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.
  • Wednesday, October 3, 2007

    Hecht Rotates in as Captain

    Lindy Ruff is returning to his pre-lockout strategy of rotating the role of captain on a montly basis. Jochen Hecht has been chosen by his teammates to wear the C to begin the season on Friday. The alternative captains have not yet been announced, but Campbell and Roy seem likly to be given that role. Much of the leadership on the team will still come from Miller back in the net (goalies are not allowed to be captain) and from Lindy Ruff behind the bench. Ruff has really taken a likeing to the idea of spreading out the role of captain. The last time the Sabres had a single captain for longer than a month was Stu Barnes back in 2003. In fact Barnes and Peca are the only two players to consistantly wear the C for Ruff besides the co-captains of Drury and Briere.

    The choice of Hecht actually came as a bit of a surprise, but apparently he is who the team picked, and who they trust. As such he should be more then well qualified to accept that job for this club.

    Tuesday, October 2, 2007

    Kotalik expected to sit out weekend

    Kotalik is expected to miss the season opener Friday against the Islanders. Lindy Ruff hinted that he may sit out the second game against the Islanders on Saturday, but is expected to return after that. Taking his place will be Clark MacArthur who played a handful of games for the club last season. Lets hope we can avoid the shootouts until Kotalik comes back...

    Monday, October 1, 2007

    NHL in London

    The NHL started the regular season with a pair of games in London, England this year. The games were between the LA Kings and the defending Stanley Cup champions, the Anaheim Ducks. The Kings upset the Ducks in the first game on Satuday 4-1, but Anaheim came back to win Sunday's match 4-1 themselves. Anaheim has already fallen behind the great start they had last year, but still have 80 games to go and have plenty of time to still win out the west. Most teams start their regular seasons towards the end of this week.

    The Sabres first regular season game is on Friday against the New York Islanders. Roy actually lead the league in points during the preseason, lets hope that massive productivity continues through the rest of the year.