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...