Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Of GM Tim Murray's supposed "obsession/infatuation" with Connor McDavid

Reprinted with permission from hockeybuzz.com

Look. We get it.

Some Buffalo Sabres have lost their minds in all of this. Some fans couldn't care less. Most feel that this is where the team is at and there's no sense in not finishing the job.

As for the organization, their duty is to do what's in the best interest of the franchise. Sabres GM Tim Murray is in charge of on-ice product for the team. He came to Buffalo smack-dab in the middle of the season last January with the team in full rebuild-mode. He was hired to finish the job of blowing the whole thing up then starting all over again. He said it would take two drafts and the 2015 draft will be the second of those two.

Murray has said it before and he'll say it again, "Our time's the future." He's not fixated on a long building process to get to the future. If the opportunity presents itself for the team to hasten the rebuild without ripping out pieces he deems necessary, he'll jump at it (see Evander Kane/Tyler Myers trade.) But make no mistake, this is a crucial draft. It was so important that when the league was changing the lottery odds as well as terms, Murray was lobbying to keep the terms in place for one more season. In doing so, should his (probable) last place team not win the lottery, the having the second pick is a solid, possible franchise-altering, consolation prize.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Of Ted Nolan, Mikhail Grigorenko and Tyler Ennis

Reprinted with permission from hockeybuzz.com

Buffalo Sabres head coach Ted Nolan has brought out the extremes in everybody during his various stints as head coach probably none moreso than over the course of the last season and a half. This season in Buffalo where fans seemed to have lost their minds (see Arizona vs. Buffalo, March 26, 2015,) he's done it again and those with a negative view of Nolan far outweigh those on the positive side.

Of the nasty generalizations thrown his way this season are things like, "He's ruining the tank by winning!" "He sucks because they're losing!" "They're not losing correctly!" "He's a trap coach!" "He's being too hard on his players!" "He's too soft on HIS players!" "He can't develop players!"

And on.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Through all of the static last night, there emerged a sense of finality

Reprinted with permission from hockeybuzz.com

The so called "Battle of the Basement" took place last night in front of a sparse crowd at the First Niagara Center and I'm pretty sure that most Sabres fans would agree that this just might have been the lowest point of the last two seasons.

The game itself pitted two teams at the bottom of the standings playing out the string with a roster devoid of major talent (save for a couple of players.) Oft times it looked as if we were witnessing a pickup game and though individual players showed sparks of intensity, or in the case of Buffalo's Tyler Ennis and Arizona's Oliver Ekman-Larsson a high level of natural skill, the game had very few redeeming qualities.

Nothing against the players as they were on the ice giving it what they had. The Sabres Patrick Kaleta came back from injury and was as annoying to the opposition as ever. Buffalo captain Brian Gionta buried an inexcusable turnover by his Arizona counterpart, Shane Doan, with under four minutes in the third period to tie the score. Sabres goalie Matt Hackett endured a shoulder injury but would end up toughing it out. Ennis went into the boards late in the second period and never returned for the third.

It was a somewhat typical hockey game that featured shots, scoring, hits and injuries.

Friday, March 27, 2015

What if McDavid or Eichel turned out to be busts?

Reprinted with permission from hockeybuzz.com

The hockey world is in for a "treat" tonight as the 30th place Buffalo Sabres welcome the 29th place Arizona Coyotes. The numbers for both teams are ugly and while the Sabres have been pretty horrendous on the whole all season, the Coyotes have joined the fray at the bottom with some staggering results over the past six weeks which leads us to this intriguing "Battle for the Basement" matchup tonight (thx to hockeybuzz commenter, Buffalo-Sabres for finding that.)

The tanking aspect of all this has been rehashed mercilessly since the season began. Morals and ethics are the centerpieces of the great debate. Is it right for a team to adopt the philosophy of losing now to win later? Does a franchise have an ethical responsibility to ice the best team it can year-in/year-out? If sports represents a moral compass for society in general, what does tanking say about our moral fabric?

Would Mother Theresa approve?

Thursday, March 26, 2015

'Yotes snag two huge points, Sabres fans feel relief

Reprinted with permission from hockeybuzz.com

How ironic.

The iconic Detroit Red Wings, a franchise that hasn't had a draft pick in the top-10 since 1991 yet will be making their 24 consecutive playoff appearance next month, may have played a crucial role in helping to determine the winner of the so called "McEichel Derby" in 2015. They dropped a 5-4 OT decision to the 29th place Arizona Coyotes last night at home.

With their surprising overtime victory over the Wings, the 'Yotes moved five points ahead of the Buffalo Sabres in the standings.

Fans in Buffalo breathed a bit easier with the news. A collective cheer was felt throughout Sabreland after Arizona's Mark Arcobello tinkled the twine with 1:52 left in overtime while Peace Bridge Security nodded to the heavens in thanks. Legions of Sabres fans have been feeling pressure as the Coyotes began barreling towards the bottom of the standings in an effort to disrupt the Buffalo's best laid plans while doctor's offices throughout Western New York were said to have seen a sharp rise in scripts for Prozac and Xanax as the race tightened.

The Sabres and Coyotes still have two head-to-head meetings in five days beginning tomorrow night in Buffalo with those two games likely deciding who will finish last this year to "earn" the right to draft one of two future franchise centerpieces:  Connor McDavid or Jack Eichel. As it stands right now the Sabres could win both games and still be one point behind in the standings, in essence two points as the Coyotes hold the tie-breaker.

But that would only heighten tensions.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Nikita Zadorov and Mikhail Grigorenko at different stages of the developmental process

Reprinted with permission from hockeybuzz.com

There was a point in the season when Buffalo Sabres rookie defenseman Nikita Zadorov was logging games of 20-plus minutes in a top-four role while playing alongside fellow youngin, Rasmus Ristolainen. The "Twin Towers" on defense gave fans a starry-eyed glimpse into the future as they were in lock-down mode much of the time while helping propel the team to their best stretch of the season.

It's easy to forget, however, that Zadorov is only 19 years old and plays a position that takes most players years to figure out. Rare is the teenager that can walk into the National Hockey League and have the physical and mental maturity to log 20-plus minutes effectively over the course of an 82-game season. A player with that type of game is usually found at or near the top of the draft like Drew Doughty in 2008 (LAK, 2nd-overall,) Victor Hedman (TBL, 2009, 2nd-overall) and Aaron Ekblad (FLA, 2014, 1st overall.)

Zadorov was drafted 16th-overall in 2013.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

A petulant Lindback? And, Lindy Ruff's 2006-07 gameplan can help bring this thing home

Reprinted with permission from hockeybuzz.com

Perhaps it was the headline that read, Lindback courts many fans' displeasure, and the notion put forth that "he’s on his way to becoming one of the most reviled Sabres ever," as written by the author, Jon Vogl of The Buffalo News. Or maybe it was the number of games he's played in consecutively, which has reached eight, all since Michal Neuvirth was traded to the NY Islanders. Or it may have been something unseen, but Sabres goalie Anders Lindback began last night's game versus the New Jersey Devils in a petulant mood.

He wasn't angry, throwin' crosschecks or elbows or anything like that, but it seemed as if there was a slight change in his demeanor as seen when he handled the puck early in the game. It looked as if something was bugging him, throwing him off a bit. It had the look as if he'd mentally thrown his arms up to say, "whatever."

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Have "Doe-ming" will tank plus lottery notes that may provide some comfort

Reprinted with permission from hockeybuzz.com

With the Buffalo Sabres on another off-night and my "March Madness" bracket taking a mild beating, as 10:00pm rolled around last night I thought I'd get a glimpse of the Arizona Coyotes/Colorado Avalanche game.

I managed to get through half of it.

After some guy on the Avalanche named Freddie Hamilton deflected a shot past this Coyotes goalie named Louis Dominigue (pronounced doe-ming) midway through the second period I'd seen enough. That goal made it 3-1 Colorado and for all intents and purposes it was game-over. I clicked it off thinking that it's possible that the Arizona Coyotes don't win another game. They may get the odd loser point or two, maybe more but with a team icing so little talent, and/or playing Dominigue, there's little hope that they'll produce even a handful of points over their remaining 11 games.

Arizona was team that had been spinning it's wheels all season and it came to the point where GM Don Maloney, with the help of AGM Darcy Regier, finally decided drive the franchise over the cliff. Beginning with a 10-game losing streak that started on February 10, the Coyotes have gone 1-15-1 and are poised to take control of the "McEichel Sweepstakes."

Friday, March 20, 2015

Anders Lindback raising some eyebrows

Reprinted with permission from hockeybuzz.com

That was a helluva performance by Sabres goalie Anders Lindback at TD Garden. Buffalo headed into Beantown last night on the second game of a back-to-back against a team in the thick of a wild card battle and came out on top, 2-1 via the shootout (on St. Patrick's Day, no less.) In doing so, Buffalo avoided getting swept by Boston in the season series for the first time ever.

Lindback turned back 44 of 45 Boston shots en route to his first victory in the blue and gold since coming to Buffalo in the Jhonas Enroth trade to Dallas. All totaled, Lindback has stopped 227 of 243 shots for a stellar .934 sv%, but because he's on a last place Sabres squad that once again is scoring at an historically low pace, his record in Buffalo stands at 1-3-2.

It was only his third win of the season for him and first as a starter.

"You have to be able to give your team a chance to win every night as a starting goalie in this League and it’s not an easy thing,” Lindback said post game.

Especially in Buffalo this season. Although things are looking quite a bit different at this point as opposed to earlier in the year and during their team record 14 game losing streak.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Ovie "the King," another tanking team plus Sabres notes from last night

Reprinted with permission from hockeybuzz.com.

Alexander Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals were a tired lot last night. They came to Buffalo after an emotional, hard-fought shutout victory over the Boston Bruins the previous night to face the last place Sabres. And true to coach Barry Trotz's pregame warning, Buffalo did indeed represent a trap game.

As sluggish as the Capitals were they still managed to overcome a dedicated Sabres squad 4-3 in the shootout. As tired as Ovie was, he still managed to fire over 20 shots Buffalo's way with nine of them being registered as shots on goal with none of them tinkling the twine.

One can't dismiss "The Great Eight's" supreme talent. Ovechkin's skill-level is outstanding and when he wants to compete and be hard on the puck, he's a tough customer. But my word, what a lazy, goal-sucking slacker he can be.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Sabres goalie coach Arturs Irbe working some magic with Buffalo's netminders

Reprinted with permission from hockeybuzz.com

When goalie Anders Lindback was traded to Buffalo for Sabres netminder Jhonas Enroth on February 11th, it was a somewhat curious trade for Buffalo. Not that they weren't intent upon getting a return for the soon to be unrestricted Enroth, but the return of Lindback was a bit of a head-scratcher.

From the Stars perspective, they were just three points out of a wild card spot at the time without any help from Lindback so an upgrade at the No. 2 spot was a necessity. As Kari Lehtonen's back-up the 26 yr. old Lindback was sporting a 2-8-0 record with a bloated 3.71 gaa and an AHL-worthy .873 sv%. Of note, both of Lindback's wins came in relief of Lehtonen.

Enroth was dealt a tough hand as the Sabres No. 1 goalie this season. Coming out of camp he got the nod as a starter over Michal Neuvirth, proceeded to get shelled, firmed up his game then capitulated under the relentless pressure of being a sitting duck in a shooting gallery. Yet, as the Sabres plummeted to a 16-36-3 record with a league low of 103 goals-for, Enroth was able to maintain a sense of dignity. He left Buffalo with a 13-21-3 record, a 3.27 gaa, a .903 sv.% and was a perfect 5-0 in the shootout allowing one goal on 21 attempts.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Of coaching, Larsson and a difficult stretch beginning tonight

Reprinted with permission from hockeybuzz.com

From Mike Harrington of the Buffalo News:

"Here’s a believe-it-or-not stat from a season full of them: The Buffalo Sabres have scored the first goal in nine of their last 10 games. "

During that 10-game span, the only time the Sabres didn't score first was in Tampa Bay the day after the trade deadline when they didn't score at all in a 3-0 shutout loss. Buffalo's record in the other nine games is 3-4-2.

Buffalo fans will probably remember a time period under former coach Lindy Ruff where the team would get off to a sluggish start only to begin playing when the game was close to being out of reach. It didn't matter if it was home or away, the first or the second game of a back-to-back, hitting the road, coming home after a road trip, autumnal equinox, vernal equinox or winter solstice. It didn't matter. We can't count how many times those squads came out flat.

There's a different dynamic this season right now as opposed to back then. Under Ruff, lethargy enveloped his core group as their star skaters were locked-up long-term. For the rest of this season we'll witness a Sabres squad full of younger players and borderline NHL'ers looking to make their mark with Buffalo or get noticed by some other NHL club.

Opportunity's knocking and they're answering.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

The Sabres don't need a savior, but they'll take a generational talent

Reprinted with permission from hockeybuzz.com

Retweeted from Vic Carrucci.

"Just met Connor McDavid... aka the savior of Buffalo hockey. Nice guy ... smart guy too -- 3.86 GPA."

One thing that bugs me is the use of the word "savior" in any way shape or form when it comes to sports. It brings back embarrassing memories (for the Buffalo Bills) of the parade they gave Drew Bledsoe when he came over from New England. That and recently the palms the city of Cleveland gave the self-proclaimed "Chosen One" for the Cavaliers. LeBron James, basketball phenom who was drafted by Cleveland, dubbed the savior, dumped the team and the city to win two championhips in Miami only to be welcomed back with open arms from a championship-starved city.


I have nothing against the author of the tweet, snarkiness aside, save for the fact that regardless of whether junior phenom Connor McDavid lands in Buffalo, the Sabres are set up with a bounty of young prospects and solid young players to begin making noise as early as next season.

Game Night: At Toronto plus jealousy vs. indignation

Reprinted with permission from hockeybuzz.com

Finally, some hockey of interest.

Last night the NHL had eight games on tap, none of them of inherent interest to the Buffalo Sabres and its fan base. Not that it's the NHL's fault, but all three bottom feeders were off as Edmonton and Arizona both joined Buffalo on the sofa.

Tonight the Sabres head up the QEW to take on the Toronto Maple Leafs in a matchup of two teams that most definitely constitute a rivalry worthy of a Wednesday night showcase on NBCSN. Fortunately for the network they can put the spotlight on another rivalry--NY Rangers at Washington--that's not only worthy of the term, but also features two teams presently in the playoff picture with bonafide stars in Rick Nash (NYR) and Alex Ovechkin (WAS.)

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Grigorenko loss is Larsson's gain

Reprinted with permission from hockeybuzz.com

Apparently forward Mikhail Grigorenko was a little too casual in his approach when opportunity knocked last Friday in Ottawa. To the casual observer Grigorenko, a third-year pro, had a fairly decent game with what looked like some nerves early on and some sparks later in the game.

That's not what head coach Ted Nolan witnessed as he dropped Grigorenko to the fourth line after only two shifts. "I didn’t like his play,” the coach said, rather bluntly, “I thought his play on certain pucks was really lackadaisical. He didn’t have any energy or urgency in his game whatsoever. Hopefully, he’ll catch that one day.”

In a few brief sentences, Nolan touched on Grigorenko's uneven career to this point and while leaving the door open for future opportunity with the club, that final part about "hopefully" figuring it out does not bode well for the soon to be restricted free agent.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Tim Murray defines a "changing" core for his team

Reprinted with permission from hockeybuzz.com

The word "core" can be a four-letter word from the point of view of a Sabres fan in 2015. It's a word that conjures up visions of a talented group of individual players who's underachieving, passive play inevitably lead to years of mediocrity as a team. "Core" can be a good word, like in Los Angeles with the Kings or with the Blackhawks in Chicago. Or it can touch a nerve, like in Buffalo.

When Sabres' broadcaster Brian Duff asked Buffalo GM Tim Murray to "define the core," yesterday before the game at Washington, it caused a mild twitch, albeit much milder than in recent years past. And that's a good thing as the past is slowly giving way to the future.

So how many players represent Murray's core right now?

"It changes depending on the circumstances," Murray told Duff. "Certainly today when you have Brian Gionta, Matty Moulson and Josh Gorges (the Sabres' three captains) and [Zemgus] Girgensons and [Mike] Weber and the two kids on the blue line (Rasmus Ristolainen and Nikita Zadorov.)

"They're here. They're all NHL players."

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Grigorenko, Makarov sent down, Hackett recalled, plus more on goalies

Reprinted with permission from hockeybuzz.com

Before anyone loses their minds upon hearing that the Sabres have sent F, Mikhail Grigorenko to Rochester, note that he was called up on an emergency basis because F, Zac Dalpe was tending to family matters. With Dalpe back, Grigorenko jumps back on I-90 and heads east to Rochester (hopefully not flat as a pancake.)

The Amerks, surprisingly, have more than held their own since the NHL's March 2nd trade deadline when Buffalo GM Tim Murray moved three forwards from the roster. Forwards Chris Stewart, Torrey Mitchell and Brian Flynn were replaced in the lineup by call-ups Tim Schaller and Jerry D'Amigo who joined recent Amerks call-ups Johan Larsson and Zac Dalpe. Rochester is 1-0-0-1 since despite Varone, Schaller and Larsson spending one or more games in Buffalo. Also of note, when Dalpe was out, he was leading the Amerks in scoring with 16 goals.

Grigorenko was called up with Schaller and D'Amigo but was more of a security blanket if F, Tyler Ennis wasn't able to go at Tampa Bay on Tuesday. He was in the press box with Ennis ready to go, then was sent back down. But with Dalpe out at Ottawa last night, Grigorenko was able to say that the trip did more than just put another stamp on his passport.

More changes are coming for tonight and you can add that Chad Johnson, who was acquired in a trade deadline deal from the Islanders in the Michal Neuvirth trade, to the list. He is in a walking boot and possibly out for the season after taking a puck to his foot. In his stead, Andrey Makarov was recalled for the Ottawa game to back up Anders Lindack who was acquired from Dallas in the Jhonas Enroth trade back on February 11th.

Now Makarov was sent down and goalie Matt Hackett recalled (more on him in a bit) for tonight's game at Washington.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Showtime for Mikhail Grigorenko. Plus a quick overview of his tumultuous, uneven career.

The pro career of Sabres forward has been pretty well documented, but for the uninitiated, a quick synopsis:

--12th overall pick in the 2012 NHL Draft. No one could get a handle on where he would be picked as the "experts" had him going anywhere from 3rd-overall (Central Scouting) to 17th (TSN's Craig Button.)

--On July 18, 2012 signed his three-year, entry-level contract.

--August, 2012, competes for Russia in the four-game Russia/Canada Challenge. Finished with 0 goals and one assist. "Wildly inconsistent" was the verdict on his play.

--2013 World Junior Championships. Ryan Kennedy writes that Grigorenko is the main man for Russia, not Nail Yakupov. Grigorenko has two goals and three assists in 6 games, Russia wins silver medal.

--January, 2013. NHL training camps open after lockout ends. Expectations for Grigorenko are high. In 33 games for the Quebec Remparts of the QMJHL he has 30 goals and 24 assists.

--Grigorenko makes the Sabres squad, rumors that he will stick past the ninth game before his entry-level contract kicks in start emerging.

--January 29, 2013. Plays vs. Toronto, entry-level contract kicks in.

--Grigorenko struggles, sees fourth-line duty, has some time in the press box.

--March 17, 2013. Grigorenko sent back to the Remparts. Said GM Darcy Regier, "This is driven by what's best for Mikhail and best for his career." Finishes the season in the playoffs with Rochester. Plays in two games without hitting the scoresheet.

--Regier pretty much guarantees a roster spot for Grigorenko for 2013-14.

--Plays in 18 games for the Sabres in October and November registering two goals, one assist and a ton of time on the fourth-line or in the pressbox.

--November 13, 2013. Regier and head coach Ron Rolson are fired and replaced by President of Hockey Operations Pat LaFontaine and interim head coach, Ted Nolan.

--November 21, 2013. LaFontaine tries to slip Grigorenko down to Rochester. NHL rejects the "conditioning assignment." Grigorenko convinces LaFontaine and Nolan that he should stick with the big club and he does until December, 2014.

--Joins Team Russia for the 2014 World Juniors. Russia wins bronze. In seven games Grigorenko scores 5 goals and adds three assists.

--January 9, 2014. LaFontaine hires Tim Murray as new Sabres GM.

--January 11, 2014. Grigorenko sent to junior for the second time.

--After being informed he was being sent to junior, Grigorenko "was a little bit upset," said Nolan. Grigorenko refuses assignment.

--January 13, 2014. Grigorenko accepts junior assignment. Scores 15 goals and adds 24 assists in 23 games for Quebec. Has one goal and eight assists in nine in playoffs.

--Says goodbye to junior as he joins the Rochester Americans for their final nine regular season games. Has zero goals and four assists. Plays in five games for the Amerks in the playoffs without registering a point.

--Takes responsibility and comes into Sabres camp last summer fully committed and in the best shape of his career and has "impressive" training camp.

--October 7, 2014. Rookie Sam Reinhart (2014, 2nd-overall) sticks with Sabres, Grigorenko sent to Rochester.

--2014-15 season. In 39 games for Rochester has 11 goals and 21 assists. In 12 games for Buffalo, 1 goal, 1 assist.

--February 3, 2015. Suffers knee injury that keeps him nearly an entire month.

--February 27, 2015. Returns to action in a 4-3 OT loss against Toronto. Zero points, minus-2.

--March 2-3, 2015. Murray purges veterans, ices a host of Rochester call-ups including Grigorenko. Ends up as insurance if an injured Tyler Ennis is unable to play. Is a healthy scratch.

--March 4, 2015. Sent back to Rochester has a goal and registers a plus-2 while being blanked in the shootout in a 3-2 SO loss to Utica.

--March 5, 2015. Recalled by the Sabres.

--March 6, 2015. Has been centering Marcus Foligno and Brian Gionta on the second line.

After practice yesterday Grigorenko said that he's feeling much better, “I got stronger on my skates because of that injury,” he said. “I had to focus on my leg strength. I’ve been getting lower on battles in the corners. It helps protect my knee, but it helps my game and gives me better balance too.”

“Last night he said he felt much better, had a little bit more jump in his legs,” said coach Ted Nolan. “As far as practice is concerned today, I thought he skated as well as I’ve seen him skate.”

But can he bring it come game-time?

“Skill can only get you so far," said Nolan. "there’s a lot of guys with skill, but if you have no will with that skill, the skill’s no good, so he’s got to work, he’s got to compete and if you do that with that skill, you should have good results.”

Said Kris Baker of sabrespropects.com of Grigorenko (via HockeyHotline) when asked what he expects said "I just want him to compete hard. I want him to create offense and be in the right spots defensively. He needs to find his wingers and put the pucks on their sticks. I think that supporting
his d-men is key."

We'll see. He's got 18 games to prove he has made significant progress in all of those areas to latch on to an NHL roster spot.

Bills provide a diversion

Reprinted with permission from hockeybuzz.com

The Buffalo Sabres could not have asked for better timing. While they were icing a team featuring a group of skaters with a grand total of 65 goals this season, not to mention having a goalie with a .875 save percentage between the pipes, for the last couple of days Buffalo Bills were making headline on a national level.

Media outlets were devoting mega-minutes to the trade of Philadelphia Eagles running back LeSean McCoy for Bills' linebacker Kiko Alonso, calling it a "blockbuster," a term is normally reserved for a multi-piece deal that involves star/superstar quality players. Like when the Bills traded for Cornelius Bennett in 1987 or even recently when Sabres GM Tim Murray pulled off the Tyler Myers/Evander Kane blockbuster less than one month ago.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

It's a brave new world for Buffalo and it's sports fans

Reprinted with permission from hockeybuzz.com.

I'll never forget the feeling I got when the Buffalo Bills traded for Cornelius Bennett in 1987. I was living in Florida at the time having finally left the harsh Buffalo winters for some fun and sun (like sipping a cold one on Christmas in 85-degree weather.) It was shocking move by the Bills. In a good way.

I remember saying to myself at the time, "This is something the Bills don't do, It's usually some other team that makes a bold move like that."

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Murray outfoxes Maloney at the deadline, fends off local press

Reprinted with permission from hockeybuzz.com

Sabres beat writer Mike Harrington of the Buffalo News has been railing against a perceived be tank-job by the Buffalo organization for quite some time. Back on January 31st he penned an article, Sabres are disgusting, all right, that aptly and bluntly captured his dismay .At the time Harrington was not amused by the Sabres road to the top of the 2015 NHL Draft. He wrote of the Edmonton Oilers having "a lot of road trips" the rest of the season while the Arizona Coyotes, he wrote, "have a lot of trades to make" if they were thinking of overtaking the Sabres for last place.

Buffalo had just finished an 0-fer January and was on a franchise record 14-game losing streak. "Hockey folks are laughing at the product the Sabres have put on the ice," he wrote, "but much worse they're laughing at the organization itself and that's not how it's supposed to be going."

Sabres GM Tim Murray was sitting on his hands during this debacle leaving head coach Ted Nolan with very little on the ice and even less to say post-game save for "these are the 20 guys we have," and "we've got what we got." Harrington was so disgusted that it only took him a one paragraph lead-in before he wrote, "I think it's safe to call right now. The Buffalo Sabres are the worst team in the NHL by a lot at this point. They're going to finish 30th and get Connor McDavid or Jack Eichel.

"You may call it mission accomplished. But the mission doesn't need to be an open disgrace."

Monday, March 2, 2015

2014-15 Individual Stats--February

Reprinted with permission from hockeybuzz.com

Before we get to the Buffalo Sabres individual stats for the month of February, the NY Rangers and the Arizona Coyotes made a huge deal today.

The Rangers acquired veteran d-man Keith Yandel, minor league d-man Chris Summers and Arizona's fourth round pick in 2016 for F, Anthony Duclair, D, John Moore, a first round pick in 2016 and a second round pick in 2015.

Y'all can debate the players picks and whatever's of the trade, but I'd like to offer this tweet from Matt Larkin of The Hockey News:
"Things we've learned in past 24 hours: (a) Arizona is really committed to a rebuild"

So let me get this straight, the Coyotes are on a nine-game losing streak and have moved two franchise cornerstones within the last 24 hours and what we get is that "Arizona is really committed to a rebuild?"

How about Arizona is really committed to tanking this season for one of the top-two picks in the draft. I can't wait for the "Thumbs down piece" on how this is a travesty and is a slap in the face to the integrity of the game.

And while we're at it, the Toronto Maple Leafs have only four regulation wins through the first two months of 2015. Have heard nary a peep against the "Center of the Hockey Universe" tanking the season for the best opportunity at landing the Newmarket, ON native.

Aye Carumba!

Sunday, March 1, 2015

2014-15 Team Stats--February

Reprinted with permission from hockeybuzz.com

Buffalo Sabres GM Tim Murray has stated time and again that he wants to see the team progress and wants to see improvement in his players.

"Progress" and "improvement" are broad terms and their definitions can vary wildly, even within the organization. John Vogl of the Buffalo News writes that the schism between Murray and head coach Ted Nolan is widening, "The philosophical differences between Tim Murray and Ted Nolan have raised questions about the coach’s future," wrote Vogl this morning. "Using football injury terms, Nolan ranges from questionable to doubtful. Some have already downgraded him to out." In layman's terms, Vogl says the coach went from having a 50% chance of getting canned to 75%.

Although I'm of the opinion that for this season any progress from a team standpoint should be minute, perhaps others feel that this team should be much farther along and winning more games. There's confusion emanating from the foot of Washington St. as to just what kind of job Nolan has done thus far. Has he done a great job with the limited talent he's been given? Did he loose his team at some point in December causing them to tumble to the bottom of the league? Will Murray "manipulate" his team's standing at the deadline by shipping out every last bit of talent he can by 3pm tomorrow?

And just what is those "philosophical differences" Vogl is alluding to?

Boston's Peter Chiarelli can do some one-stop shopping in Buffalo

Reprinted with permission from hockeybuzz.com

From Joe Haggerty of CSSNE.com (via Jared Clinton of The Hockey News,) the Boston Bruins are looking for three key pieces for the stretch-run as well as possibly stretching out GM Peter Chiarelli and benchboss Claude Julien's tenure in Beantown.

"Clearly, there are needs on the Bruins roster," wrote Haggerty. "Chiarelli is going to make moves in order to address those wants and needs. An offensively dangerous right wing that’s preferably big and strong is at the top of the list with 172-pound David Pastrnak still showing plenty of promise, but also getting overpowered on a pretty regular basis, a top-four defenseman to pair with Dennis Seidenberg is second on the priority list and a reliable, veteran backup goaltender is also certainly on the wish list."

"Dangerous right wing that's preferably big and strong"--check
"Top-four defenseman to pair with Seidenberg"--kinda check
"Reliable, veteran backup goalie"--check

According to NHLnumbers.com, the B's have $1.55M in cap space at this time, give or take.

Chris Stewart, $4.2M cap-hit
Andre Benoit (see COL 2013-14) 800K
Michal Neuvirth, 2.6m

Total cap-hit, $7.6M.

Sabres could easily eat half their salary's and to help things along, if Loui Eriksson and his $4.5M cap-hit for the next two seasons needs to be jettisoned, no prob. The Sabres could even throw in two-way RFA center Brian Flynn ($650K,) for good measure.

It will take a 2015 first round pick, (lottery protected and deferred to 2016, if need be) plus either Malcom Subban or Niklas Svedberg and Peter Cehlari.

And remember, Sabres GM Tim Murray isn't afraid of blockbuster trades. ; )


Have a Nice Day.