush...

i say whoa...the kids got issues, whether or not they can be resolved is a different story...

lets start with this cheapshot that warranted a 20-game suspension from the ohl last january:



youthful over-zealousness?...yeah, absolutely...could he refine his game while still retaining the edge?...on the ice he could, as he helped harness his aggressiveness while the spits won the memorial cup, but the mental midget came out last may as he was arrested and charged with assaulting a man in a peterborough, ontario bar at 1:50am...

ok, sure, most of us have been in that situation, and because we're not "celebrities," not much happened except for the scrapes, bumps and bruises incurred on both sides...but for kassian, it furthered his reputation as hot-headed and easily provoked into aggression...in addition, it also meant customs troubles at the border, “If an individual has an assault charge on their record, they’d be found inadmissible into the United States,” said Chief Ron Smith of U.S. Customs and Border Protection. “There are ways to mitigate that, primarily through the Department of State which issues visas.“But under normal circumstances, initially, the individual would be inadmissible in the United States for the assault charge.”

that's why the sabres couldn't/wouldn't sign him to his first pro contract...they were forced to wait until the issue was resolved with kassian doing community service as a prelude to the charge being dropped, which it was in october...shortly afteward, he was signed by the sabres...

all of this meant that kassian would need to spend another year in juniors, and he's been doing well, especially on the offensive side of the game...he still remains one tough s.o.b. for the spits, but he hadn't done anything too stupid...until...this at the world juniors playing for team canada in front of a raucous canadian crowd at hsbc arena in buffalo, the team who drafted him:



he lines the unsuspecting czech up and unloads on him catching a shoulder and a chin and whiplashing the guy into a neck brace...was it clean?...borderline...but for a guy with his reputation (see above,) is it any wonder why the iihf added an extra game?...

before anyone blurts out, "it's hockey! ya pantywaist," try and recall what you were thinking when chris neil nailed chris drury in the very same fashion:



pretty similar, eh?

Thursday, December 23, 2010

what's craig patrick doing these days?

at this very moment?... i'm not sure, but i do know that he attended the news conference announcing terry pegula's $88m donation to penn state university for a division one hockey program back in september...

what does that mean?...pure speculation on my part, but maybe he'll be in the running for a senior executive of hockey operations position with the sabres...if terry pegula does, in fact, buy the team from tom golisano...

two years ago (2008,) as the toronto maple leafs were searching for a gm, patrick was quoted as saying, “I’ve been trying to get back in since I left [in 2006],” Patrick told THN.com, a day after his 62nd birthday. “But with only 30 teams, it’s tough to get the job you want. But there’s always opportunities, and I’m sure something will come up.”


it wouldn't be too far-fetched to believe that pegula is smart enough to surround himself with quality people who know more about a certain area than he does...pretty sure that's how he wound up near the top-100 richest americans with a net worth in the $3-4 billion range...

as speculated in a previous blog, what will terry pegula do as owner of the buffalo sabres?, a new owner usually is already surrounded by his inner circle and present buffalo sabres managing partner, larry quinn, is probably not a part of pegula's circle, although quinn has met the man...and i highly doubt that quinn's body of work, outside of marketing, would make him a "keeper" for the new owner...

how important is a senior executive in charge of hockey operations?...just ask the detroit red wings...jimmy devellano helped guide detroit out of the "dead wings" era to an era-transcending, model franchise (which all began with drafting steve yzerman, 4th overall, one pick before buffalo, in 1983)...or ask the chicago blackhawks...with scotty bowman as a senior advisor of hockey operations, the hawks won their first stanley cup in 40 years...

craig patrick is a hockey man with a hockey lineage dating back to the early 1900's and  two stanley cups in his resume' as gm, but has been on the outside looking in since his release from the penguins in 2006...

after a modest playing career with more than a few nhl teams including the california golden seals (pictured) and the kansas city scouts, patrick, who is the grandson of lester patrick, patriarch of the "royal" patrick hockey family, retired as a player in 1979...

the following year he was pegged as assistant general manager and assistant coach under herb brooks for the 1980 lake placid "miracle on ice" usa olympic hockey team...

his front office pro career began in ny with the rangers in 1980 as the youngest gm in ranger history...in dec. 1989 patrick became the pittsburgh penguins gm where he spent 17 years with the organization resulting in two stanley cups (1991 and 1992) as well as a slew of playoff appearances throughout the 90's...

as the decade came to a close, so began the unravelling of the team under patrick...health issues with mario lemieux, financial problems created by ownership and a series of questionable trades and inconsistent drafting took the pens to the bottom of the standings and eventually patrick was replaced by ray shero...but not before being recognized with a spot in the hockey hall of fame in 2001 in the builders category....




craig patrick has the lineage, the experience and the hockey smarts that pegula could put to good use as his right hand man...he also has pennsylvania connections, especially with the penguins where pegula has been a season ticket holder and went on a golf outing with members of the penguins a week before his penn state presser..."Maybe someday in these hills of Pennsylvania, we're going to find a [Sidney] Crosby," pegula said, "Hopefully, he'll play hockey for Penn State and I think that's awesome."

pennsylvania connections...from september 18, 2010 pittsburgh post-gazette:

Mr. Pegula credited two men from Pittsburgh with arranging the donation to Penn State: Cliff Benson, who retired this year as a partner with Deloitte & Touche, and Joe Battista, a Penn Hills High School graduate and a former player and coach for Penn State's club hockey team. He is director for major gifts in PSU's Smeal College of Business.
"Without those two guys, this thing would have never gotten done," Mr. Pegula said.

plus, did i mention patrick's ties to penn state hockey?...




Wednesday, December 22, 2010

mike weber vs. george parros, plus

when i was a kid, i had this plastic train radio...when the games were not on tv, which was fairly often, i'd listen to rick jeannerete call the game, and many times i'd fall asleep listening...

those who did the radio play-by-play did a fantastic job of bringing the action into your home, calling it so that you were there...they were your eyes and the cool part about it was that you used your imagination to fill in...it was exciting...

a throwback last night as versus ruled the airwaves with their nj vs. wash game as tv was blacked out for all games below the u.s.-canadian border...anaheim visited buffalo in a radio-only broadcast...as nostalgic as i can be, i still prefer tv if i can't make it to the game...if i can't get tv, there are a few websites that stream the game, much to the dismay of the nhl...

for those who could not see the game, we're left with the highlights...

here's mike weber taking on nhl-heavyweight george parros...a daunting task to say the least and weber acquits himself well:




the sabres potted five goals vs. a road-weary ducks team with nathan gerbe and craig rivet netting their first of the season, drew stafford snagging one and tyler ennis doing some great work on his two goals, especially the second one where he roofs a wrister short-side with very little room...also, cody mccormick takes on the ducks ryan getzlaf to open the second period with the sabres up 3-0...good stuff here at nhl.com: 

of note...weber, mccormick and paul gaustad all got into fights last night...this is the second time this month that a western conference team came to buffalo throwing their weight around and both times the sabres responded admirably...columbus came at buffalo in the sabres first game of december with patrick kaleta pounded derek dorsett for being an idiot...

patrick kaleta got nailed by a cheapshot from the ducks jason blake...nate gerbe displays his spunk and character by immediately jumping on blake:

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

ryan miller is engaged to noreen dewulf


(clap, clap, clap)

one of maxims top-100 for 2007
bravo ryan...

congrats to the happy couple


connolly, broken nose, out at least one week



tim connolly is out again, done in by a hard hit from the lightning's nate thompson...nothing really illegal, but the finishing hip by thompson into connolly was something that the on-ice sabres shoulda been pissed at...

jordan leopld had a bird's eye view of the play and did absolutely nothing to stick up for his fallen teammate...and it's not surprising, that's who jordan leopold is...

another puck-mover from gm darcy regier...kinda reminiscent of the departed hank tallinder and how he would stick up for his teammates...pretend like he didn't see it

connolly would come back during the game, though:

reconstructive surgery lies ahead

Monday, December 20, 2010

knit-one, purl-two nominee #2

a look at some really crabby, whiny, sourpuss content from major media sources in the buffalo area concerning the bills and the sabres



***nominee #2--paul hamilton, wgr december 19, 2010***



the set-up:  the buffalo bills just finished beating longtime rival, the miami dolphins on the road and knock them out of the playoffs...wgr has been talking about the issue of rivalries in sports lately, as well as focusing on the "lost" bills/dolphins rivalry and what leagues should do to increase rivalries amongst teams...hamilton always thought that the bills should have moved to the afc north with pittsburgh, cleveland and cincinnati, replacing baltimore...fine...and he, like most in the buffalo media lately, also have been debating the merits of ryan fitzpatrick at qb as well and how the team should move forward this coming draft...with each win, the bills move farther down the draft order:

The Bills went out and played a pretty decent game and are leaving South Florida with a win. Hey Bills fans, isn't it a great thing to pretty much put an end to your arch rival's playoff chance? What's that, who cares? I'm right with you.


I'm sitting here with absolutely nothing to write because this game really didn't have much. It's really a shame when things were realigned that Ralph Wilson was so far out of touch he had no idea Miami was no longer a rival. He maintained he didn't want to lose the rivalry. That rivalry walked out the door with Jim Kelly and Dan Marino. Ralph Wilson hasn't had a visionary thought since he became an AFL owner. That was 1960. It's too bad he couldn't see flipping with Baltimore would’ve been the very best thing for the organization with Pittsburgh and Cleveland coming here every season.

I sat here this afternoon yawning and trying to figure out how this big rivalry ended. I think the Bills have been irrelevant for so long, nobody cared. There were many empty seats in Miami. Rivals sell out stadiums.

What did we learn today? Arthur Moats is still good, David Nelson should be playing more than Donald Jones. The kids all did well today including Buffalo's own Naaman Roosevelt. He caught his first two NFL balls and one was for a big first down. I think it's a no brainer now, trade Lee Evans in the off season if he can bring you a good return.


What else did we learn? We already know Ryan Fitzpatrick is average putting up less than 20 points for the 7th time in 8 games. He threw some great balls, but again when they needed him the most, he missed his receiver two plays in a row and they had to punt. Good thing Carpenter missed four field goals. Fred
Jackson only averaged 2.4 yards per carry while C.J. Spiller was 1.8. We already knew it would be hard to run the football.

Good job by Arthur Moats putting some heat on Chad Henne. George Wilson had a huge interception.

I noticed Terrence McGee has played very little CB the past two weeks, but has been great on special teams. He's the best kick returner they have by far so let him do that to.

paul hamilton is spot-on with his bills/sabres insights on many occasions...this article, although having many good points, comes off as crotchety with the author taking a, "see, i told you so" approach...the faux-boredom and condescending apathy he infuses belittles the accomplishments of many outside the reach of his praise, belittles the accomplishments of the team as well as it's coaching staff...what's worse than an armchair quarterback?...an armchair gm...and the only thing worse than an armchair gm is an armchair owner...hamilton nails two out of three here...and he coulda nailed three if any of drew bledsoe, greg williams, jp losman, mike mularkey, trent edwards or dick jauron were at the helm

Friday, December 17, 2010

derek roy, blue-collar leader?

soooooo...you may have heard that drew stafford scored a hat trick vs. the bruins a couple of nights ago...pretty damn impressive, especially because they were the only three goals that the sabres scored..two of them came on the normally languid pp as well...plus, sabres won that four-point match vs. their adams division rival...most definitely first star worthy...

pretty sure that most fans know that derek roy clocked in with three assists, most definitely second star worthy...and the cool part about his helpers?...they were all primary...

***we saw daniel briere play, you, sir are no briere***

derek roy has been driving me crazy and during the past two-plus seasons i've wanted him shipped out...yup, i'll admit it...i loved him for his first couple seasons as he hit the ice with alot of spunk for such a small player...and his feistiness lead to some solid production...but...

after july 1, 2007, i began to turn on him...and it wasn't for his production, which hit a career high of 81 points in 78 games in the '07/8 season, it was how he got those numbers and the style of game he played... he seemed to be skating with a sense of entitlement instead of a sense of purpose...he moped alot and gave up when the going got tough...on many instances lindy ruff called him out for being too fancy, especially in front of the home crowd..imo, he thought he was the second coming of daniel briere, and after briere's departure, it was if he felt that he was the anointed successor to briere's leadership role...

***thick-headed***

derek roy would love to score highlight-reel goals in a "run-n-gun" system, that's what the sabres did in his second season when the team scored a league-high 3.63 goals per game on their way to the presidents trophy...and who wouldn't?...it was his preferred style, a style in which he was reared...lots of goals in a free-style manner is good for the ego and, probably more importantly, good for the wallet...

the problem, though, is that since that '06/7 season the league has changed, clutching and grabbing has crept back in and it's a helluva lot harder to score goals....and, for three seasons, roy still thought he could dipsy-doodle his way through this pre-lockout style of play...the end-result was solid numbers for roy, two non-playoff years and a first-round knockout delivered at the hands of the boston bruins for the team...

***from spotlight to second-fiddle***

this year seems to be different...it may have started out similar to non-playoff years, though, with the sabres going into an october funk the likes of which hasn't been seen for quite some time...roy lead the team in goals (6) and assists (7) and was in the top-ten in points league-wide, even leading the league at one point...he was also one of the games 3-stars three times (1st, 2nd, 3rd)...but the sabres finished the month 3-7-2, near the bottom of the eastern conference...great for roy, bad for the team...

november hit, and the sabres fortunes started to turn around...one of the biggest reasons was because of derek roy, "the set-up man"...

during the month roy's goal total went from six to three and he was named a game-star once (3rd)...but roy had eight assists during november and of them six were primary...the sabres began to pull themselves out of the hole they dug by going 6-6-1 for the month...

***keep it going***

the team has started out the month of december by going 4-1-1 playing some pretty good hockey against some pretty good teams...we've seen thomas vanek get off the schneid as he begins to heat up...we saw drew stafford come back from an injury twice during the month and in two games he has four goals (including the hat trick)...and we've seen the pp edge upwards poised to hit the middle-third of the league after an atrocious start...

as we look at what roy has done during this month, he's continuing to be the set-up man and is on pace for a career-high of 60 assists...of his eight assists this month, five have been primary...he's been named a star of the game only once (2nd) so far in december...

***roy's niche***

the sabres are playing a much stronger team game and are moving up the standings...for his part derek roy seems to have found his niche, at least in terms of how he, and the team, can be successful in the league as the game is played right now...

is it too early to dump the "poor man's briere" and "dipsy-doodle" monikers from roy?...mmmmmm...maybe...is it to early to say "he's got it?"...possibly...is his simplified (can't believe i'm gonna type this,) unselfish approach helping the team?...yup, immensely...

derek roy is actually becoming the team-leader he always thought he was (or could/should be) by not trying to be the hero, by not being highlight-reel fancy, and by not wanting to be a star...and i believe he's smart enough to understand, and may further embrace, the irony of it...blue-collar buffalonians certainly do...

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

the knit-one, purl-two nominee #1

a look at some really crabby, whiny, sourpuss content from major media sources in the buffalo area concerning the bills and the sabres


***nominee #1--jerry sullivan, the buffalo news, dec. 13, 2010***

the set-up...the buffalo bills grind out a hard-fought victory in inclement weather vs. the cleveland browns to push their record to 3-10...except for one poor performance over the previous six weeks, the bills have been playing very well in losing causes and have shown a willingness to play hard even when there's nothing at stake, except for losing a shot at the #1 overall pick and the chance to draft consensus #1 pick, qb, andrew luck, who may or may not declare himself eligible: 

Look, I don't mean to come off as a Grinch. The Bills won another home game Sunday. They finally beat the Browns, 13-6, after three years of excruciating losses. They were the tougher, more resilient team. The usual cast of plucky upstarts played their hearts out. People who were blacked out might have missed something, after all.


Still, I feel strangely unmoved by it all. Maybe it's the long season, or the oppression of the holidays. This online shopping has my head all twisted around. But really, what does it mean? In the big picture, what is the long-term significance of the Bills beating another mediocre opponent and raising their record to 3-10?

You can say good-bye to Andrew Luck, for one thing. This victory pretty much assures the Bills will not finish with the worst record and the right to select the NFL's next great quarterback in the draft -- assuming, of course, that Luck decides to turn pro, and that he doesn't change his mind if it means coming to play in Buffalo.

This victory might even prevent the Bills from taking the top defensive player in the draft, or the second quarterback if they're so inclined. OK, it's hard to have confidence in Tom Modrak and his scouts regardless of where they pick. But at some point, it would be nice to pick from the cream of the crop and maybe get it right for once.

It's understandable if some fans want to cherish every win and hope it leads to bigger things down the road. There's a learning curve with young athletes, and Chan Gailey, the head coach, believes his team has been growing up over the last two months.

"I think I learn something every time I go out there about 'em," Gailey said. "I think I've known their character. I think they are understanding a little better about winning as a team. Nobody goes out there and wins by themselves. I think they're understanding it doesn't just have to be one side of the ball or the other. They can win as a team and win different ways. Hopefully, we can build on this. We'll see."

There's a lot to like about this team. The offense, defense and special teams complemented each other against the Browns. The coaches had them ready. George Edwards, the beleaguered defensive coordinator, made some shrewd adjustments on his defensive line after Cleveland's opening drive.

The Bills got contributions from a slew of underestimated players who are fighting for their jobs in the league, guys like Ryan Fitzpatrick, Fred Jackson, Donald Jones, Stevie Johnson, Bryan Scott, Jonathan Stupar and Arthur Moats. The Bills are riding a bunch of players who were drafted low, or not at all.

But I'm tired of getting up on my chair and applauding them for trying hard and not quitting. They're supposed to try hard. They're professional athletes, and handsomely paid regardless of where they were drafted. They're still 3-10. Fans have the right to demand that management surrounds them with elite players who can help them make the transition from feel-good losers to legitimate contenders.

Gailey says they can build on this. Maybe. We heard that sort of happy talk every year from Dick Jauron, when they were playing hard and stringing together 7-9 seasons like faulty Christmas lights.

Last year, they finished 3-3 under Perry Fewell after Jauron was finally shown the door. Lots to build on, right? Gailey came in and took away the starting jobs of Fitzpatrick and Jackson, who had led last year's stirring finish. They bolted to an 0-8 start. That's building on the previous season's successes?

The truth is, one season doesn't often blend into another in the NFL. Each season is a distinct entity. Sure, the Bills have some players to build around. But until they find some real stars in the draft, they're not going to build anything truly meaningful. It'll be the usual flimsy structure, a tenement of lowered standards.

Maybe Sunday's win left me flat be cause I had seen it so many times before. Watching Jake Delhomme throw side-armed flutterballs wasn't exactly new. I watched it just last year, in Carolina. The Bills won, 20-9. Delhomme threw for 325 yards, but had three interceptions. He was even worse this year, passing for 86 yards.

Delhomme is a backup now. So the Bills have two home wins this year, both against backups. The forgettable Shaun Hill of the Lions was the other. Last year, they beat Mark Sanchez as a skittish rookie. They beat Chad Henne. The Bills beat a lot of weak quarterbacks in the dark decade. What they never do is beat the good ones.

When a team shows up with a solid running game and a top-flight QB, the Bills go to pieces. Whoopie. They beat Jake Delhomme again! Beat Tom Brady for once, and I'll get excited.

After the debacle in Minnesota, Gailey said he had learned something about his team. He wouldn't elaborate, but I wondered if his team's overall lack of talent had begun to sink in. The Bills rebounded nicely against the Browns. They got back to playing the way they had over a competitive six-game stretch.

They're a resilient bunch, it's true. Maybe they'll steal one of the next three against their AFC East rivals and tack a 4-4 finish on that 0-8 start. You can't expect them to care if it drops them in the draft. But if they hope to be a real contender, management needs to nail some high draft picks and supplement their core of overachievers.

Otherwise, all this good feeling won't amount to much. Celebrate the guys for competing so hard. But hold this organization to a higher standard. Don't allow the people who put the team in this mess to wave around a 3-10 record as some sign of progress.

sullivan throws in some truisms, but, c'mon, this teams less than one full season into the gailey regime...what they've done should be lauded...and although i do agree that buffalo bills fans throughout the "dark decade" over react by glorifying positive steps forward, ya gotta give this bunch of no-names alot of credit...even if it means missing out on the highly-touted, all-universe, future hall-of-fame quarterback who hasn't even declared for the draft, much less taken an nfl snap...

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

a welcome return?

drew stafford looks as if he'll
dress for tomorrow's game
vs. the bruins
oft-injured, much-maligned
sabres center tim connolly
should be available this
weekend, maybe sooner

two
sabres
could
return
as
early
as
wednesday
vs.
the bruins






the sabres sit in 11th place in the eastern conference, behind carolina and ottawa for 9th place in the standings, a full eight points out of a playoff spot...

on november 24th, both #2 center, tim connolly, and #3 center, rob neidermayer joined winger drew stafford (nov. 5th) on the injured list, and it looks as if at least one, maybe two of the three should be back for the game tomorrow night vs. the bruins...

head coach lindy ruff has given every indication that drew stafford, who has played one game (dec. 3rd, clb) in the last 16 since going down with a shoulder injury, is ready to come back and, although connolly said he's ready, ruff is leaving his options open by remaining non-commital...



"just the stats, man"

since connolly joined stafford on the injured list, the sabres have gone 3-3-1 with stafford returning for a win (not included) on dec. 3rd vs. clb...the team scored 14 goals in those seven games with six of them coming against san jose...they were shut out twice in regulation--a loss (vs. pitt) and a shoot out win (at ottawa)...

in their absence, the sabres called up colin stuart (3 games) and mark mancari (3 games) to replace stafford...they combined for 0 goals, 1 assist and a cumulative minus-1...some juggling occurred to replace connolly, with rookie luke adam being moved into the #2 slot and jochen hecht being moved to the #3 slot (replacing the injured neidermayer)...in seven games they combined for 1 goal and 2 assists with a cumulative minus-4

as much as fans like to bag on connolly, he's fifth on the team in scoring (13) and tied for fifth on the team (stafford) in goals (5)...and he's missed eight games...stafford has played only 15 games...

pretty sure the numbers speak for themselves...as much as sabres fans yearn for the day that connolly's no longer in the blue and gold, right now he's needed...

and as much as sabres fans loathe stafford's inconsistency and throw him into trade scenarios (myself included,) there's really no one in the pipeline to replace him...

and that's the precarious state of the buffalo sabres up-front right now..

Friday, December 10, 2010

what life demands



life has a funny way of knocking you down when you're too full of yourself, just ask buffalo bills wr, stevie "tweetman" johnson...



it also allows for redemption, but it'll make you work for it...and just when you thought you had worked hard enough to reap the rewards, life'll knock you down again just to make sure you got the message...

and so goes the buffalo sabres season:
  • the hubris of an opening-night win at ottawa begins the fall
  • the injuries to key players including ryan miller make matters worse
  • the late-october/early-november plunge to the bottom of the eastern conference
  • the 5-1-1 stretch where another coach said, [the sabres] "were more hungry"
  • the 1-3 finish to november which put them at .500 for the month

a strong start to december

the sabres have won in a variety of ways to open up the month of december beginning with a drop-your-gloves slug fest vs. the surprising columbus blue jackets followed by a lock-down, 1-0 shoot-out victory over ottawa...were it not for some well-documented, egregious mistakes, the sabres could have walked out of boston with a win in regulation, or possibly a win, period, but instead they ended up with an o.t. loss...they followed that up with a very strong performance in a 6-3 win vs. the san jose' sharks last night... although it did become interesting twice as the sabres lapsed into a bit of complacency on a couple of occasions and allowed them to pull within one goal...


some thoughts as the sabres ready themselves for the penguins:
  • mike weber is pretty damn good with the puck in the corner...last night he put the moves on while using the boards to protect the puck, just like the game before in boston...unlike that game, when he gift-wrapped a goal by nathan horton with a tape to tape pass in the slot, weber chose the safe route along the boards and the sabres were out of trouble...good for lindy ruff for keeping him in the line-up, good for weber as he continues to grow into an nhl defenseman...
  • thomas vanek is really heating up...he seems to have found new life on the right side since moving there beginning with the november 13 game vs. washington...9 goals, 6 assists in the 12 games since...
  • derek roy seems to have found his niche as a set-up man...the "dipsy-doodle derek" and "poor man's danny briere" monikers seem to be fading as he settles into his role beside vanek...
  • the experiment with nathan gerbe on the top-line with vanek and roy should come to an end...tyler ennis needs to be back up there, regardless of how often he does "the max curl"...he needs talent that he can play with...
  • chris butler is looking solid, andrej sekera looks better because tyler myers is emerging from the dreaded "sophomore slump" and is bringing up his d-partner's game...steve montador and jordan leopold, both together and individually, seem to be leveling off...
  • with the way the game is being played during the regular season, the immobility of shaone morrison and craig rivet is a hindrance to the team and the sabres are best served with those two taking the optimum time to return to the line-up (like march)...
  • ryan miller is doing what he does best, instilling a strong sense of confidence into the skaters...he's 3-0-1 for december including back-to-back shutouts to open the month...since returning from his injuries he's 6-2-1...

a real test tomorrow vs. the scorching hot penguins

yes, they are...an 11-game winning streak with (arguably, and i've always agreed) the game's best player coming to town--sidney crosby...although the sabres have been able to keep the opposition big-guns in check, crosby is torching the opponent during his current 17-game point streak to the tune of 20 goals (including two hat tricks) and 15 assists...if that weren't bad enough, goalie marc andre-fluery is on a 10-game winning streak giving up more than two goals only once...since getting pulled vs. phoenix on nov. 6 (one day after his last regulation loss) fleury is 12-0-1...


simple fact is, after the horror that was october and a "meh" november, the sabres have the opportunity to not only end the pens hot streak, but attain a visual .500 and gain an immense amount of confidence...

win or lose, though, they need to leave it all on the ice...that's what life demands







the inanity of mike schopp concerning faceoffs

a day after the sabres lost to the bruins in boston, in overtime, paul hamilton made his usual appearance on wgr's mike schoppsie and the bulldog...the subject was faceoffs and their importance in games with the underlying theme of paul gaustad, his lack of production and his value being inflated and overstated because of his ability to win draws...


hubris

(schoppsie on faceoffs) "it's dramatically overstated...there are a handful of goals a season that come from the faceoff...i hear constant references to statistics and there's this sense that it's all important, well, show me, let's see how many goals are actually scored from draws"...



goose provides an "in your face"
moment for schoppsie


goose honks at schoppsie

ironic that the gaustad won a draw in the sharks zone last night, cody mccormick snagged the puck and sent a shot that pinballed off of gaustad's skate and the face-shield of san jose's dan boyld before floating over the shoulder of sharks goalie antti niemi for the first goal of the game which was credited to gaustad...




sabres take a 2-0 lead

the second sabres goal was a series of events that was caused by the sabres winning a faceoff in the sharks zone:
derek roy wins the draw from jamal mayers which goes directly to thomas vanek who sends a slapshot far-side forcing niemi to kick the rebound to an open wing...in a matter of one second, the sharks are on their heels...defensman chris butler pinches from the point and sends the puck to nathan gerbe in the slot who fires it wide...roy corrales the puck behind the net and sends it to a wide open vanek in the slot...vanek rifles a slapshot five-hole past niemi...that sequence took seven seconds...

diggin himself deeper

schoppsie, who was on his heels defending his inanity, came up with this:  "one thing i will not do...is ask hockey coaches to tell you"...ummm, you mean the guys who are ice-level and responsible for wins and losses on a team?...the guys who's career depends upon knowing the intricacies of the game?

if sharks coach todd mclellan didn't realize the importance of winning faceoffs in his own zone before this game (having blown the gaustad goal off as a fluke,) i'm pretty sure he understood the importance afterwards, "I had the wrong guys out for a faceoff in our zone," the coach said, "and it ended up costing us."

big hands?

yes, schoppsie, "lets actually watch games and count just how many times goals are scored from faceoffs."

i count two in this game alone...hope you got some big hands





Tuesday, December 7, 2010

nate's last stand?

sabres forward nathan gerbe has been getting his shot to...ummmmm, get shots and bury chances, which is what's expected of the 5'6, 180 lb, former 2008/09 ahl rookie of the year...since he's considered more of a creative offensive threat than a defensive stalwart, his stat-line for the year is cause for concern:  17 games, 0 goals, 3 assists...his +1 rating, on a team that's heavy in the minus-column, is a glimmer of hope, but the sabres have scored one goal or less in four of their past six games and they need scoring...

after shuffling from the press-box to the fourth line for the early part of the season, gerbe was afforded the opportunity to play on the top-line with team-leading producers derek roy and thomas vanek...the results after two games?...zero's including zero shots on goal in 19 minutes of ice-time vs. the ottawa senators on saturday...

yikes...

it's not that anyone really expected gerbe to put up martin st. louis-type numbers, but contributing, even on his rookie pace of 2 goals, 2 assists in 10 games, would be welcome to an offensively challenged sabres team...and it seems as if he's got one last shot vs. the bruins tonight in boston...

lindy ruff on the howard simon show this morning draped his disappointment in coach-speak when it came to answering a question about gerbe, "we've given him a real hard look on that top-line...the opportunity and the ice-time has been there...he's a player who's falling into that category where he's made some real tough decisions and he's taken himself out of some real good offensive situations...he's struggled"...


when asked whether gerbe, a hero in boston for leading boston college to an ncaa championship in 2008 (and garnering the tournament mvp,) will continue on the top-line...ruff said that he doesn't expect any changes saying "initially we'd like to start with a couple of lines intact"...for a team that's struggling to get to .500 after a horrendous start, there's really not much room for error or for a player on the top-line to go o'fer with no shots on goal...

being some of the staunchest supporters of the underdog in sports, buffalonians will be rooting for gerbe to finally break through this season with a goal, or even a significant helper or two...

based upon recent history, it seems that the odds are still stacked against gerbe and it will take a herculean effort for him to even stay in the line-up if he puts up another o'fer...in fact, they may even consider sending him to portland to rebuild his confidence...

i, for one, won't give up on gerbe...he's faced tough odds in the past and overcome them...the leap from the minors and juniors to the nhl is huge and it's a much bigger adjustment for him...the kids got drive, spunk and determination plus loads of hockey-sense...so i wouldn't count him out in the future...but right now, he needs to bring it all together tonight, or it could be back to square one in portland...

Saturday, December 4, 2010

mamby pambys need not watch hockey

those who call for the elimination of fighting from the game of hockey do not understand the sport, they don't understand the passion involved in defending their turf and/or their teammates...in fact, they probably don't understand the passion to compete in any sport at any level, from sandlot to the pros...

take the juxtaposition of two teams in different sports in two different cities on back-to-back nights...

cleveland and buffalo are the red-headed stepchildren of professional sports cities...they're mocked and ridiculed by pundits and "experts" throughout the sports world...they have a very similar demographic make-up within declining cities and both have a rabid, loyal fan-base who's sports teams have not won a championship in decades...yes, they both yearn for a triumphant parade in their hometown, but, in lieu of that, what they ask for, at the very least, is an honest effort game-in, game-out...they want the players to match their passion...

in cleveland thursday night, it was the return of lebron james to the city he jilted for the greener pastures of miami...expectations were high, fans were indignant and the cavaliers were expected to match the intensity of their scorned fan-base...after all, the team and players were dissed just like the city was...

james was introduced to a full chorus of boos during his introduction, and he was booed resoundingly throughout the game...one of the questions; will he do his narcissistic "talcum-toss?"...would he have the audacity to slap his former teammates, team and city on national tv again with this pre-game ritual of self-indulgence?...yes, he did it, amidst the jeers of those court-side as his former teammates looked on...

it's not that i expected any cavalier player to do anything, especially after all of the "hey-buddy" warmth they displayed for him pre-game...ok, fine...i guess they'd show it during the game, play hard, play intense, play like james and the heat were there to impose their will on the team and that they'd have no part of that...play like they had a passion for the team and it's fan-base and would not be an embarrassment to themselves on their home court... 

after a rather robust start, the cavaliers caved...they laid down like the wimpy little rich-kids that they really are, more interested in coddling their former teammate than defending their turf...james walked all over them and no one even tried to stop him...no harassment, no hard fouls, no disguised cheap-shots...nothing...he torched them so thoroughly that colin cowherd called it "the validation" of james' decision to leave because this cavaliers team was empty and useless, devoid of skill and, most importantly, they lacked an inner passion to compete...the cavs completely embarrassed themselves, cowering on their knees like a jilted lover waiting for an apology which will never come...

the following night, the buffalo sabres were home for their first game in six days, vs. the columbus blue jackets...the sabres were still reeling from a very poor start to their season, especially at home...the sabres are also a team that can be intimidated into folding, as has been seen for the better part of a decade, and if you play tough, and impose your will upon them, they'll wilt and fall into submission...

unfortunately for the jackets last night, the sabres fought back, and fought back with a vengeance in an atypical display of grit an toughness...mike commodore of the jackets got decked by cody mccormick after a commodore just finished serving a 5-minute major for boarding...the sabres' steve montador dropped 'em with jacket tough-guy jared boll to take one on the chin (and in the face as well) for the team..and patrick kaleta...wow!!!!...patrick kaleta pummeled  derek dorsett after dorsett tried to mess with sabres leading goal-scorer thomas vanek:




and that's why fighting in hockey is good...

you don't see the pre-game narcissistic antics of lebron james in hockey...would he have tried anything like that in warm-ups, he woulda been jumped, and a fight would have broken out as the opposing players would have taken it for what it was--showboating...and, if you're gonna showboat, you better be able to back it up...

that's hockey...

dany heatley didn't showboat in his return to ottawa, but the sens laid down just like the cavs on the very same night, no less, having been shut out in an embarrassing 4-0 loss on their home ice...the disdain for heatley by the fans did not spill over onto the ice as the passionless sens embarrassed themselves, their team, their owner and their city...just like the cavaliers did...

oh...and...not one single fight in the game, only a token roughing penalty by sens-pest chris neil in the third when the game was pretty much decided...

there's your reason for fighting in hockey, and not those crappy staged fights between resident heavyweights in a programmed side-show...i'm talking about fights while in defense of your turf, your teammates, your team, your city and/or your dignity...fights that say, "i give a sh!t"...

those who argue that fighting should be banned are of the colin cowherd pencil-necked geek variety who were no closer to organized sports than intramural play...they never played at home with friends like every game was for the championship of the world, and that even your blood-brother was your enemy, if he was on the other side,for however long the event lasted...they'll never know the that inner-passion to compete is a victory, even if the game ends in defeat...never know that defending your turf is never embarrassing, even if you get blown out...they'll never know that a black-eye for the team means more to the fans than a pretty smile for the camera...

for those who want fighting banned, i offer a simple solution...shut your traps...or go follow basketball...




Friday, December 3, 2010

best gm's for the buck, #4, darcy regier

forbes magazine released it's "best gm's for the buck" in the post-lockout nhl and darcy regier came in at #4 behind (in order) david poile (nsh,) doug wilson (sjs,) and ken holland (det)... former atlanta thrashers gm, don waddell rounded out the top-five...#6 thru #10 were (in order,) ray shero (pit,) george mcphee (wash,) jim rutheford (car,) garth snow (nyi,) and brian burke (tor)...

how did regier, and especially waddel and snow, make it into the top-ten gm's besides holland, shero and mcphee?...the magazine used a points system based upon points during the regular season and points for post-season appearances as measured against payroll to define payroll dollars per point...that's how...

to sabres fans, we've watched regier's teams over the past 5 seasons and we know just how much this team rode the wave of success that came pre-july 1, 2007...after that mark, we've seen mediocre seasons with one post-season appearance in the past three years--a first-round exit, btw...take out those first two seasons, though, and he'd probably end up in the middle of the pack, just like his teams...

#4 on a forbes list is quite the honor to put on a resume', just in time, too, as the sabres seem to be on the verge of being sold to billionaire terry pegula...

it's all well and good, and regier seems to have done the job that his bosses wanted him to do...should pegula end up with the team, and should his demand to produce a stanley cup (or cups, plural) go from talk to action, would regier be able to use this ranking as the hallmark for the interview process?...if there is one?

some background on terry pegula from bucky gleason

terry pegula
buffalo news columnist bucky gleason worked the phones for some background info on potential sabres buyer terry pegula...overall a very good piece with pegula coming off as a "buffalo kind of guy"...

sure looks that way as gleason has his sources use words like, "honest," "blue-collar," "down-to-earth," and "loyal"...one source says that "people will identify with him up [in buffalo]"...nice...

it's a long piece, that is hopeful, exuberant, and very optimistic...but, as with bucky, there always seems to be an opinionated poke at management, and here's how he slides it in...throughout the piece he uses quotes from his sources, yet in this paragraph, there's nothing that denotes a quote from either his sources or from pegula himself:

"He was upset when Chris Drury and Daniel Briere left the organization. He couldn't comprehend how the team let Henrik Tallinder get away because he wanted a four-year contract rather than the three-year deal it offered."

the drury/briere thing has been a constant for gleason as he berates management for its utter failure in this matter...and that's fine...but to say that the potential new owner was "upset" with the way it was handled and then to follow up with how "he couldn't comprehend" the hank tallinder situation without attributing it to a source is somewhat underhanded...it's a slick way to interject his opinion and have it become part of the background of the subject...

i brought this up during his chat yesterday and asked him to clarify and his rebuttal was, "No, I don't care to clarify. What I wrote was accurate."

what he wrote (and writes) has an influence upon his immediate audience in the buffalo area as well as a national audience as the sale of a professional franchise is national sports/business news...jerry sullivan on the howard simon show this morning said, concerning pegula, "just to have a guy like that who would be a fan...and is, like concerned that they, he agrees with me that they [inaudible] signed tallinder was a bad idea."

so pegula agrees with sullivan and gleason and we're to believe this because what gleason wrote was "accurate" even though no source was named?...

i've seen bucky do this before and i don't buy what he's selling...stick to the facts, bucky, and don't put words in other peoples mouths, no matter how disdainful you are of management or how much your ego needs to be fed...it ain't right

individual sats for the month of november

the 6-day layoff ends tonight and we look back at the individual stats as the team finished 6-6-1 for the month of november (previous month's leaders above):

points--derek roy, 13...jordan leopold, tim connolly, thomas vanek, drew stafford, 7
         --derek roy, thomas vanek, 11...jordan leopold, 9

goals--roy, 6....vanek, connolly, 4
        --vanek, 5...leopold, 4...tyler ennis, roy, 3
power play goals--vanek, myers, 2...roy, leopold, 1
                    (yr.)--vanek, 5...roy, tyler myers, ,leopold, 2
assists--roy, 7...tyler ennis, steve montador, 5
          --roy, 8...vanek, 6...tim connolly, leopold, 5
power play assists--roy, 4...eight with 1
                     (yr.)--roy, 6...connolly, 5...vanek, 3
primary assists--ennis, roy, montador, 4
                      --roy, 6...rob niedermayer, 3...five with 2
plus/minus--montador, +9...ennis, +4...stafford, goose, +3
                --montador +16, leopold, +5...ennis, roy, +2
plus/minus (bottom)--myers, -10...vanek, -5...morrisonn, -4
                             --morrison, -12...myers, -10, connolly, -9

forwards avg. toi:
total--roy, 19:37...stafford, 16:48...vanek, 16:38
      --roy, 19:50...pomminville, 17:23...vanek, 17:11
even strength--roy, 15:04...stafford, 13:18...vanek, 13:06
                   --roy, 14:37, vanek, 13:18...hecht, 13:00
power play--roy, 3:32...vanek, 3:25...stafford, 3:14
                --vanek, 3:59...roy, pomminville, 3:48
penalty kill--mike grier, 3:17...jochen hecht, 2:17...connolly, 2:05
                --grier, 2:57...hecht, 2:08...pomminville, 1:50

defensemen avg. toi:
total--jordan leopold, 23:56...tyler myers, 23:26...montador, andrej sekera, 19:08
      --leopold, 23:51...myers, 23:41...montador, 20:24
even strength--leopold, 17:36...myers, 16:44...montador, 16:39
                   --leopold, 18:11...montador, 17:47...myers, 16:48
power play--myers, 3:15...leopold, 3:11...sekera, 2:48
                --myers, 3:27...leopold, 2:54...dekera, 2:34
penalty kill--myers, 3:26...morrisonn, 3:23...leopold, 3:09
                --myers, 3:27...leopold, 2:45...morrison, 2:27

goaltending (yr. to date below):
ryan miller--3-5-2...277 sa...27 ga.......gaa, 2.71...sv. percentage, .903...shutouts, 0
               --7-7-2...474.......44...................2.55........................., .914.................0
patrick lalime--0-2...62 sa...06ga......gaa, 4.03...
                    --0-4...129.....14.................3.03............................., .897.................0
jhonas enroth--2-2...126.....13.................2.90............................., .891.................0

Thursday, December 2, 2010

what will terry pegula do as owner of the buffalo sabres?

(shrugs)...but as someone who recently gone through ownership changes in my business, it's safe to assume that terry pegula has an inner circle of people in whom he trusts and pretty sure that larry quinn and dan dipofi are not a part of that inner circle as of right now...could they be?...possibly...but those are tom golisano's men, not pegula's, and no matter what's been mentioned about golisano "taking care" of quinn and making him a part of the deal, i can't see it happening...this is big-time, and you go with whom you've known and in whom you trust...right or wrong...

at $175m (if this pricetag is true,) we're talking about a major acquisition at a price that's either at market value or slightly above...golisano pulled a classic "buy low, sell high" business maneuver and will reap the financial benefits from having the money to seize upon the opportunity that was afforded him...for his part, pegula would own a sabres franchise that, because of the (possible) $175m price, is really at its peak...right now...the only way to really increase the value of the franchise is to....win the cup...or better yet cups, plural...

if everythings that's been said about pegula is to be believed, then buffalo fans should take to heart that this self-described "rink-rat" with a passion for hockey and a genuine attachment to the buffalo area is more interested in winning the cup, than making a huge profit...

that being said, if winning a stanley cup (or cups) is the driving force behind the purchase of the sabres, i'm not sure larry quinn's the man to take helm as a sr. vp of hockey operations...after all, quinn is ultimately responsible for the lack of a championship over the past seven seasons--and especially the last four, where he oversaw the debacle that was july 1, 2007 and the ensuing status-quo approach since...it was quinn who promised a "thorough review of the organization from top to bottom" in 2009 after a second-straight non-playoff season and nothing of significance happened...he also mentioned that changes were coming after last season's first round exit...yet nothing of real significance happened...

he got tom golisano to open his wallet and stabilize the franchise...yet his legacy will be more about a mediocre team with some innovative marketing which kept the sabres in the black...not the type of guy i'd want to help bring a cup or cups to buffalo

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

a post from a hockey rumors site:

"All of this talk about thanking Golisano...Great...If you must thank him go ahead...As I recall there were 2 other potential buyers at the time and Golisano happened to be Bettmans favorite....Me...I just say good riddance TG....You had the ability to provide us with a competitive team but instead you chose to use the team to make money for yourself forsaking the good fans of Buffalo by providing an underachieving, less than mediocre team that portrayed your own lack of enthusiasm for the game and winning. Goodbye TG and take that piece of trash Larry with you. I hope you enjoy all of the money you made off the good people of Buffalo."--a post from a hockey rumors website

dude, really?




"meh" month of november for the sabres

the buffalo sabres really needed to get a couple more wins in november to off-set the nightmare that was october where they went 3-7-2...they ended up going 6-6-1 for the month...better, but still not good enough

when gm darcy regier was asked a week and a half ago if he thought that this team was a playoff team he said, "yes, i do"...well, the team is on a pace for less than 90 points which is probably the low-end of the projected cut-off point...but, as long as the gm thinks that, then...(aye, yaye yaye)

anyhow, this group heads into december playing better overall hockey with three more wins than the previous month...not to mention that there could be a new owner by the end of the month/year in terry pegula...

regardless, this is where the team stands as of today, with the previous months standings preceding:

wins: 3, tied for last (njd, phx, edm)------9 (26th)

points: 8, tied for second last (edm, fla)-------21 (25th)
eastern conference: 14th-------11th
n.e. div: 5th------4th

goals/game: 2.50 (22nd)...(#1, tampa, 3.50)-------2.40 (25th)...(#1, col, 3.52)
goals against/game: 3.17 (23rd)...(bos, 1.38)-------2.92 (23rd, tied, anaheim)...(mtl, 1.96)
shots/game: 33.2 (5th)...(sjs, 35.6)-------32.7 (4th, tied, chicago)...(sjs, 35.6)
shots against/game: 28.5 (10th)...(stl, 25.8)-------29.4 (11th)...(stl, 26.8)

powerplay: 13.0% (20th)...(sjs, 31.8)-------13.4% (26th)...(van, 29.3)
penalty kill: 74.5% (27th)...(bos, 93.1)-------81.6% (20th)...(pit, 90.5)
faceoffs: 47.5% (27th)...(sjs, 56.4)-------47.9% (27th)...(van, 56.9)