Sunday, November 30, 2014

Another game, another cheapshot, but Sabres down Habs

Reprinted with permission from

For the second game in a row a supposedly superior team was rankled by the Sabres to the point where one of their players delivered a cheapshot to a Buffalo player.

Unlike the last game where Winnipeg Jets Adam Lowry smoked noted pest Patrick Kaleta with a match penalty boarding call (for which Lowry was suspended one game,) Sabres captain Brian Gionta was laid out by a head shot from the Habs Alexander Emelin.

With the game tied 1-1 and less than two minutes left in the third period Emelin uncorked an elbow to the head of an unsuspecting Gionta which sent him to the ice. The Sabres captain would get up from the hit and go full-bore into the ensuing scrum to get at Emelin.

(thx to SomeHockeyVideos)

Saturday, November 29, 2014

What to do with Chris Stewart

Reprinted with permission from

For a very long time the Sabres seemed to have been in the market for a big powerforward with grit who could skate top-nine minutes and drop the gloves whenever necessary.

Back in 2009 when the core was being whipped around like ragdolls on a nightly basis, former team president Larry Quinn and GM Darcy Regier, along with Head Scout Kevin Devine thought they had found the answer. After a some seasoning, 13th-overall pick Zack Kassian would surely be that guy.

I remember the draft party was held at the Albright Knox Art Gallery for the first round that year and when Kassian's name was called, thousands of chests pumped in unison as management and Sabres' fans were sure they found their very own Milan Lucic.

The Sabres drafted some hefty boys that year. Along with the 6'3" 210 lb. Kassian, they drafted 6'5" 200 lb. Brayden McNabb in the third round and Marcus Foligno (6'4" 223 lbs.,) in the fourth. Neither Kassian or McNabb are with the team anymore. Kassian was a the main target for Vancouver in the Cody Hodgson trade (February 27, 2012) while Tropp was waived by the Sabres on November 27, 2013 and was picked up by the Columbus Blue Jackets the following day.

Foligno is lugging through his third full season with the Sabres.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Thanks, and Happy Thanksgiving

When I wake up in the morning with some creaks and cranks that let me know ain't gettin' any younger, I still try to throw a big "thanks" to the universe.

I've been blessed with good health, have a big, wonderful, warm family, a roof over my head, clothes to wear and food to eat. I also have a real job that I enjoy, plus a gig here on hockeybuzz that allows me to pour thoughts on a page and interact with a very cool group of individuals.

It's Thanksgiving, and although I don't carry around a wad of Ben's with a supermodel on each arm or have a Bentley or a spread in Malibu, I'm very cool with what I do have. Not that I still don't have wants, but, I'm doin' alright and consider myself pretty lucky.

That being said, there are those who are in different situations with different outlooks. And that's cool too. Like I was told some time ago, someone will always be better off than you and someone will always be worse off. And it's within that context that we should keep in mind the words of the great philosopher, Homie, "Welcome All."

For those livin' large, for those who keep it tight and for those trudgin' through some troubles:

Happy Thanksgiving.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Some orgainzational movement

Reprinted with permission from

It's been a few days since the Buffalo Sabres extended their win streak to three game, but the down-time hasn't gone by without a little intrigue.

On Sunday the team sent goalie Nathan Lieuwen back to Rochester as the injured Michal Neuvirth has progressed quicker than expected. Neuvirth will be backing up Jhonas Enroth on Wednesday when the Sabres take on the visiting Winnipeg Jets at the First Niagara Center.

Neuvirth suffered a bruised knee against San Jose' last Tuesday and as luck would have it, the Sabres only had one other game on the schedule, a Saturday tilt at Washington. Enroth was stellar in net vs. San Jose' in relief and again on Saturday giving up only one goal in each contest while facing a total of 64 shots in five periods of play.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

On Edmonton/Buffalo and McDavid. Plus Rolston/Marrone

Reprinted with permission from

The Buffalo Sabres have some company at the bottom of the league thanks to a three game winning streak that boosted their record to 6-13-2, good for 21 points. It's the exact same record as the Edmonton Oilers who are presently on a four-game slide. The Oilers hold the "tie-breaker" via their six regulation/overtime wins. Buffalo has four.

I won't claim to know what's going on in Edmonton, but perhaps they're thinking that they can finally time it right to land a franchise-type player at the top of the 2015 Draft. For three consecutive years (2010-2012) they had the first-overall pick in drafts that were generally pretty good but not great. And even though they bookended that run with a No. 10 in 2009, a 7th in 2013 and a 3rd in 2014, they're still struggling.

With all that top-end talent (six top-10 picks,) something isn't right once again this season. Regardless if it's a tank job or just incompetence on the part of their entire hockey department it has to be embarrassing. Especially to their dedicated fan-base.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Nikita Zadorov "finds his way"

Reprinted with permission from

Just about a month ago, the Buffalo Sabres were in a bit of a quandary with defensive prospect Nikita Zadorov as he was caught in the middle of a tug-of-war.

At the time Zadorov wasn't ready for the NHL, but he had outgrown the CHL and even though he'd be a man against boys, if need be, the Sabres were prepared to send him to the OHL's London Knights. Basically, two things kept him out of London and in a state of limbo in Buffalo--his aversion to playing junior hockey and CSKA Moscow's (KHL) refusal to sign a release for him to play there.

If Buffalo had sent Zadorov to the OHL, he could have ended up playing in the KHL instead, something that the Sabres really weren't interested in. So they were forced to keep him with the team.

As Zadorov is readying himself to suit up for his 10th game for the Sabres this season, thus kicking in his entry-level contract, it would seem as if the team was able to make some lemonade out of the lemons handed them.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Rochester the only game in town this weekend

Reprinted with permission from

Based upon historical statistics, Buffalo is the third snowiest city in New York State behind Syracuse and Rochester. Syracuse, according to, averages 123.8 inches of snow per year, much more than Rochester with 99.5 and Buffalo's 94.7 inches. All three cities are adversely affected by lake-effect snow as evidenced by the "Wall of Snow" that dumped on the snowbelt areas south of Buffalo.

Having gone through the Blizzard of '77 and climbing up 6' mounds of snow just to (hopefully) get to the front door to deliver the Tonawanda News, I can't imagine trucking across a blanket of snow that is 5 or 6 feet high.

Godspeed to everyone caught in this mess.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Sabres score four, win 2nd in a row. Are the Leafs Tanking?

Reprinted with permission from

Before we get to a strange anomaly in the sportsworld--the Buffalo Sabres domination of the San Jose' Sharks--the Toronto Maple Leafs got chrushed last night at home.

The "non-traditional hockey market's" Nashville Predators laid a good old-fashioned southern-style 9-2 whooping on the boys from the self-described "Center of the Hockey Universe." The nine goals by the Preds tied a franchise record initially set in 2006 vs. Calgary.

This is the second loss in a row for Toronto and the second game in a row their fans displayed their anger and disgust by throwing their Leafs' regalia on the ice, although this time a Leafs' sweater was thrown on the ice during live play. Three nights prior, the Buffalo Sabres had pounded the Leafs 6-2 and frustrated Toronto hockey fans littered the First Niagara Center ice with a jersey and some scarves.

Although the Leafs are still a very respectable 9-8-2, no one can tell me that the thought of Connor McDavid donning the blue and white hasn't crossed the mind of Team President Brendan Shanahan. McDavid is from Newmarket, Ontario, just outside of Toronto and could take his place as a Zeus-type god sitting high atop Mount Maple Leaf.

Despite their self-perceived "holy" status in the hockey world, they've not been able to lure a true superstar to the Air Canada Center and like the Buffalo's and Edmonton's of the sportsworld, maybe the only way to get one is by picking at the top of the draft. With the Toronto languishing in mediocrity over the past nine seasons, and this year possibly spinning out of control, a nose dive to the lower eschelon of the league may well be in the cards.

It's something to keep an eye on and with deft PR work they can "tank with style."

After all, they're Canadian franchises that do things the right way. Right?
Last night the Sabres continued their mastery over the San Jose' Sharks, a team that has not missed the playoffs since the 2002-03 season.

With last night's 4-1 defeat at Buffalo, the Sharks are now winless against the Sabres in their last eight matchups (0-7-1.) The last time San Jose' beat Buffalo was January 23, 2010. During that span the Sabres have changed ownership, changed general managers, are on their third coach, were the worst team in the league last season and are well on their way to a bottom-finish this year.

In all, Buffalo is 16-1-0 vs. San Jose' at home. The only time the Sharks have come out on top in Buffalo was December 6, 2005.

Go figure.

Captain Brian Gionta would finally get off the schneid scoring two goals, including an empty-netter while another Brian, he of the surname, Flynn, collected a goal and an assist. The two Brian's had Torrey Mitchell as their other winger and although he didn't hit the scoresheet, Mitchell was a plus-3 for the night.

Another shot of the "Wall of Snow" pummeling
the Southtowns.
The game itself was played while areas just south of the city were being crippled by an immense "Wall of Snow". It was an epic storm which dumped six feet of lake-effect snow in just 24 hours. The clearly defined line of the storm spared downtown Buffalo and areas north which is why the game was played. There were 6,200 fans in attendance last night.

Oddly enough, this wasn't the first time that the Sharks would come to town and play a game with catastrophe surrounding the city.

On Thursday, February 12, 2009 a commuter plane crashed into a home in Amherst, a suburb of Buffalo. The crash killed all 49 people on board plus, miraculously, just one on the ground.

47 yr. old Arturs Irbe, former NHL goalie
and present Sabres goalie coach,
puts on that pads as insurance for the team.

The Sabres would host the Sharks the following night and come up with a 6-5 shootout win. Former Sabres coach Lindy Ruff had questioned whether the game should have been played at all, but with the outcome as it was said afterwards, "I think, yeah, ever so small, this event turned out to be a positive night. Though it is a hockey game, it was a good ending. It's a positive feeling. We needed it. I think our fans needed it."

For posterity's sake, Jason Pominville tipped defenseman Craig Rivet's point shot past the Sharks' Evgeni Nabakov to tie the score with only four seconds left in the game. "Obviously, it's been a real tough day for all of Buffalo," captain Rivet said. "If we could somehow ease some of the pain, I hope it'll help."

Were not sure how many fans were able to watch the Sabres win their second in a row while buried under Mother Natures fury, but hopefully it helped.

The Sabres played an entertaining game that once again saw them skate hard play solid defense and rally around goalie Jhonas Enroth who entered the game after starter Michal Neuvirth was injured. Buffalo was limited to only 14 shots but would score on four of them which would cause Sharks coach Todd McClellan to remark, we come out in the second and third period and play dumb hockey. Just flat-out dumb. Pinching, giving up two on ones, three on twos. We had only given up 10 shots after two periods and we're down (3-1). Just dumb hockey."
"You don't win at any level playing like that. You don't beat any type of team playing like that."

Enroth could have sued for lack of support in nearly every game this season as the team couldn't produce much of anything. In the 10 games he started for the Sabres prior to last night, Enroth went 1-8-1. During that span the Sabres were shutout four times, including back-to-back games, and scored only one goal on two other occasions.

With Neuvirth down and the Sabres without a back up, head coach Ted Nolan made the call to former goalie and present goalie coach, Arturs Irbe, who was up in the pressbox. After quickly signing a pro try-out contract, Irbe strapped on some goalie gear featuring Enroth's pads as well as a glove and blocker from former Sabres goalie, Ryan Miller. His helmet came from "parts unknown."

"It’s not the comfortable equipment I’m used to,” said Irbe. “But I had to preserve, put it on. It took a while. Much longer than it usually takes – it’s been seven years. And that was it. By the start of the third period, I was, just in case ready. It was a fun feeling."

Nolan could have used a skater to be back-up, but turned to Irbe. “We started scrambling, looking for options and it’s a snow day, No. 1. And No. 2, it’s Independence Day for Latvia, for our tiny country today,” Irbe said after the game. “Ted said, “Arch, why don’t you be our security net just in case?’

“I said, ‘Ted, I haven’t donned a uniform in seven years.’

“He said, ‘It’s doesn’t matter. Now you will.’"

The Sabres are on a bit of a roll these days having won two in a row and looking like a real NHL team. Nolan has them playing good, solid hockey and their willingness to drive to the net is starting to produce some goals.

Where this all ends up this season is yet to be determined, but if anyone thought that the Sabres would be alone at the bottom of the league and a clear-cut favorite in the "Connor McDavid Sweepstakes," they'll be sadly mistaken.

There are many teams who've been on that 10th-place treadmill to nowhere and although none will admit it, a player like McDavid, or Jack Eichel, is their way to finally get off of it. Only one team right now is in full rebuild-mode, and that's Buffalo, but there are a number of teams who could easily blow it up and start their rebuild this year with a shot at one of those two franchise-type players

How they do it, and how they'll be perceived as they tumble to the bottom, is another matter. But they all know where a fall leads.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Sharks at Sabres a go as a dump truck of snow hits the southtowns

Despite an early storm that's literally dumping snow by the foot just outside downtown Buffalo, tonight's game will go on.

The official press release from goes like this:

Tonight’s Buffalo Sabres game against the San Jose Sharks, taking place at 7:30 p.m. at First Niagara Center, will be played as scheduled. Due to the inclement weather and dangerous driving conditions in some areas of Western New York, the Sabres organization is urging anyone planning to attend tonight’s game to obey all local traffic advisories and driving bans. Those who decide it is safe to travel to tonight’s game are encouraged to use caution and allow for extra driving time to the arena.

Fans are also reminded that the game will be televised on NBCSN and the radio broadcast will be available on WGR 550.

Fans who are unable to attend tonight’s game will be able to exchange their unused tickets from tonight’s game for tickets to a future Sabres game (list of games below). Tickets and location will be based on availability.

For an idea of just what's happening with this storm, here's a pic that's been making the rounds. It's a shot from downtown Buffalo looking south towards the snowbelt:

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Dominik Hasek heads to the Hall. Na Zdravi, Dominator

Reprinted with permission form

In as much as Taro Tsujimoto is legendary in Buffalo and around the league for being a 10th round draft pick that never existed, tonight the NHL will induct a real Sabres' legend into the Hockey Hall of Fame, Dominik Hasek.

The Czechoslovakian native was drafted in the 10th round of the 1983 NHL Entry Draft as an 18 yr. old by the Chicago Blackhawks but he was unable to come to North America because his nation was behind the Berlin Wall. When that fell in 1990, he began his trek to the Hall as backup to fellow rookie Eddie "The Eagle" Belfour for the Chicago.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Buffalo thumps Toronto 6-2 and Happy Birthday Taro Tsujimoto

Reprinted with permission from

For the first time this season, the Buffalo Sabres looked like an NHL team as they put in a 60-minute effort full of skating, hitting, top-notch goaltending and scoring. That their best performance of the year against a rival like Toronto, complete with a Leaf-nation invasion of First Niagara Center that turned sour, made it even better.

Despite giving up six goals in each of the previous three games, there were glimmers of hope beginning to emerge, especially on the offensive side of the equation. Head coach Ted Nolan had been juggling players, lines and positions more than an act at a three-ring circus, which is something this team had looked like for most of the season thus far.

It would seem as if he finally has one line he can rely on. Two games ago against St. Louis, Nolan put Zemgus Girgensons at center between left wing Matt Moulson and converted center Tyler Ennis. Although they didn't produce any scoring as a line, there was a noticeable chemistry between them which includes the defensive side where as a trio they were not on the ice for either of the Blues even strength goals.

In Minnesota they began click. Just over one minute into the game, they would tap into Nolan's "Latvian Line" play and were instrumental in Rasmus Ristolainen's first goal of the season. Girgensons, who was the catalyst in the Wild offensive zone on that goal, also scored his fourth of the season that game. Despite the Sabres losing 6-3 that trio had a stat-line of one goal, three assists and were a plus-3.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Rick Jenneret on the call. Ted Nolan looking for the "want" in players

Reprinted with permission from

Legendary Buffalo Sabres play-by-play man Rick Jeanneret will be calling the first period of tonight's game against the visiting Toronto Maple Leafs. Jeanneret has been battling throat cancer all summer and has said that he is now "cancer free."

Back in July when he announced he had stage III cancer--where the cancer is within the general region where it first began--Jeanrette said he'd be back. 'I would like to stress I have every intention of coming back,' he told Alan Pergament of the Buffalo news back in July. 'I have probably three months ahead of me that aren’t going to be fun. I know they aren’t going to be.'

After three months of radiation and chemo therapy, doctors declared him cancer free and Jeanneret is now easing his way back into the broadcast booth. "The time seems right to slowly begin transitioning back to work,” Jeanneret said in a statement released yesterday. “My doctors have told me I’m cancer free and I’m feeling well enough to get back in the booth, even if it’s only on a limited basis for the time being."

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Half-blind after watching the Sabres and Bills last night

Reprinted with permission from

Any Buffalo sports fan who had one eye on the Sabres game and the other on the Bills last night is lucky to be able to see this morning. The Sabres lost 6-3 at Minnesota while the Bills turned in a clunker at Miami 22-9 in a game that had playoff implications despite being played in mid-November.

For Sabres' fans, losses are expected, unfortunately. All they're asking for is an honest effort and that Connor McDavid stops getting into fights. Yet, for as bad as this year has gone, these last two losses vs. a very strong St. Louis Blues club and a very good Wild team have provided some positives that look to be longstanding.

Against the Blues they managed to keep it relatively close for most of the game while pulling up their man pants and actually sticking up for each other and last night they scored three goals. It was the first time they've scored more than two goals in a game since their three-goal "outburst" against Carolina on October 14th.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Kaleta's back. Deslauriers is (kind of) sorry, and the Sabres "Twin Towers"

Reprinted with permission from

One year ago today, after starting the 2013-14 season with an NHL-worst 4-15-1 record, the Buffalo Sabres fired long-time general manager Darcy Regier and head coach Ron Rolston.

Owner Terry Pegula made the announcement and said of the decision, "[Regier] didn't do what he did by himself. There was input from many people, prior owners, myself.

"Why now? I just decided, and that's the only answer I can give you. We work together, and sometimes you get to the point where a change was needed."

Over the summer Regier told the fans to be prepared for some "suffering" as he was close to fully dismantling the team he constructed. Amongst his remaining core players, only goalie Ryan Miller remained as forward Thomas Vanek was shipped to the NY Islanders on October 27. Regier's core, or "The Rochester Guys" as team President Ted Black called them, also included Paul Gaustad, Derek Roy and Jason Pominville.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Sabres display some anger against the Blues last night

Reprinted with permission from

In the years between Ted Nolan's time on the Buffalo Sabres bench we often heard about how players needed to stick up for each other, and how important it was. There were instances of that happening between his head coaching stints in Buffalo, like Drew Stafford, a rookie at the time, engaging with the Ottawa Senators Chris Neil after the latter laid out Chris Drury with a cheap shot. But the occurrences were too few and far between and nearly every time a Sabres player "stuck up for his teammate," one was left with the impression that it was more obligatory than something straight from the heart.

As a team, they're still at that place, but it would seem as if they might be beginning to break free. Or at least trying to.

Last night, St. Louis Blues d-man Ian Cole sent Tyler Ennis into the boards. The 6'1" 220 lb. Cole simply brushed off the 5'9" 160 lb Ennis around the goal line sending him to the ice and hard into the wall. It was well after the play and probably didn't need happen. But it did.

Rookie Nikita Zadorov ended up engaging in a bout with Cole, acquitting himself well, while Ennis found himself fighting 5'11" 220 lb. Alexander Steen. Said Ennis, "I went into the scrum, just trying to give [Cole] a couple shots and Steen comes in out of nowhere and had his gloves off. I didn't know until about ten seconds in that his gloves were off and I was 'in-one.'"

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Should the Sabres apologize, Mr. Hodge?

Reprinted with permission from

I'll always have an affinity for Dave Hodge as he was a part of my hockey genesis growing up. As a kid in Buffalo during the 70's, he was as much a part of the game as the game itself. And though I have no recollection of Hodge doing play-by-play for Buffalo in their inaugural season, I certainly remember those who followed him in the Sabres broadcast booth--Rick Jeanneret and Ted Darling.

But with all due respect to our neighbors to the north, y'all need to get over this Connor McDavid thing.

The Buffalo Sabres are a bad team right now as they are in the midst of a scorched earth-rebuild. They will be at or near the bottom of the league this season. And in so much as Hodges believes the Sabres have an unhealthy "lust for McDavid," the media, especially up in Canada is even worse as they rehash the "tank-job" at every possible moment.

Monday, November 10, 2014

From Gregory Peck to Hlupáku, Sabres and Amerks on back-to-backs

Reprinted with permission from

"Oh if there’s an original thought out there, I could use it right now"

Brownsville Girl, an epic 11-minute ballad co-written by Bob Dylan and Sam Sheppard begins with the line, "Well, there was this movie I seen one time." From there a series events unfolds from whence we find out, among other things, that "the only thing we know about Harry Porter is that his name isn't Harry Porter," and that Ruby greets our hero and heroine with "Welcome to the land of the living dead."

"Something about that movie though," sings Dylan, "well I just can’t get it out of my head. But I can’t remember why I was in it or what part I was supposed to play."

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Catching up with Don Stevens and the Rochester Americans

Reprinted with permission from

Plenty on the docket tonight for Sabres fans to watch as three contests are of relevance to the organization.

The Sabres are at home for their fifth back-to-back of the season as the Edmonton Oilers come to town. Edmonton is one point ahead of the Sabres in the league standings thus far and may be the most disappointing team in the league.

The Oilers are a team that had three consecutive first overall picks (2010-12) including claiming victory in the "Fail For Nail" campaign of 2012, yet it looks as if they're gunning for this year's prize prospect, Connor McDavid. If the Oilers continue to plummet to the bottom of the league (which wouldn't be tanking, would it?) they'll have a good shot at McDavid or the next two top-prospects, C, Jack Eichel and D, Noah Hanifin. Both are considered top-notch prospects who would be at or near the top of any draft year.

And for those interested in seeing them in action, the collegians face off against each other tonight as Eichel's Boston University Terriers face off against Hanifin and his Boston College Eagles in a battle of #5 vs. #3 in the college ranks. Game time is 8pm on NBCSN.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Dear Habs fans, you're kidding me, right?

Reprinted with permission from

There's no justification, nor is there any rationalization of Montreal Canadiens rookie Jiri Sekac's boarding of Sabres defenseman Nikita Zadorov.

Say what you will about Zadorov "turning at the last moment." You know, like when you quickly survey the flow of the play in anticipation of wear you can go with the puck then actually attempt to play it instead of turning away from it.

Yeah, it was his fault. And when former ref Kerry Fraser backs it, well you know you're right. Right?

Save your blabber.

I have one question. Would you feel the same way if a Sabres' player did the exact same thing to a Canadiens player?

It's doubtful.

What it should come down to in this case, as with any, is intent to injure. Even though intent to injure is almost impossible to prove, Jiri Sekac was intent upon doing as much damage as he could to a player in a vulnerable position. It matters not whether or not Zadorov was at fault for putting himself in a vulnerable position (and you can't prove that he foresaw what was coming as he was about to play the puck.) It was a brutal hit. So brutal that the immediate reaction from the booth was "That might be a game ejection. That was a vicious hit."

And so it was. 

You see, it wasn't about Zadorov, it was how Sekac zoned in on Zadorov's back, "He's looking at numbers the whole way" and the speed with which he went in. That and how Sekac snapped his hips for maximum impact on contact, kind of like a boxer when he snaps those hips while throwing a roundhouse to get the most power out of his punch.

Even though Sekac "does not let up one bit," the impact would have been lessened had he not cocked and released a George Forman-like roundhouse elbow smack dab between the five and one.

Don't worry, though, Sabres fans are accustomed to this kind of stuff. The city of Buffalo, the Sabres and their fans are looked (down) upon as the bastard-child of the red-headed stepchild and no matter what the child did, it's his fault.

We get it.

Just remember, very dog has his day.


Thursday, November 6, 2014

Les Habitants visit Buffalo with Brian Gionta, Josh Gorges. Plus, susceptibility

Reprinted with permission from

The Buffalo Sabres continue a four-game homestand tonight as they host the Montreal Canadiens, a team that they've played 262 times. It's not hard to imagine the Les Habitants, a franchise with 24 Stanley Cups and over 3000 wins, dominating the Sabres. But, oddly enough, through four and a half decades of battling with Montreal, the Sabres have a 119-106-37 record in the series.

Recent history, though, hasn't been so kind. Although they are 4-6-0 in their last 10 games against Montreal, the Sabres haven't beaten the Canadiens since a 2-1 victory in Montreal on March 23, 2013. Since then Buffalo is 0-5-0, have scored only four goals and were shut out in the last two meetings.

Montreal enters tonight's contest with 17 points via an 8-4-1 record, good for second in the Atlantic Division. After a hot start, they've cooled considerably going 0-2-1 in their last three including back-to-back blowouts at home. They were dumped 6-2 by the upstart Calgary Flames on Sunday and were shut out by the Chicago Blackhawks 5-0 last night.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Sabres raise some eyebrows in beating Detroit, are 2-2-1 in last five

Reprinted with permission from

The Buffalo Sabres weren't supposed to beat the Detroit Red Wings yesterday evening. Get a loser-point? Maybe. But win the game? Nope. Shouldn't happen.

It's too early to think that Sabres head coach Ted Nolan might be ticking off the powers that be in Buffalo, but Sabres President Ted Black and general manager Tim Murray may have had their interest piqued yesterday. The team Nolan coached vs. the Red Wings in the Sabres first home victory looked like a good, hard-working team that's tired of being an embarrassment.

With the 3-2 shootout victory over Detroit, the Sabres are now 2-2-1 in their last five games. Granted, they were shut out in the two losses by a combined 9-0 score, but a loss is a loss whether it's by a goal or five goals. And a win is a win no matter how few goals it takes.

The Sabres are in Jekyll and Hyde mode right now as they've altered between good, solid performances and embarrassments. It started in San Jose' as they throttled the Sharks 2-1 in the last game of their three-game, west coast swing. That was followed by a 4-0 shellacking in Toronto, one that caused Nolan to put the team through a grueling practice the following day.

Monday, November 3, 2014

2014-15 Individual Stats--October

Reprinted with permission from

Although I'd rather have someone eye gouge me than watch a Buffalo hockey game sometimes, there are times when you can pull individual positives out of a wreckage. With a 2-8-1 record and only 12 goals scored in 11 games, they're really hard to find on this Sabres team, but here are a few pluses.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

2014-15 Team Stats--October

Reprinted with permission from

The Buffalo Sabres hit Pittsburgh tonight for a tilt with the Penguins before returning home tomorrow to take on the Detroit Red Wings. In the process they hope to say goodbye to an ugly start to the season. (For posterity's sake, Buffalo was 1-9-1 after 11 games, 2-12-1 to for the month of October.)

For as bad as October was to open the season, there is a bright spot. The Sabres have a top-10 penalty kill unit allowing only six goals on 41 opportunities for a 85.4 kill percentage. And in a tribute to how well the goalies have played, despite giving up a league-high 36.7 shots per game, their team goals against comes in at 3.27, good for 21st in the league.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Sam Reinhart sent back to junior. Still awaiting a Nikita Zadorov decision

Reprinted with permission from

Buffalo Sabres' rookie forward Sam Reinhart was returned to the Kootenay Ice, his junior team, today. The 2nd overall pick in the 2014 Draft was held without a goal and managed only one assist with the team and was playing fourth-line minutes during the latter part of his stay. Because he did not appear in his 10th NHL game for Buffalo, his entry-level contract will not kick in.

Simple statistics dictate that the move was warranted. Other players in his situation like forwards Leon Draisatl (EDM, 2014 3rd-overall,) Andre Burakowsky (WSH, 2013, 23rd) and Defenseman Aaron Ekblad (FLA, 2014, 1st) all had better numbers and were playing bigger minutes.

For a statistical comparison, through nine games, Draisatl had a goal and two assists averaging over 13 minutes per game and Burakowsky has two goals and six assists averaging 14 minutes per game as the Capitals #2 center. Ekblad is averaging nearly 22 minutes of ice-time per game on the Cats defense. He's playing second-pairing minutes while being one of the anchors on the penalty kill unit. He has two assists.

And the teams that those three are playing on are in much better shape than the Sabres at this point. After a slow start a young Edmonton team with plenty of talent up-front has gained some traction having won four in a row before losing to Nashville on Wednesday. The Panthers also started slow but went 2-0-2 in their last four games. Washington sits right in the middle of the Metropolitan Division with a 4-3-2 record.

But, one could also say that although Reinhart was on a bad team in Buffalo playing just over 10 minutes a game, he didn't look that much out of place in an NHL rink. He's always played a subtle game and he continued with that during his stint with the Sabres. You could see progress as he was learning the game and he would have continued to learn more as the season went on. But it was not enough, especially when you look at the physical differences in Reinhart and NHL players.