Monday, December 31, 2007

Final Preperations for the Ice Bowl underway

Ralph Wilson Stadium is all set up and ready to go for the Ice Bowl tomorrow. Players for both teams will be skating on the ice this afternoon. Even the players are beginning to see this as a big event. A few highlights, criticisms and observations about the event.

  • Tarps will be covering some lowerbowl seats. While they may not have a good (or any) view of the field, those without a ticket would be more than willing to pay five to ten bucks just be a part of the event.

  • They have made a fake pond on the side of the rink. Kindof cool, but also kindof pointless.

  • Night images of the rink under the lights look pretty cool. A night game may be worth considering for next year

  • The event will still be best known as the ice bowl. Despite the official word of the NHL the name stuck. Why do I feel that whoever choose "Winter Classic" over "The Ice Bowl" is the same person who picked out the Slug...

  • The NHL really underestimated the Buffalo fans. There is an interview with the NHL's VP of marketing or something in which he states that he "didn't think it would sell out". That took like twenty minutes to sell out? They could have sold out a rink twice as big in a single day

  • The same video highlights the NHL's plan for some official tailgating thing on the assumption that fans won't think of that due to new years. If Buffalo can do anything right it's food. In fact the ability to tailgate at a Sabres game is half of the allure of this event.

  • When does the tailgating start? Pulling up after dinner tonight and celebrating new years in the parking lot sounds like a ton of fun...

  • The weather is still looking to be ideal for hockey
  • Sunday, December 30, 2007

    Sabres fail to score against the Penguins

    While the Sabres only scored on goal against Brodour last night, you would think they could do better against Ty Conklin. In fact they did worse. Conkiln, who was Ryan Miller's backup last season, got the shutout as the Penguins won the game 2-0.

    The Sabres actually played well throughout the game and even outshot Pittsburgh, but failed to score any goals. They replay the Penguins next Tuesday in the Ice Bowl.

    Official Three Stars
  • Ty Conklin
  • Colby Armstrong
  • Sidney Crosby

  • My Three Stars
  • Colby Armstrong (scored the only goal)
  • Ty Conklin (earned a shutout)
  • Sidney Crosby (two assists)
  • Saturday, December 29, 2007

    Goaltender battle

    Following a one all tie, the Devils beat the Sabres in the shootout. In a game with two of the leagues best goal tenders, the scoring was kept low as each team only managed one goal, and only one player scored in the shootout afterwards.

    Miller had a really good game, bailing the Sabres out time after time. In the first period the Sabres were outshot 13-2 and Miller was able to stop everything including a penalty shot.

    The game started with a very slow first period in which neither team could score. Buffalo only managed two shots in the first including only one on their powerplay. However from the drop of the puck in the second the Sabres pushed forward with their attack. The first five minutes of the second were dominated by Buffalo, and saw them score a goal when Kotalik put one off the post and into the net. The rest of the second was more evenly fought, but saw both teams continue to play aggressively.

    This game was the first against Zubrus since he was on the Sabres for the end of last season. Mostly he was seen as a hired gun and was not expected to be back, but would have been a good player for the Sabres to have tried to keep. Zubrus has been playing ok for the Devils this year...

    Official Three Stars
  • Ryan Miller
  • Martin Brodeur
  • Mike Mottau

  • My Three Stars
  • Ryan Miller (bailed out the Sabres time and time again)
  • Martin Brodeur (only allowed one goal)
  • Daniel Paille (one goal, plus one)

  • Ice Bowl is quickly coming as work on the rink continues...

    Friday, December 28, 2007

    Hecht is the new Drury

    The Buffalo Sabres got off to a slow start this season. This was the first season in a while in which Chris Drury wasn't there to be the leader for the team. However with a little more than half the season left to go the Sabres have found their new leader. That man is the German Jochan Hecht.

    The past two season Hecht wasn't ever really noticed all that much. Jochan was a winger who while not playing poorly failed to match the point totals of others like Jason Pominville. Even his defensive abilities went largely unnoticed as he was outshinned by Drury and Gaustad in regards to two way play. This year all of that is beginning to change.

    At the start of the season Hecht was named captain of the month. At the time the move was a tad bit surprising, but since then has proven to be more than justified. Hecht began to take Drury's role of the lead by example solid two way player. Even after he passed on the captaincy after the end of the month, he has stayed on as an alternate for every month since then. Additionally Hecht has already almost reached his goal total from last season.

    Besides the solid two way hockey play Hecht has picked up another one of Drury's attributes, he has become a clutch player. He has twice as many game winning goals as he had last season, and is equal to Drury in that regard for the current year. Last weekend in the first game against Philly, Hecht scored the game winning goal in what was a come from behind one point victory for the Sabres. Then the very next night Vanek tied the game with just eight seconds to go, but got the goal by deflecting a shot from Jochan Hecht.

    The Winter Classic is fast approaching and the Sabres will be naming a new team captain at that time. I think I know who it might be...

    Thursday, December 27, 2007

    Sabres fall to Ottawa

    The Ottawa Senators defeated the Sabres 5-3. Ottawa had a big second period that saw them take a 3-1 lead that was quickly padded to 4-1 in the first. Buffalo started making a comeback, but gave up an empty netter to lose the game.

    Miller did not have a good game, and probably should have been able to stop a few of the shots that he let in this game. That said the rest of the team had to play better as well.

    Peters seemed to get alot of ice time this game, and was always half a second from being in a fight, although no one took up that challange tonight...

    Official Three Stars
  • Wade Redden
  • Mike Fisher
  • Tim Connolly

  • My Three Stars
  • Danny Heatley (two assists and an empty netter)
  • Wade Redden (one goal, one assist)
  • Jochan Hecht (played well as always)
  • Wednesday, December 26, 2007

    Ice Bowl is fast approaching

    With the Ice Bowl fast approaching, work on the ice rink has already begun. Bad weather has caused a few delays, but the project still is on schedule. That said, expected rain on Friday could begin to make things difficult again. The weather for new years day is more promising as it looks to be around 34 degrees, which is almost exactly what the NHL wanted...

    The Sabres play the hated Ottawa Senators tonight, as they look to extend their current six game win streak. Two close wins this past weekend against rival number two should have the Sabres fired up and ready for their most disliked opponent.

    The Buffalo News had an article on Sabres and Bills merchandise including that the Sabres had more "brand awareness" then all other NHL clubs, all baseball and basketball teams and all but two NFL clubs, (the exceptions being the Colts and the Steelers).

    In other news Satan now has 666 career NHL points... Also the World Juniors started today in Canada. The tournament runs through January 5th. (The United States beat Kazakhstan 5-1 to open the tournament)...

    Sunday, December 23, 2007

    Sabres Beat Flyers Again

    Buffalo once again beat Briere's Flyers, but this time in more dramatic fashion as the Sabres won the game 6-5 in a shootout. The Sabres scored the game tying goal with only seven seconds left in regulation, then killed of three minutes of penalties in overtime to get the win in the shootout.

    After a close first period in which the teams exchanged goals, Buffalo took a solid 3-1 lead early in the second. This was followed by a series of powerplay opportunities that backfired, as Buffalo allowed two quick shorthanded goals to let the Flyers back into the game. Buffalo scored on a five on three quickly afterwards to retake the lead, but then Philly got a five on three goal of their own at the end of a penalty prone second period (combined twenty min of penalties, all minors).

    In the third period the Flyers got out to an early one point lead, and stayed there until Thomas Vanek deflected a shot from Jochen Hecht past Marty Biron to tie the game. After a scoreless overtime, Kotalik got a goal for the Sabres beating Biron with a wrist shot to his glove side. On the other end of the ice Ryan Miller stopped all three of Philly's shots to secure the victory for Buffalo.

    The Sabres have now won a season high six straight games. Next game is on Boxing Day against the Ottawa Senators.

    Official Three Stars
  • Mike Richards
  • Jeff Carter
  • Jason Pominville

  • My Three Stars
  • Jason Pominville (four points on the night)
  • Ales Kotalik (one goal, one assist, plus one, and the shootout win)
  • Mike Richards (three points including two goals)
  • Saturday, December 22, 2007

    Sabres Beat Flyers

    The Buffalo Sabres defeated the Flyers 3-2. Former Sabre Daniel Briere was minus two in the game and held without any points. Buffalo was lead by the increasingly dependable Jochan Hecht who scored the game winning goal with only 2:51 remaining in the game. The other Sabres goal were by Drew Stafford and Ales Kotalik. Both Miller and former Sabres Marty Biron played well throughout the game.

    Rematch Saturday night back down in Philly...

    Official Three Stars
  • Jaroslav Spacek
  • Brian Campbell
  • Daniel Paille

  • My Three Stars
  • Jochan Hecht (game winning goal)
  • Jaroslav Spacek (two assists and a big hit on Briere)
  • Jeff Carter (plus one with a goal in the loss)
  • Friday, December 21, 2007

    Over 100

    The Sabres have reached the 100 goal mark for the season. They are the ninth team to do so this season. This is indicative of their inability to keep up with the ridiculous pace of last season's 305 goals.

    Still it is very good, and considering that Buffalo's defense is better than last year, indicates that they are better than their record shows them to be. As far as the standings go the two games against Philly this weekend can go a long way to moving them up in the standings (for now at least).

    Thursday, December 20, 2007

    Sabres outlast the Islanders

    The Buffalo Sabres beat the New York Islanders 2-1 in a very close game. Derek Roy and Max Afinogenov scored for the Sabres while Brendan Witt scored for the for the Islanders.

    Buffalo goalie Ryan Miller had an excellent game stopping 42 of 43 shots. He really carried the win for his team as the Sabres only managed 17 shots on the goal on the other side.

    The Sabres came into the game healthier than ever, but loss both Derek Roy and Tim Connolly to injury by the time the game was over. No word yet on how serious the injuries are. If they are unable to play expect Ryan and MacArthur to take their place...

    Hecht played well as ever, and actually had a goal discredited for kicking it into the net... next two games are against Marty Biron and the Fliers on Friday and Saturday...

    Official Three Stars
  • Ryan Miller
  • Max Afinogenov
  • Brandon Witt

  • My Three Stars
  • Ryan Miller (97.7 save percentage)
  • Max Afinogenov (game winning goal)
  • Derek Roy (great game before getting hurt)
  • Wednesday, December 19, 2007

    Defence is healthy

    The Sabres defence is finally healthy. Tallinder was able to finally comeback last weekend, and Kalinin is expected to play tonight against the Islanders. Nolan Pratt will be a healthy scratch and Sekera will be sent back to the Amerks.

    Even Teppo Numminen is getting healthy. After needing heart surgery to start the season, he has been practicing with the team, and even went with them on their recent trip. In fact the Sabres are actually healthier now then they were at the start of the season...

    Monday, December 17, 2007

    Preferring Paille Plays Prior Peters

    The question still exists as to if Peters is really helping the team all that much. To most perspectives the Sabres would be better off if they brought up somebody else instead.

    Peters has been in the lineup for five straight games now, but has only been playing around 2-3 minutes each night. In fact the most ice time he has had in a single game in that stretch is 3:37, and hasn't played for more than 6:33 all year.

    Yet besides Peters the rest of his line including Mair is given more ice time than that, and when Peters is scratched in favour of Paille or Ryan then the fourth line gets around the same amount of time as the third. Now that the Sabres are healthy there is no reason for him to be in the lineup, as I would rather see MacArthur or Kaleta be brought up, let alone not needing to have either Ryan or Paille as a healthy scratch.

    On the defensive side of things I think it was the right move to keep Sekera up and to scratch Pratt. Sekera has played very well in the last few games and will be sent to the AHL soon enough with Kalinin due to return soon...

    Sunday, December 16, 2007

    Sabres welcome Kane home, then beat his team

    The Sabres beat the blackhawks 3-1 in what was Patrick Kane's first game in Buffalo.

    To start off the game the ceremonial puck drop was performed by the grandfathers of Patrick Kane, and Sabres captain of the month Brian Campbell. Alot of attention has been given to the homecoming of Pat Kane in the last few days and with good reason, as he has been the best rookie of the season so far. Kane started out the game real well, and scored a goal within the first three minutes on a nice shot. However after that the game was all Sabres.

    Roy and Vanek looked like they did last year, putting together a solid game and each getting two points on the night, mostly from hard work. Two players who haven't scored in a while (Stafford and Pominville) both hit the back of the net tonight, to earn the win for Buffalo.

    After playing four games in the past six days the Sabres get some time off, and don't play until next Wednesday.

    Official Three Stars
  • Ryan Miller
  • Thomas Vanek
  • Patrick Kane

  • My Three Stars
  • Thomas Vanek (two points including a goal)
  • Derek Roy (two assists)
  • Ryan Miller (only let one past him)
  • Saturday, December 15, 2007

    Roy and Connolly lead the Sabres to Victory

    Late in the first period Derek Roy picked up a puck and scored an easy shorthanded goal, which is always a good way to guarantee yourself the win. Buffalo would eventually win the game 5-3, showing that they can consistantly beat the worst teams in the league.

    Connolly took a puck to the face in the second, but came back to get the game winner on a rebound in the third period. The Sabres play at home on Saturday night against Patrick Kane and the Chicago Blackhawks...

    Official Three Stars
  • Tim Connolly
  • Max Afinogenov
  • Nicklas Backstrom

  • My Three Stars
  • Derek Roy (short handed goal)
  • Jason Pominville (plus two, two points)
  • Max Afinogenov (another goal)
  • Friday, December 14, 2007

    Numminen back to practice

    The Buffalo News has reported that Teppo Numminen has been practicing with the Buffalo Sabres now for the first time since his heart surgery in October. It looks as if Teppo will be coming back for sure now, and that he will be in game shape around the end of January.

    Tallinder has also been getting healthier and is expected to play tonight against the Washington Capitals. Additionally Kalinin looks as if he will be back by next week as well. This will most likely take Sekera and Nolan out of the line up, as the Sabres defense is suddenly getting healthier in a rush. Having Sekera and MacArthur as the teams number one call up guys puts the Sabres in a comfortable condition to be in.

    Thursday, December 13, 2007

    Sabres back to winning

    The Sabres put together a solid effort (on offence) to beat the New York Islanders 5-3. Lead by Jason Pominville, and Derek Roy, the Sabres gave a huge offensive push that made up for their errors on defence. Buffalo outshot the Islanders 41-31 on the game and 34-26 in the first two periods.

    Given the high number of shots, and excellent opportunities for each team, both of the goalies (Ryan Miller and Rick DiPietro) both played pretty well, despite giving up eight goals between them.

    Buffalo dominated the faceoff circle this game, winning 58%. This was despite going up against the normally excellent Sillinger, who was only at 47% for the game. The Sabres were lead by Gaustad and Connolly who were at 67 and 64 percent.

    As well as Buffalo did on faceoffs, they did even worse on give aways. The Sabres had sixteen giveaways compared to the Islanders two. The refs meanwhile were rather whistle happy this game, as both teams ended up scoring a goal with a two man advantage, and the game was being played at four on three for over a minute at one point. The refs weren't favoring one team over the other, but it was starting to get to the point where it was ruining the flow of the game.

    Official Three Stars
  • Jason Pominville
  • Ales Kotalik
  • Derek Roy

  • My Three Stars
  • Jason Pominville (three assists on a night he just couldn't score)
  • Derek Roy (a goal, and on ice for three goals for and none against)
  • Ales Kotalik (one goal, plus two)
  • Tuesday, December 11, 2007

    Bruins Steal one from the Sabres

    The Sabres came out and played well against the Boston Bruins. Buffalo was able to outshoot their opponents 45-21, yet still managed to lose 4-1. Boston even had Alex Auld in goal, yet he played really well.

    This is the second game that the Bruins have won against Buffalo dispite getting massivly outshot. Milan Lucic lead Boston in shots with four, yet six different Sabres (one third of the team) had four or more shots on net in the game, and Pominville even had eight, yet not a single one went in. Without Tim Thomas in net, the Bruins goaltending was not supposed to be this good.

    Granted the Sabres made some pretty big mistakes to allow some of those goals, yet there is no reason to lose, when you have more than twice as many shots on net as the other team.

    For the second straight game, Peters has been in the lineup instaed of Paille. While I can understand playing Ryan or even MacArthur in favour of Paille, Peters hasn't really been doing all that much. Peters was only on the ice for 1:32 all game on just two shifts. Against San Jose, he played for only 1:31 in the game. Last year the Sabres strength came in playing all four lines, that hasn't been happening lately.

    Official Three Stars
  • Alex Auld
  • Marc Savard
  • Paul Gaustad

  • My Three Stars
  • Alex Auld (.978 save percenage)
  • Marc Savard (one goal, one assist)
  • Milan Lucic (two points, plus two)
  • Sunday, December 9, 2007

    Buffalo picks up a win in California

    After playing poorly for their first two games out in California, the Sabres looked good from the moment they took the ice against San Jose. Although they went down a goal mid way through the first period, they came back big in the second and third to win the game 7-1.

    Unlike the past two games the Sabres played well from the start. Their passing was good and, they created plenty of chances, being kept off the scoreboard only by some solid goaltending by Nabokov. The Sharks only goal was even a bit of a fluke, as a shot that was going way wide, took a bounce of Nolan Pratt's leg, and went into the net. While it would be hard to blame Pratt for that goal, he did not have a good game besides that. He was one of only three players to be minus for the team, and failed to finish most of his checks and to have solid puck control, when he did have the puck. Meanwhile teammate, Andrej Sekera played really well. Sekera was plus two, and although he only registered one official shot, did a good job getting the puck to the front of the net all game long.

    The best goal of the night was Connolly's, which came short handed as San Jose, gave up the puck at their own blue line. The San Jose player was coming out of the zone, when he suddenly lost his balance, and started crashing to the ice. He lost control of the puck, and managed to take out his only other teammate that was back on the play. Tim Connolly was able then to simply pick up the puck, put a move on the goal tender, and put it in the back of the net, to go up 2-1 in what would eventually be the game winning goal.

    Official Three Stars
  • Derek Roy
  • Paul Gaustad
  • Tim Connolly

  • My Three Stars
  • Paul Gaustad (two goals)
  • Derek Roy (two points, plus three)
  • Andrej Sekera (quietly had a really good game)
  • Friday, December 7, 2007

    Kings beat the Sabres

    I don't want to talk about it...

    Official Three Stars
  • Anze Kopitar
  • Dustin Brown
  • Tom Preissing

  • My Three Stars
  • Jonathan Quick (first NHL game in goal)
  • Anze Kopitar (four points)
  • Dustin Brown (three points, plus four)
  • Thursday, December 6, 2007

    Buffalo wins the brawl, loses the game

    The Sabres lost a fight filled game to the Ducks 4-1. The Sabres didn't play well at all in the second period and managed only three shots in those twenty minutes. The powerplay for Buffalo wasn't good at all, as the team was almost scared to shoot the puck, failing to do so at even the most obvious of opportunities.

    The Sabres did much better with their gloves off. Peters fought Parros twice, coming even in the first match, and decisively winning the second, even taking an opportunity to mock Parros' ridiculous eighties style mustache. Gaustad took an opportunity to beat on Bertuzzi. There was plenty more hostility between the teams, but nothing that was a clear fight, although three penalties were assessed after the end of the third including a ten minute game misconduct to Pronger.

    Hecht played well as always, scoring the lone goal for the Sabres, marking the 8th straight game that the Sabres scored first after failing to do so for 13 straight.

    Also, Ryan Miller played against his brother Drew for the first time in the NHL, but I can expect the Buffalo News to run with that story, so I'll let you all read about it there...

    Official Three Stars
  • Todd Bertuzzi
  • Andy McDonald
  • Chris Pronger

  • My Three Stars
  • Andy McDonald (one goal, one assist, plus two)
  • Jean-Sebastien Giguere (played well in net)
  • Paul Gaustad (beating up Todd Bertuzzi is always good)
  • Wednesday, December 5, 2007

    Long Odds

    Just because something is unlikely, does not mean that it won't happen...

    Mark Recchi has long been one of the NHL's best players and is 23rd on the all time points list, yet that was not enough to prevent him from being placed on waivers by the Penguins yesterday. Furthermore he actually cleared waivers without any team signing him. Most of the reason for the lack of interest is due to his high salary, but why no team is interested in him is beyond me. Although is getting older, it appears as if the Penguins' decision to cut him was more due to his salary and disagreements with the coach. There will be an opportunity for a team to claim him for half his salary should Pittsburgh decide to recall him, and for only half of the salary it would be hard for many teams not to sign him. For the Sabres, being a team the emphasizes speed, and has Clarke MacArthur waiting in Rochester the Recchi would not be all that helpful to the club. Had this happened back at the beginning of the season you could argue that the Sabres needed the veteran leadership, but given how well Hecht and Campbell have been doing at that, I don't think that is no longer an issue that needs to be addressed.

    The Rochester Americans and the Buffalo Sabres have the oldest relationship in the league with an AHL club, and are conveniently located an hour away from each other, but that doesn't mean that it will last. It is looking more and more unlikely that this relationship will still be in effect come next season, and that's quite a disappointment. More on this in a few days...

    Jonathan Toews has been named an alternate captain by the Blackhawks, just three months into his rookie year. Toews may note even be the best rookie on the team with his teammate, and Buffalo native Patrick Kane also having a very good season. For Chicago to have two rookies that are so good, is such a large boost to this team...

    The top team in the East, the Ottawa Senators, have now lost seven straight games. Even Buffalo hasn't had a stretch that bad in the team's slow start this year. And while some of the losses have come in overtime, many of the losses have not come to good teams. They play the 12-14-1 Panthers tonight, lets hope they lose again...

    Buffalo also plays (late) tonight against the Ducks out on the west coast. This will only be the second time these two teams have played since the lockout, and the first time the Sabres have played anywhere in California since the lockout...

    Monday, December 3, 2007

    Falling apart in Ottawa

    The Senators got off to a great start this season winning 13 of their first 14 games. Since then things have begun to fall apart. When Buffalo played the Senators on November 21, Ottawa was still dominating and was 16-3. The Sabres won that game and Ottawa has not won since. The Senators have now dropped 6 straight games to allow Buffalo and some of the other teams to begin catching up. Ottawa's next two games are against relatively easy opponents in Tampa Bay and Florida.

    Since that game against Ottawa the Sabres are 5-1. Buffalo is set to take a trip out to California to play all three of the teams in that state over the next week starting with the Ducks on Wednesday.

    Sunday, December 2, 2007

    Eight is (more than) enough

    The Buffalo Sabres embarrassed the Carolina Hurricanes, beating them 8-1 in a game that wasn't even close. Buffalo ran away with this one, only allowing a late power play goal with less than two minutes left in the game.

    Kotalik had two goals in the game including the first one at just 1:32 into the first. The Sabres have now scored the first goal of the game in seven straight games after failing to do so the 13 games preceding that.

    Mair got a goal in his first game back since the fifth of November. It was a nice goal right of the faceoff where he was feed the puck from Gaustad to pick up the easy goal.

    Practically everyone on the Sabres had a good game. Afinogenov played great and was on the ice for half of the Sabres goals for the night. Max had an awesome shot go in, as did many other of the Sabres in this blow out win.

    Miller played well, but seems completely unable to get a shutout. No matter how well he plays he has a tendency to blow his shutout bids on easy shots late in the third. Miller has played much better for a few seasons now then his shutout count would seem to indicate.

    Official Three Stars
  • Maxim Afinogenov
  • Ales Kotalik
  • Ryan Miller

  • My Three Stars
  • Derek Roy (plus three points, one goal, and one assist)
  • Maxim Afinogenov (on ice for four goals including one of his own)
  • Jaroslav Spacek (plus three, three points)
  • Ales Kotalik (two goals, this was a four star game)
  • Saturday, December 1, 2007

    Captain Campbell

    Brian Campbell is the Buffalo Sabres captain for the month of December. Continuing the teams emphasis on defense this season he is the second straight defensemen to take on the role of captain, and his linemate Jaro Spacek is one of the alternative captains for the month as well.

    Campbell has been one of the Sabres best defensemen, and a leader on the team for some time now. He was an alternate captain last month as well. Come January Connolly is likely to be captain, most likely with Campbell and Hecht as the alternatives. Hopefully the Sabres can do the same thing they did with Hecht and extend Campbell's contract while he is captain.

    Speaking of Hecht, he is an alternative captain again this month. Hecht has now been either the captain or the alternate every month so far this year. It would be hard to see him not named full time captain at the start of next year, or even come playoffs...

    Friday, November 30, 2007

    Fighting for the win

    As I've noted before the Sabres have not been prone to get into fights this season. However out of the four games in which they have fought they have won three of them.

    Buffalo so far has gotten into fights with Atlanta(2), Tampa, Florida(2), and Washington. Buffalo's fighters so far this season are Peters(2), Gaustad(2), Mair and Stafford. So it appears if seeing Peters get into a brawl may actually be good for the team. On the other hand, all of these games were against teams in the southeast with losing records.

    Random stat from all of this? In games in which their is a fight and Miller is the starting goal tender the Sabres are undefeated. 3-0 is good no matter how circumstantial...

    Thursday, November 29, 2007

    Buffalo blows lead to McKee's Blues

    Buffalo had a 2-0 lead late in the second period, but blew their opportunity and allowed St. Louis to score three straight after that. Buffalo did come back to tie the game only to let in another goal in the final minute. After getting outshot 32-23 the Sabres lost 4-3 after winning five straight.

    Once again the younger players on the team did pretty well. Sekera got his first NHL goal to tie the game up late, and Clarke MacArthur played well throughout the game as well. Tim Connolly probably had the best game among the Sabres as he was plus one with two assists in a losing effort.

    Bryce Salvador had an awesome game for the Blues as he was plus three, had two assists, and blocked more shots then even Jay McKee (3 to McKee's 2). Legace played ok for the Blues as well. Although he should have stopped Sekera's shot he was good enough in goal to pick up the win.

    Official Three Stars
  • Paul Kariya
  • Andre Sekera
  • Keith Tkachuk

  • My Three Stars
  • Bryce Salvador (plus three, two assists)
  • Paul Kariya (one goal, one assist, +2)
  • Keith Tkachuk (two assists, +2)
  • Tuesday, November 27, 2007

    Hecht leads the team to victory

    Jochen Hecht had a dominating game as the Sabres beat the capitals 3-1. Hecht had the Sabres first two goals and assisted on the third. He almost got the hat trick in the third period, but Kolzig came up big and made the save.

    Ryan and Paille who played on a line with Hecht for most of the game also played very well as did Pominville who scored the games final goal. Gaustad played well, but missed an easy empty netter with ten seconds to go.

    Peters apparently reads this blog, as he got into a fight on his very first shift, saving himself from having to go a full month without a fight. The fight was mostly a draw, although you could give Peters a slight edge. Like most of his fights it was slow with nobody really landing anything, although the refs let it go for quite awhile.

    Official Three Stars
  • Jochen Hecht
  • Ryan Miller
  • Alexander Ovechkin

  • My Three Stars
  • Jochen Hecht (three points, two goals)
  • Ryan Miller (only allowed one against)
  • Olaf Kolzig (made some big saves despite the loss)
  • Monday, November 26, 2007

    Keeping the gloves on

    The Sabres have done very little fighting this year (even after a few games against Ottawa). According to the Sabres have not had any fights since two against Florida all the way back on November second. Peters himself has only had one fight so far this season, and that was a day short of being a full month ago. Peters is on track to have only four fights all regular season, and this is after he got into three fights in five preseason games.

    With only five fights so far on the season, Buffalo has had the fewest fights in the entire NHL. Meanwhile, Philadelphia is averaging a fight per game.

    Game against the capitals tonight, hopefully they can put themselves over .500 (even if they don't drop the gloves)...

    Sunday, November 25, 2007

    Thibault gets the shutout

    Jocelyn Thibault got himself a shutout against Montreal in his third start of the season. He stopped all 24 shots he faced to bring the Sabres to a 3-0 victory.

    Spacek got the first goal of the game on the powerplay, hitting the net on a bad angle despite never being able to do so from out on the point. The Sabres later goal by Vanek also was the result of converting on a rebound. Spacek was actually on the ice for all three goals scored, and played well on defense as well.

    Buffalo's penalty killers did an excellent job in the game, killing all three of their penalties. Montreal has had one of the better powerplay teams but the Sabres have now outplayed them in these situations for two straight games.

    The Sabres have been playing well of late and are have just won four straight, and are coming up against an easy opponent in Washington.

    Official Three Stars
  • Jocelyn Thibault
  • Thomas Vanek
  • Brian Campbell

  • My Three Stars
  • Jocelyn Thibault (the shutout)
  • Jaroslav Spacek (played well both ways)
  • Thomas Vanek (played real well two straight nights)
  • Saturday, November 24, 2007

    Sabres win on the powerplay

    The Buffalo Sabres scored on two of their three powerplay chances to beat Montreal 4-2. The first goal came on a powerplay goal by Derek Roy, from Afinogenov and Pominville, who all had suffered on the powerplay previously. The game winning goal came from Vanek who had also been doing poorly on with the man advantage. Pominville again got the assist, along with Paetsch. Buffalo's even strength goal came from Tim Connolly who has been playing great for the team since returning from injury earlier this week.

    Official Three Stars
  • Ryan Miller
  • Daniel Paille
  • Tomas Plekanec

  • My Three Stars
  • Jason Pominville (two assists on the powerplay)
  • Tim Connolly (Buffalo's only even strength goal)
  • Maxim Afinogenov (on ice for three of Buffalo's goals, none for Montreal)
  • Friday, November 23, 2007

    Numminen on the way back

    The Buffalo news has reported recently that Teppo Numminen, has been skating, and working on getting back in shape. He still isn't going to be back with the Sabres for awhile, but everything still looks promising.

    The Sabres could use Teppo on their penalty kill, as Pratt just isn't cutting it. At this point the optimistic scenario is a mid February return...

    Thursday, November 22, 2007

    Sabres beat Ottawa

    The Buffalo Sabres have now won two straight (both 4-2), and now that they are scoring, look like a decent team.

    Buffalo benefited from getting Connolly back for this game. Furthermore they kept MacArthur up with the team, and scratched Peters instead. MacArthur deserved that spot, and played well this game even though he didn't get on the score sheet. Mike Ryan is suddenly in danger of losing his spot, but he did get himself onto the scoring sheet as he got the first goal of the game.

    Stafford got the night's final goal, and Paille got an assist on Ryan's so the Sabres are really starting to rely on their younger players. Combine that with MacArthur's recent success and almost all of the Sabres points are reliant upon players who were not on the roster to start last season.

    Miller played good enough this game, and deserved the win. He even got an assist on Kotalik's powerplay goal.

    Official Three Stars
  • Thomas Vanek
  • Ryan Miller
  • Mike Ryan

  • My Three Stars
  • Mike Ryan (first goal of the game)
  • Daniel Alfredsson (first goal for Ottawa)
  • Ryan Miller (the win in net)
  • Wednesday, November 21, 2007

    Tim Connolly where are you?

    The Sabres desperately need Tim Connolly back on the power play. Timmy is the fifth most productive player in the NHL on the powerplay this season, while no other Sabres make the leagues top 20. Fortunately it looks as if Connolly might be ready to go tonight against Ottawa.

    And while Buffalo had no one else in the top 20, the team was all over the bottom twenty. Vanek, Afinogenov, Pominville, and Roy all ended up in the bottom twenty in the league. Ex-Sabre Zubrus also was at the bottom of the list.

    I'm thinking the ideal set up for powerplays would be Connolly, MacArthur, and Stafford up front, with Campbell and Paetsch on the blue line...

    Saturday, November 17, 2007

    Sabres finally get a win

    Apparently shooting is not the best way to score. After outshooting their opponents in three straight losses, the Sabres were outshot by Montreal, but still came out ahead 4-1.

    The Sabres were lead by Clarke MacArthur who had two goals in the game and has looked great since he was called up from Rochester earlier this season. He already has three goals in just a few games with Buffalo, and at times it really appeared as if the rest of the team was going out of its way to try and give him the hattrick.

    Miller played really well, coming up big in the early goings of the second, not allowing Montreal to score two. The Sabres were also perfect on the penalty kill this game, which is significant given how good Montreal is with the man advantage.

    Official Three Stars
  • Clark MacArthur
  • Ryan Miller
  • Thomas Vanek

  • My Three Stars
  • Clarck MacArthur (two goals)
  • Ryan Miller (came up big in the second)
  • Thomas Vanek (actually agreeing with the official picks)
  • Friday, November 16, 2007

    Buffalo finally scores two in regulation, still lose

    The Buffalo Sabres ended their 5v5 scoreless streak at 218 minuites, 3 seconds. But given Buffalo's tendency to miss open nets the rest of the game it was all for nothing.

    The Sabres did get a second goal (the first time in five games they have done so in regulation) on a five on three. The Sabres had two five on three chances in the game and scored on one, but given how short they were one goal isn't bad.

    I can't even remember the last time the Sabres had the lead at some point in the game, so perhaps that should be the goal tonight against Montreal. Then again the last time we played them I don't think the Sabres scored at all...

    Official Three Stars
  • Daniel Alfredsson
  • Martin Gerber
  • Jochan Hecht

  • My Three Stars
  • Daniel Alfredsson (two goals)
  • Martin Gerber (the win in net)
  • Michael Ryan (his best game ever for the Sabres)
  • Thursday, November 15, 2007

    Interview with Toni Lydman has recently posted an interesting interview with captain of the month Toni Lydman.

    In the interview he is asked how he feels the team is doing, and as a player who puts defense first in everything on the ice, he responds in that mindset. The truth is from a defensive perspective the Sabres have been playing really well recently. Their goals against is really low, and Lydman notes that they are "playing better hockey, [and] acting like five-man units out there". As long as you keep the mentality that the Sabres are bound to get lucky eventually, things are not so bad. Given all the chances the Sabres have had in the last few games, its not really as if they have been playing bad.

    Lydman is also asked about some other players around the league. He has nothing but praise for the recently retired Lindros, and when asked about Forsberg states that he 's "been one of the best in the league", but qualifies it with a "when he's healthy" and then hints that he doesn't think Forsberg will ever play healthy again...

    The veteran player that the Sabres really need is Numminen, but that looks as if it may still be a while. The Sabres play Ottawa tonight, if there ever was a good time for the team to finally get back to scoring, tonight would be it...

    Tuesday, November 13, 2007

    210 minutes, 33 seconds

    It has now been 210 minutes and 33 seconds of five on five play since the Sabres have last scored a five on five goal. This was six games back on the second of November. And over 3 and a half hours of five on five ice time. The Sabres lead the league last year in 5v5 goals with 204, but this year those goals are just not comming. This year they have only 24 so far and are tied for the fifth worst in the league. To their credit the Sabres have gotten an astounding 79 shots on goal over the last two games, but only one in the back of the net for all that. Maybe they just need to get some more rebounds...

    Sunday, November 11, 2007

    46 shots, yet only 1 goal

    The Sabres had plenty of shots in this game, but nothing to show for it. Paille finally scored a shorthanded goal on what was around the 40th shot of the night for Buffalo. The Sabres did decent on the defensive end of things, but that doesn't count if you can't score.

    The Sabres were pretty bad on the powerplay, getting no goals and not to many shots either. At one point the Sabres got 40 seconds of five on three time, and did not register a single shot on net.

    The penalty kill was better only allowing one against, killing a full minute of five on three, and getting a short handed goal.

    It's been five games since the Sabres have scored a 5v5 goal. They lead the league in this last year. They need to get doing it again.

    Official Three Stars
  • Tim Thomas
  • Chuch Kobasew
  • Jochan Hecht

  • My Three Stars
  • Tim Thomas (45 saves)
  • Jason Pominville (ten shots on goal all by himself)
  • Chuch Kobasew (game winning goal)
  • Saturday, November 10, 2007

    Sabres Fail to Score (yet again)

    If you score zero goals, you are guaranteed to lose. The Sabres actually looked like the better team through the first two periods, but were unable to score, which makes it all for nothing. Then to top it off they played horribly in the third. Toronto really didn't play that well either, but at least they tried, and didn't have a goal tender who let in random easy shots...

    The Sabres really just need to shoot the puck. They had three or four breakaways (two by Vanek), where they never even got a shot off. Same with the powerplays, they just dump it into the corner, and lose possession half the time, rather than get a shot on net. Further more on the powerplay, the shots should all be on the net, and not high or wide. There is no reason to be trying to pick the corner, as the goals are eventually going to come off of rebounds or tipped shots anyways.

    If the Sabres can't beat Toronto they are going to have some real problems with Montreal and Ottawa...

    Official Three Stars
  • Andrew Raycroft
  • Matts Sundin
  • Brian McCabe

  • My Three Stars
  • Andrew Raycroft (the shutout)
  • Matts Sundin (one goal, one assist)
  • (this game only had two stars...)
  • Friday, November 9, 2007

    $162 Million

    Forbes has just released their yearly evaluations on the monetary value of each team. The Sabres are the 19th most valuable team in the league at $162 Million. The Maple Leafs are worth the most at $413 Million, while the Predators are worth the least, but in the middle of being sold.

    Hopefull Sign of Increasing Value
    The overall value of the Buffalo Sabres increased by 9% which is well above the 2-3% inflation rate.

    Reason for Concern
    The Sabres are listed with an income of -4.9 Million. It's never good when the income is negative.

    Strange Fact
    The Sabres have less debt then the very wealthy Maple Leafs.

    Money Can't Buy Wins
    The Maple Leafs are worth more than the Sabres, but when they play tonight expect Buffalo to win...

    Thursday, November 8, 2007

    MacArthur Wins one for the Sabres

    The Sabres got down by a goal early on, but were able to come back to beat Boston 2-1 in OT. The Sabres only allowed one goal, but unlike against Montreal they actually scored one themselves as well. Then in overtime Clarke MacArthur scored a pretty one to win the game for Buffalo.

    MacArthur had been up for a few games last season, and even this preseason I stated that MacArthur's play would be more important than that of Peters and Ryan despite less games played over the season. He showed up big tonight. In his overtime of his first game in the NHL this season, he got a quick pass from Stafford, and absolutely buried the opportunity.

    My last post seems to be confirmed, as both Roy and Vanek were on the ice for the only goal against this game. Still it was only one goal all game long and the Sabres have now played great on the defensive side of things for two straight nights. Lets hope they can keep it up for their next game against Toronto on Friday. And if they start scoring again as well, that would also be nice...

    Official Three Stars
  • Clark MacArthur
  • Paul Gaustad
  • Ryan Miller

  • My Three Stars
  • Clarck MacArthur (overtime goal in his first game of the season)
  • Ales Kotalik (game tieing goal, plus a solid two way effort)
  • Paul Gaustad (almost crazy enough to fight Chara)
  • Wednesday, November 7, 2007

    Needing a stronger back check...

    Thomas Vanek is averaging 11.23 min of five on five play for every 60 minutes of even strength play that the Sabres have. It's a good thing that it isn't more. The Sabres opponents are averaging 6.16 goals for every sixty minutes that Vanek is on the ice. This is the third worst in the league among those averaging above 16.67% of 5 v 5 playing time. Linemate Derek Roy isn't far behind, allowing 5.70 goals against making him the fifth worst in this statistic.

    Meanwhile Spacek doesn't look so good either. While Spacek has turned around his game on the offensive side of things, he hasn't been too much of a defensive defenceman, allowing 4.47 goals against per every sixty minutes played. Among those averaging significant playing time that makes him the 16th worst in the NHL. Sekera is actually a bit worse than Spacek, while offensively deficient Nolan Pratt is right behind them proving to also be defensively deficient.

    Worst still for the Sabres is that Afinogenov and Ryan are not far behind either. While in his limited playing time Peters has yet for the opposing team to score a goal on him, the best defensive players for the team in this regard are Gaustad, Kotalik, and Paille. Hopefully this line starts to get some more playing time. On defense the best players are the injured Kalinin and the rookie Mike Weber, if there was ever a reason to play Weber ahead of Pratt this is it.

    Tuesday, November 6, 2007

    Sabres play well, still lose

    The Sabres actually put together a pretty good game. The only problem is that they failed to score any goals. The Sabres outshot the Canadians 29-19, including 9-2 in the third, but Huet had a great game and really earned himself the shutout.

    Miller played decent as well, only allowing one goal to get by him, and that should be enough for the win. Montreal just got lucky this game.

    Official Three Stars
  • Cristobal Huet
  • Tomas Plekanec
  • Derek Roy

  • My Three Stars
  • Cristobal Huet (the shutout and the only reason Montreal won)
  • Brian Campbell (for his agressive play throughout the whole game)
  • Tomas Plekanec (scored the games only goal)
  • Monday, November 5, 2007

    The Newest Sabre

    About a week ago the Sabres signed Nolan Pratt as a free agent to give a little more depth to their defense. He was signed to a one year low end contract, still it begs the question why? Obviously the Sabres would be best off with a completely healthy blueline, but I'm not sure how this signing is supposed to help that. Although more experienced I'm not sure that he is significantly better than Mike Webber, who looked decent in a limited role, when he was up for a little while.

    Pratt had spent the last five years with Tampa Bay, before not returning for this season. He only has eight goals ever, over the past five seasons he has only three goals. To put that in perspective Numminen has scored 26 goals over the same time frame and even Rob Ray scored 8 goals over his final five seasons. Even in his limited role last season Paetsch easily had double the number of assists that Pratt has ever put up. Lets hope Numminen, and even Spacek get healthy soon. Both are expected to still be out tonight against Montreal...

    Saturday, November 3, 2007

    Buffalo hands Panthers a win on a Platter

    Theoretically the Sabres are a much better team then the Panthers. Buffalo really should have won this game, but that would require them to actually show up. The Sabres had a few stretches in which they massively outplayed Florida, but they were unable to score on these opportunities, and followed them with catastrophic Defensive breakdowns.

    Thibault actually played rather well, but just got no help on the night. A bit more of a back check was really needed in this game, as too often Buffalo's defensive was just outnumbered deep in their zone, for no apparent reason. On the few offensive opportunities the Sabres put far too many pucks wide of the net.

    Pratt looked ok in his first game with Buffalo, but was by and large just average in his play. He was in for Spacek who presumably re-aggravated his prior injury in the game last night.

    The line of Vanek and Afinogenov was on the ice for were both on the ice for three goals against, and their linemate Roy has been putting up some very poor defensive numbers all season long. You need to play both ways. After leading the league in plus minus last season Vanek is at -4 so far this year.

    Official Three Stars
  • Richard Zednik
  • Jozef Stumpel
  • Stephen Weiss

  • My Three Stars
  • Richard Zednik (two goals)
  • Jozef Stumpel (assisted on both the Zednik goals)
  • Radek Dvorak (got the games first goal)
  • Friday, November 2, 2007

    After giving up Three soft goals the Sabres lose in OT

    The Sabres came in to Boston and proved themselves to be the better team, then Miller gave up three easy goals, and Buffalo was only able to come away with one point. Although it took the Sabres a while to score the offence looked good all night, and actually outshot the Bruins 30-24 despite having fewer powerplay opportunities.

    The Sabres were lead by new Captain Lydman and Afinogenov throughout the game, who both gave huge efforts throughout the night. Afinogenov got the first goal after a nice set up by Vanek and Gaustad, but was constantly the source of the Sabres push throughout the game. Lydman on the other hand lead the push on the defensive end, playing up to the expectations that come with being the team captain. Lydman had a number of big blocks including one that came off his face, but that sacrifice saved an otherwise certain goal. Lydman had to leave the game to get stitched up, but came back to play in the third.

    The Sabres real problem in the game was in goal. Although Miller didn't have much of a chance on the first goal all the rest of the goals came on shots that Miller really should have had. It's kindof hard to win a game when you give up three easy ones like that.

    Part of the reason the Sabres were able to pick up a point in the game was their special teams play. Boston scored a nice goal early on their first power play, but Buffalo killed off the other four later in the game (thanks to mainly to Paille and Lydman, although not to Pominville who missed what should have been an easy short handed goal). On the other side of things the Sabres were two for three with the man advantage, which is clearly where they need to be. Next game is Friday night against Florida.

    Official Three Stars
  • Marc Savard
  • Marco Sturm
  • Glen Metropolit

  • My Three Stars
  • Marc Savard (a goal and an assist and by far the best player on the Bruins)
  • Maxim Afinogenov (goal and Buffalo's best on the night)
  • Glen Metropolit (a goal and an assist at the most important times in the game)
  • Thursday, November 1, 2007

    A New Month, A New Captain

    The Sabres have announced that Toni Lydman will take on the role of captain for the month of November. The assistants will be Campbell and Hecht. As I predicted this is a move of the teams leadership towards the defence where this teams strength needs to be. The defence will be where most of this teams leadership will be all season long.

    Hecht did really well in his term as captain. He acted as the leader of the team, and played what very well might have been his best month of hockey in the NHL. If Lydman can pick up his game in the same way Hecht did, the Sabres might finally have enough defence to be able to win some close low scoring games...

    Sunday, October 28, 2007

    Sabres come back again to win over Tampa

    For the second time in two nights the Sabres were able to come from behind to win the game. Once again finding themselves down a goal in the third period the Sabres came back to win 4-3 in overtime.

    The Sabres played well and really got some breaks on the calls this game as well. Tampa Bay had a potential game winning goal disallowed due to a goalie interference call, and while it was the right call (even Tampa Bay coach John Tortorella admitted so), there wouldn't have been too much question if the goal had been allowed to stand. Later in overtime Vanek scored the winning goal with Paille clearly offsides. In all fairness though he never touched the puck on the play.

    Gaustad, Afinogenov , and Paetsch got the earlier goals of the game, all of which were important. Afinogenov 's goal got the Sabres started after going down 2-0 early in the second, while Paetsch's goal tied up the game late in the third to send it into overtime and guarantee the Sabres would at least get one point out of the game. Gaustad's goal was the result of the Sabres powerplay effort in the game and went a respectable 1 for 3.

    Also for the three stats, it appears as if the Tampa media didn't even watch the game and are just used to automatically voting for Lecavalier and St. Louis.

    Official Three Stars
  • Nathan Paetsch
  • Vincent Lecavalier
  • Martin St. Louis

  • My Three Stars
  • Maxim Afinogenov (goal to get the Sabres back in the game)
  • Nathan Paetsch (first goal of the season to tie the game)
  • Thomas Vanek (an assist, plus the game winner in overtime)
  • Saturday, October 27, 2007

    Sabres score four to beat Florida

    The Sabres have been falling apart in the third period the last couple of games, but came through this time to score three goals for the win. It's about time Buffalo shows up for the comeback rather than letting in four like they did last game. Hecht and Pominville both had awesome games, with Pominville having an absolutely beautiful pass to set up Hecht for the Sabres second goal of the game.

    The Sabres penalty kill ended up excellent on the night. After letting in a soft goal early on the first shot on their first penalty kill, the Sabres shut down Florida for the rest of the six penalties taken and then Paille scored shorthanded on the final penalty kill of the game.

    On the powerplay Buffalo was not nearly as good. They scored on the tail end of a minute long five on three chance in the first, but were unable to convert on a later minute long five on three chance in the second and in fact only got one shot on goal in that whole time.

    This is Buffalo's first win with under five goals scored, but there is no reason that a team should ever lose if it can get one shorthanded. The team looked a bit iffy in the first two periods but put together a solid effort in the final twenty minutes to earn the win. Hopefully they can do the same again Saturday night against Tampa Bay.

    Official Three Stars
  • Jason Pominville
  • Ryan Miller
  • Daniel Paille

  • My Three Stars
  • Jason Pominville (two primary assists and an awesome overall game)
  • Jochen Hecht (a goal and an awesome overall game)
  • Daniel Paille (a shorthanded goal for the win)
  • Friday, October 26, 2007

    Rookie Defence

    If Spacek isn't ready to play tonight the Sabres will use rookie Mike Weber in Kalinin's place instead. If this is the case expect Weber and Sekera to be on a line together and to get very little playing time. Either way giving Campbell anything short of Pronger like minutes would be a mistake for the Sabres. The defense could really use Numminen back, but it looks as if that may take a while...

    Thursday, October 25, 2007

    Sabres Fall apart in the third lose 6-2

    The Sabres came from what had been an even match to lose by four in the third. Buffalo still has yet to win a game in which they have less then five goals. Hopefully in Friday's match in Florida they can do much better.

    Unlike previous games the penalty kill was actually a highlight of the game. Although they did let in one powerplay goal late in the third, the Sabres killed off 8 of 9 including one double minor. Early on at least they looked good doing it. The Sabres penalty kill came out very aggressive and that worked for them. Hecht Connolly Pominville and Tallinder all did exceptionally well killing off the penalties. One the other side of things the Sabres scored 23 seconds into a 5 on 3, but were unable to score on any of their other three chances, which included another 26 seconds with a two man advantage.

    Official Three Stars
  • Bret Hedican
  • Jeffery Hemilton
  • Eric Stall

  • My Three Stars
  • Rod Brind'amour (a goal and an assist)
  • Bret Hedican (a goal and two assists)
  • Jason Pominville (two goals)
  • Wednesday, October 24, 2007

    World Series

    The world series starts tonight. As this is a hockey blog this video explains everything worth saying about that...

    Of course instead of baseball I'll be watching the Sabres and Canes tonight...

    Tuesday, October 23, 2007

    Random Statistic of the day

    The Buffalo Sabres are undefeated so far this year in games where both Spacek and Kotalik played...

    For the optimist, the Sabres have the potential to win every game this season.

    For the pessimist, the Sabres are unable to win if they are without so much as one starter.

    As for those of you who are suddenly more worried if Spacek will play on Wednesday, he might. Spacek will traveled with the team, but it isn't clear if he will play or not.

    Monday, October 22, 2007

    Winning without scoring in Minnesota

    The Minnesota Wild have the best record in the NHL so far this year at 7-0-1 picking up 15 of 16 possible points. However unlike the Sabres who rely on scoring, scoring, and scoring the Wild is winning without getting any goals. While the Sabres have 26 goals in seven games, the Wild have only scored 20 times in eight games. While Buffalo has yet to win without scoring at least five goals, Minnesota has yet to score more than three in a game.

    The difference obviously is defence, and while it doesn't make exciting hockey it does win games. Even in their only loss they only gave up three goals until the shoot out.

    While this strategy probably would not work for Buffalo, they do need to remember that actually trying on defence is a good thing.

    Sunday, October 21, 2007

    Sabres lose second straight

    At least the team showed up for this game. They still lost 4-2 to Montreal, which is a team that they should be consistantly beating. Unlike the previous game the Sabres were ok five on five. Although not spectacular even strength they played well enough to win. Special teams were once again a disaster. They were unable to score with six powerplay chances, in fact they were unable to even come close to scoring. They allowed two goals when down although one of those was on a five on three. Still in the end the team didn't put together a good enough game to win.

    Next game is Wenesday against the surprisingly good Carolina Hurricanes.

    Official Three Stars
  • Roman Hamrlik
  • Christopher Higgins
  • Derek Roy

  • My Three Stars
  • Christopher Higgins (two goals)
  • Roman Hamrlik (three assists)
  • Christobal Huet (the win in net)
  • Saturday, October 20, 2007

    No Goals (and even less Defence)

    The Sabres didn't show up for their Friday game against the Columbus BLue Jackets, droping the game 3-0. Apparently they missed my post the other day on how a high number of shots and goals are critical to their success. Although you can't ever win with zero points, Buffalo's defense was arguably worse.

    Roy played really poorly in this game giving over turn over after turn over. Miller actually played really well, even stopping a penalty shot, but got no help. On the Blue Jackets first goal Peca was surrounded by four Sabres, yet none of them really moved towards the puck, allowing Peca's long chance swipe to bounce into the net. On the second goal on defender had for the most part forced Nash off of the puck, while a second defender kindof pointed his stick and the general direction rather then taking the for the most part free puck, while a third defender in the area just kindof stood there and watched.

    Sabres play Montreal Saturday night. Perhaps redemption can come quick.

    Official Three Stars
  • Rick Nash
  • Pascal Leclaire
  • Michael Peca

  • My Three Stars
  • Rick Nash
  • Pascal Leclaire
  • Michael Peca

  • Also in the Chicago game last night, the Blackhawks blew an early three goal lead but came back to beat the Colorado. Patrick Kane got his first NHL goal, which was a real pretty top corner one over the glove, but the highlight of the game came on the first goal of the game. Kane got what will probably be the easiest assist of his career when he passed it to Toews at the redline and then saw Toews skate around four defenders and slide the puck into the back of then net.

    Friday, October 19, 2007

    Spacek out for weekend

    Spacek is still recovering from the minor shoulder injury he received in the Leafs game. He will not be playing in either of the games this weekend, but shouldn't be out for too long. I'm surprised to say this, but I'm actually disappointed that Spacek won't be in the lineup for these games. Expecting Andrej Sekera to be up in his place. The Blue Jackets are really not that great of a team, with Rick Nash as their only real threat. Game is at HSBC Arena and starts at 7:30.

    Yesterday Atlanta finally got their first win against the Rangers (and without a coach at that), while the Senators and Flyers both won to stay at the top of the Eastern Conference. And one day after my post on how shots per game turns into goals per game the Phoenix Coyotes lost 4-2 after outshooting the Oilers 41 to 18...

    Thursday, October 18, 2007

    Once again leading the league in Scoring

    The Sabres are currently leading the league in scoring as they did last year, currently averaging 4.8 goals per game. Given Buffalo's offence first mentality this is critical to their success this year.

    As every frustrated fan watching the powerplay knows, you can't score if you don't shoot. Fortunately the Sabres are doing well there as well. Mirtle has dug up some statistics on the league, and (as of Tuesday) Buffalo leads the NHL with 36.2 shots on goal per game. The Danny Briere lead Flyers are close behind at 35.8 just as they are with goals at 4.2 per game.

    Buffalo's stats may be slightly inflated due to riping off a ridiculous 53 shots against the Capitals, and be getting the opportunity to play the lowly Thrashers. But the points count the same regardless of where they come from.

    The more surprising statistic though is that Buffalo is fourth in the league in fewest shots against. Buffalo has always been known as being a shootout team in which the scores rack up for both sides, but this year it appears as if they are playing some defence as well. Again this may be inflated due to playing Atlanta, and shutting down the Capitals for only four shots in the first period, but if you can consistently get 10 more shots then your opponents per game, then you should consistently win...

    Wednesday, October 17, 2007

    Four More Years, for Jochen Hecht

    The Sabres have signed a four year contract extension for Jochen Hecht which will take effect at the beginning of next season. The organization seems to have a great deal of trust in the temporary captain and apparently have deemed it important to resign him to a longer deal. The Sabres now have three players with relatively long term deals, with Vanek and Roy being the other two.

    This contract actually comes as a change for the Sabres organization, in that this is the first time in quite a while that they have been willing to sign a deal with a player while still in season. I've always agreed with the merits of that policy, although for some time it's looked as if I've been the only one. If the Sabres want to abandon that policy it's their right to do so...

    Tuesday, October 16, 2007

    Buffalo Comes back to beat the Leafs

    The Sabres brought back memories of last season as they relied upon a dramatic comeback, followed by a dominating overtime performance to win the game.

    At first the game started looking like the one against the Capitals in that the Sabres looked as if they were going to be shut out to lose a close one. Toronto was able to go into the third period with a 2-0 lead. However, also like the Capitals game Buffalo was able to come back with a flood of late goals in order to win the game.

    The Sabres finally got on the board with only 12 minutes left in the game, as Adam Mair scored off a pass from Roy. Mair who had even less goals then Spacek last season already has two this year and is actually tied with scoring machine Thomas Vanek so far. Vanek himself got a goal tonight as did Pominville and Hecht.

    Ales Kotalik who is by far the teams best shoot out player prevented the shootout in this game by scoring unassisted with only four seconds left in overtime.

    This was Thibault's first start of the season, and he was good enough for the win. Spacek left the game late in the third with an unspecified injury, no details on that yet. The Sabres get a few rest days before they have to play Columbus on Friday night.

    Official Three Stars
  • Ales Kotalik
  • Tim Connolly
  • Chad Kilger

  • My Three Stars
  • Ales Kotalik - (came up big in OT)
  • Jason Pominville - (a goal and an assist)
  • John Pohl - (three assists for Toronto)
  • Monday, October 15, 2007

    Surprisingly Spacek

    Spacek has taken off this season and is currently tied as the teams leading goal scorer with Roy at 4 goals in 4 games. This is after last season where he only scored 5 goals all year long. Also the fact that three of those goals have come off the power play is encourging in that he was horriable in that role last season.

    His linemate Campbell is arguably playing better as he is leading the team with 9 points, although Spacek is second with 6 and Kotalik has 4 after only two games. If Spacek keeps this up he will have around 150 points on the season, but if he can get so much as 50 it will be a huge boost to this team.

    Last season Spacek nailed Drury more often then the back of the net, but now with Drury gone he is finally aiming where he is supposed to. I guess I was a tad bit too harsh on him...

    In other news Roy is having a great season. Besides being tied with Spacek for the most goals he is also leading the team in plus/minus at +6. Point leader Brian Campbell is second in plus/minus at 5. The Sabres are home tonight against Toronto who has been strugling so far this season...

    Sunday, October 14, 2007

    Sabres score seven to defeat the Capitals

    The Sabres consistently outplayed, outhussled, and outscored the Washington Capitals to earn a 7-3 victory. A rush of four sudden goals in the final 5:10 of the second period sparked off by a power play goal from Spacek allowed the Sabres to take care of the game.

    Halfway through the game things were not really looking that well for the Sabres. Despite outplaying the Capitals, Buffalo had been unable to capitalize on any of their chances and despite putting up 53 shots by then end of the game appeared as if they were unwilling to shoot on the power play. Miller had let in an early goal, and it appeared as if the Sabres were going to have trouble climbing out of that one point hole.

    Then Spacek scored on the power play. Just eleven seconds latter Afinogenov scored, followed by a Pominville goal two minuetes latter. Mair then finished out the period by sneaking a goal between the goalie and the post, that I still can't figure out no matter how many times I watch the replay.

    The Capitals would score two more goals in the third, including one on the power play from Ovechkin, but the game was never really in danger. The prettiest goal of the game was the Sabres fifth which was set up by Afinogenov who circled repeatedly on around the net and then at the top of the faceoff circle, before passing it to Campbell who one timed it into the net (although Roy got credited on a deflection). Roy would go on to score another one latter in the game, as would Spacek who picked up another powerplay goal.

    The Sabres have now scored 13 goals over the last two games. They were second in the league in goals per game, and scoring seven more is only going to help boost that stat. Buffalo's next game is on Monday night against Toronto.

    Official Three Stars
  • Jaroslav Spacek
  • Brian Campbell
  • Maxim Afinogenov

  • My Three Stars
  • Jaroslav Spacek - (two goals, and playing well above expectations)
  • Derek Roy - (two goals, tied with Spacek at a goal a game on the season)
  • Maxim Afinogenov - (a goal and an assist, and a solid effort throughout the game)
  • Saturday, October 13, 2007

    Goals per Game

    I'm not one to subscribe to the idea that a higher goals per game average makes more exciting hockey, but it's an interesting statistic regardless. According to scoring is actually down a little this season to 5.53 goals per game. Thats a level slightly lower than the last two seasons but is still higher then every pre-lockout season back to 96-97.

    Although there have been some close games this season there have also been a couple in which the score has gotten a bit on the high side. Early last season when the Sabres beat the Fliers 9-1 the coach got fired, and players got cut, this season blow outs of this nature seem almost to be the norm. Yesterday the Boston Bruins beat the Los Angles Kings 8-6, a game which had almost three times as many goals as the average game in the league. While that score might be partially due to the goalies in net for each team, earlier this week All-Star Roberto Luongo allowed four goals in the first period to the Philadelphia Flyers before being pulled in a 8-2 loss for the Canucks. That ruined more then a few fantasy teams who suddenly saw 12GAA for who is one of the best goaltenders in the NHL. Even Toronto has posted an eight point game.

    The Sabres are currently second in the league in goals scored per game so far this season, after leading the league in goals scored last year.

    The Flyers, who had the leagues worst record last year are first in goals per game with 4.667, ahead of Buffalo's 4.0 goals per game. The next three teams surprisingly are the Leafs, the Blues, and the Hurricanes.

    The Sabres play a very strong capitals teams tonight at seven, and then take on Toronto next Monday.

    Friday, October 12, 2007

    Buffalo blows out (and shuts out) Atlanta for the first win of the season

    The Buffalo Sabres finally showed up. More surprisingly the Sabre's special teams showed up as well. Buffalo was nearly perfect in non 5v5 situations in this game, driving towards a 6-0 win.

    On shorthanded situations Buffalo was perfect, preventing the Thrashers from scoring on every oppertunity including 1:34 of five on three play, and Pominville netting a shorthander in the second. On the other side of things the Sabres scored four powerplay goals, including three in the first 12:07 of the game. In fact Roy's goal at the very very end of the second, was the only even strength goal of the game.

    Kotalik's return to the game was immediatlly helpful, as he scored the games first goal three minuites in, and then picked up an assist on the second. Connolly and Gaustad also both had excelent games, although while Connolly picked up 3 points Gaustad had none.

    The best player for Atlanta was clearly Steve McCarthy. He lead all players with five shots, and was behind almost every chance that the Thrashers had.

    If the Sabres powerplay can be like this the rest of the season there is no reason that they should lose a single game. Ottawa meanwhile lost their first of the season to Carolina, and the Leafs blew out the Islanders 8-1. It was actually a bit of an upset night as Florida beat New Jersey, and Phoenix topped Nashville. The Sabres next game is Saturday against the currently undefeated Capitals, on a night when 26 teams play.

    Official Three Stars
  • Tim Connolly
  • Brian Campbell
  • Ryan Miller

  • My Three Stars
  • Ales Kotalik - (returns to the ice to net a goal and and assist)
  • Tim Connolly - (lead the team with three points)
  • Ryan Miller - (didn't see many shots early on but earned the shutout in the second half)
  • Thursday, October 11, 2007

    Success in Ottawa

    Ottawa is off to a fast start this season (like the Sabres last year). The Senators are already 5-0 on the season. The first two wins were against divison rival Toronto, but the team has since posted wins over the Rangers, Devils, and Thrashers. So far Ottawa has outscored their oppenents two to one, and play Carolina tonight. Detroit is the closest team to them at 4-0-1, which is also pretty good.

    For Buffalo a win against the Thrashers is almost a must tonight to keep up with the Sens. Alas Kotalik should be back from his minor injury tonight. The important thing of course is a solid defence, and with Hossa possibly out for Atlanta that shouldn't be too hard.

    Wednesday, October 10, 2007

    Sabres Red Wine

    Buffalo Business First is reporting that the Buffalo Sabres now have an official wine. The wine is produced by Bully Hill Vineyards and will come in two flavours, Sabres Red and Sabres White. No word yet if they are working on a Sabres Blue or a Sabres Gold.

    Sabres next game is Thursday night against the winless Thrashers.

    Monday, October 8, 2007

    The rest of the league

    Although the Sabres are really stumbling to start off the season, their rivals up in Ottawa are doing rather well. The Senators have gotten off to a 3-0 start, including two wins against Toronto. Chris Neil is already back to his cheap hits after injuring the Rangers Sean Avery with an elbow to the head. Granted there is a difference between Drury and Avery, but there is doubt that Neil's primary focus on the ice is not to play hockey, but to injure the opponents.

    Out west the Ducks have already played five games and will be up to six the day before Buffalo takes to the ice for game number three. If they keep up this pace they will finish the regular season by the beginning of February.

    Down in Philly Daniel Briere is having a good season so far, posting up 4 points (including 3 goals) after only two games. The team could well be 2-0 if they didn't kick a goal into their own net last Saturday.

    2-1 Colorado is appreciating second year player Paul Stastny who is starting of the season even better than Briere is. After posting a hat-trick in the season opener he now has 4 goals and 4 assists after only three games.

    Two games into his rookie season top draft pick Patrick Kane picked up his first point (an assist) for Chicago against the Red Wings, then went on to score the winner in the shootout. Even this early in the season it is hard to see anyone else winning rookie of the year...

    Sunday, October 7, 2007

    Getting Closer (but not close enough)

    These first two games against the Islanders were supposed to be easy ones for the Sabres, but instead they droped both of them losing the second game tonight 3-2. For the most part the Sabres played well in this game but were unable to finish and had two absolute collapses which lead to the second two goals for New York.

    On a positive note, the powerplay was decent this game. Spacek scored in a five on four situation early in the game, but the team was only one for eight on the night. However, they looked better, and created a good number of chances, even if it only resulted in one goal. When they used Pominville on the point they were really able to get some good looks. On the other side of the ice, they allowed the Islanders to score on one out of four chances, which although not great is acceptable.

    Also on the plus side Spacek is looking decent this year. After two games he is the teams leading goal scorer with two goals. It looks as if I might have been a bit too harsh on him. Without Drury to hit, he is finally aiming for the net.

    On the positive side for the Islanders, Mike Comrie is starting off the season in magnificent fashion having scored six points in only two games so far this year. By far the best move they made in the off season.

    For the Sabres things are not looking as good. It's a long season, but the games in October count just as much as the games in February and March. On the plus side the team has until next Thursday to regroup and get their act together. The team has got talent, it just needs to get rid of the monumental mistakes.

    Official Three Stars
  • Mike Comrie
  • Rick DiPietro
  • Chris Campoli

  • My Three Stars
  • Mike Comrie - (6 points in two games)
  • Jaroslav Spacek - (who would have ever guessed it)
  • Jason Pominville - (he did everything right this game including an assist)
  • Saturday, October 6, 2007

    Lack of Defence

    The Buffalo Sabres lost their season opener 6-4 to the New York Islanders. The offensive was still churning as it did last year, but the defence was a complete mess. Ryan Miller had very little chance on the shots he let, but the Sabres play in their own zone was horrible. Buffalo was unable to cover anyone in front of the net all game long. Even with the Sabres offense you can not expect to win games when you allow six against. The problem was not only with the players who are assigned the role of defenders, but to the offence as well for failing to come back to the puck and pick up a player.

    Powerplays did not help the Sabres again, as is becoming all too common. The Sabres were zero for three on the powerplay (with not nearly enough shots), while the allowed the Islanders to go three for four (including a 3 on 5). Although the 3v5 goal can almost be excused, there is no reason that any team should only be able to prevent the powerplay from scoring 25% of the time. In fact the Sabres actually outscored the Islanders in five on five play, so if the Sabres powerplay and penalty kill were at least decent then there is no reason that Buffalo would not have won.

    Official Three Stars
  • Mike Comrie
  • Ruslan Fedotenko
  • Jaroslav Spacek

  • My Three Stars
  • Mike Comrie - (Two goals, Two Assists)
  • Rick DiPietro - (Inspite of allowing 4 goals)
  • Derek Roy - (The only Sabre with his head in the game)
  • Friday, October 5, 2007

    The Season Starts

    Buffalo is one of the last teams have it's season opener tonight, when they play the New York Islanders. Kotalik is still not expected to play in either game this weekend, but the Sabres should be favorites to win both matches.

    Elsewhere the Ducks have already played three games this season, and have come out with a win, a loss, and an OT/SO loss. One tally in each category to start the season, and not looking as good as they did last year already.

    The Senators are the league leaders in the early going, after twice beating the Toronto Maple Leafs. As long as the Sabres can sweep the leafs themselves, this really shouldn't put Buffalo back in the standings any.

    Second year forward Paul Stastny who should have won the Calder last year, had a hat-trick in the Avalanche's season opener against Dallas, but saw his team shutout yesterday against Nashville.

    Buffalo's former captains are getting off to a fast start this season. Briere has already scored twice for Philadelphia, and Drury has a game winner for the Rangers.

    Thursday, October 4, 2007

    Sabres top 26

    About a month ago Sports Illustrated put out a list that ranked the top 500 NFL players. While I have no ambitions to create a list of that size, I can rank the players on the Buffalo Sabres. Rankings are based upon the importance each player brings to the team for the coming season.

  • #1 Derek Roy - Expecting Vanek? Roy is far more important to this team, and assists are just as important as goals. Now with Briere and Drury gone Roy and Connolly are the teams go to centers, and will have to live up to those expectations.

  • #2 Tim Connolly - The other leading centerman for this team is the next most critical part. If Connolly can return to the excellent play he had in the 05-06 season then the Sabres should really be in good shape. The possibility of seeing him on a line with Afinogenov would dance around defences to no end.

  • #3 Ryan Miller - The job of Goalie is always important, and even more so now that Biron is no longer the backup in Buffalo. In many ways Miller has assumed the role of the de facto captain for this team, and will hold the responsibility throughout the season.

  • #4 Henrik Tallinder - Although the Sabres had the leagues best regular season last year, the team was barely above .500 while Tallinder was out with a broken arm. He is by far the teams top defensive player, and the most reliable on that side of the ice. He may not have the offensive statistics of Lindstrom, Campbell, or Pronger, but in his own zone he is arguably the best Defenseman in the league.

  • #5 Brian Campbell - Last year's All-Star defender is the biggest offensive weapon the team has on the blue line. Campbell is one of the teams best defenders, and has an awesome, seemingly unstopable spin move that he breaks out from time to time. With the possibility of playing on Tallinder's line this year, the duo may very well average over 25 min a game.

  • #6 Toni Lydman - Getting the idea that the defense is important to this team? It most certainly is. With all the offensive risks the team takes the defence (and goalie) are responsible for covering up any mistakes. This year on a line with Spacek Lydman will be asked to play a little harder than he needed to with Tallinder by his side.

  • #7 Thomas Vanek - Some might think this is a little low for the teams highest paid player, but defense is important. So much so that Vanek's most impressive stat from last year is not his goals, but rather his league leading plus/minus stat of +44. A fact often overshadowed by his large offensive numbers is his ability to play well both ways.

  • #8 Maxim Afinogenov - This guy is just a great all out play maker. It doesn't matter if he ends up with Vanek and Roy or Connolly, either way he will find ways to bring the puck to the front of the net.

  • #9 Drew Stafford - Only in his second year Stafford should be one of the top five goal scorers on the team this season. Stafford may find himself on the teams top line with Vanek and Roy, which will further help his totals. Additionally the Sabres may want to consider Stafford as one of their top shootout guys this season.

  • #10 Paul Gaustad - The Goose is an absolute beast. Giving himself to every play the possibility of a scoring chance coming out of no where always exists. Gaustad's ability to bring a physical presence is something that isn't too common on this team.

  • #11 Ales Kotalik - On the shootout the whole world know that he is planing on going backhand to the blocker side, yet he still manages to pull it off time after time after time. Why Kotalik can't score with such ease in a game is beyond me.

  • #12 Nathan Paetsch - Although towards the bottom of the teams depth chart, Paetsch is one of the teams, quicker more offensive players. He also played very well on the powerplay last season. A powerplay with him and Pominville on the points would rack up the goals rather fast.

  • #13 Jason Pominville - Although one of my favorite players, Pominville may find himself to be the odd man out a bit this season, as his center from last year is no longer with the team. Pommers still has excellent speed, and a good shot, and should be able to rack up the goals this season. With his playing time down Ruff may be more likely to use him on the powerplay, and possibly even on the point like he was two seasons ago.

  • #14 Jochen Hecht - A bit low for the team's captain (this month at least), Hecht is a solid offensive player, but has really never put up the high goal numbers that some of his teammates have. At least we know he has the respect of the team.

  • #15 Adam Mair - Mair is alot better than most people give him credit for. Although he seems forever destined to be on the fourth line, he is the type of player who is good and getting the puck, and along with Gaustad and Kaleta, pretty much the team's only physical presence.

  • #16 Daniel Paille - Paille is pretty much in the same boat as Stafford, except that he is not as good. While Stafford is clearly ready to be in the NHL full time, Paille is more of a question mark. This year he should be on the Sabres roster full time, so hopefully he can keep on scoring the goals.

  • #17 Dmitri Kalinin - One of the team's top six defencemen, Kalinin will have to be able to play well through the season. He had a few off games last year, and that won't do so well for him this season.

  • #18 Jocelyn Thibault - Although Miller is by far expected to get most of the starts this season, the team will want to give him a break, and when that happens they better be able to count on Thibault to be solid in net. He's not Marty Biron, but he doesn't have to be.

  • #19 Teppo Numminen - Although out for half the season, if the Sabres can get Teppo back, even by next spring, it would be a huge boost to the defence.

  • #20 Clarke MacArthur - With Stafford, Paille, and Ryan up full time this season, MacArthur will be the team's go to guy in Rochester. Whenever there is an injury he will be counted on to help the team out.

  • #21 Michael Ryan - Due to get more playing time then MacAruthur, Ryan must prove that he deserves his spot, or else he will be replaced by Peters. Much like Paille, Ryan still has much to prove.

  • #22 Patrick Kaleta - A fan favorite and solid hitter, Kaleta is not due to see much ice time for the Sabres this season, and will spend most of his time in Rochester. However when he does come up he will have the expectation to play big.

  • #23 Jaroslav Spacek - A bit of a low ranking for a guy so high on the depth chart, but this is really where he is with the team. Spacek simply makes too many mistakes, especially for the money he is being paid. Furthermore on the powerplay he is absolutely useless. I would rather see Paetch or Campbell used on the powerplay any day.

  • #24 Andrej Sekera - With Numminen out Sekera is the number one defenseman in Rochester and will need to be ready to go if anyone else gets hurt. Ruff's choice to send him to the Amercks rather than to be a healthy scratch is a good one.

  • #25 Andrew Peters - With Ryan up in Buffalo Peters was almost a healthy scratch for opening night. Although he played more NHL game last season then he ever has Peters may have a hard time keeping his position on the team, as it become more clear that the Sabres are probably better off using Kaleta.

  • #26 Michael Funk - Up for a short time last season, Funk really didn't look ready for the NHL. With Numminen out for a while the possibility of Funk coming up to Buffalo for a few games this season isn't that unlikely.