Friday, October 31, 2014

Nikita Zadorov should follow Mikhail Grigorenko's lead

Reprinted with permission from

Regardless of the disaster that is the Buffalo Sabres right now, it doesn't seem as if the organization is looking to take any shortcuts. with player development.

Due to extenuating circumstances, rookies Sam Reinhart and Nikita Zadorov are both on the roster, but were it up to the Sabres, both would be playing in the AHL instead. Unfortunately for these two rookies, just like with Mikhail Grigorenko through the first two seasons of his career, the Canadian Hockey League doesn't afford 18 or 19 yr. olds that opportunity. It's either the NHL or Canadian Junior.

Zadorov's case is a bit trickier as the big defenseman is in a situation where he and/or his agent, Rolly Hedges, believes he should be playing against men, specifically for the club that holds his Kontinental Hockey League rights, CSKA Moscow.

Hedges told Ryan Pyette of the London (ON) Free Press, that Zadorov believes it would be better for his development. 'It’s not that he doesn’t want to play for the London Knights,' Hedges said to Pyette. 'Nikita is 19 now and thinks it’s better for his development — if he’s not able to play in Buffalo — to play in a men’s league.'

Until an agreement is reached by all parties, including the defenseman himself, Zadorov remains in limbo and the wheels on this will only get moving if Sabres GM Tim Murray decides to send him to the Knights.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

10-game grace period? Plus, a change of heart on Sam Reinhart

Reprinted with permission from

Sabres head coach Ted Nolan has tried an approach to coaching similar to former Sabres' bench boss Lindy Ruff, treat his team like professional hockey players.

After an embarrassing 4-0 loss--the fourth time they've been shut out in the last six games--it would seem as if he's had enough. If the team plays like a "pee wee" team, then they need to be taught a lesson .“One of my favorite sayings is, ‘If it’s not working, maybe you’re not working hard enough,'" said Nolan. "I was upset the way we worked.”

He had them working "hard enough" today putting them through a tough skate reminiscent of Ruff's (in)famous bag skates. Nolan said he gives his teams a "10-day grace period" but  "taking it easy is over now. We got to work. I’ll take full responsibility for that. Maybe I didn’t push them hard enough. But today’s the day we have to start."

They'd better get started. The team is 2-8-0 and even the "Tank for McEichel" world is getting a bit restless. Apparently they thought that barreling towards the bottom of the league to land one of the top two picks shouldn't be this difficult to watch.

And if fans think it's tough, the coaching staff must be going out of their minds.

Granted, there's not a lot to work with on this club and they've had a pretty tough schedule for the first 10 games. You could even throw in Paul Hamilton's synopsis concerning the west coast trip the Sabres just returned from and how, usually, a team falters. But the performance last night was just plain pathetic. What more can one say except "Wake the (expletive) up!" which is what Nolan screamed today.

Fact is, the Buffalo Sabres are what they are and this is what they'll have to work with for a fairly large part of the season. You are either professionals or you're not and as of right now, they're not.

From Reinhart to Neuvirth to the Leafs and more

Reprinted with permission from

Tonight will mark forward Sam Reinhart's eighth game with Buffalo and at the end of his next game played, the Sabres will need to decide whether or not they wish to keep him with the club for a 10th, thus "burning" a year on his entry-level contract.

Reinhart hasn't really done enough to this point to warrant keeping him on the Sabres as the team looks destined to struggle for the rest of the season. The team is at 2-7-0 on the year thus far and have scored a league-worst 1.11 goals per game. Were he pitching in more offensively, perhaps things would be different but Reinhart it took him seven games to register his first NHL point, a secondary assist in San Jose' on Saturday.

Tonight Reinhart will be between Nic Deslauriers and Cody McCormick on the fourth line again. Deslauriers scored a goal on a feed from McCormick after Reinhart worked the puck to him and the rookie feels as if they may have some chemistry. “I’ve felt with Deslauries and McCormick we’ve had some success and it was nice we finally buried one." he said, and for the kid a weight was lifted “Yes I think so, it’s always a relief, it’s a little later than I would’ve wanted, we had some success and it was just a matter of time.”

It's a tough situation when deciding Reinhart's fate. There's been marked game-to-game improvement even while playing only 10+ minutes per game and the kid has a definite feel for the game. But, he's still a kid and the decision that needs to be made is whether he's better off playing over 20 minutes a game in junior or 10 minutes a game with the Sabres.

We'll know the answer on Saturday before the team gets ready to face the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Sabres headed to Toronto with a little wind at their backs

Reprinted with permission from

It could have been disasterous. Well. About as disasterous as a last place team could expect.

The victory at San Jose' was a welcome reprieve from the ineptitude of the first two west coast contests and it provided the team with some postitives as it heads to Toronto tomorrow night.

First off, they were able to come out of the San Jose' contest with a win in regulation, the first time they could make that claim this season. Second, they showed they could score two goals, and they could do it with players not named Tyler Ennis, Zemgus Girgensons, Marcus Foligno and Torrey Mitchell, the only four players to have scored through the first eight games. The Sabres were also able to head into the third period with the lead for only the second time all season, and unlike their game against Carolina, were able to hold on to the lead.

So that's good.

What's even better is that the Sabres have two winnable games in front of them.

Sometimes, it doesn't matter what's on paper

Reprinted with permission from

The are times in sports where a lop-sided match-up on paper doesn't really matter.

Yesterday afternoon the Buffalo Sabres entered "The Shark Tank" with a 1-7-0 record on the year. They were on a four game losing streak, had been shut out in three of those games, and had been outscored 11-1 during that stretch.

Last season the Sabres had the worst record, by far, in the entire NHL and entered the season with less weapons than they had last season. Their top scorer coming in was Matt Moulson, a player traded three times last year, and a player who has tallied only two assists (both in separate games vs. Anaheim) this year. The Sabres no longer had their only true top-line forward in Thomas Vanek and they moved on from their #1 goalie, Ryan Miller.

The Sharks, on the other hand, boast some of the most consistent, veteran scorers in the league like Joe Thorton, Patrick Marleau and Joe Pavelski while Logan Couture Tomas Hertl are two of the best young forwards in the game. San Jose' has not missed the playoffs in over 10 years and although they came in to the contest yesterday on a three-game losing streak, they still were a very respectable 4-3-1 and having scored 27 goals to that point.

Just how lop-sided and uninteresting was this matinee yesterday? For the first time since December 3, 2009, a span of 206 games, the Shark Tank failed to sell out. Maybe the 192 fans who opted to stay home, thus preventing a sell-out, either had something better to do or knew something was up.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Sabres fans can take some solace in watching the Amerks for now

Reprinted with permission from

Buffalo Sabres fans are getting a bit of a reprieve from the wreckage as the team is off tonight after a back-to-back road set with two of the best teams in the league--the Anaheim Ducks and the Los Angeles Kings They'll resume tomorrow with a matinee in San Jose' vs. the Sharks.

Buffalo is still reeling from lack of scoring as they've been shutout in 3 of the last four games and managed just one goal in the other. They haven't been playing poorly, but they haven't been able to put the puck in the net either.

Only one player, Tyler Ennis, was able to pot a goal in those four games and as it stands, through eight games, the team has scored only eight goals. With only two points the team is in a last place tie with the Florida Panthers although the Sabres have played two more games.

Conversely, their farm team, the Rochester Americans, have gotten off to a excellent start with a 3-1 record through the first four games of the season. They've won back-to-back games and are looking to extend that streak against the Adirondack Flames, a team they beat 6-1 to open the season.

Unlike the Sabres, the Amreks are putting the puck in the net. Through four games they've scored 17 goals tied with the Milwaukee Admirals (four games) and the Albany Devils (seven games.) And their goaltend has been holding up real well too. Rochester has allowed 10 goals with six of them coming in a 6-4 loss vs. the Hamilton Bulldogs in the second game of the season.

Forward Phil Varone (2+4) and defenseman Chad Ruhwedel (1+5) lead the team in points, while two unlikely players, hard-working forward Tim Schaller and Akim Aliu, who is with the team on a 25-game professional tryout lead the team with three goals each. Ruhwedel leads all AHL defensemen in points. William Carrier, acquired in the Ryan Miller trade, is tied for the AHL lead in scoring amongst rookies with four points (1+3.)

Friday, October 24, 2014

Wanted. Difference-makers

Reprinted with permission from

After dropping a 4-1 decision at Anaheim last night, the Buffalo Sabres head up Interstate 5 for a meeting with the defending Stanley Cup Champion Los Angeles Kings. It's a tall task for the reeling club and doesn't get much easier as the rest of October looks like this: @ San Jose', @ Toronto, vs. Boston. At this stage of the game, and with the Sabres playing like they have, a win against the Leafs would constitute a minor miracle while anything more would be akin to St. Jude making an appearance.

This is not a bad team, though, unless you define a bad team as a lack of difference-makers. The 1974-75 Washington Capitals were a bad team. They had absolutely nothing to work with. I challenge anyone to go down that roster and find any player of consequence on that club. And if you thought Mike Weber's league worst minus-29 was bad last season, he would have been middle of the pack on that Caps team. In only 59 games played, defenseman Bill Mikkelsen was a minus-82.

Keep in mind that it was Washington's inaugural season and there really wasn't enough talent to go around the 18-team league especially with 12 teams in the rival WHA poaching players. Plus, there was another expansion team, the Kansas City Scouts (Colorado Rockies, NJ Devils) who had to stock their roster as well. The scraps that were thrown to the Caps and the Scouts to get their franchises moving amounted to some stale bread crumbs and chewed gristle, so an 8-67-5 record for Washington was not too surprising.

Forty years from now, people will have at least heard of Brian Gionta, a Stanley Cup-winner with the New Jersey Devils, and anyone who's even slightly interested in delving into the sport would probably recognize Tyler Myers' name. And when they look at the roster, they certainly will have at least seen the name Sam Reinhart, or even have had an opinion as to how his career went. Does anyone remember Greg Joly? He was the Caps first draft pick ever and the first player taken in the 1974 draft.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Amerks and Sabres hit the ice tonight while Connor McDavid faces off in Buffalo

Reprinted with permission from

The Buffalo Sabres are on the west coast for a three games in four nights road trip with stops in Anaheim tonight and Los Angeles tomorrow night (both games start at 10:30) before a 4pm matinee  with San Jose' on Saturday. With a 10:30 eastern start tonight, the Sabres can lay claim to the "feature" of tonight's double bill for Western New York hockey fans.

Two events are jostling for attention in the 7pm slot tonight as probable 2015 first overall pick, Connor McDavid, and his Erie Otters take on the Niagara Ice Dogs at the First Niagara Center, while the Rochester Americans are hosting the Rockford IceHogs.

It wouldn't be too far fetched to believe that the intrigue over McDavid will heavily outweigh any interest in the Amerks in the greater Buffalo area. McDavid is going to be a special talent in hockey and the Buffalo Sabres could very well be in a position to draft him in 2015. If your dreaming about the future and have never thought of travelling about to catch an junior hockey game, the Sabres are giving you the opportunity to go see one tonight in a familiar F'N Center setting.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Nikita Zadorov and three leagues, none of which are best for him

Reprinted with permission from

Thanks to Bill Hoppe of the Olean Times Herald, light was shed upon the Nikita Zadorov dilemma yesterday.

Going back to last Friday, Sabres head coach Ted Nolan was asked about the dilemma but he said that he couldn't "answer that question straight up." Zadorov has been a healthy scratch through the first six games of the season, but was not sent back to his junior team, the London Knights. Questions were being raised, and all that Nolan could say was that the team was "trying to do the best with the situation."

That situation has Zadorov as not quite ready for the NHL. He should be playing in the American Hockey League. But, as we know all too well, the agreement between the Canadian Hockey League and the NHL has no provisions for allowing 19 yr. old CHL/NHL tweeners an opportunity to develop at the AHL level. It's deja vu all over again for the Buffalo Sabres as they went through this same situation last season with Mikhail Grigorenko.

But there's a twist with "Big Z" this year.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

A manic weekend ends on a high, and a quick look at the coming week

Reprinted with permission from

When Buffalo Bills quarterback Kyle Orton tossed a touchdown pass to wide receiver Sammy Watkins with one second left to somehow pull out a victory, emergency rooms across Western New York let out a collective sigh. The area side-stepped a sports calamity the likes of which may not have been seen before in Buffalo.

The Sabres started it by getting shutout in back to back home games (Friday and Saturday.) According to Elias Sports Bureau, it's only the second time in franchise history Buffalo has been shutout in consecutive home games. The only other time it happened was in 1972 when they were shut out 2-0 by the Pittsburgh Penguins on Feb. 17 followed by a 4-0 shutout at the hands of Ken Dryden and the Montreal Canadiens on Feb. 20.

For their part, the Bills were set to give fans a reprieve from the malaise as they entered Ralph Wilson Stadium on Sunday with a game against a poor Minnesota Vikings team. Buffalo ended up as 6.5-point favorites which may be the largest spread as a favorite since Doug Marrone took over as head coach last season.

But, were it not for Orton and Watkins, with quick plugs to tight end Scott Chandler and wide receiver Chris Hogan both of whom made huge plays on the game-winning drive, sports fans in Buffalo would have been out of their minds.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Rivalry Saturday

Reprinted with permission from

Both the Rochester Americans and Buffalo Sabres face familiar foes today as the Amerks hit the road for a game with the Toronto Marlies while the Sabres play host to the Boston Bruins.

Rochester kicks things off at 3 pm with a match in Toronto. The Marlies swept the Amerks in the playoffs in the 2012 and 2013. Last season the teams split their 10 game series winning five apiece. The Amerks have won two of the last three.

Forward Johan Larsson and defenseman Chad Ruhwedel lead the team in scoring with four points apiece (each with a goal.) Mark Pysyk, who was sent to Rochester yesterday along with fellow defenseman Jake McCabe, should be in the lineup this afternoon. Pysyk played extremely well last season with both Buffalo and Rochester and looked like a lock to make the Sabres opeining roster. He played one shift in his first game of the preseason and went out with a shoulder injury.

Pysyk's assignment to Rochester should be deemed nothing more than a conditioning stint. When he's ready he'll be back up in Buffalo. Tonight he'll be on the top pairing with Drew Bagnall.

McCabe isn't expected in the lineup until the Amerks begin a three games in four night stretch on Wednesday in Rochester vs. the Rockford Ice Hogs.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

The Sabres host Florida tonight as the roster begins to take shape

Reprinted with permission from

When the Buffalo Sabres opened the regular season on October 9th, they had five players injured--G, Matt Hackett; F, Patrick Kaleta; F, Johan Larsson; D, Mark Pysyk; D, Jake McCabe.

Hackett is still recovering from a knee injury after a nasty collision took him out last season while Kaleta is back on the ice in a non-contact uniform.

Kaleta was hit in the face by a puck that, according to the winger, “Broke a bunch of things in there." He went on to say that behind his full face shield are three plates and 14 screws which are now a part of him. And although he still has blood in his eye from the slapshot, “I went through all the tests with my eyeball," he said, "and I’m blessed and lucky my eyesight is good, knock on wood, so far. Everything else was pretty much crushed, I guess." Save for his spirit.

He's back on the ice skating with the team after being out only three weeks and he's itchin' to get back out there. “I’m probably going to let the plates and the screws settle a little bit. Other than that, once I get the green light, I’m ready to go whether my face is broken or not.”

Friday, October 17, 2014

Tyler Myers, Sam Reinhart, and other thoughts

Reprinted with permission from

The Tyler Myers rumors are cranking up again fueled by TSN's Darren Dreger.

For Dreger, it's becoming old hat to trot out Myers' name in his Insider Trading segment. Back in February when the rumor mill was cranking for the impending trade deadline, Dreger was invited on WGR Radio to discuss word that the Sabres' were getting interest in Myers from teams like the Colorado Avalanche, Anaheim Ducks, Edmonton Oilers and the always present Toronto Maple Leafs.

Dreger noted that Sabres GM Tim Murray wasn't actively shopping Myers and that a rebuilding team should at least entertain offers for a perceived top-pairing defenseman. He emphasized that Myers would not just be given away and mentioned that Murray would probably looking for a young roster player, a prospect and a draft pick.

As the trade deadline came and went with Myers staying put, rumors subsided until July when the Detroit Red Wings were said to be interested in him. Wings GM Ken Holland was looking for a right handed d-man during the stretch run and had his eyes set on Vancouver's, Alexander Edler.

That fell through and to make matters worse in Hockeytown, Detroit, uncharacteristically, was unable to land top free agents on July 1st. "Our hope was to acquire a right-shot defenseman," GM Ken Holland said at the time. "We made offers to four or five. For a variety of reasons, they chose to go elsewhere."

Thursday, October 16, 2014

No avoiding it, the "Pew Wee Sabres" are looking at a possible 0-4 start...

Reprinted with permission from

but luckily tonight they play another pointless team in the Carolina Hurricanes.

The Buffalo Sabres have never started out a season 0-4, and only twice in franchise history have they started 0-3. That would be last year and this year. Those are the positives for the club heading into tonight's game in Raleigh, NC.

But, on the flipside, they went 1-8-4 in the second game of back-to-backs last season, and according to head coach Ted Nolan, it may seem as if the team will be playing 3-on-20 when they hit the ice in

After yesterday's home debacle against the Anaheim Ducks, Nolan was asked how frustrating it was having only two players score goals in the three games played thus far (Zemgus Girgensons, 2 and Tyler Ennis, 2.) "Those are the probably the only two guys that worked," said Nolan. "It's pretty hard to have two forwards and maybe one defenseman that's doing it [on a nightly basis.]"

The defenseman Nolan might have been alluding to is Tyler Myers. He leads the team in average TOI/game at 25:24 and is sporting an even plus/minus rating so far. And that's with Buffalo's league-worst 4.67 gaa/game.

Interesting to note that both Girgensons and Ennis are also at an even rating.

Minus those three and maybe a couple of others, there's no sense of desperation on the team. It's to the point that some, like Andrej Meszaros, play as if they've checked out already. A mere three games into the season.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Matinee game plus the Bills, Bailey and the 2016 NHL All-Star Game

Reprinted with permission from

No one will ever be able to convince me that bad officiating has nothing to do with a loss.

Momentum plays a huge part in every sport and a bad call during the course of a game can keep a team from gaining or stopping momentum at any point in the contest. It happened yesterday in the Bills vs. New England as it did the week before at Detroit. What bad calls at crucial times do is keep a team at bay, just out of reach of the favorite (maybe, favored?) or it will keep an underdog team from getting too far ahead.

Although the Bills didn't lay an egg in the second half because of poor or one-sided officiating, a couple of bad calls at crucial moments made their task much more difficult, if not insurmountable. That's how officiating affects the outcome.

It happens in football, it happens in baseball and it happens a lot in basketball.

Bad calls happen in hockey as well and may have something to do with the outcome, but it's something that can be countered by the great equalizer--the goaltender. A tough goalie can single-handedly swing the momentum back.

Monday, October 13, 2014

A tale of two teams

Reprinted with permission from

Before we get to hockey, for the first time since 1960, the Buffalo Bills will officially have a new owner at kickoff.

Buffalo Sabres owner Terry Pegula and his wife Kim were approved as owners of the Bills on Wednesday and will be in the owner's box today as the Bills take on archrival New England for first place in the division.

The question asked often is what will the Pegula's do with the management structure and coaching staff? Will they keep them or will they clean house and bring in "their own people."

About the only thing we can hope for is that the Pegula's are intent upon having the best minds possible to run the team. If the best minds happen to be President and CEO Russ Brandon, GM Doug Whaley and head coach Doug Marrone, so be it. I happen to like Whaley and Marrone, but I'm pretty sure that the Pegula's investment of $1.4B to purchase the Bills might just trump this bloggers opinion.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Round-2 for Rochester and Buffalo

Reprinted with permission from

Both the Rochester Americans and Buffalo Sabres will be in action tonight finish off a back-to-back homestand to start the season while the Sabres head to Chicago to face the Blackhawks in their second game of this young season.

The Amerks are coming off a 6-1 drubbing of the Adirondack Flames in their opener. After a sluggish start, Rochester potted three goals in both the second and third periods as six different Amerks scored.

Tim Schaller opened up the scoring shaking off a Flames defender and rifling a quick shot low, far-side. After Adirondack tied it, Mikhail Grigorenko snapped a wicked wrister top-shelf and Chad Ruhwedel buried a 4-on-3 powerplay goal to put the Amerks up by two.

Assisting on the Grigorenko goal was Joel Armia and head coach Chadd Cassidy, after juggling lines to try and find something that worked, thinks he may have found a good combination. "Once we got Grigorenko and Armia together, they dominated from the second period on," he said in today's pregame interview with Don Stevens.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

A Rochester Amerks preview as they get ready to hit the ice tonight.

Reprinted with permission from

The Rochester Americans kick off their season at home tonight vs. the Adirondack Flames in what will be a pretty important year for both Rochester and the Buffalo Sabres. An AHL club is almost always the main feeder for the parent club and over the next few seasons the Amerks will be an integral link to any future successes of the Sabres.

Names like Nicholas Baptiste, JT Compher, Justin Bailey, Anthony Florentino and Brendan Lemieux will more than likely be passing through Rochester on their way to the NHL over the course of the next few seasons and they'll take their place within the mix of draft picks, free agents, borderline NHL'ers, career AHL'ers and players on pro tryouts.

In this, like every other season, an array of players will be hitting the ice for the Amerks, but this season seems to have more of a veteran look to it. That will change over the course of this season as it does every year, but for now head coach Chadd Cassidy will have only a handful of rookies when they hit the ice. What he and his coaching staff will be looking for is individual growth and improvement from all of his players in an environment (the AHL) which is constantly changing.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Buffalo Sabres 2014-15 Preview

Reprinted with permission from

Time to crank it up. It's been a long wait for Sabres' hockey but tonight it's game on.

If ever there was a season that's tough to predict, this would be the one for Buffalo. They're coming off of a last place finish in 2013-14 and have a slew of youngins on the team this year, something which has most thinking that another last place finish is a foregone conclusion. But this past July the Sabres brought in (or brought back) solid vets that have some thinking the team might end up knocking on the playoff door.

Where will they end up? It's tough to say, but here's what we'll be looking at this season.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Done deal. Welcome to Pegulaville

Reprinted with permission from

Just about four years ago, there were rumors beginning to swirl about some guy that had an interest in buying the Buffalo Sabres. Then owner Tom Golisano had never officially put the "For Sale" sign on the franchise, but he was ready to sell. To the right person.

That "right person" happened to be a guy named Terry Pegula.

Pegula had just sold the company he founded, East Resources, for $4.7B, was flush with cash and he wanted to own a hockey team, most notably the Buffalo Sabres. He had just made a huge $88M donation to his alma mater, Penn State, to start a Div. 1 hockey program complete with a state of the art arena, and was ready to go all-in on a National Hockey League franchise. As luck would have it, the Sabres happened to be available.

It's important to note that the vultures had been swirling around the franchise ever since the league took control of the team in 2002. Along with it, rumors of the team moving, specifically with a possible purchase by Jim Balsillie, and him moving it to Hamilton, ON, constantly plagued the team.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

One cut needed, one-eye on the waiver-wire, plus--the captains

Reprinted with permission from

The Sabres have finally named their captains: Brian Gionta will wear the "C" while Josh Gorges and Matt Moulson will be alternates.

New Buffalo Sabres captain Brian Gionta
is flanked byalternate captains Josh Gorges (l)
and Matt Moulson (r)
(photo courtesy, sabrespr.)

Yesterday forwards Mikhail Grigorenko and Zac Dalpe (pending waivers) were sent to Rochester. Those moves brought the Buffalo Sabres roster down to 24 active players. Three players--forwards Johan Larsson and Patrick Kaleta and defenseman Mark Pysyk--are on the injured list. In addition, goalie Matt Hackett, who would need to clear waivers, is also injured.

Both Kaleta and Hackett will be out for at least another month or two. Pysyk is close to returning from an upper body injury, but will probably miss the opener while Larsson has been on the ice skating in a non-contact jersey. He is recovering from what's believed to have been a concussion.

Because of those injuries, Sabres GM Tim Murray has plenty of roster flexibility and will only need to make one cut today.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Let's play--Name the Captains

Reprinted with permission from

On Thursday, the Buffalo Sabres start their 2014-15 season with a home opener vs. the Columbus Blue Jackets and despite head coach Ted Nolan's proclamations that he'd name a captain earlier, it hasn't happened yet.

That will probably happen today as the team took the weekend off an will begin preparations for Thursday's game with a practice today. It should be a busy day as the team needs to make some moves to get to the final 23-man roster tomorrow.

One of the decisions will involve 18 yr. old Sam Reinhart, their 2014 2nd-round pick and whether or not they'll give him a look of up to nine games before he heads back to junior. Personally, others deserve the spot more than him, most notably, Mikhail Grigorenko.

"Grigo" is a 2012 first-rounder who came into camp ready to prove he wasn't a prima donna. Mission accomplished. Although he really needs to spend the entire year in Rochester, Grigorenko should be rewarded for his work with a few games while the Sabres get healthier upfront.

Another tough decision is who will land a spot on defense while Mark Pysyk recovers from his upper-body injury. Rookie Jake McCabe is going to be a stud and really looks as if he's ready to make the jump to the NHL as a soon to be 21-yr. old.

It's either McCabe or Tyson Strachan, a journeyman 29 yr. old defenseman with 138 games of NHL experience including 18 games last season with Washington. Originally when Strachan was signed on July 3 to a one-year contract, it was thought to be a depth-move. But he really impressed at camp and in preseason games. He's also someone who should get rewarded for his work. He'll be down in Rochester soon enough, should he clear waivers.

Monday, October 6, 2014

A tough Friday night for Buffalo and Rochester

Reprinted with permission from

The sentence reads:

A slow start and poor special teams play plagued the __________  __________ in their _________ Hockey League preseason _________ on Friday night.

To which team does that headline belong to? The Buffalo Sabres or Rochester Americans?

For those who listened to or watched the Sabres last night in Carolina, a slow start that lasted through the first two periods put the Sabres in a hole from which they would not recover en route to a 5-1 drubbing at the hands of the Carolina Hurricanes. The 'Canes built a 4-0 lead before the Sabres scored their only goal with less than five minutes to go in the second period.

Some stout goaltending by Carolina goalie Cam Ward kept the Sabres off the board in the first period. He robbed Zemgus Girgensons after a sweet, knee-sliding, no-look backhand feed from defenseman Nikita Zadorov. Ward kicked out his pad and barely got his left toe on the shot headed far-side.

He also kicked out his left pad to rob former Hurricane, Zac Dalpe, on a point blank shot while the Sabres were on their second powerplay of the period.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Sabres at 'Canes for last preseason game, plus...

Reprinted with permission from

The Buffalo Sabres are in Raleigh, NC tonight getting ready for their final preseason against the Carolina Hurricanes. And for a handful of players, this will be the last chance for them to impress before a decision is made on where they'll start the season.

It was a spirited, workmanlike 2014 training camp full of competition for roster spots, something that was a focal point of the organization heading into camp.

One of the players battling for a spot is Sabres defenseman Tyson Strachan who was signed by GM Tim Murray to a one-year deal back in early July. The well-traveled journeyman came into camp this season with promises from the Sabres that there would be an open competition for what roster spots were available. And to him, the team delivered on that promise.

"Honestly, that was what they told me in July, and I think that’s what they’re doing now,” defenseman Tyson Strachan said yesterday. “Really, at the end of the day, that’s all you can hope for and all you can appreciate is getting a fair look and being given the opportunity. What you do with it is on you.”

Strachan has performed very well thus far and the former 5th round pick (137th overall) will have another opportunity to show what he can offer while playing against the team that drafted him back in 2003.

Friday, October 3, 2014

One more step for Mikhail Grigorenko

Buffalo Sabres forward Mikhail Grigorenko's struggles since making his NHL debut have been well documented. The 12th overall pick in the 2012 draft first hit the ice on January 20, 2013 in a 5-2 Buffalo win vs. Philadelphia. The NHL was beginning it's lockout-shortened season and for him it would be the beginning of a tumultuous journey that now has him on the precipice of making the Buffalo Sabres roster to start the 2014-15 season.

A quick re-cap of Grigorenko's Journey:
  • On January 29, 2013, Grigorenko plays his sixth game for the club as the team decides to keep him in Buffalo instead of sending him back to his junior team, the Quebec Remparts. His three-year entry-level deal kicks in.
  • Is a healthy scratch on February 10, for the second time in the season (the first was to prolong the decision on his staying with the team.) Up to that point he had played in 12 games scoring one goal and two assists while posting a minus-2 rating. The team was 5-7-1 at the time.
  • He plays in two of the next four games, the team goes 1-3 and on February 20, 2013, long-time head coach Lindy Ruff is fired. Ron Rolston is named interim coach.
  • On March 16, former Sabres GM Darcy Regier sends Grigorenko to Quebec for their playoff run in a move he says "Is driven by what is best for Mikhail and best for his career.”
  • Grigorenko returns to Buffalo for three games after Quebec is eliminated from the Memorial Cup. He finishes the season with one goal and four assists in 25 games. He also played in two playoff games for the Rochester Americans. It was a lost year on his entry-level contract for the team to which Regier replied, "It was an experiment."
  • Grigorenko starts the 2013-14 season with the Sabres under Regier and head coach Ron Rolston. He plays in 15 of the team's first 20 games before Regier and Rolston are fired on November 13, 2013. He had two goals, one assist and was a minus-3 to that point. The team was 4-15-1 at the time.
  • Pat LaFontaine is hired as President of Hockey Ops and Ted Nolan becomes interim coach. Grigorenko plays in three games before the team tries to buy some time by sending the 19 yr. old to Rochester for a two week "conditioning assignment." The CHL cries foul, citing an agreement with the NHL and the team must make a choice--the NHL or the CHL.
  • He plays three of the ensuing eight games for the Sabres.
  • On December 5, 2013, Buffalo loans Grigorenko to Russia for the World Juniors, buying the team more time.
  • Russia wins the bronze medal, Grigorenko leads the team with five goals and eight points in seven games.
  • The Sabres decide to send him to Quebec on January 11, 2014. Grigorenko refuses to accept the assignment.
  • The following day he apologizes and on January 13, 2014, he reports to Quebec. In 23 games he scores 15 goals and adds 24 assists for the Remparts.
  • After Quebec is eliminated from the Memorial Cup, Grigorenko heads to Rochester. He plays in nine regular season games registering four assists as well as five playoff games where he was held off the scoresheet.
  • Grigorenko arrives at Sabres Develpoment Camp in July bigger and stronger. He now weighs in at 219 lbs. The coaches and staff take notice.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Girgensons yawns on GR. Plus Reinhart and Grigorenko

Reprinted with permission from

The WGR morning guys must have woken up Sabres center Zemgus Girgensons a tad early to day for a phone interview. At the 4:40 mark, Girgensons was answering a comment by Sal Capaccio about his strong command of the English language when a yawn emerged.

Being the tropper that he is, Girgensons never trudged on through and answered the question throughout the gaping yawn. Jeremy White, was at the helm as Howard Simon was off and tried to smooth things out by bringing the very short 5:30 interview to a respectable close.

Still not sure what caused the yawn, a late night, over exertion from training camp or a previous question (statement?) from White that lasted over 40 seconds.

If WGR is looking to have "Gus" on regularly, they may want to push his timeslot back an hour or two so that he may fully wake up before the call.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

More headed to Rochester, plus injury notes

Reprinted with permission from

Chris Ryndak of says that seven players have been sent to Rochester:  Forwards Joel Armia, Matt Ellis, and Tim Schaller; defensemen Drew Bagnall and Nick Petrecki; and goaltenders Nathan Lieuwen and Andrey Makarov.

Lieuwen and Makarov both had starts with Buffalo and both played very well in losses. They'll hit Rochester and battle it out for the #1 goalie spot with the Amerks.

Unlike last season, Armia looks to be starting his second season in North America injury. Last year he suffered an injury in a preseason game and was sidelined for six weeks. He had a decent training camp and is looking for consistency in Rochester.

Schaller and Petrecki are young players who got their taste of the NHL and look to bring it in the AHL while Ellis and Bagnall are seasoned veterans who will need to clear waivers in order to stick with the organization.

Bagnall, it should be noted, played a big part in the development of Rasmus Ristolainen last season. Some youngin, probably Jake McCabe, will end up with Bagnall on the top pair and will be a better player for it.