Monday, April 30, 2012

The NFL draft is over, back to the Sabres

The Buffalo Bills made some noise this off-season, and with the Sabres falling short in the standings, and clinging to the status quo, it's not hard to have your attention directed towards the team with the longest playoff drought in the NFL (13 years,) and how they may emerge from an aggressive off-season thus far.

Draft grades will be coming out left and right, but the prevailing theme is that GM Buddy Nix and his group of scouts scored a solid B/B+ in the draft. A solid if unspectacular group of rookies will be headed to Orchard Park to join FA defensive end acquisitions Mario Williams and Mark Anderson. (Click here for The Buffalo News' Mark Gaughan draft re-cap.)

When taken as a whole, the Bills bolstered both lines. On defense the signings of Williams and Anderson gave the Bills one of the best front-four in the league (on paper.) It also allowed them to focus upon other areas in the draft.

Cornerback Stephon Gilmore (#10-overall) was the consensus second-best corner in the draft behind Morris Claibourne. The Bills got him.

The other possibility for the Bills first pick was T Cordy Glenn, a projected first-rounder who dropped to the Bills at #41, much to their delight.

They plucked a speed receiver in TJ Graham with their third-round pick and then set themselves upon building depth.

They picked two linebackers, Nigel Bradham (#105) and Tank Carder (#147,) as well as another DB in Ron Brooks (#124) to shore up the defense. Bradham and Brooks, as with all picks, will have the opportunity to vie for a starting spot, but they're also looked at as big contributors on special teams.

The Bills drafted themselves some football players throughout, and Carder is a tough competitor, maybe because of the obstacles he's faced throughout his short lifetime.

In addition to shoring up the defense, the Bills did not rest on their Cordy Glenn-laurels. They added depth on the offensive line, as well as big bodies--T Zebrie Sanders (#144) and OL Mark Asper (#168.)

In fact, Nix seemed to feel so confident in his work, that when it came to their final pick, they had the luxury to take a kicker, John Potter (#271.) Potter is somewhat of a specialist at this point. His strength is kickoffs as he's looked at to consistently put the kick into the endzone.

All-in-all, Nix and Co. may have produced a solid if unspectacular draft that focused upon areas of need and stretched into less glamorous areas like special teams.

Good work.


**********

What we missed concerning the Sabres


Had he hit the net more often in his first year with the Sabres, perhaps they'd have been talking about a first-round battle with the NY Rangers instead of philosophising over a lost year.

Ville Leino was signed in the off-season for 6yrs./$27M and Sabres management had some expectations for him that, in the end, were simply out of reach for the LW-turned Center-turned LW-turned Center. His eight goals and 17 assists in 71 games certainly attest to that.

Leino was a no-show for almost all of the season, especially the first half, and after the Sabres were eliminated in Philadelphia, he was a no-show preferring, according to WGR beat writer Paul Hamilton, to chat with his pals on the Flyers. At locker clean-out day, Leino once again was a no-show.

Pretty sure everyone expected nothing from him until training camp, but Jon Vogl of the Buffalo News landed an interview with the Finnish forward.

The season was a battle. So went the headline.

And what was he battling?

Pretty much everything.

The Sabres brought Leino to bolster a weak center position, he was a big disappointment.

Not sure where the problems came from, but off season adjustments were sure to play a part.

Leino, though, takes it a bit further.

He inferrs that Lindy Ruff did not use him, as well as other players, properly, "There was a lot of pieces that were kind of out of place," Leino said. " "Coaches do most of the work, and obviously players want to be better, too."

He somewhat defends the coaching staff by saying, "They've got to work with what they were given."

Basically, Leino wasn't thrilled with where he stood on the team. Which is not surprising. He's coming off as a primadonna, which is not unusual.

The offseason should be interesting, with Tyler Ennis emerging as a legitimate top-six center and the addition of Cody Hodgson as a potential top-six center, Leino can now focus upon the wing.

That is if he's not worrying about what the GM, coach and his other players are doing.

---------

Speaking of Hodgson, dude caught some serious flak from his former GM.

Mike Gillis ripped his former #1 pick (#10-overall, 2009,) not long after his team was eliminated in the first round of the playoffs, "There clearly were issues that were ongoing," Gillis said of Hodgson. "I spent more time on Cody's issues than every other player combined on our team the last three years."

One must take into account the the Canucks had just been bounced in the first round after making it to Game-7 of the Stanley Cup Finals last season.

The trade that Gillis made to bolster his team--or more specifically, to match up with the Boston Bruins and their toughness--was to send Hodgson to Buffalo for "rugged" right-winger Zach Kassian (#13-overall, 2009.)

Other than the fact that Gillis threw Hodgson under the bus and proceeded to back over him again, it's interesting as to how candid he was concerning the trade and it's evolution. "We made a determination that he didn't want to be here," he said.

"There were six young players that I would have traded him for if any of them were ever made available. One was made available at the trade deadline and it was Zack."

"We put Cody on the ice in every offensive situation we possibly could [to hide defensive deficiencies,]" Gillis said. "I don't think he took more than five or six defensive zone faceoffs and that was by design. And like I said earlier, I don't regret that move. I'd do it again. I'd do it today."

They 'Nucks, actually, had been looking to move Hodgson since last summer. This was said of Coach Allain Vigneault by Tony Gallagher of the Vancouver Province, "it’s abundantly clear coach Alain Vigneault is not one of his big fans as the youngster was always the last possible option and was repeatedly slotted into situations seemingly designed to make him fail." (original link inaccessible, was directed there via Lyle Richardson. For more visit my piece.)

Hodgson is now out of the tumult that is Vancouver and is ready to start his off-season workout.

Once again he'll be working with hockey guru Gary Roberts, Hodgson's third off-season with him. Roberts, via Jon Vogl of the Buffalo News, thinks his pupil got a bum rap from his former team.

"If anybody knew this kid, this young man, to know what he went through mentally and physically for two summers trying to find out what the heck was wrong with him [back problems] -- of course they dealt with his issues more than anybody else in the organization because he was injured and they couldn't figure out what was wrong with him."

Roberts did not take kindly to what Gillis had to say about Hodgson either, "I listened to Mike Gillis the other day," Roberts said by phone over the weekend, "and my impression was, 'Are you kidding me?' "For me, I'd like to be the guy that looks at Mike Gillis and says, 'You're a moron.' It doesn't really do anybody any good other than the fact that Mike Gillis looks like, as they say on TSN, a dud."

Alas, life begins anew in Buffalo for the center. And it's a place that wants and needs him. All he'll need to do is work hard and leave it all on the ice. And according to Roberts, Hodgson has a work ethic that's right up there with Tampa Bay Lightning superstar Steven Stamkos.

----------

Marcus Foligno hit his stride in a rip-roarin', 14-game debut for the Sabres.

It was hard to hide his excitement for next season even as his Rochester Americans were cleaning out after getting swept in the playoffs. "It's tough to say that you're excited for next season, but I'm ready to go," Foligno said last week in Rochester. "It's just tough that the playoffs went the way they did, but I see a great opportunity ahead. I'm excited for it."

Foligno is fired-up, as is the organization, as to what he can accomplish over an 82-game season.

Lots of praise in the above linked article by Jon Vogl from Tyler Ennis to Drew Stafford to Amerks coach Ron Rolston.

Even some praise from Toronto Marlies coach Dallas Eakins who's team swept Rochester in the playoffs, "This will be his last bunch of games in the American League," Eakins said. "That's a guy, if you're building a team for the playoffs, you want him on the ice."

Matthew Coller of WGR also looks forward to Foligno next season and adds in that both he and young defenseman Brayden McNabb "face great expectations."

Coller wonders if Foligno set the bar "too high" and taps into his hockeysfuture bio that projected him as "C-grade" prospect, “Foligno’s role in the future will probably be as an energy winger on the third or fourth line who has enough skill that he can chip in offensively every once in a while.”

As for McNabb, he has the right attitude, “I have to come out and prove myself again,” McNabb said. “I have to just keep coming and try to make a statement. I have to come in ready to camp next year. I'm looking forward to doing that.”

Foligno and McNabb, two bright spots from an otherwise lame season.

Let the new core rise.



Thursday, April 26, 2012

It wouldn't surprise me if the Buffalo Bills end up with...

a linebacker as their first round pick in the 2012 draft.

Where they pick him could be another story, but they could be lookin' real hard at the position.

Originally it looked as if they would shore up the left tackle spot with Reilly Reiff out of Iowa, which would be a safe pick for the team. Many are looking at tackle as a weakness and one of the main reasons the team had an NFL-high 25 interceptions last seasons.

But, conversely, the Bills gave up an NFL-low 23 sacks last season. Coach Chan Gailey has them running a quick-read, quick-release passing offense and the extremities can be attributed to a number of factors including Fitz being off the mark in the first instance and the his ability to run through his reads quickly in the second.

One would think that the loss of C Eric Wood was more of a factor than anything else when it came to the offensive line. Gailey has a way of hiding flaws through his schemes, and he did that very well again last season.

Other picks set for Buffalo with the #10 overall were Notre Dame WR Michael Floyd and Alabama S Mark Barron. Both of those are possibilities, yet both are positions on the team that aren't necessarily devoid of talent.

Jerry Sullivan is right when he says, "Dots connect the Bills to linebacker from BC."

The linebacker he mentioned is Boston College's Luke Kuechly.

The Bills linebackers are a good group, weaker than the safety or wide receiver positions, but stronger than the offensive tackles. But the traits that Kuechly brings to the table make him someone who would be hard to pass up.

First and foremost Kuechly is a football player, nothin' fancy, just a persistent ball-hawk. He also is very intelligent, has great instincts and can cover. He's been called one of the "safest picks in the draft" and "a rare talent who will be a very good player for a long time."

Mock drafts have Kuechly within the Bills range, right around the 9-12 spot, although some have him going as high as Tampa Bay at #5. Miami's in a pivotal spot with the #8 pick. Most have them taking QB Ryan Tannehill, but they could be looking at Kuechly as another Zach Thomas and pluck him.

If he's there at #10, the Bills would do themselves a favor by drafting a Thomas/Brian Urlacher-type linebacker who can call the defense and drive the defense with his relentless motor.

No worries if Kuechly is gone, there will still be a very talented player available with the pick. And the Bills will have the option of either having a good fit (would WR Justin Blackmon be there) or a player like Barron who isn't necessarily what they need, but would be hard to pass up.)

They could very well drop down in the draft. Dallas at #14 is said to be drooling over Barron as is San Diego (#18.)

Cincinnati has two first round picks (#'s 17 and 22) and would love to find a complimentary receiver for AJ Green. Should Blackmon drop to the Bills, you could bet they'd be calling.

The drop down target may be another linebacker, Boise State wrecking ball Shea McLellin.

Originally, the fast-rising McLellin could have been a possibility at #41, but he's rising up into the mid-lower teens.

McClellin is another "football player" and the Bills have serious intrest in him.

WGR's Scouting Session #2 included McClellin. West coast scout Matt Hand was gushing over him.

"Oh, man. I tell you what that's a character/football player alert," he said. "Unbelievable. He's a 100% football player, all he wants to do is play football."

But the kicker from Hand, "We interviewed him a lot at the Senior Bowl, we stayed in contact, he spent time here. He really loves Buffalo. That's a guy. We love him, and he loves us."

How far down could the Bills drop and still get him?

Dallas at #14 would almost assure McClellin is in a Bills uniform. Cincinnati's #17 might get it done. Anything beyond that would be a risk.

Here's my original mock draft from March 18 for the Bills' first three rounds:
  • 1st round, #10--OT Reilly Reiff
  • 2nd round, #41--OLB Shea McClellin
  • 3rd round, #72--WR Juron Criner

Here are two scenarios for today's first round:

  • LB Luke Kuechly at #10
  • trade down with Dallas for Shea McClellin at #14
edit: the 2012 NFL draft

Kuechly #9 to Carolina--preseason debut:   http://www.sacbee.com/2012/08/12/4719228/rookie-linebacker-luke-kuechly.html

McClellin #19 to Chicago--preseason debut:
http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2012-08-09/sports/ct-spt-0810-side-bears-chicago--20120810_1_defensive-coordinator-rod-marinelli-bears-jersey-israel-idonije


Reiff #23 to Detroit
Criner #168 to Oakland

Friday, April 20, 2012

FYI concerning Spam site.

As of late I've been getting a lot of "hits" from a site out of Russia:  ww4(dot)savegco.antivir(dot)com. Beware.



The "." in the above site has been replaced by (dot) so that you do not click on it.

Curiosity lead me to the following article from StramaXon.blogspot.com, and thanx should go out for it:

Beware of ww4(dot)savegco(dot)antivir(dot)com.


The website ww4. savegco.anitvir .com is a problem to many new Blogger and website owners, they have complaint suddent change in their Stats and can see this website as referring site. Let's see what's it.

This website have become a headache of many Bloggers, you have probably seen it on your Stats in Referring sites section, but wait, is it ok? are real people seeing your site referring from the site mentioned ?

No ! It's not all okay, the site is an spam site and contains Malicious viruses, they appear to refer some visitors to your site, but they are not really, it's all their computer which is increasing your Pageviews to get a place in your Stats, and when somebody sees they might just click on it, nothing can be worse than that, clicking on these links are dangerous, if you don't have a good antivirus, then they can do anything means anything. So beware of these spams, not clicking on those links are the only way to get rid of these.

This is not the only website which is in news for referrer spams, there are more website's that you might see in your stats that may be suspicious, here you can have a list of domains which are not bit famous for referrer spam.

1.www4(dot)savegco-antivir(dot)com/
2.www4(dot)safe-vochecker(dot)com/
3.hoodiastock(dot)com/
4.domar(dot)ru/

I have replaced the . with (dot) so that you don't click on any of the links mistakenly and catch a malware or virus from any of these sites. There are more referrer spam sites you might see in your stats, so if you feel the links is not related to your content then just prevent from clicking on the links, as the main aim of these sites are to make you click on their links, if you find any new domain that you think is suspicious, free feel to let us know and we will post the link here.

We want our Blogger network to be clean and green, so if you see any links in your Stats then please think twice before clicking it.

If you want to learn more then you can check NiteCruzr's (TC in Blogger help forum) blog.
http://blogging.nitecruzr.net/ 2011/11/referer-spam-does-not- represent-real.html

Owners of newer blogs, with less established traffic, will see their pageview counts fluctuate more.
http://blogging.nitecruzr.net/ 2011/09/referer-spam-war- leads-to-fluctuations.html

Referer spam affects Stats, and similar website activity log summaries - but third party activity logs will be immune to its effects.
http://blogging.nitecruzr.net/ 2011/10/blogger-magic-third- party-visitor-logs.html

Be aware how Stats is unique - which leads to this problem.
http://blogging.nitecruzr.net/ 2012/03/what-does-stats- provide-that-third.html

Stop clicking on the links in your Stats logs. That's the only way to make referer spam stop.
http://blogging.nitecruzr.net/ 2011/10/referer-spam-is-here- to-stay.html

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Injuries hurt the Sabres this season, but...

GM Darcy Regier's rigid, year-long team-building philosophy hurt them more.

First off, because there was no end of year press conference, one needs to piece things together via media outlets instead of heading to Sabres.com.

And there's a lot to piece together. No need to rehash, look at the date, look at the words "year end."

Oh, and by the way, congrats to WGR, "the Home of the Buffalo Sabres," for landing the principles--Team President Ted Black, GM Darcy Regier and Head Coach Lindy Ruff. Owner Terry Pegula and his charges opted for this instead of the traditional press conference.

Sure, The Buffalo News' John Vogl had a phone conversation with Regier--Regier sees glass half full--but the lion's share went to GR. The paper's sports guys were ticked that there was no presser. Jerry Sullivan called the organization "thin-skinned" in his article, basically calling them cowards and Mike Harrington via The Sabres Edge blog used the NFL's media guidelines on end of season pressers to dis the Sabres.

Anyhow, there are some interesting things to piece together starting with injuries and how they played a role in undermining the teams' season.

Back in January with the team mired in a nearly a two month slump, Sabres fans were looking for something--anything--to be done to get the team out of it's funk.

We now know, that ownership was not looking at firing Regier and/or Ruff. WGR's Paul Hamilton put it this way at the end of the season, "It wasn't anything even discussed after this season," he wrote. "Owner Terry Pegula [was] comfortable with both men in January when they were in a free fall, he never wanted to make a change."

Hamilton did some good work in another piece by pointing out the teams' record with and without both Christian Ehrhoff and Tyler Myers throughout the season:
  • With Ehrhoff Buffalo's record was 36-22-8 (.606)...without 2-9-2 (.231)
  • With Myers they were 31-21-4 (.589)...without 7-10-6 (.439)
When asked the question yesterday about doing anything to help the team out during their slump, Regier said, "The easy answer is yes, but then you go back and say 'what trades were available?' 'were teams sitting and waiting for the deadline?' You regret it. I don't have anything tangible to say 'you could have done this, if I had done this we would have given ourselves a chance to get out of [the slump.] We never had that. Do I regret it?, sure."

Hamilton has been adamant and constant in his dislike for the way Regier approaches the entire season. He points out that Regier's team-building philosophy starts with the off-season molding of the team and generally nothing gets altered until the trade deadline, a method Hamilton clearly dislikes. "I do not like the waiting," Hamilton said (3:35-mark), "I want a guy that doesn't sit there after the trade deadline and say, 'yeah, well maybe we should have made a deal earlier.'"

Regier admitted that he did have conversations during December and January, but it would seem as if there was nothing on the table to his liking.

Fine.

But did he ever considered making a deal just for the sake of making a deal to shake things up, maybe relieve some tension.

His reply (8:09-mark):  "The only reason you do it is to release the tension and that could [have a good effect.] One argument would be, take someone who's not performing and bring up Marcus Foligno earlier, bring up Brayden McNabb earlier. If you want to try and use that type of thing, those are some things you find out because of injury, you find out some guys are closer [to making it in the NHL] than others."

He finished with this, "On the trade front? No."

The simple answer to the question of whether or not injuries played a major role in the demise of a once promising Sabres season is, yes. They were near the top of the league in man-games lost.

Back in November, this was their injured list at one point when they face the Washington Capitals on the 26th:
  • Tyler Ennis (F,) Injured Reserve, 10-25-11--sprained ankle
  • Ryan Miller (G,) IR, 11-14-11--concussion
  • Cody McCormick (F,) IR, 11-16-11--"upper body"
  • Mike Weber (D,) IR, 11-18-11--"upper body"
  • Tyler Myers (D,) IR, 11-23-11--broken wrist
  • Pat Kaleta (F,) day-to-day, 11-23-11--"lower body"
  • Brad Boyes (F,) IR, 11-25-11--knee
  • Robyn Regehr (D,) day-to-day, 11-26-11--"upper body"
  • Drew Stafford (F,) day-to-day, 11-26--11--"undisclosed"
That list includes the starting goalie (Miller,) two top-four d-men (Regehr and Myers) and three top-nine forwards (Ennis, Stafford, Boyes.)

Taking their place (not including journeyman, Matt Ellis and Jochen Hecht, who returned from injury):
  • Drew MacIntyre (G,) journeyman goalie--recalled11-14-11
  • Corey Tropp (F,) one full AHL season--11-16-11
  • TJ Brennan (D,) two full AHL seasons--11-21-11
  • Zack Kassian (F,) 21 AHL games (three in 2011 post-season)--11-24-11
  • Brayden McNabb (D,) 19 AHL games--11-26-11
  • Paul Szczechura (F,) journeyman forward with 83 NHL and 214 AHL games in five seasons--11-26-11
Also in the lineup:
  • Luke Adam (C,) 21 yrs. old, second NHL season--rookie
  • Jhonas Enroth (G,) 23 yrs. old, second NHL season--rookie
  • Marc-Andre Gragnani (D,) 24 yrs. old, first full NHL season
  • Nathan Gerbe (F,) 24 yrs. old, second full NHL season
That's a pretty hefty load for the youngsters to be carrying, especially when the team was still in shock from the Milan Lucic/Ryan Miller incident and was really beginning their descent into the abyss of the Eastern Conference.

OK, fine. They were treading water at the time, although the clunker in Columbus two days earlier should have given them some indication that things were awry.

If you're not going to make a move then, one would think that a move would've been forthcoming after the Sabres embarrassed their owner in Pittsburgh a few weeks later. Sure they were 4-3-1 from that Washington game up until the Pens game, but they were clinging by the skin of their teeth every night for points.

And if it didn't happen then, one would think that after the Christmas roster freeze and near the end of a dismal December a move of some sort would be needed to shake the team out of it's funk.

Surely, after being embarrassed in Detroit 5-0 on January 16th, their ninth regulation road-loss in a row (with the NHL cameras there doing a spot on Nik Lidstrom, btw) something would have been done. Or after their loss in Chicago when they were embarrassed 6-2 two days later. Or after their loss in Winnipeg when they tied a franchise record 11-game road losing streak with a 4-1 loss. Or after St. Louis when they set a club record for road losses with another embarrassing performance in a 4-2 defeat.

Nope.

Steady as she goes.

Regier was set with his team which was sitting at the bottom of the Eastern Conference.

Fact is, they lost the season from Pittsburgh on Dec. 17th to St. Louis on Jan. 21. With 17 games and 34 points on the table the team went 3-12-2.

You read that correctly--3-12-2. And nothing was done.

It makes you wonder just what they were thinking about this team. The Stanley Cup aspirations trumpeted at the beginning of the year were trampled upon from Lucic/Miller in early November to Pittsburgh in December. They did have the opportunity to make a move from that night in Pittsburgh up until the trade deadline, but did not. Instead they paraded out the injury excuse.

Yeah, a valid point, but if you wanted to save the season, something needed to be done.

Regier's patience was a fault, and probably the big reason the Sabres failed to make the playoffs.

He should be thanking his team for bailing him out with an impressive late-season rally that almost got them into the playoffs and he should be thanking his lucky stars that Nashville and Vancouver helped save his job by trading with him.

Maybe he'll change his approach to team-building next season.


A quick note:

Sabres GM Darcy Regier has one more year remaining on the clandestine contract extension he signed back in 2010 with the former regime.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Ted Black takes some heat on WGR from fans

"I appreciate the 15 year frustration that the fans of the franchise have. I and [Owner] Terry [Pegula] judge everyone--not singularly focused on [GM] Darcy [Regier] and [Head Coach] Lindy [Ruff]--on the performance since we've been there."
--Team President Ted Black on the Howard Simon Show Thursday

There you have it.

Overall the Sabres are 55-36-15 since they took over. They have made the playoffs once going 3-4 losing in the first round to the Philadelphia Flyers and missed the playoffs this season.

Since they took over some major changes in philosophy have taken place--specifically the financial aspect. The financial constraints of the previous regime were eliminated.

Some of the highlights:
  • Brad Boyes and his $4m/yr. contract through the 2011-12 season was brought on board (for a second round pick) at the 2011 trade deadline.
  • The team convinced Calgary Flames veteran defenseman Robyn Regehr to waive his no-trade clause to come to Buffalo. He came to the Sabres along with former Sabre Ales Kotalik and a second round pick for Chris Butler and Paul Byron.
  • The Sabres traded a fourth round pick to the NY Islanders for the rights to former Vancouver Canucks defenseman Christian Ehrhoff whom they promplty signed to a front-loaded ($10M in the first year, $8M in the second, $13M in bounuses over those first two years,) 10-year/$40M contract. The 29 year-old will have an actual total salary of $6M over the last four years of the deal with a cap-hit of $4M.
  • After putting together a package to lure top free agent center Brad Richards to Buffalo, the Sabres signed free agent Ville Leino when Richards opted for the NY Rangers. They signed the winger/(hopeful) centerman to a six-year, $27M contract with $9M in signing bonuses over the first two years and a cap-hit of $4.5M.
In addition to the above acquisitions, the Sabres also took care of their own, in a rather expedited manner:
  • RFA forward Drew Stafford--who had an injury-shortened, "breakout" season--was signed to a straight-up, 4 yr./$16M contract in early June.
  • RFA defenseman Andrej Sekera was locked up for four years, $11M with most of it front-loaded to the tune of $4.75M in signing bonuses over the first two seasons.
  • Defenseman Tyler Myers, who had one year left on his entry-level contract was signed to a 7 yr./$38.5M contract extension with a $10M signing bonus that is paid July 1, 2012.
The front-loading, the salaries, the trading for rights to a free agent and the big bonuses all represent departures from the previous way of doing business.

And as they headed into the 2011-12 season, the Sabres also did something unheard of in the previous regime--bury contracts in the minors.

For years we've seen teams like the Philadelphia Flyers go hog-wild spending and end up burying contracts in the minors to get under the cap. This last season the Sabres did that. Kotalik and his $3M as well as Shoane Morrison and his $2M were jettisoned from the team as the Sabres got themselves under the $64.3M league salary cap.

Obviously, owner Terry Pegula put his money where his mouth was.

That's all well and good, but long-suffering Sabres' fans saw only the bottom line-the Sabres failed to make the playoffs.

For most years they saw a "core" put together by Regier and coached by Ruff fail to get past the first round of the playoffs. They see Regier "married" to his core and Ruff seemingly unable to get his team to reach and/or exceed their talent-levels. They point to players like Derek Roy and Thomas Vanek who had sub-par years statistically this past season and the teams' slow start/drive for the playoffs as yet another year of failure.

But Black did not see it that way. He said, "Sometimes winning and success are not the same thing."

That was a lawyer-like, public relations gem thrown at the fan-base to keep the torches and pitch-forks at bay.

For the entire season, Black had talked about winning the Stanley Cup. Pegula's motto, "From this day forward, the reason for the Sabres existence is to win the Stanley Cup." is on a plaque in the dressing room.

Missing the playoffs constitutes an epic failure on the part of the organization and Black stood in the pocket to take the heat for Pegula. Not only that, he'll be taking heat from the media for not having a end of year press conference with Regier and Ruff, saying "The epitaph for this season has been written over the last week. I think we're singularly focused on next year. I think otherwise [a year-end press conference this season] just turns into, 'we're just going to wallow in despair' and I don't think any of us want to do that."

The Buffalo News' Jerry Sullivan already jumped on that with an piece entitled, Sabre's brass comes across thin-skinned. "Evidently," Sullivan wrote, "Pegula did not feel compelled to explain why he kept his general manager and coach for a 16th season. For now, at least, Darcy Regier and Lindy Ruff will be spared the indignity of having to speak for themselves."

Sullivan bashes the organization, even going as far as bringing up hydro-fracking (the source of Pegula's wealth) and the Jerry Sandusky/Penn State scandal (Pegula's alum.) In what's sure to be the first shot in potential media war with the Pegula regime, Sullivan is rallying the masses behind him when he writes, "Fans deserve answers, especially from Ruff and Regier."

If Black can "appreciate 15 years of frustration the fans have" he's probably just starting to feel the wrath of 15 years of pent up incredulity and rage at keeping the status quo.

Grab some popcorn.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Mulligan!

General Manager Darcy Regier and Head Coach Lindy Ruff will be back with the Sabres for the 2012-13 season.

The premise is simple, Owner Terry Pegula and Team President looked over the last 14 months--the time that the regime has been in power--and decided that they liked the direction the team was headed in.

OK. Fine.

Quick re-hash. The Sabres missed the playoffs this season despite having the fourth highest payroll in the league. They've missed the playoffs three of the last five seasons. In the two seasons they've made it, they were bounced in the first round. And every season save for the 2009-10 season, they've made a furious second-half push for a playoff spot (missing three of four times.)

Regardless of the aforementioned failures post Drury/Briere, the tandem of Regier and Ruff will be back.

OK. Fine.

They got themselves a mulligan due in large part to injuries, more specifically, injuries to the back-end.

Back in January, Pegula set things up by saying "It's hard to evaluate something that has been torn apart the way this thing has." He continued, "It's like a merry-go-round every night. You look on the ice and what are your defensive pairs tonight? Hell, who knows? Who's healthy?"

It's a great read from Bucky Gleason in the Buffalo News from January 12, 2012. The team had the exact same record at that point in the season (18-19-5) as they had the previous season and Gleason makes all the points attributable to this season: "Their offense has been anemic for weeks," Gleason wrote, "their defense has been poor, their franchise goaltender hasn't played well and their effort has been lethargic on too many nights."

Which, by the way, are the same things we fans have been witnessing for the better part of (now) five seasons, unlike the owner who's only been witnessing it first hand for 14 months.

But, the head honcho preferred this approach, "My attitude now is, 'Let's put Humpty [Dumpty] back together again,' " Pegula said. "I want our players to know that I thought we had a pretty good hockey team until all this happened. Let's paste it back together and start a new season."

OK. Fine.

WGR's Paul Hamilton has been saying for months that the duo of Regier and Ruff would be back. When Ted Black told John Wawrow of the Associated Press of the plans, Hamilton said there was never a question. "It wasn't anything even discussed after this season," he said. "Owner Terry Pegula is comfortable with both men and even in January, he never wanted to make a change."

Yeah, Hamilton has been saying it for months, but no one really wanted to believe it. How can this duo of Regier and Ruff, with the record of mediocrity they've had over the last 14 seasons retain their jobs?

Perhaps one would find out at the end of season press conference.

OK. Fine.

Except for the fact that there will not be one.

What it comes down to is that Terry Pegula is the owner of the Buffalo Sabres. He will give his GM and Head Coach every opportunity, and then some, to get this team to the promised land.

We, as fans, must come to grips with this fact concerning Pegula and the Buffalo Sabres:  anything that happened before February 22, 2011 does not exist in the mind of ownership.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

2011/12 Individual Stats--Final

The top-three in each category for the season.

Points:
  • October--Thomas Vanek--15...Jason Pominville--14...Luke Adam--9
  • November--Thomas Vanek, Jason Pominville, Derek Roy--12
  • December--Pominville--13...Vanek--12...Stafford, Roy--7
  • January--Pominville--8...Gerbe, Gaustad--5
  • February--Pominville--12...Roy, Ehrhoff--11
  • March: Ennis-19...Stafford-18...Marcus Foligno, Pominville-11
  • Final:  Pominville-73...Vanek-61...Stafford-50

Goals:
  • October--Vanek--8...Pominville--5...Drew Stafford, Adam--3
  • November--Adam, Roy--5...Vanek, Pominville, Jordan Leopold--4
  • December--Vanek--6...Pominville--3...six with 2
  • January--Pominville--5...five with 2
  • February--Pominville-6...Roy-5, Stafford-4
  • March: Ennis, Stafford-8...Foligno, Pominville-6
  • Final:  Pominville-30...Vanek-26...Stafford-20

PP Goals:
  • October--Vanek--3...Pominville--2...Brad Boyes, Stafford--1
  • November--Vanek--3...Roy--2...Pominville, Tyler Myers, Christian Ehrhoff, Marc-Andre Gragnani--1
  • December--Vanek, Pominville--2...seven with 1
  • January--Myers--2, Pominville--1
  • February--Vanek, Stafford, Roy-1
  • March: Pominville, Foligno, Cody Hodgson-2
  • Final:  Vanek-10...Pominville-8...Roy-6

Assists:
  • October--Pominville--9...Vanek--7...Ehrhoff, Adam--6
  • November--Vanek, Pominville--8...Roy--7
  • December--Pomiville--10, Vanek--6...Stafford, Roy, Leopold--5
  • January--Gerbe--4...Pominville, Gaustad, Hecht, McNabb--3
  • February--Ehrhoff-10...Pominville, Leino, Roy, Myers-6
  • March: Ennis-11...Stafford-10...Vanek-6
  • Final:  Pominville-43...Vanek 36...Stafford-30

PP Assists:
  • October--Pominville--4...Vanek, Boyes--2
  • November--Pominville--4...Vanek, Roy, Boyes, Ehrhoff, Gragnani--2
  • December--Vanek, Stafford, Leopold--4
  • January--Pominville, Boyes, Myers, Gragnani--1
  • February--Ehrhoff-2...Pominville, Vanek, Roy, Myers-1
  • March: Vanek-4...Pominville-3...6 with one
  • Final:  Pominville-18...Vanek-14...Ehrhoff-10

Primary Assists:
  • October--Vanek--6...Pominville--5...Gerbe--4
  • November--Pominville, Stafford--6...Vanek--5
  • December--Pominville--7...Stafford--4...Vanek, Leopold--3
  • January--Gerbe--3...Pominville, Stafford, Boyes, Hecht--2
  • February: Lieno, Myers--5...Ennis--4
  • March: Stafford-8...Ennis-6...Ehrhoff-5
  • Final:  Stafford-17...Pominville-13...Vanek, Ennis, Ehrhoff-10

Plus/Minus:
  • October--Andrej Sekera, +6...Nathan Gerbe, +5...Vanek,+4
  • November--Leopold, Gragnani, +5...Hecht, +4
  • December--Gragnani, +3...Stafford, even...five at -1
  • January--McNabb, +1...three, even...five, -1
  • February--Myers +8...Pominville +6...Leino, Roy, Ehrhoff +5
  • March: Stafford +11...Ennis, Foligno +10
  • Final:  Ennis +11...Foligno +6...Stafford, Myers +5

Plus/Minus (bottom):
  • October--Ehrhoff, -6...Ville Leino, -4...Cody McCormick...-2
  • November--Myers, Robyn Regehr, Mike Weber, -5
  • December--Ehrhoff, -7...Sekera, Regehr, Pominville, -6
  • January--Weber, Vanek, -6...Adam, Roy, -5
  • February--Kaleta, Regehr -3...Weber -1
  • March: Hodgson -7...Pominville -6...Weber -4
  • Final:  Weber -19...Regehr -12...Pominville, Roy, McCormick -7

3-Stars (1st=5 points, 2nd=3 points, 3rd=1 point):
  • October--Vanek--16...Pominville, Adam--10
  • November--Roy--13...Adam--9...Pominville--8
  • December--Pominville, Stafford--6...five with 5
  • January--Gaustad--6...Stafford, Miller--5
  • February--Miller-19...Pominville-10...Myers-8
  • March: Stafford-20...Miller-19...Foligno, Pominville-11


Time On Ice/Game-Forwards (year-to-date)

Total:
  • October--Pominville, 18:00...Vanek, 17:42...Roy, 16:54
  • November--Pominville, 19:06...Roy...18:48...Vanek...17:42
  • December--Pominville, 19:30...Roy, 19:13...Stafford...17:53...(Vanek 17:52)
  • January--Pominville, 19:23...Roy, 18:47...Stafford, 17:50
  • February--Pominville, 19:33...Roy, 19:04...Stafford, 17:31
  • March: Pominville, 19:47...Roy, 19:14...Stafford, 17:36
  • Final:  Pominville, 19:40...Roy, 19:19...Stafford, 17:38 

Even Strength:
  • October--Vanek, 13:47...Gerbe, 13:33...Roy, 13:30
  • November--Hecht, 14:32...Roy, 14:14...Leino, 14:13
  • December--Hecht, 14:50...Roy, 14:23...Leino, 14:00
  • January--Leino, 14:33...Roy, 14:27...Hecht, 14:25
  • February--Roy, 14:45...Leino, 14:39...Hecht, 14:25
  • March: Roy, 14:56...Leino, 14:37...Stafford, 14:20
  • Final:  Roy, 14:59...Leino, 14:48...Marcus Foligno, 14:30

Powerplay:
  • October--Vanek, 3:12...Pominville, 2:57...Adam, 2:16
  • November--Pominville, 3:26...Vanek, 2:23...Roy, 2:41
  • December--Pominville, 3:36...Vanek, 3:33...Roy, 2:55
  • January--Pominville, 3:20...Vanek, 3:14...Roy, 2:37
  • February--Pominville, 3:16...Vanek, 3:10...Roy, 2:38
  • March: Pominville, 3:08...Vanek, 3:03...Roy, 2:36
  • Final:  Pominville, 3:08...Vanek, 3:02...Roy, 2:37

Penalty Kill:
  • October--Paul Gaustad, 2:56...Patrick Kaleta, 2:40...Pominville, 2:13
  • November--Gaustad, 2:49...Kaleta, 2:41...Pominville, 2:26
  • December--Gaustad, 2:54...Kaleta, 2:56...Pominville, 2:33
  • January--Gaustad, 2:49...Pominville, 2:25...Kaleta, 2:16
  • February--Pominville, 2:17...Kaleta, 2:15...Hecht, 1:49
  • March: Pominville, 2:13...Kaleta, 1:59...Roy, 1:41
  • Final:  Pominville, 2:13...Kaleta, 1:55...Roy, 1:42 


Time On Ice/Game--Defensman (year-to-date)

Total:
  • October--Ehrhoff, 24:32...Myers, 21:28...Jordan Leopold, 21:06
  • November--Ehrhoff, 24:04...Myers, 21:39...Leopold, 20:48
  • December--Ehrhoff, 23:35...Myers, 21:39...Leopold, 21:29
  • January--Ehrhoff, 23:36...Myers, 22:58...Leopold, 22:13
  • February--Ehrhoff, 23:15...Myers, 22:52...Leopold, 22:05
  • March:  Ehrhoff, 23:03...Myers, 22:29...Leopold, 22:13
  • Final:  Ehrhoff, 23:03...Myers, 22:29...Leopold, 22:22

Even Strength:
  • October--Ehrhoff, 19:21...Leopold, 17:12...Myers, 16:21
  • November--Ehrhoff, 19:06...Leopold, 16:57...Sekera, 16:39
  • December--Ehrhoff, 18:38...Leopold, 17:11...Myers, 16:14
  • January--Ehrhoff, 18:33...Leopold, Myers, 17:46
  • February--Ehrhoff, 18:46...Myers, 17:57...Leopold, 17:45
  • March: Ehrhoff, 18:46...Myers, 17:57...Leopold, 17:54
  • Final:  Ehrhoff, 18:46...Leopold, 18:02...Myers, 17:57

Powerplay:
  • October--Marc-Andre Gragnani, 3:03...Ehrhoff, 2:59...Myers, 1:57
  • November--Ehrhoff, 2:56...Gragnani, 2:52...Myers, 2:43
  • December--Ehrhoff, 3:14...Gragnani, 3:14...Myers, 2:43
  • January--Ehrhoff, 3:12...Gragnani, 2:42...Myers, 2:39
  • February--Ehrhoff, 3:04...Myers, 2:35...Leopold, 1:57
  • March: Ehrhoff, 2:58...Myers, 2:25...Leopold, 1:59
  • Final:  Ehrhoff, 2:58...Myers, 2:25...Leopold, 1:59

Penalty Kill:
  • October--Robyn Regehr, 3:12...Myers, 3:09...Ehrhoff, 2:12
  • November--Regehr, 3:11...Weber, 2:50...Myers, 2:42
  • December--Regehr, 3:11...Myers, Weber, 2:42
  • January--Regehr. 3:03...Myers, 2:33...Leopold, 2:23
  • February--Regehr, 2:56...Leopold, 2:22...Myers, 2:20
  • March: Regehr, 2:42...Leopold, 2:20...Myers, 2:06
  • Final:  Regehr, 2:40...Leopold, 2:19...Myers, 2:06

Goaltending (year to date):

Ryan Miller--
  • October--4 wins, 4 losses, .930 sv.% (ranked 9th,) 2.14 gaa (ranked 21st,) 1 shutout
  • November--5-6-0, .909 (37th,) 2.86 (41st,) 1 shutout
  • December--9-10-2, .901 (51st,) 3.05 (55th,) 1 shutout
  • January--13-15-2, .901 (57th,) 2.99 (60th,) 1 shutout
  • February--20-17-5, .912 (42nd,) 2.64 (44th,) 4 shoutouts
  • March: 30-20-7, .917 (29th,) 2.51 (40th,) 6 shutouts
  • Final:  31-21-7, .913 (T-32nd)...2.55 (43rd,) 6 shutouts (t-5th)

Jhonas Enroth--
  • October--2-0, .946 sv % (8th,) 2.00 gaa (13th,) 0 shutouts
  • November--8-4-2, .926 (21st,) 2.27 (26th,) 1 shutout
  • December--8-7-2, .921 (23rd,) 2.49 (32nd), 1 shutout
  • January--8-9-3, .919 (28th,) 2.59 (39th,) 1 shutout
  • February--8-10-3, .917 (32nd,) 2.68 (46th,) 1 shutout
  • March: 8-11-3, .916 (33rd,) 2.70 (52nd,) 1 shutout
  • Final:  8-11-4, .917 (t-28th,) 2.70 (55th,) 1 shutout

Drew MacIntyre--
  • October--
  • November--0-0-0, .944, 1.40, 0 shutouts
  • December--0-0-0, .944, 1.40, 0 shutouts
  • January--0-0-0, .944, 1.40, 0 shutouts
  • Februrary--0-0-0, .944, 1.40, 0 shutouts
  • March: 0-0-0, .944, 1.40, 0 shutouts
  • Final:  0-0-0, .944, 1.40, 0 shutouts


2011/12 Team Stats--Final

Wins:
  • October--6 (T-9th)
  • November--13 (T-10th)
  • December--17 (T-23rd)
  • January--21 (24th)
  • February--28 (T-22nd)
  • March: 38 (18th)
  • Final:  39 (18th)

Points:
  • October--12 (12th)
  • November--27 (T 15th)
  • December--38 (T-23rd)
  • January--47 (T-24th)
  • February--64 (T-23rd)
  • March: 86 (T-19th)
  • Final:  89 (T-18th)

Eastern Conference Standing:
  • October--7th
  • November-7th
  • December-11th
  • January--T-14th
  • February--12th
  • March: 9th
  • Final: 9th

Northeast Division Standing:
  • October--3rd
  • November--3rd
  • December--4th
  • January--T-4th
  • February--4th
  • March: 3rd
  • Final:  3rd

Goals/Game:
  • October--2.90 (8th)...(#1, Wash-3.78)
  • November--2.75 (15th)...(Philly-3.48)
  • December--2.58 (T-17th)...(Bos-3.43)
  • January--2.38 (26th)...(Bos-3.54)
  • February--2.38 (25th)...(Philly-3.24)
  • March: 2.54 (18th)...(Pitt-3.27)
  • Final:  2.57 (17th)...(PIT-3.33)

Shots/Game:
  • October--29.4 (18th)...(#1, Det-35.7)
  • November--30.9 (10th)...(Det-34.9)
  • December--29.0 (T-19th)...(SJS-34.6)
  • January--28.8 (20th)..(SJS-34.7)
  • February--28.9 (19th)...(SJS-34.4)
  • March: 29.1 (18th)...(SJS-34.1)
  • Final:  29.2 (18th)...(PIT-33.9)

Goals Against/Game:
  • October--2.20 (T-5th)...(#1, Edm-1.46)
  • November--2.58 (T-14th)...(STL-2.00)
  • December--2.90 (23rd)...Bos-1.91)
  • January--2.96 (25th)...(STL-1.96)
  • February--2.79 (20th)...(STL-1.91)
  • March: 2.70 (T-18th)...(STL-1.86)
  • Final:  2.72 (18th)...(STL-1.89)

Shots Against/Game:
  • October--31.9 (22nd)...(#1, STL-25.9)
  • November--31.1 (21st)...(STL-25.6)
  • December--31.3 (T-24th)...(STL-26.5)
  • January--31.3 (26th)...(STL-26.2)
  • February--31.3 (27th)...(STL-26.2)
  • March: 31.3 (T-26th)...(STL-26.5)
  • Final:  31.4 (26th)...(STL-26.7)

Five-On-Five GF/GA Ratio:
  • October--1.43 (2nd)...(#1, WSH-1.64)
  • November--1.12 (T-7th)...(BOS-1.71)
  • December--0.93 (20th)...(BOS-1.83)
  • January--0.87 (22nd)...(BOS-1.72)
  • February--0.96 (15th)...(DET-1.52)
  • March: 1.04 (11th)...(DET-1.45)
  • Final:  1.03 (12th)...(DET-1.44)

Powerplay:
  • October--21.9% (8th)...(#1, OTT-31.0%)
  • November--18.4 (10th)...(VAN-24.8)
  • December--19.0 (9th)...(VAN-24.2)
  • January--17.8 (T-16th)...(VAN-23.0)
  • February--16.2 (21st)...(EDM-21.7)
  • March: 16.4 (19th)...(NSH-22.0)
  • Final:  17.0 (16th)...(NSH-21.6) 

Penalty Kill:
  • October--91.9% (2nd)...(#1, PIT-92.3%)
  • November--87.6 (5th)...(NJD--94.4)
  • December--84.2 (9th)...(NJD--91.2)
  • January--81.4 (20th)...(MTL--89.6)
  • February--80.8 (21st)...(MTL- 89.3)
  • March: 81.7 (19th)...(NJD-89.8)
  • Final:  81.7 (19th)...(NJD-89.6)

Faceoffs:
  • October--50.8% (11th)...(#1, Col-54.7%)
  • November--51.3 (T-9th)...(BOS-55.0)
  • December--51.0 (11th)...(BOS--55.4)
  • January--49.6 (T-18th)...(BOS--55)
  • February--49.6 (19th)...(BOS--54.7)
  • March: 49.4 (19th)...(BOS-54.6)
  • Final:  49.5 (19th)...BOS-54.5)

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

"It's a miracle they didn't blow the whistle"

Rick Jeanneret summed it perfectly with those words near the end of the following video.

With the Sabres down 5-4 late in the third period, no less than 11 bodies were in the crease jammin' away at a loose puck as the referee looked on just outside of the scrum.

No quick whistle on this one. In fact there was no whistle at all and Jordan Leopold finally "pitchforked" (his word) the puck past the wall of Leafs and their goalie Ben Scrivens.




Gotta like the fact that the ref was right there with his eyes right where the puck was. You can see him move his arm a couple of times ready to blow the whistle, but pulls back when the puck squirts free.

From Ryan Miller:  "I think the ref [Mike Hasenfratz] actually did a good job," Miller said. "He wasn't giving quick whistles the entire night. He was consistent. I kind of noticed that. He was kind of right over it.... [Scrivens] made no indication he had the puck.

"I think it's the right play by the referee. Now if the shoe's on the other foot, maybe I'm a little bit ticked. I'm going to try to at least show or fake I have the puck or something."

Added Marcus Foligno, ""I think the ref was watching how many times I got punched in the face," Foligno said, "and he was in awe." He added, "I was just hoping to God we'd hear a horn that we scored,"

Props to Foligno. The NHL rookie of the month for the month of March had a real strong, first-star game to kick off April including his first NHL fight. He threw some monster hits and used his noggin' to school the Leafs Mike Komiserak after the two exchanged words prior to the faceoff on the Leopold, game-tying goal.

Speaking of his fight, Foligno bowled over Tyler Bozak in the corner and the Leafs Matt Frattin came in to defend his teammate:



You'll notice also that Foligno joined rookie defender Brayden McNabb in the box.

McNabb was serving five for fighting Jay Rosehill, who had come to the rescue of his fellow Leaf, Matthew Lombardi. McNabb flattens Lombardi and Rosehill didn't take kindly to the clean hit:



Finally. This was an incredible game with plenty of ups and downs for the Sabres. Props to them for somehow finding a way to pull it out.

And props to Foligno setting the tone early with this hit on Leafs d-man Carl Gunnerson (who left the game with an "upper body injury"):




Alexander Sulzer had a Jekyll and Hyde night. He had the first two-goal game of his career and his first ever three-point night and reached a career-best three-game point streak. He finished the night and even plus/minus despite being on the ice for two goals where he couldn't control his man.

As the Buffalo News' Mike Harrington notes, he had "one crazy night."




TSN chimed in on the game-tying "scavenger hunt" Leopold goal:
http://watch.tsn.ca/featured/clip651094#clip651094


From WGR funny, classic "no whistle":  http://www.wgr550.com/topic/play_window.php?audioType=Episode&audioId=5778120

Monday, April 2, 2012

79 down, 3 to go, and the playoffs...

still out of reach.

The Buffalo Sabres sit in 9th place right now two points behind eighth place Washington. Make that three points considering that the Caps hold the tiebreaker.

Ottawa is in, and Florida needs two points to assure they're in for the first time post-lockout. (Quick note, that would leave the Toronto Maple Leaves as the only team not to make the post season since the lockout)

It's a pretty simple formula:  the Sabres, for all intents and purposes, will need to win their remaining three games to have a legitimate shot. For them to get in, Washington will gain no more than three points in their final three games which equates to no better than a 1-1-1 or 0-0-3 record

In the case of Florida, they need to snag only two points in their final three games to make it in.

Should all three teams tie, Washington would win the Southeast Division by virtue of the tie breaker over Florida and Buffalo, if regulation/overtime wins remain deadlocked, would get in via the third tiebreaker--goal differential--should everything hold true to form. The Sabres and Cats went 2-1-1 vs. each other in the head-to-head tiebreaker.

The final week of the regular season, and the playoff aspirations of the Sabres, begins tonight as Washington visits Tampa Bay.

Here are the standings as of today:
  • Florida--91 points
  • Washington--88
  • Buffalo--86

The remaining schedule:
  • Florida--Winnipeg, @Washington, Carolina
  • Washington--@Tampa Bay, Florida, @NY Rangers
  • Buffalo--Toronto, @Philadelphia, @Boston
Thursday will be the big day as Florida and Washington meet, as those two, along with Buffalo, will have all played a game before then.

The odds are longer now than they were last week, but there's still a possibility that Buffalo can get in.


Edit:  The odds got even longer as defenseman Christian Ehrhoff is gone for the regular season because of a knee injury.  WGR's Paul Hamilton puts together interesting stats:  with Ehrhoff in the lineup the Sabres are 36-22-8 for a .606 percentage. When he's out of the lineup they're 2-9-2 which equates to a .231 percentage.

Tyler Myers took a blast off of his foot and is questionable for tomorrow's game. Hamilton gives us these stats:  with Myers in the lineup the team is 31-21-4 (.589) without him they're 7-10-6 (.435).

Here's a link to Mr. Hamilton's article:  http://wgr550.com/Sabres-Ehrhoff-out-for-the-rest-of-the-regular-sea/12719306

2011/12 Individual stats--March

Ryan Miller...Tyler Ennis/Drew Stafford/Marcus Foligno

That's all you really need to know when it comes to the month of March individually.

The team brought the goals against down and the goals for up thanks primarily to the four aforementioned players.

Miller had a stellar month going 10-3-2. He brought his gaa down to 2.51 and brought his save percentage up to .917. This despite signs of wear as he allowed four goals to both Pittsburgh and Toronto in their back-to-back losses to finish the month. Miller also had 2 shutouts setting a career high of six.

On offense, Lindy Ruff finally put Tyler Ennis in the pivot and surrounded him with two big bodies--Drew Stafford and Marcus Foligno.

The results from that line: 11games played, 20 goals, 24 assists and a combined plus-34. As seen in the plus/minus, this line did their damage 5-on-5.

Other than that, Jason Pominville continued his steady play, although his plus/minus took a beating for the month. Thomas Vanek slowly inched his way on tho the scoresheet more often and Cody Hodgson, who went pointless in the first nine games of the month came on strong with eight points in seven games with 2g and 2a on the powerplay.

On defense, the surprise of the month was Alexander Sulzer, the former Vancouver Canuck who came over with Hodgson on trade deadline day.

Sulzer has been a big surprise. In his 14 games with the Sabres he has 1g, 4a and is a plus-2. He had been paired with Christian Ehrhoff until the latter's injury and the German duo found instant chemistry.

Chemistry. That's the word for the month of March. With a healthy defense corps in front of him, Miller has found his Vezina form (quick note: both Ehrhoff did not play the last two games while Tyler Myers missed the last one.)

Sulzer and Ehrhoff allowed for some concrete pairings on the back-end:  Myers/Andrej Sekera, Robyn Regehr/Jordan Leopold.

Up-front the Ennis/Stafford/Foligno line clicked allowing the top-nine to be shuffled a bit with Hodgson centering Vanek and rookie Corey Tropp and Derek Roy between Pominville and Ville Leino.

The Sabres are still in the playoff picture, although they'll probably need to win out and will need some help along the way.

Make it or not, the Sabres have found some chemistry in crucial areas and will have a big jump on next season because of it.


Points:

  • October--Thomas Vanek--15...Jason Pominville--14...Luke Adam--9
  • November--Thomas Vanek, Jason Pominville, Derek Roy--12
  • December--Pominville--13...Vanek--12...Stafford, Roy--7
  • January--Pominville--8...Gerbe, Gaustad--5
  • February--Pominville--12...Roy, Ehrhoff--11
  • March:   Ennis-19...Stafford-18...Marcus Foligno, Pominville-11

Goals:
  • October--Vanek--8...Pominville--5...Drew Stafford, Adam--3
  • November--Adam, Roy--5...Vanek, Pominville, Jordan Leopold--4
  • December--Vanek--6...Pominville--3...six with 2
  • January--Pominville--5...five with 2
  • February--Pominville-6...Roy-5, Stafford-4
  • March:   Ennis, Stafford-8...Foligno, Pominville-6

PP Goals:
  • October--Vanek--3...Pominville--2...Brad Boyes, Stafford--1
  • November--Vanek--3...Roy--2...Pominville, Tyler Myers, Christian Ehrhoff, Marc-Andre Gragnani--1
  • December--Vanek, Pominville--2...seven with 1
  • January--Myers--2, Pominville--1
  • February--Vanek, Stafford, Roy-1
  • March:   Pominville, Foligno, Cody Hodgson-2

Assists:
  • October--Pominville--9...Vanek--7...Ehrhoff, Adam--6
  • November--Vanek, Pominville--8...Roy--7
  • December--Pomiville--10, Vanek--6...Stafford, Roy, Leopold--5
  • January--Gerbe--4...Pominville, Gaustad, Hecht, McNabb--3
  • February--Ehrhoff-10...Pominville, Leino, Roy, Myers-6
  • March:   Ennis-11...Stafford-10...Vanek-6

PP Assists:
  • October--Pominville--4...Vanek, Boyes--2
  • November--Pominville--4...Vanek, Roy, Boyes, Ehrhoff, Gragnani--2
  • December--Vanek, Stafford, Leopold--4
  • January--Pominville, Boyes, Myers, Gragnani--1
  • February--Ehrhoff-2...Pominville, Vanek, Roy, Myers-1
  • March:   Vanek-4...Pominville-3...6 with one

Primary Assists:
  • October--Vanek--6...Pominville--5...Gerbe--4
  • November--Pominville, Stafford--6...Vanek--5
  • December--Pominville--7...Stafford--4...Vanek, Leopold--3
  • January--Gerbe--3...Pominville, Stafford, Boyes, Hecht--2
  • February:  Lieno, Myers--5...Ennis--4
  • March:  Stafford-8...Ennis-6...Ehrhoff-5

Plus/Minus:
  • October--Andrej Sekera, +6...Nathan Gerbe, +5...Vanek,+4
  • November--Leopold, Gragnani, +5...Hecht, +4
  • December--Gragnani, +3...Stafford, even...five at -1
  • January--McNabb, +1...three, even...five, -1
  • February--Myers +8...Pominville +6...Leino, Roy, Ehrhoff +5
  • March:   Stafford +11...Ennis, Foligno +10

Plus/Minus (bottom):
  • October--Ehrhoff, -6...Ville Leino, -4...Cody McCormick...-2
  • November--Myers, Robyn Regehr, Mike Weber, -5
  • December--Ehrhoff, -7...Sekera, Regehr, Pominville, -6
  • January--Weber, Vanek, -6...Adam, Roy, -5
  • February--Kaleta, Regehr -3...Weber -1
  • March:   Hodgson -7...Pominville -6...Weber -4

3-Stars (1st=5 points, 2nd=3 points, 3rd=1 point):
  • October--Vanek--16...Pominville, Adam--10
  • November--Roy--13...Adam--9...Pominville--8
  • December--Pominville, Stafford--6...five with 5
  • January--Gaustad--6...Stafford, Miller--5
  • February--Miller-19...Pominville-10...Myers-8
  • March:   Stafford-20...Miller-19...Foligno, Pominville-11


Time On Ice/Game-Forwards (year-to-date)

Total:
  • October--Pominville, 18:00...Vanek, 17:42...Roy, 16:54
  • November--Pominville, 19:06...Roy...18:48...Vanek...17:42
  • December--Pominville, 19:30...Roy, 19:13...Stafford...17:53...(Vanek 17:52)
  • January--Pominville, 19:23...Roy, 18:47...Stafford, 17:50
  • February--Pominville, 19:33...Roy, 19:04...Stafford, 17:31
  • March:   Pominville, 19:47...Roy, 19:14...Stafford, 17:36

Even Strength:
  • October--Vanek, 13:47...Gerbe, 13:33...Roy, 13:30
  • November--Hecht, 14:32...Roy, 14:14...Leino, 14:13
  • December--Hecht, 14:50...Roy, 14:23...Leino, 14:00
  • January--Leino, 14:33...Roy, 14:27...Hecht, 14:25
  • February--Roy, 14:45...Leino, 14:39...Hecht, 14:25
  • March:   Roy, 14:56...Leino, 14:37...Stafford, 14:20

Powerplay:
  • October--Vanek, 3:12...Pominville, 2:57...Adam, 2:16
  • November--Pominville, 3:26...Vanek, 2:23...Roy, 2:41
  • December--Pominville, 3:36...Vanek, 3:33...Roy, 2:55
  • January--Pominville, 3:20...Vanek, 3:14...Roy, 2:37
  • February--Pominville, 3:16...Vanek, 3:10...Roy, 2:38
  • March:   Pominville, 3:08...Vanek, 3:03...Roy, 2:36

Penalty Kill:
  • October--Paul Gaustad, 2:56...Patrick Kaleta, 2:40...Pominville, 2:13
  • November--Gaustad, 2:49...Kaleta, 2:41...Pominville, 2:26
  • December--Gaustad, 2:54...Kaleta, 2:56...Pominville, 2:33
  • January--Gaustad, 2:49...Pominville, 2:25...Kaleta, 2:16
  • February--Pominville, 2:17...Kaleta, 2:15...Hecht, 1:49
  • March:   Pominville, 2:13...Kaleta, 1:59...Roy, 1:41


Time On Ice/Game--Defensman (year-to-date)

Total:
  • October--Ehrhoff, 24:32...Myers, 21:28...Jordan Leopold, 21:06
  • November--Ehrhoff, 24:04...Myers, 21:39...Leopold, 20:48
  • December--Ehrhoff, 23:35...Myers, 21:39...Leopold, 21:29
  • January--Ehrhoff, 23:36...Myers, 22:58...Leopold, 22:13
  • February--Ehrhoff, 23:15...Myers, 22:52...Leopold, 22:05
  • March:  Ehrhoff, 23:03...Myers, 22:29...Leopold, 22:13

Even Strength:
  • October--Ehrhoff, 19:21...Leopold, 17:12...Myers, 16:21
  • November--Ehrhoff, 19:06...Leopold, 16:57...Sekera, 16:39
  • December--Ehrhoff, 18:38...Leopold, 17:11...Myers, 16:14
  • January--Ehrhoff, 18:33...Leopold, Myers, 17:46
  • February--Ehrhoff, 18:46...Myers, 17:57...Leopold, 17:45
  • March:   Ehrhoff, 18:46...Myers, 17:57...Leopold, 17:54

Powerplay:
  • October--Marc-Andre Gragnani, 3:03...Ehrhoff, 2:59...Myers, 1:57
  • November--Ehrhoff, 2:56...Gragnani, 2:52...Myers, 2:43
  • December--Ehrhoff, 3:14...Gragnani, 3:14...Myers, 2:43
  • January--Ehrhoff, 3:12...Gragnani, 2:42...Myers, 2:39
  • February--Ehrhoff, 3:04...Myers, 2:35...Leopold, 1:57
  • March:  Ehrhoff, 2:58...Myers, 2:25...Leopold, 1:59

Penalty Kill:
  • October--Robyn Regehr, 3:12...Myers, 3:09...Ehrhoff, 2:12
  • November--Regehr, 3:11...Weber, 2:50...Myers, 2:42
  • December--Regehr, 3:11...Myers, Weber, 2:42
  • January--Regehr. 3:03...Myers, 2:33...Leopold, 2:23
  • February--Regehr, 2:56...Leopold, 2:22...Myers, 2:20
  • March:  Regehr, 2:42...Leopold, 2:20...Myers, 2:06

Goaltending (year to date):

Ryan Miller--
  • October--4 wins, 4 losses, .930 sv.% (ranked 9th,) 2.14 gaa (ranked 21st,) 1 shutout
  • November--5-6-0, .909 (37th,) 2.86 (41st,) 1 shutout
  • December--9-10-2, .901 (51st,) 3.05 (55th,) 1 shutout
  • January--13-15-2, .901 (57th,) 2.99 (60th,) 1 shutout
  • February--20-17-5, .912 (42nd,) 2.64 (44th,) 4 shoutouts
  • March:  30-20-7, .917 (29th,) 2.51 (40th,) 6 shutouts

Jhonas Enroth--
  • October--2-0, .946 sv % (8th,) 2.00 gaa (13th,) 0 shutouts
  • November--8-4-2, .926 (21st,) 2.27 (26th,) 1 shutout
  • December--8-7-2, .921 (23rd,) 2.49 (32nd), 1 shutout
  • January--8-9-3, .919 (28th,) 2.59 (39th,) 1 shutout
  • February--8-10-3, .917 (32nd,) 2.68 (46th,) 1 shutout
  • March:   8-11-3, .916 (33rd,) 2.70 (52nd,) 1 shutout

Drew MacIntyre--
  • October--
  • November--0-0-0, .944, 1.40, 0 shutouts
  • December--0-0-0, .944, 1.40, 0 shutouts
  • January--0-0-0, .944, 1.40, 0 shutouts
  • Februrary--0-0-0, .944, 1.40, 0 shutouts
  • March:   0-0-0, .944, 1.40, 0 shutouts

Sunday, April 1, 2012

2011/12 Team stats--March

One more week in the regular season, three games to play, two points out of a playoff spot.

The Buffalo Sabres have been on a tear since losing their third in a row in regulation on February 16th. The following night they garnered a point vs. Montreal which helped them finish the month with a 5-0-2 record and a ticket out of the 14th spot in the Eastern Conference.

They continued that a strong pace throughout March going 10-4-2. But the last two regulation losses vs. Pittsburgh March 30 and at Toronto March 31 put a damper on their record. It also put a damper on their playoff aspirations as the team fell two points behind Washington for the eighth and final playoff spot.

But...there are still three games to go.

The big news for the team was the ramifications of the trade deadline. Gone was defensive stalwart and faceoff specialist Paul Gaustad (to Nashville for a #1 pick) and in came center Cody Hodgson and defenseman Alexander Sulzer (for Zack Kassian and Marc-Andre Gragnani.)

On the surface the trade-off was more offense in the top-six for less defense. Looking at the stats, it would seem as if that was the case with the Sabres going from 25th in the league in goals/game to 18th.

It took Hodgson 10 games to register his first point but he and his linemates--Thomas Vanek and Corey Tropp--eventually started hitting the scoresheet with regularity during the last couple of weeks.

The biggest contributing factor to the jump in goals/game was the Tyler Ennis/Drew Stafford/ Marcus Foligno line. In the 11 games since the rookie Foligno was called-up, and that line put together, they tallied an impressive 20 goals, 24 assists and were a combined plus-34.)

On the defensive side the loss of Gaustad meant little stats-wise as the gaa got slightly better (goalie Ryan Miller had an outstanding month) while shots against, penalty kill and faceoff percentage all registered very little movement.

One would need to question whether or not "Goose" could've prevented goals with less than five seconds on consecutive nights (Montreal and Colorado) that sent the games past regulation. The Sabres did manage to beat Montreal but lost to Colorado and lost a critical point.

The formula for success this past month has been stellar goaltending and increased scoring. It was a formula that had the team in eighth place twice, albeit for a very short period of time.

That was until the team went out like a lamb.

Wins:

  • October--6 (T-9th)
  • November--13 (T-10th)
  • December--17 (T-23rd)
  • January--21 (24th)
  • February--28 (T-22nd)
  • March:   38 (18th)

Points:
  • October--12 (12th)
  • November--27 (T 15th)
  • December--38 (T-23rd)
  • January--47 (T-24th)
  • February--64 (T-23rd)
  • March:   86 (T-19th)

Eastern Conference Standing:
  • October--7th
  • November-7th
  • December-11th
  • January--T-14th
  • February--12th
  • March:   9th

Northeast Division Standing:
  • October--3rd
  • November--3rd
  • December--4th
  • January--T-4th
  • February--4th
  • March:   3rd

Goals/Game:
  • October--2.90 (8th)...(#1, Wash-3.78)
  • November--2.75 (15th)...(Philly-3.48)
  • December--2.58 (T-17th)...(Bos-3.43)
  • January--2.38 (26th)...(Bos-3.54)
  • February--2.38 (25th)...(Philly-3.24)
  • March:  2.54 (18th)...(Pitt-3.27)

Shots/Game:
  • October--29.4 (18th)...(#1, Det-35.7)
  • November--30.9 (10th)...(Det-34.9)
  • December--29.0 (T-19th)...(SJS-34.6)
  • January--28.8 (20th)..(SJS-34.7)
  • February--28.9 (19th)...(SJS-34.4)
  • March:  29.1 (18th)...(SJS-34.1)

Goals Against/Game:
  • October--2.20 (T-5th)...(#1, Edm-1.46)
  • November--2.58 (T-14th)...(STL-2.00)
  • December--2.90 (23rd)...Bos-1.91)
  • January--2.96 (25th)...(STL-1.96)
  • February--2.79 (20th)...(STL-1.91)
  • March:  2.70 (T-18th)...(STL-1.86)

Shots Against/Game:
  • October--31.9 (22nd)...(#1, STL-25.9)
  • November--31.1 (21st)...(STL-25.6)
  • December--31.3 (T-24th)...(STL-26.5)
  • January--31.3 (26th)...(STL-26.2)
  • February--31.3 (27th)...(STL-26.2)
  • March:   31.3 (T-26th)...(STL-26.5)

Five-On-Five GF/GA Ratio:
  • October--1.43 (2nd)...(#1, WSH-1.64)
  • November--1.12 (T-7th)...(BOS-1.71)
  • December--0.93 (20th)...(BOS-1.83)
  • January--0.87 (22nd)...(BOS-1.72)
  • February--0.96 (15th)...(DET-1.52)
  • March:   1.04 (11th)...(DET-1.45)

Powerplay:
  • October--21.9% (8th)...(#1, OTT-31.0%)
  • November--18.4 (10th)...(VAN-24.8)
  • December--19.0 (9th)...(VAN-24.2)
  • January--17.8 (T-16th)...(VAN-23.0)
  • February--16.2 (21st)...(EDM-21.7)
  • March:   16.4 (19th)...(NSH-22.0)

Penalty Kill:
  • October--91.9% (2nd)...(#1, PIT-92.3%)
  • November--87.6 (5th)...(NJD--94.4)
  • December--84.2 (9th)...(NJD--91.2)
  • January--81.4 (20th)...(MTL--89.6)
  • February--80.8 (21st)...(MTL- 89.3)
  • March:  81.7 (19th)...(NJD-89.8)

Faceoffs:
  • October--50.8% (11th)...(#1, Col-54.7%)
  • November--51.3 (T-9th)...(BOS-55.0)
  • December--51.0 (11th)...(BOS--55.4)
  • January--49.6 (T-18th)...(BOS--55)
  • February--49.6 (19th)...(BOS--54.7)
  • March:   49.4 (19th)...(BOS-54.6)