Saturday, February 28, 2015

Tired 'Nucks hand the Sabres a win--Some Buffalo fans searching for their meds

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It was the last of a five-game/10-day, east-coast road trip for the Vancouver Canucks against the last place team in the league. Vancouver came into the First Niagara Center last night having won 3 of 4 games already and playing the last place Buffalo Sabres should've been a good way to end the trip. Sure, the 'Nucks would probably hit the ice a tired club, surviving on adrenaline, but with a little work and some decent goaltending two points was a realistic proposition.

But perhaps they didn't get the memo. Although the Buffalo is in 30th place, they'd been playing really well over the course of the last 10 games or so punctuated by a rock-solid performance in a 4-2 win over a good Blue Jackets team at Columbus.

Then again, perhaps the 'Nucks did get the memo, but focused upon the injury report that had the lowest scoring team in the league without their top-two goal scorers in Zemgus Girgensons and Tyler Ennis.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Hodgson scores, Sabres win, Girgensons/Ennis hurt

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Columbus Blue Jackets goaltender Anton Forsberg did something against the Buffalo Sabres that a goalie hasn't done since December 13, 2014--allowed a goal by Sabres forward, Cody Hodgson.

When Hodgson's incredibly weak backhand dribbled across the goal line, it ended a 27-game drought for the much-maligned forward who finally he caught himself a break. “Everyone has been saying to throw pucks on net and I’ve been doing it the last few games, shooting from some bad angles,” said a clearly relieved Hodgson. “I was fortunate to get that one.”

To say that Forsberg had a tough night would be like saying Hodgson went through a bit of a dry-spell during his goal-drought or that Buffalo just needs some tweaking to rise from the bottom of the league. The Sabres only needed 14 shots to put four goals past the 22 yr. old netminder. The 2011, seventh round pick of Columbus (188th overall) is in his rookie season after coming over from Sweden this year. He should be plying his trade in Sprinfield with their AHL team but he was forced into duty as backup to Curtis McEllhiney who took over for injured starter Sergei Bobrovsky.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

"Miracle" and Terry Pegula, two anniversaries yesterday (plus a game too)

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Yesterday was a hockey-heavy day across the States as the designated Hockey Day In America was rolled out on the 35th Anniversary of the Miracle On Ice. NBC was live at Lake Placid, NY helping us relive quite possibly the greatest upset in sports ever.

A clearly overmatched USA squad of collegians, semi-pro's and hockey misfits dethroned the Soviet Union and their juggernaut of hockey professionals in 1980. Interesting to note that the Soviet Union outshot the Americans 39-16 in "Miracle" game. A stat that looks all too familiar to Sabres fans.

Yesterday also marked a significant anniversary that hits a little closer to home, as February 22nd marks the four-year anniversary of Terry Pegula taking ownership of the Buffalo Sabres. And as we fans sit at the bottom of the league for the second year running while looking towards the future, on February 22, 2011 Pegula uttered these words which are now engraved on a plaque in the Sabres dressing room:

"From this point forward, the Buffalo Sabres' reason for existence will be to win the Stanley Cup"

Sabres Road Crew hits Spoonz in C-bus

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A few times a year the Buffalo Sabres Road Crew hits the road bringing Buffalo Sabres hockey to fans far from the reaches of the First Niagara Center. If you're an out-of-towner and are within reach of this event, it behooves you to check it out.

Last night The Road Crew as at Spoonz Pub on Sawmill Rd. in Columbus Ohio.

Spoonz is owned by Buffalo-boy,  Frank Commendatore, and is home to the Central Ohio Bills Backers. Commendatore has owned the Pub since 2001 and has made it a home for Buffalo sports fans complete with Bills and Sabres memorabilia as well as a Mighty Taco sign right up front.

The event drew around 75 or so Sabres fans decked out in their regalia rubbing elbows with the Sabres coaching staff and members of the broadcast team. The host of the evening was Brian Duff who conducted numerous raffles for signed photos, pucks and hats plus a 50/50 raffle which the winner donated back to the Sabres Foundation, the charity where all proceeds from the event went.

Commendatore did an outstanding job hosting the event. While talking with him he mentioned that getting food on the table was somewhat challenging since there was no kitchen. He talked of cooking and slicing roast beef in his home so that fans could indulge in Beef On Weck. A friend of his in the restaurant business used the fryers at his establishment to fry up a boat-load of chicken wings while out back, Frank and company busted out the BBQ to grill up some Sahlens dogs imported from Buffalo.

It was a good time featuring an appearance by Rick Jeanneret, as well as former Sabres Rob Ray and Brad May. At one point while assistant coaches Brian Trottier, Danny Flynn, Tom Coolen and Arturs Irbe were busy signing autographs and posing for pictures, May and head coach Ted Nolan battled it out in a game of Jenga played with over-sized blocks on a high-top table.

Much thanks to the Sabres Road Crew for choosing Spoonz in Columbus and a big thanks to Frank for his hospitality. The graciousness with which all of the Sabres personalities worked the room and the time they took to personally interact with all those in attendance is also greatly appreciated.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Thoughts from the Evander Kane introductory presser

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I can't remember the last time the Sabres had an introductory press conference for a player they'd traded for.

Perhaps we may need to go back to Chris Drury and the big three-way trade that brought him to Buffalo in July, 2003. Drury, of course, had a Stanley Cup ring earned with the 2000-01 Colorado Avalanche and also had the distinction of being the winning pitcher in the 1989 Little League World Series playing for his hometown of Trumbull, CT.

But today we had the opportunity to get acquainted (somewhat) with Evander Kane, the centerpiece of a blockbuster trade consummated by Sabres GM Tim Murray and his counterpart in Winnipeg, Kevin Cheveldayoff on February 11, 2015.

Kane made his first appearance in Buffalo last night watching from the pressbox as the Sabres were thwarted by the NY Rangers 3-1. He did an interview with WGR550 and was interviewed by Dan Dunleavy of and about the only thing we got out of either (no disrespect intended) is that Dunleavy loved Kane's duds as well as his shoes which Kane revealed as Jimmy Choo's.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Sabres goaltending situation might get interesting.

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It's no secret that Buffalo forward Chris Stewart's name is being thrown around in trade talks. Of the Sabres eight soon-to-be unrestricted free agents, Stewart is the only one that is being looked at as an impact player above a depth role.

Every other UFA asset in the organization is of the depth variety. Up-front there's Torrey Mitchell and Matt Ellis while on the back-end there's Andre Benoit, Andrej Meszaros and Tyson Strachan. But the Sabres have two goalies in Buffalo right now who are pending UFA's in Michal Neuvirth and recently acquired Anders Lindback, and the former could very well be in play in the next week and a half.

Neuvirth, along with defenseman Rusty Klesla (who never played a game for Buffalo,) came from the Washington Capitals in exchange for goalie Jaroslav Halak and a 2015 3rd round draft pick. Halak was a part of the Ryan Miller to St. Louis Blues deal less than a week before. Neuvirth is a former 2nd round pick (2006, 34th overall) and at 6'1" 190 lbs. has a decent enough frame to just fit the mold of what Sabres GM Tim Murray is looking for in his goaltenders.

As of right now, Neuvirth sits atop the food chain in net for Buffalo.

Friday, February 20, 2015

A quiet time in Sabreland as trade deadline day inches a bit closer

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Do you remember those days when we, as Sabres fans, would be on the sidelines watching all of the action leading up to the trade deadline? And do you remember those trade deadline days where we'd be watching other teams jump in while we'd wait and speculate, groan at missing out, then wait and speculate, etc. etc. etc.?

And do you remember the anti-climactic, "The Buffalo Sabres have traded a second-round pick to team-X" for a second-rate player who, we would find out later, was playing with some sort of injury? Right around 3pm?

It's been a great 11 months for those of us who have wanted "out with the old and onward to the future." Sabres GM Tim Murray didn't dink and doink when it came to trading assets, he put together packages, big packages, to get it done.

Granted, the Ryan Miller trade to the St. Louis Blues just shy of one year ago had been in the works for a long time, and the recent Evander Kane/Tyler Myers blockbuster came about because of extenuating circumstances, but it's hard to imagine the previous regime having the vision, imagination and kahunas to pull off deals like the ones Murray has pulled off thus far. That's not to take away from former GM Darcy Regier's approach (however typical it was) as the bounty he received in each singular trade was nothing short of impressive. In the end, both GM's--Murray and Regier--will have had a hand in a deconstruction and rebuild of historical proportions.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Ted Nolan and his coaching staff may be doing much better than most think

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Buffalo Sabres head coach Ted Nolan is said to be on the hot-seat for the performance of his last-place team.

I know. Newsflash. Right?

We all know the stats which include 16 wins in 56 games, a franchise record 14-game losing streak, last place in goals-for, goals-against, powerplay, faceoff, etc., etc., etc. And if the stats were bad to this point, the impact of losing Tyler Myers and Drew Stafford along with goalie Jhonas Enroth last week will probably further cement their place at the bottom of the aforementioned.

Blame is starting to get thrown around for a wretched season as history will be judging the 2014-15 Buffalo Sabres in a harsh light with Nolan and his staff as coaches of record. While whispers of discontent are said to be emanating from the foot of Washington St., there's not been a direct, full-blown indictment of the coaching staff. That being said, there are more than a few media types and a burgeoning group of fans who believe that Nolan's second stint will be coming to an end in the near future.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Bogosian made his presence felt in his first game with Buffalo

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New Sabres defenseman Zach Bogosian finally hit the ice last night. It had been four days since Buffalo GM Tim Murray pulled off a blockbuster trade with his counterpart in Winnipeg, Kevin Cheveldayoff, and five days since the Sabres last played a game.

Bogosian wasn't one of "the" names in the trade as Evander Kane and Tyler Myers grabbed top-billing on the marquis, but the former 3rd-overall pick in the 2008 NHL Draft isn't anything to sneeze at. It was said in varying analyses of the trade that the Sabres were getting a smooth-skating, all-around, defensive-defenseman who's game is augmented by hard hits. And that's pretty much what was on display last night by #47.
Sam Page of delved into the dichotomy of styles for Myers and Bogosian writing that the latter lacked a "a single superstar-quality tool." In summary he wrote that both are different types of defensemen with the same flaws. "Given the choice between two athletic players with poor defensive awareness," concluded Page, "I’ll take the more explosive skater (Myers) every time."

Monday, February 16, 2015

With Tyler Myers gone, Zach Bogosian changes the complexion of the d-corps

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Before we get into this, R.I.P former Sabres defenseman Steve Montador who was found dead in his home at the age of 35. Condolences to his family and friends.


Former Sabres defenseman Tyler Myers did something last night that Sabres fans rarely saw him do after his rookie season. While playing his second game for the Winnipeg Jets he determinedly grabbed the puck in the neutral zone and barreled in on Detroit Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard using every inch of his 6'8" frame and condor reach to force Howard into a toe save. Jets teammate Blake Wheeler followed the play and buried the rebound into a wide open net.

Make no mistake, Myers is in a better place right now playing on a Jets team that's in a wild card spot in the western conference looking to crack the top-three in the division. I wish him and Drew Stafford the best on their journeys. Except when they play the Sabres at any point in time down the road.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Have you recovered from the Evander Kane/Tyler Myers trade yet?

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Lost in the whirlwind trade that included one often talked about d-man long-rumored to be on the move plus a volcanic eruption of speculation in a 23 yr. old left-winger described as a misfit are a couple pieces that were largely ignored in the blockbuster deal between the Winnipeg Jets and the Buffalo Sabres.

But before we get to that, the earthquake that was the Kane/Myers trade was swallowed up another move by Sabres GM Tim Murray done later in the day. He sent soon to be unrestricted free agent goalie Jhonas Enroth to the Dallas Stars for a struggling back-up goalie in Anders Lindback and a conditional 2016 3rd round pick. According to TSN's Bob McKenzie the pick could be a 2nd-rounder should Enroth wins four playoff games for the Stars.

At this point in time, Dallas is five points behind Calgary with one game in hand and there are two other teams ahead of them in the chase--Minnesota  and Los Angeles. The Stars have been struggling all season with their goaltending and as a team sit 28th in the league in goals-against average at 3.20. Only the Edmonton Oilers and Buffalo are worse. In addition to that, Dallas moved on from a goalie with one of the worst gaa in the league at 3.71 and one of the worst sv% at .875 to Enroth who has a respectable line of 3.27 gaa and .903 sv%. Enroth also won 13 games for the worst team in the league and rocked the shootout this season with a 5-0 record and a .953 sv%.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

The dust settles on the Evander Kane/Tyler Myers blockbuster trade

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The reactions of Sabres fans ranged from relief that a trade was finally consummated, to cautious excitement, to cries for help while standing on a ledge 10 stories up. In Winnipeg, Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff was almost giddy in his excitement while in Buffalo, Sabres GM Tim Murray displayed his usual Joe Friday persona whilst injecting poignant quips every now and then to lighten things up.

At the heart of the blockbuster trade yesterday were Sabres defenseman Tyler Myers and Jets winger Evander Kane. Myers' name had be churning in the rumor mill for nearly a year while Kane's name recently came to the fore like a Saskatchewan Screamer rolling through the halls and offices of the MTS Iceplex, home of the Winnipeg Jets.

It started early yesterday morning with TSN' Bob McKenzie tweeting that things were heating up between the Sabres and the Jets. His colleague, Darren Dreger started putting the deal together, "Huge deal. Hearing Myers Stafford Armia and Lemieux plus a first for Kane and Bogosian as principles of deal getting close btwn Buf + Wpg."

And to be fair, one of our very own, buffalo1000 nailed most of the complex trade just before 10:00pm Tuesday night and said it's up to the Sabres to agree to it.

Of Cody Hodgson, Las Vegas and great timing

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Cody Hodgson was a healthy scratch again last night for the second game in a row. The 6'0" 192 lb. forward has two goals, six points and is a minus-20 on a last place Buffalo Sabres team this season and we're not sure he'll be able to pull out of his funk.

Stats like that wouldn't be all that alarming save for the fact that the former first-round pick (2008, 10th-overall) is coming off of a 20-goal season on a bad Sabres team last year and was set to play a top-six role this season. Hodgson started out playing on the second line with the likes of captain Brian Gionta, Chris Stewart, rookie Sam Reinhart and Zemgus Girgensons while also getting powerplay time, but since then he's been relegated to the bottom-six and now he's been a healthy scratch.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Winnipeg GM Kevin Cheveldayoff sets the Evander Kane paramaters

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Gary Lawless of the Winnipeg Free Press wrote yesterday that Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff is interested in moving Evander Kane before the trade deadline, but he's not going to let the injured winger go on the cheap.

Cheveldayoff doesn't need to move Kane right now as he could wait until summer with all 29 other teams possibly interested in making a deal. In doing so it's assumed he'd be able to fully meet his asking price. But if he wants to get shore up his team now to help solidify their wild card position or even try to crack the top-three in the division, moving Kane before the March 2 trade deadline could help the cause.

As of right now Winnipeg sits in the top wild card position in the western conference with 64 points, three ahead of Calgary who are in the second wild card slot. Behind them are three teams--Minnesota, Los Angeles, Dallas--all with 56 points and all eight points behind the Jets. But every team has games in hand on Winnipeg--Calgary, 2; Minnesota, 4; Los Angeles 3; Dallas, 2.

It's not a lot of cushion and if Cheveldayoff wants his team to make the playoffs for the first time since the franchise moved there from Atlanta in 2011, he has a trade-chip in Kane that can help get them there.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Let's play armchair GM

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As of tomorrow there will be only 21 shopping days left until trade deadline day.

Word on the street is that the press box at First Niagara Center was overflowing last night with scouts from various teams doing a little window shopping. The Sabres have a number of unrestricted free agents and some guy named Tyler Myers, whom a lot of teams seem to covet, that may be of interest. Although Myers isn't a pending UFA, GM Tim Murray has stated that anyone can be moved on a last place team.

Before we get to that, the Sabres are coming off of three strong performances that have resulted in them grabbing four of a possible six points. No worries, y'all. The Sabres are still in last place and still have yet to make any deals.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Of the Bills and Incognito, the Sabres and Evander Kane

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The Buffalo Bills have guard Richie Incognito in town for a physical and rumor has it that should he pass it, the Bills will sign him.

Why should this be of any importance to a Sabres blog? Other than the fact that the two teams have the same owner?


Actually it kinda fits hand in hand with the whole Evander Kane debate and whether or not the Buffalo Sabres should pursue him in a trade with the Winnipeg Jets.

Kane's image in Winnipeg is that of a highly skilled player who may be described as "petulant, immature and lacking in good judgment." That description would be a compliment to Incognito who was once had the dubious distinction of being voted dirtiest player in a 2009 Sporting News poll of 99 players. Interesting to note that he played three games for the Bills that season after St. Louis cut him as Buffalo claimed him off waivers.

Incognito has never shied away from any of that stuff during his career, one that climbed to Pro Bowl status in 2012. It was his third season with the Dolphins and he started all 16 games for the team at left guard.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Evander Kane's on the outs in Winnipeg and the Sabres could/should be interested.

If a 24 yr. old winger and former 30-goal scorer becomes available, you get the job done. Especially if you're a team like the Buffalo Sabres who are in a rebuild, devoid of top-line talent and on a pace to challenge the league record for fewest goals in a season.

Last season the Sabres set a modern-era record by scoring 150 goals in an 82 game season, or 1.83 goals/game. That mark bested the 1953-54 Chicago Blackhawks who scored 133 goals in 70 games that season or 1.90 goals/game.

The 2014-15 edition of the Sabres is scoring at a 1.75 g/gm clip and are on pace to score 143 total for an 82 game season, which would put them 10 goals off the 'Hawks record with 12 more games played.

It's an historically low pace although I'm not so sure that they'll actually finish worse than last season even though soon to be unrestricted free agents will be moved at the trade deadline. And there will be movement at the deadline.

Friday, February 6, 2015

The great Ted Nolan debate

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I've said it before and I'll say it again, the 2014-15 season for the Buffalo Sabres is a throw away season. It doesn't mean things can't be accomplished (however minute these accomplishments might be) but on the whole, this team was destined to test the depths of the league standings from the get-go.

At the beginning of the season I was of the opinion that a bottom-three finish was in the offing for the Sabres and it looks as if my expectations were a bit high. At the beginning of the season, surely expectations varied throughout Sabreland, including the management team and coaches, about where they would end up. But after a 14-game losing streak, it's safe to say that nearly everyone's on the same page now.

That being said, the great debate has shifted slightly from the value of Tyler Myers and of Cody Hodgson's worth, to the future of head coach, Ted Nolan.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Oh what a relief it is. Plus other notes.

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N-ole' for you, Les Habitants. And thanks for doing your little part in allowing the Buffalo Sabres a reprieve from a franchise low-point.

For posterity's sake, the Sabres were on a 14-game losing streak, obliterating the previous losing streak of eight games set in the 2002-03 season as they hit Bell Centre Ice in Montreal. On the road they'd lost 10 in a row before the win last night and were winless in 14 road games (0-13-1.) Their last road victory occurred on November 29, 2014 when they beat the Canadiens 4-3 in a shootout.

One final note on that bout with futility, the 3-2 win in Montreal was their first regulation win since a 4-3 victory over the Calgary Flames at the First Niagara Center on December 11, 2014. A span of 21 games.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Tyler Myers to the Red Wings probably isn't going to happen at the trade deadline

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According to Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press, the Red Wings took a bit of a snow day yesterday as Wings GM Ken Holland and head coach Mike Babcock had a pow-wow while the players got the day off.

The Red Wings have played themselves to within one point of the division leading and eastern conference leading Tampa Bay Lightning in a season where most thought they would be fighting for their playoff lives.

St. James wrote that Holland and Babcock were discussing much more than the Babcock's Super Bowl gathering which featured his self-described "unbelievable hot wings" and "out of this world Greek ribs." They were discussing the state of the Red Wings and what they needed moving forward.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

2014-15 Individual Stats--January

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Can there be any individual bright spots for a team that extended their franchise-worst losing streak to 14 games by going 0-12-0 for the month of January?

It all depends.

There are a couple of players' names you'll see every month amongst the leaders in offensive production--Tyler Ennis and Zemgus Girgensons. Although it's not saying much on a team that is on pace to score 144 goals, a total that would be seven less than the Buffalo Sabres scored all last season, kudos to them for their consistency.

Out of the muck that was January, one can find a bright spot for the Sabres, though--forward, Chris Stewart.

Monday, February 2, 2015

2014-15 Team Stats--January

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It's a good thing the NHL had the All-Star game in January as it allowed the Buffalo Sabres an eight-day hiatus. Were it not for that break, the team may have added one or two more losses to an 0-12-0 month of January. During a wretched month they managed to obliterate the previous franchise mark for futility which stood at eight losses in a row set between January 25 and February 13, 2003.

I remember that 2002-03 season as well as last season when they finished with a league-low 21 wins, 52 points and a minus-91 goal differential. For 2013-14 the Sabres were last in shots/game (26.3) and goals/game (1.83) but were 29th or better in the other team stats, most notably goals against (2.96) thanks in large part to goalie Ryan Miller.

Miller was traded to the St. Louis Blues at the 2014 deadline then signed a free agent contract with the Vancouver Canucks in the off season. He was in net on Friday as the Sabres finished an 0-fer month of January with a 5-2 loss in Vancouver. With the victory over Buffalo, Miller would have the distinction of defeating all 30 NHL teams.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

At least Stewart gets it, plus third period perils

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When your team is last in the league and on a losing streak where the NHL mark for futility enters the conversation, there doesn't seem to be a whole helluva lot to play for as an individual. The Buffalo Sabres lost their 14th game in a row last night and, unfortunately, are closing in on the NHL record for consecutive losses. Both the 1974-75 Washington Capitals and 1992-93 San Jose' Sharks hold the dubious distinction of losing 17 consecutive games.

For posterity's sake, Sabres goalie coach Arturs Irbe was a rookie netminder for the Sharks during that season while Jeff Hackett, uncle of last night's starter in net, Matt Hackett, played 36 games winning only 2 of them for the Sharks that year.