Friday, December 26, 2008

Tyler and Tyler take on the world

Buffalo Sabres
Starting today is the World Juniors in Ottawa Canada. Playing for the hometown favorites are both of the Sabres first round picks from this draft, Tyler Myers and Tyler Ennis. Both of them play in the WHL, but this may be their first real chance to play together, and hopefully will be sign of things to come for when they move up to the Sabres organization.

Myers (who is ridiculously tall) and Ennis (who is relatively short) are both be playing for team Canada. As in most international hockey tournaments the Canadians are favoured to win.

The Buffalo Sabres play the Washington Capitals tonight in their first game since the Christmas break.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas

"...and I heard him exclaim as he pulled out of sight, Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!"

Buffalo Sabres

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Again Buffalo losses in OT

Buffalo lost their second straight game in overtime in a 4-3 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins. It was a rather slow game, which was odd, but the Sabres took an early 2-0 lead. While the Penguins tied it up, Buffalo took a 3-2 lead into the third.

However in the third period Buffalo took it first penalty of the game and immediatly gave up a goal. This ended their incredible streak of four on five play at 74 minutes and 48 seconds, and lost them the game. Buffalo did moderatly well on their own powerplay with a go ahead goal from MacArthur, but had many more chances then Pittsburgh.

In overtime the Sabres looked completely overwhelmed and at no time had control of the game. Crosby quickly scored to finish the game off. His stick may have been a bit high, but given how Buffalo was playing at that point, it was bound to happen anyhow.

Despite ending the game with eight shots, Vanek failed to score and ended the game minus three. Kotalik did much better, and besides his breakaway goal, also earned an assist. Malkin did not earn a goal in this game, but contributed with three assists. The best player in the game however was Alex Goligoski who had two goal and one assist for Pittsburgh.

The Buffalo Sabres are now done until Christmas. Their next game is on Boxing day against the Washington Capitals.

Official Three Stars
  • Alex Goligoski
  • Clarke MacArthur
  • Ales Koalik

  • My Three Stars
  • Alex Goligoski (two goals, one assist)
  • Ales Kotalik (one goal, one assist, plus two)
  • Sidney Crosby (game winner in overtime)

  • Monday, December 22, 2008

    Killing off the penalties

    It is almost as if taking a penalty is not a problem for the Sabres anymore. Buffalo has become so good at penalty killing that it almost isn't even an oppertuity for the other team any more. The only real concern for Buffalo shorthanded is that they don't take a second penalty and go down two players. Even in five on three situations Buffalo has been impressive, notably killing of a full two minutes of five on three to win a close game against Pittsuburgh a little over a week ago. Yet when you look at the actual stats the Sabres are doing even better then they seem to be.

    The last time Buffalo allowed a five on four goal against was before Thanksgiving. If they can kill off their penalties tonight then they will have spanned the entire holiday season without allowing a five on four goal. The last time Buffalo gave up a five on four goal was 14 games ago when the Islanders' Mark Streit scored an empty netter with two seconds left in the game.

    Going into tonights game Buffalo has not allowed a goal against in their last 74 minutes and six seconds of five on four play. Nor is this even a new trend as Buffalo was the second last team in the league to give up a powerplay goal of any kind to start the season. Also this streak has involved games against some very good powerplays teams in Pittsuburgh and Montreal.

    Perhaps that is how the Sabres can win this year. The ability to not give up that one more goal is certainly a factor in the close games. Tonight the penalty kill will have a rough time as they have to go up against the combination of Crosby and Malkin. Still if they can hold out, it greatly increases Buffalo oppertunity to win.

    Sunday, December 21, 2008

    An Overtime Loss to Montreal

    The Buffalo Sabres played well for most of the game, but ended up losing 4-3 late into overtime. Buffalo scored a powerplay goal, and did ok killing off their own penalties but were scored on during both a five on three and a four on three opportunity by the Canadians.

    Despite the loss Miller looked good for the second straight game in a row. Afinogenov was called up to take the place of the seriously injured Kaleta. Max spent most of his ice time with Peters and Ellis and didn't really have much of a chance to make a real difference in the game.

    Buffalo was without Patrick Kaleta who is out with what appears to be a serious injury. In his place Afinogenov played, but was with the fourth line and had little help and little ice time.

    As far as losses go this one was not as bad as it could have been, as at least the team earned a point for a tie. Of course last year the Sabres startd a ten game losing streak around this time last year, and the few ties in that didn't end up doing the team any good.

    Buffalo once again has a quick turnaround as they play their third game in four days against Pittsburgh on Monday night.

    Official Three Stars
  • Sergei Kostitsyn
  • Steve Begin
  • Ryan Miller

  • My Three Stars
  • Sergei Kostitsyn (two goals)
  • Alex Kovalev (one goal, one assist, eight shots)
  • Teppo Numminen (two assists, plus two)

  • Saturday, December 20, 2008

    As Easy Win over Los Angeles

    The Sabres got what may have been their easiest win of the year in a 5-0 victory over the Los Angeles Kings. The Sabres scored goal after goal on the luckiest and most random bounces. Meanwhile the Kings were shutout by good play from both the defense, and Ryan Miller.

    Matt Ellis and Chris Butler were brought up from Portland for this game, and both played well. Afinogenov and Paetsch were sat out to make room for them, while Gaustad is out short term with an injury. This was Butler's first NHL game, and got an assist when the rebound from one of his shots bounced right to Adam Mair.

    Bringing up Ellis was an odd choice as Kennedy or Mancari could have been called up instead. Still Ellis played well, and scored his first goal of the season.

    The Sabres are back on the road as they play against Montreal Saturday night.

    Official Three Stars
  • Ryan Miller
  • Derek Roy
  • Adam Mair

  • My Three Stars
  • Ryan Miller (shutout, 40 saves)
  • Derek Roy (one goal, two assists)
  • Chris Butler (one assist, plus two in NHL debut)

  • Friday, December 19, 2008

    A loss to the Devils

    The Sabres lost their game to the New Jersey Devils on Wednesday night. A loss that came with little explanation beyond not having Gerbe or Rivet ready to play. Still while decent, the Devils are not one of the league's top teams and Buffalo has no excuse for allowing five goals against.

    The Sabres did ok for the most part in this game, but made a few too many big mistakes. Buffalo was also unable to capitalize on any of their powerplay chances.

    Official Three Stars
  • David Clarkson
  • Patrik Elias
  • Patrick Kaleta

  • My Three Stars
  • David Clarkson (one goal, one assist)
  • Jamie Langenbrunner (two assists, four shots)
  • Drew Stafford (one goal, plus one in the loss)

  • Wednesday, December 17, 2008

    Gerbe out as Kaleta returns

    Little Sabre Nathan Gerbe is out for about two weeks with an upper body injury. He played very well during his time up in the NHL, and will be missed. It should be interesting to see if he is sent to the AHL once he gets healthy or if he stays up. Most likely there will be some other factors involved in that decision.

    Patrick Kaleta on the other hand is returning from injury and will be back playing with the Sabres again in their next game on Wednesday night against the New Jersey Devils again.

    The Blackhawks had an interesting game last night in a win over the Edmonton Oilers. Chicago won the game 9-2 in which the Blackhawks had 8 different players score and 15 of their 18 skaters had a point. In the beginning of the third period Ducan Keith scored a shorthanded goal to bring Chicago's lead to 8-1, at which point there was really little point to even playing the rest of the game.

    Tuesday, December 16, 2008

    Rivet out for a while

    Buffalo Sabres
    Defenseman Craig Rivet, the Sabres Captain will be out for a minimum of two weeks. This is to deal with a shoulder injury that has been bothering him. While he has been playing injured for a few games he has decided that he is better off sitting out until he can be fully healed.

    This is probably the right decision. The fact that he was playing injured has been noticeable the past few games, and while he still did well, you could tell that he was not at 100%. Hopefully he can come back soon and be better than ever.

    The downside of course is that the Sabres will have to play a number of games without him. Buffalo has done significantly better when they have Rivet in the lineup, so there is a chance that they may struggle a bit for the next few games.

    Monday, December 15, 2008

    A Big win over New Jersey

    The Sabres got a big win over the New Jersey Devils Saturday night, as they won the game 4-2. Thomas Vanek scored two goals, including the 10,000 goal in franchise history.

    Stafford also scored, the shot was very similar to the wide open net he had missed just the night before. This was set up when Nathan Gerbe shot on net, and the puck rebounded right to Stafford. This resulted in Gerbe's first point of his still short NHL career.

    The game was also significant for being a comeback. Buffalo was down 2-1 midway through the game, but were able to score three straight to take a commanding lead.

    The Devils goals came from Elias and Holik.

    Official Three Stars
  • Thomas Vanek
  • Derek Roy
  • Patrik Elias

  • My Three Stars
  • Thomas Vanek (two goals, four shots)
  • Derek Roy (one goal, one assist)
  • Bobby Holik (one goal, six wins one loss on faceoffs)

  • Saturday, December 13, 2008

    A Disappointing Loss

    The Sabres were the better team in this game, and should have found a way to win. Instead they repeatedly failed to hit the back of the net and ended up losing to the Toronto Maple Leafs 2-1.

    The Sabres controlled most of the game, but missed many good chances. Stafford had a wide open net that he was unable to hit, Afinogenov had two great opportunities that he put straight into the goalie's pads, and Vanek was unable to even get the puck on net half of the time. Buffalo's lone goal came from Lydman who scored for the first time all season.

    Pominville had six shots on net, and Gerbe, Roy, and Stafford all ended up as plus one on the night. Still they need more offense if they wanted to win. Both of Toronto's goals came on very nice shots, but given the chances that Buffalo had they have nobody to blame for this loss but themselves.

    Official Three Stars
  • Vesa Toskala
  • Mikhail Grabovski
  • Lee Stempniak

  • My Three Stars
  • Lee Stempniak (one assist, plus two)
  • Toni Lydman (one goal, plus one in the loss)
  • Jeremy Williams (one goal, three shots)

  • Thursday, December 11, 2008

    Buffalo beats Tampa Bay again

    While the Sabres just played Tampa Bay last week, they earned yet another win against the Lightning with a 4-2 win. As was seen last time, these teams do not appear to like each other as four fighting majors were given out to four different players in this game.

    Buffalo excelled in the non-even strength areas of this game. They scored two of their goals on the powerplay. The Sabres were also able to kill off all of Tampa Bay's opportunities, and even scored an empty net shorthanded goal.

    Vanek was on fire again this game, scoring two goals to bring his season total up to a lead leading 22 after 28 games. This puts him on pace for an impressive 64 goals on the year.

    Official Three Stars
  • Thomas Vanek
  • Ryan Miller
  • Jason Pominville

  • My Three Stars
  • Thomas Vanek (two goals)
  • Jason Pominville (one goal, two assists)
  • Jochen Hecht (one assist, three shots, plus two)
  • Tuesday, December 9, 2008

    Sabres play their best game of the year

    Buffalo put on a very good display as they beat the Penguins 4-3 in Pittsburgh. The Penguins got a good amount of help from the refs and took an early 3-1 lead, but Buffalo was able to power back to win the game.

    Buffalo's powerplay was mostly ineffective, but their penalty kill was phenomenal. They were down fairly often in this game, and the penguins were given 3:45 of five on three ice time. Still the Sabres only allowed one goal against during this time, and killed off all of Pittsburgh's four on three opportunities.

    Buffalo then benefited from some sloppy goaltending to come back as Vanek won the game in the third period.

    Gerbe played well in his second straight NHL game, but once again did not earn a point. He was however plus one, and has still not allowed any goals against while he was on the ice.

    Official Three Stars
  • Derek Roy
  • Ruslan Fedotenko
  • Thomas Vanek

  • My Three Stars
  • Derek Roy (one goal, plus one, five shots, 69% on faceoffs)
  • Ruslan Fedotenko (two goals, plus two)
  • Evgeni Malkin (two assists, plus two, eight shots)
  • Sunday, December 7, 2008

    Sabres outscore Tampa Bay

    Buffalo Sabres
    The Buffalo Sabres have finally won a game after holding onto a 4-3 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning. This was a high scoring game, and despite the many penalties, every goal was scored during five on five play.

    Stafford scored the first goal of the game, off of an assist from Gaustad. St Louis tied it up just a few minutes later. The same thing happened in the second period, with Buffalo twice scoring, and Tampa Bay both times quickly making it up.

    In the third period Derek Roy scored, and the Sabres were able to prevent the Lightning from coming back this time.

    This was an aggressive game with three fights in it. I was unaware of any hostility between these teams, but there appeared to be some in this game. The final fight of the night was the most unlikely between Jochen Hecht and Vincent Lecavalier. This is the first time that either of them got into a fight this season, and only Hecht's third fight in his career.

    This was Nathan Gerbe's first NHL game, and he looked good throughout. While he had no points on the night he was on the ice for the Sabres first goal, and their game winner in the third, while not being on the ice for any goals against. The one penalty that was called against him, was a bad call, so his game was largely mistake free. He showed aggression and tied Stafford for the most shots on net for any of the Sabres in this game. He also won the single faceoff that he took in this game.

    Buffalo next plays on Monday against the Penguins.

    Official Three Stars
  • Derek Roy
  • Drew Stafford
  • Martin St Louis

  • My Three Stars
  • Drew Stafford (one goal, two assists, plus three, four shots)
  • Derek Roy (one goal, one assist, plus two)
  • Martin St Louis (one goal, one assist, plus three)
  • Saturday, December 6, 2008

    Gerbe debuts

    Buffalo Sabres
    Nathan Gerbe will finally be playing in his first NHL game when the Sabres play against Tampa Bay tonight.

    After being drafted in the fifth round in 2005, he played for three years at Boston College, a team that did very well during his tenure there including winning the NCAA championship last spring.

    He is a small player, but very talented and can generate offense all by himself. Hopefully he is the spark that the Sabres need to get their game back on track. While he obviously can't do everything by himself, he should be able to help the team alot simply by being there. To make room for him on the roster Mark Mancari was sent back down to the Portland Pirates.

    Friday, December 5, 2008

    A lack of effort results in the lack of a win

    Buffalo Sabres
    The Sabres lost once again on Thursday night to the Florida Panthers. Buffalo was only able to score with the two man advantage, despite actually putting together a decent first period. Still when Gregory Campbell got the Panthers first goal midway through the second the whole team seemed to give up, which immediately lead to another Florida goal.

    Lydman who almost had to sit out due to injury played hard in this game and so did Gaustad and Kotalik, but the Sabres need to put in an all around effort by everyone. Until that happens the Sabres are going to keep getting more of the same. Buffalo isn't actually a bad team, but unless they are willing to try a little harder nothing is going to come of it.

    Craig Anderson had a good game in goal for Florida. After doing very little for most of his NHL career he is 6-1-3 this season for a rather weak Florida team. He had 45 saves in this game and only allowed a goal against when his team was down two players. He should be getting alot more starts for Florida in the near future.

    Official Three Stars
  • Greg Campbell
  • Craig Anderson
  • Michael Frolik

  • My Three Stars
  • Craig Anderson (45 saves, 1GA)
  • Greg Campbell (one goal, one assist, plus two)
  • Ales Kotalik (one goal, six shots)
  • Thursday, December 4, 2008

    Kane versus Toews

    The competition between Kane and Toews appears to be heating up in Chicago, as both are competing for a spot in the all star game.

    Toews has also released a video of his own.

    Buffalo plays against Florida tonight, who is one of the few teams doing worse then the Sabres. Hopefully they can turn this into a win.

    Wednesday, December 3, 2008

    The Situation in Dallas

    The Dallas Stars have really been a wreck of a team so far this season. Dallas is dead last in the Western Conference with a 9-11-4 record. Things got even more interesting when Sean Avery was suspended this week for an inappropriate comment that he made to the media.

    The Stars won their game without Avery, so perhaps he is a large part of the problem. Team management has since talked about how they intend to hold him accountable, and about how his actions are unacceptable to their organization. They should have thought about that before they signed him. They knew what they were getting, and now they are suddenly paying for their mistake. Avery signed for a four year deal, so the Stars are stuck with him for awhile.

    The thing is the team doesn't even want him around anymore. One of the biggest critics that Avery has in his own locker room is goalie Marty Turco. Turco describes Avery's comments as "ignorant", and this isn't the first time that the goalie has condemned his teammates behavior. The Stars need to realize that Turco's contract is up in 18 months, and there is no reason to believe that he would elect to continue playing on a team with Avery who will still have two years left at that point. Perhaps Turco's problem this season is that he honestly does not care about the success of his team.

    The Stars lack of leadership is what is killing them this season. The loss Stu Barnes is what is killing this team. Mike Modano is still there, but given how the team is doing you have to wonder why. About Avery Modano said that "out of what we expect out of each other" and that "It's gonna be dealt with". Still the team is a mess, and Avery will continue going on doing whatever he wants.

    Even if the team released Avery it looks as if the Star's current season is already a loss. The bigger issue is that in the coming seasons it only looks as if things are going to get worse for Dallas in the coming seasons.

    Tuesday, December 2, 2008

    Falling apart again (this time in Nashville)

    The Sabres have once again lost their touch and have returned to playing subpar hockey. They lost 2-0 to the Nashville Predators. It was a very boring game through the first two periods as neither team had any good chances, and neither team had any speed.

    In the third period the predators scored twice, first by Jason Arnott and then by former Sabre JP Dumont. Buffalo really turned things on for the final five minutes of the game, but it was two late by that point and they were shutout by Pekka Rinne.

    Despite nobody ever hearing of Rinne, who only appeared in three NHL games before this season and had zero starts last year, he played very well. So far he is 4-0 on the season, picking up his first shutout in this game over the Sabres.

    Buffalo mixed up their lines a bit for this game, as Kotalik returned to the lineup. Rivet and Kaleta were both out with injuries, while Mancari and Peters played ahead of Afinogenov. Connolly was placed on injured reserve to get the team under it's roster limit.

    Official Three Stars
  • JP Dumont
  • Pekka Rinne
  • Jason Arnott

  • My Three Stars
  • Pekka Rinne (shutout, 30 saves)
  • JP Dumont (one goal, one assist, plus two)
  • Jason Arnott (one assist, plus two)
  • Sunday, November 30, 2008

    Not keeping up with Montreal

    Buffalo Sabres
    The Sabres lost 3-2 to the Montreal Canadians. However, unlike other losses this season, this one didn't feel so bad, as the team was in it the whole game, and actually played well. As such losing a close game to a very good team is not that huge of a problem.

    Vanek played very well, scoring both of Buffalo's goals in this game. Buffalo also did very well on the penalty kill, not allowing Montreal to score on any of their chances, including a full two minutes of five on three play. Lydman earned seven blocked shots for the second game in a row.

    Still the Canadians capitalized on the few mistakes that Buffalo did make, and ended up winning the game. Tallinder and Numminen messed up royally in allowing Montreal's first goal. Then in giving up the game winner, Buffalo showed an inability to play four on four, and was solidly outplayed even before giving up the goal.

    Montreal was going after Kaleta throughout this game for some reason. Peters sat out for the second straight game.

    Official Three Stars
  • Andrei Kostitsyn
  • Thomas Vanek
  • Steve Begin

  • My Three Stars
  • Thomas Vanek (two goals)
  • Andrei Kostitsyn (one goal, one assist, plus two)
  • Maxim LaPierre (one assist, plus two, 58% on faceoffs)
  • Saturday, November 29, 2008

    Gaustad and Stafford both score two

    Buffalo Sabres
    Following their five game loosing streak the Sabres have won two straight games against some of the toughest teams in the East. Players such as Afinogenov and Stafford who have struggled lately both played well in this game helping Buffalo reverse its fortunes. Max Afinogenov played his best game of the year, giving Stafford an easy tip in for the Buffalo's first goal of the game. He created a number of other opportunities and ended the game with three shots, no giveaways and one takeaway.

    Stafford who also has been struggling lately had a great game, with two goals and an assist. These were goals numbers three and four on the year for Stafford, but the primary assist that he contributed was more impressive as he set up the Goose for a powerplay goal.

    After starting the season injured Gaustad scored his first two goals of the season in this game, including the game winner late in the third. Gaustad spent most of the night on the top line with Hecht and Pominville, but was back with Mancari for his powerplay goal.

    Buffalo did some things that they haven't done lately, mainly coming back in the third period to win the game. They never really gave up at any point in the game despite a bad turnover by Spacek that resulted in a goal by Crosby, and a goal by MacArthur midway through the third that didn't count.

    Buffalo Sabres
    Besides not counting MacArthur's goal, the refs were really bad throughout this game, with many boarding calls against Buffalo on what should have been legal hits, while some blatant trips by the Penguins were not called.

    Still this managed not to hurt the Sabres too badly as Pittsburgh's powerplay turned out to be horrible. Crosby did get two goals off of assists by Malkin in this game, but both came at even strength. Buffalo was able to kill off all eight of their penalties including a lengthy five on three. This was lead by Toni Lydman who blocked an impressive seven shots in this game.

    The Sabres finally sat out Peters for this game. Paetsch sat out this game for the defense, but may come back as it was very clear the Rivet was playing injured. The Sabres once again have to play a very good team on Saturday, when they travel to Montreal to play the Canadians. Too bad they don't plan on continuing to wear the classic jerseys.

    Official Three Stars
  • Paul Gaustad
  • Drew Stafford
  • Sidney Crosby

  • My Three Stars
  • Drew Stafford (two goals, one assist, five shots)
  • Paul Gaustad (two goals)
  • Toni Lydman (seven blocked shots, six hits)
  • Thursday, November 27, 2008

    Finally a win (with thanks to Derek Roy)

    Buffalo Sabres
    The Sabres change to the slugless jerseys has appeared to work, as the team finally wins a game. Furthermore this 3-2 win came against the best team in the East after Buffalo failed to beat two of the conferences weaker teams.

    Tallinder and Afinogenov both returned to the lineup for this game as Paetsch and a sick Paille both sat out. Both played well, including Tallinder who never should have really been out anyhow. Mancari, the newest Sabres, didn't have quite as good of a game without being on a line with Gaustad, but won for the first time since he got called up.

    Roy played an excellent game, scoring the first two goals almost all by himself. The other Sabre goal was scored by Jochen Hecht shorthanded, and turned out to be the game winner.

    The game had alot of hits with Kaleta named the third star after getting an astounding 8 hits, but still had less then Boston's Milan Lucic who had nine in the game.

    Hopefully this game is not the exception, as Buffalo has two more games against good opponents in Pittsburgh and Montreal this weekend.

    Official Three Stars
  • Derek Roy
  • Jason Pominville
  • Patrick Kaleta

  • My Three Stars
  • Derek Roy (two goals, plus two)
  • Matt Hunwick (one goal, plus one)
  • Jochen Hecht (shorthanded goal)
  • Wednesday, November 26, 2008

    The new (old) look

    Max Afinogenov
    The Sabres will be wearing their classic jerseys for the first time since the Ice Bowl in their game against the Bruins today. The team will be wearing the alternate jerseys for 16 regular season games this season including one on the road (in Toronto). Hopefully this is enough of a change up that the team actually starts playing well.

    The Sabres desperately need something to change as they have now lost five straight games, and are no longer even in playoff position. Buffalo has gone a poor 3-6-1 in their last ten games, while tonight's opponent the Boston Bruins have posted an impressive 9-0-1 in their last ten. No word yet on who the Sabres will be playing in this game, but personally I like the idea of dressing seven defensemen.

    Bringing up some more talent from the Portland Pirates would still be nice as at least we know they would try. Mancari so far has scored in half of his games, and has more shots on goal then anyone else on the Sabres since he got here. Looking at the AHL points leaders and there are only two rookies within the top twenty. It is time to give Gerbe and Kennedy a shot. Remember how helpful Pominville was when he came up midseason three years ago? That could happen again.

    Tuesday, November 25, 2008

    Lee Stempniak now in Toronto

    Lee Stempniak
    West Seneca native Lee Stempniak has been traded from the St. Louis Blues to the Toronto Maple Leafs. Toronto gave up Carlo Colaiacovo and Alex Steen in the trade.

    As a result Stempniak will now play against the Sabres far more often. Buffalo already played against him once this season when Buffalo beat the Blues. In the game Lee Stempniak did play well, earning himself a goal and an assist.

    He played well for the Blues, even scoring an overtime game wining goal in his final game with the Blues. He is expected to receive a starting role for the Leafs, playing on the top line and the powerplay, and should see his stats improve as a result.

    Also assuming that he doesn't get injured Stempniak will be in the unique position of playing versus the Sabres for seven games this season.

    Sunday, November 23, 2008

    Yet another loss

    Buffalo Sabres
    The combination of Gaustad and Mancari was the only threat that the Sabres had in this entire game. The two did combine for Buffalo's first goal, and Mancari's first in the NHL, but without any help from the rest of the team it was not enough.

    Lalime played ok in net, maybe should have had the first goal, but had no chance on the rest. Still Lalime has now slipped to a record of 1-3-1 against what are some of the weaker teams in the league. Roy scored a goal in the third, but was also directly responsible for leaving his guy wide open on the previous goal for the Islanders.

    Buffalo needs to do their best to find a way to get Gerbe, Kennedy, and Darche on the team as soon as possible, because the current group of players no longer shows any interest in winning hockey games any more.

    Official Three Stars
  • Joey MacDonald
  • Mark Mancari
  • Mark Streit

  • My Three Stars
  • Andy Hilbert (one goal, one assist, four shots)
  • Mark Mancari (one goal, seven shots)
  • Craig Rivet (one assist)
  • Saturday, November 22, 2008

    Shutout by Philadelphia

    Buffalo Sabres
    The Buffalo Sabres played better in this game, but once again were unable to win. However, while they finally turned their game around defensively they were unable to score at all. Statistically they looked good outshooting the Flyers 40-25, but most of these were low quality shots, or an absolute inability to score with the two man advantage.

    Buffalo had two longish five on three opportunities, but were unable to score one both of them. Had they turned both of these chances into goals then they at least would have made it to overtime. At least the Sabres generated chances and had a good penalty kill.

    The two goals that did not go into an empty net both were the result of careless mistakes by the defense. On the first goal both Numminen and Rivet should have gotten back and had Hartnell covered. The second goal was the result of a failed clearing attempt and Roy and Stafford refusing to play any defense.

    Lindy Ruff mixed up the lines a lot for this game, putting Paetsch in on defense for Tallinder, and benching Afinogenov. Also by putting Kotalik on IR the team was able to bring up Mark Mancari from the AHL. Why Afinogenov was sat out instead of Peters, Roy and Stafford is beyond me. Why Roy keeps getting ice time is beyond me. That should instead go to players that are having a good season like Mair, Kaleta, and MacArthur.

    Mancari played very well in his first NHL game of the season, and drew a large number of penalties and was tied for the highest number of shots in the game. Buffalo had a solid second line whenever Mancari and Gaustad were on the ice together.

    Buffalo has another chance to stage their comeback tonight against the struggling Islanders.

    Official Three Stars
  • Marty Biron
  • Jeff Carter
  • Mark Mancari

  • My Three Stars
  • Marty Biron (shutout, 40 saves)
  • Mark Mancari (five shots, three drawn penalties, no goals against)
  • Jeff Carter (two goals, plus two)
  • Friday, November 21, 2008

    Shadows of last year

    Technically the Sabres are off to an ok start. While they have good a pitiful 3-6-1 in their last ten games they are technically still in position to make the playoffs. In fact they are doing better then they were at this point last season. Now 18 games into the season the team is 9-6-3 with 21 points last year at this time they were 7-10-1 for only 15 points. Given how close the team was last season that difference should be enough to make the playoffs.

    Still Buffalo has to do better then to win only half of their games. Too much they are appearing to be facing the same issues that they faced last year. These prolonged losing streaks are a problem, and really are not resulting in long winning streaks to counteract them. Too many games are also slipping by because the team is not putting forth the effort that it needs to. Even with a capable backup in place Miller has been sloppy at times, and while he isn't expected to win every game for the team, he has to avoid causing the team to lose.

    Buffalo has two (relatively) weak opponents this weekend which starts a stretch of four home games. If ever there was a time to turn things around it would be now.

    Thursday, November 20, 2008

    No effort in third straight game

    I understand that Boston has a decent team this year, and that not every game can be won, but after three straight bad losses, something is just fundementally wrong with this team. After losing to the Bruins 7-4 the team has now allowed 18 goals against in their past three games for an average of six goals against per game. There is no way to win like that. In fact Buffalo has lost five of their last six games, allowing an average of 4.7 goals against per game.

    When you score four goals in the first period you should not lose, especially if you have a two goal lead. Even as Boston caught up, Buffalo should have been able to continue to take advantage of the Bruin's mistakes, but instead they just gave up. As soon as Boston was up 5-4 most of the Sabres stopped skating hard despite there still being half of a game left to play.

    Mair and Peters both hurt the team by taking some bad penalties. Over the last weekend they were two of our best guys, but now they are even hurting us. The refs really were trying to hurt the team as they called a number of rediculous trips that never should have been penalties. Also there was the diving call on Gaustad. Paul Gaustad does not take dives. He simply does not. If it was Roy I'd give it the benefit of the doubt, but to call that a dive on Gaustad is just insane.

    Miller looked really bad this game, and finished the first period with a .571 save percentage. Lalime on the other hand looked good, alowing nothing past him in over 18 minutes of play. He should have gotten in the game much sooner, as some of the goals that Miller had allowed against in this game were really bad, and completly his fault.

    The Hecht, Pominville Vanek line actually played well in this game and finished with a combined for three goals, four assists, and a plus two rating. Rivet also had a good game plus two with an assist for a team that was all around bad. One line can not carry a team though, and the others need to play hard as well.

    Chara had a good game for Boston, putting in two powerplay goals from the blueline. The Sabres should know better than to let his blasts get through. Marc Savard also had a good game getting four assists, including both of Chara's goals and getting himself a goal as well.

    Official Three Stars
  • Marc Savard
  • Zdeno Chara
  • David Krejci

  • My Three Stars
  • Chuck Kobasew (two goals, plus three)
  • Thomas Vanek (two goals, one assist)
  • Marc Savard (one goal, three assists)
  • Wednesday, November 19, 2008

    Updates from Portland

    Buffalo Sabres
    The Portland Pirates are leading the AHL with an impressive 11-1-1 record. The team is being lead by Mark Mancari who has 11 goals and 13 assists in just 13 games. The Pirates are undefeated within the month of November, and Mancari has at least one goal in every game so far this month.

    The rest of the team isn't doing bad either. Nathan Gerbe has 12 goals and 7 assists. Tim Kennedy has four goals and 15 assists. Mathieu Darche has six goals and six assists with almost all of his points coming within the past six games.

    Whenever the Sabres need to recall a player from Portland, they will get someone with plenty of talent who can contribute to the team. They will not be bringing up Matt Ellis again, who after two games in Portland, has zero points and a negative two plus minus rating for a team that won both of it's games.

    The Sabres may need to bring up a player soon, as Kotalik is out with a Hamstring issue, and Tim Connolly is also injured once again. Connolly's injury has been described as a "body musculosketal injury", which more or less confirms what we have always known in that he is all around broken and about to completely fall apart at a seconds notice. He is also being listed as week-to-week which indicates that they don't expect his general soreness/concussion/bruised chest/broken vertebra/stretched ligiment/sore groin to get better anytime soon.

    Tuesday, November 18, 2008

    Mair and Peters, Buffalo's plus minus leaders

    Buffalo Sabres
    Over the past two games the Buffalo Sabres have played very poorly, getting outscored 11-3. Over these two games only two players avoided going negative in their plus/minus rating, and they are Adam Mair and Andrew Peters.

    Peters only has a combined 10:41 of ice time over the two games, and they contributes somewhat to this statistic, but it doesn't change the fact that he is still doing better then the rest of the team. Perhaps the fact that he doesn't have such offensive expectations helps, but he also has four shots on net over the past two games, the same number of shots that the minus five rated Derek Roy has. Over the past two games at least Peters has been one of Buffalo's best players.

    Patrick Kaleta also has a neutral rating against the Penguins, but only had six minutes of even strength ice time, and did not play the night before.

    Adam Mair is the lone player to be in the positive over the past two games. He is only plus one with slightly less ice time then most players on the team, but that is the best that the Sabres can offer. He earned the assist for the one goal he was on the ice for, and wasn't on the ice for any goals against, not even any powerplay goals.

    Last season the big disappointment that Vanek had was not the fact that his goal scoring slipped a little, but rather his plus minus dropped over 50 points from being the league leader to being in the negative. Vanek (and the whole team), now have to get back to playing two way hockey.

    Monday, November 17, 2008

    Sabres fail in Pittsburgh

    Buffalo blew leads going into both the second and third periods to post their second straight loss. While Buffalo started the game well, they were not capable of putting forth that effort for a full three periods, and were not defensively responsible in the third.

    The offense wasn't all together either. While Vanek and Pominville both kept up their game and both scored, Andrew Peters was the Sabres with the next highest number of shots in this game in only a little over five minutes of ice time. Connolly had to sit out with injuries and his presence was missed by the team.

    The Penguins are a good team, but Buffalo had this game in hand and let it get away. They don't play again until next Wednesday.

    Official Three Stars
  • Evgeni Malkin
  • Jordan Staal
  • Alex Goligoski

  • My Three Stars
  • Evgeni Malkin (one goal, three assists)
  • Jordan Staal (two goals, plus two)
  • Petr Sykora (two assists, plus two)
  • Saturday, November 15, 2008

    Sabres get rolled over

    This was not a good game for Buffalo. They got destroyed by the Columbus Blue Jackets in every aspect of the game. Technically the Sabres did outshoot their opponents 37-25, but in no way did they control this game. Time after time the team failed to come back on defense, and put in little effort on their own rushes.

    The RJ Umberger scored two goals in the game. The Blue Jackets also got goals from former Sabres captain Michael Peca, and another goal from Rick Nash.

    Buffalo didn't look well, with the somewhat injured Tim Connolly and Paul Gaustad being the only Sabres giving any effort in this game. Despite the small sample size it is no mistake that Connolly is one of the NHL's top defensive forwards. A few of the goals were directly the result of Roy not having any backcheck at all.

    Patrick Lalime may be in trouble as the teams dependable backup. While the first goal was clearly not his fault, the fourth goal certainly was. Also allowing six goals against in only 45 minutes on ice is never good. Buffalo will be in trouble, if once again they can not trust their backup to take any starts.

    Saturday night's game is against the Penguins, who are pretty good. Buffalo is going to have to turn things around fast.

    Official Three Stars
  • Pascal Leclaire
  • RJ Umberger
  • Manny Malhotra

  • My Three Stars
  • RJ Umberger (two goals)
  • Mike Commodore (two assists, plus three)
  • Pascal Leclaire (36 saves on 37 shots)
  • Friday, November 14, 2008

    The Highs and Lows of Tim Connolly

    Buffalo Sabres
    Tim Connolly is currently injured. He is listed as "day-to-day", which has pretty much been his status for the past three seasons. The team is only calling it an "upper-body injury", but indications are that the issue is with his chest and is not too serious, so any concussion fears at least can be put to rest. Still Connolly has not been the most healthy player. Already this season he is on injury number four.

    When he plays however, he is really good. With two goals and four assists in five games, Connolly has more points per game than any other player on the Sabres. The only other player with at least one point per game is Vanek who has 12 goals and three assists in fifteen games. Connolly has been playing decent defense as well, and unlike some injured players has not been afraid to play all out.

    Yet if there is any time to sit Connolly it is now. Tonight the Sabres are playing the Columbus Blue Jackets who have a mediocre 7-7-2 record. Buffalo also has no injuries and will have to play without someone. For this game I would expect that Connolly sits with Peters. Even though Tim has been far more effective with his ice time then Stafford has been, there is no reason to risk him getting hurt while he have the depth to sit him out with no real loss.

    Thursday, November 13, 2008

    Holding onto win over the Blues

    Buffalo Sabres
    The Sabres beat the St Louis Blues 4-3, but this game should not have ended up nearly as close. Buffalo went up 3-0 early in the first period, and kept on dominating the play throughout the game. However they were unable to score many more. Vanek had some many opportunities on breakaways, but was unable to find the back of the net on any of them. Kotalik also had a large number of chances, and was unable to capitalize on any of them.

    Tim Connolly looked good in this game, scoring the second goal, and getting the primary assist on the third. Connolly did appear to get injured after taking a hit to the head. The game winning goal was scored by Henrik Tallinder, who picked up his first goal of the season. The game's first goal went to Adam Mair, who had a fabulous shot that the goalie really had no chance on.

    Peters played in this game, but only saw 1:26 of ice time, all within the first half of the game and used it to get into two fights. Peters actually did decent in his fights, but did not contribute anything to the actual hockey portion of the game. Kaleta and Stafford sat out this game instead. Paille who sat out last game was also back, and had a good night earning an assist and a team leading plus two. Teppo Numminen lead the Sabres in ice time, which given his age comes as a bit of a surprise.

    Statistically the best players in the game were all for St. Louis. David Perron lead all players in points with three off of a goal and two assists. He was also a plus three, as was Patrik Berglund who earned a goal and an assist. West Seneca native Lee Stempinak also played well earning a goal and an assist in the loss.

    The game had very few penalties besides the fighting majors, and saw very little time that was not even strength. Neither team scored on any of their few powerplays.

    Official Three Stars
  • Henrik Tallinder
  • David Perron
  • Daniel Paille

  • My Three Stars
  • David Perron (one goal, two assists, plus three)
  • Tim Connolly (one goal, one assist)
  • Patrik Berglund (one goal, one assist, plus two)
  • Wednesday, November 12, 2008

    Faces on the St. Louis Blues and removing the slug

    Buffalo faces the St. Louis Blues tonight in a rare game against the Western conference. The Blues have not been too good this year starting with a 5-7-1 record. Still the team has a number of players to watch including Paul Kariya and Andy McDonald, as well as rookie of the year contender TJ Oshie, former Sabre Jay McKee, and the Buffalo born Lee Stempniak.

    Still hopefully the Sabres are able to use this as a rebound game, to set up what should be two more easy wins this weekend. No indication on who will be scratched for the very healthy Sabres, but there are rumors that Peters might be in the lineup for unknown reasons.

    More evidence that the Sabres will no longer have slugs on their jerseys in the near future. After putting the old logo on the ice, introducing a classic third jersey, and using the old logo for the World Juniors announcement this shouldn't be too much of a surprise. Still Larry Quinn has recently announced that "the team is talking about returning to the traditional jerseys and logo permanently". Given the current pacing I would be astounded if this process takes any longer than the next offseason.

    Tuesday, November 11, 2008

    Not yet the end of the world

    The Sabres have had two very tough losses, and have lost five of their last seven games. Still, due to the good start the team had, Buffalo is still tied for first in the Northeastern division. In the eastern conference the team is tied for second overall, only behind the Rangers who are already half way done with their season, already playing 50% more games then the Montreal Canadians. Currently the Sabres are actually on pace for a 111 point year, which would be Buffalo's second best ever. So the end is not here, (at least not yet).

    Still Buffalo has to pick up their game and return to their winning ways. With the team healthier then it has ever been, they have no excuses and will sit any player that isn't doing well. Yet no single player stands out as the reason the team has been struggling. I would expect Lalime to get a start sometime this weekend to mix things up in goal, but that is all. Friday against Columbus would appear to be the right time for Lalime to get a turn.

    Tomorrow Wikipedia will be featuring long time Avalanche player Joe Sakic the subject of their featured article.
    Buffalo Sabres

    Sunday, November 9, 2008

    Once again the Sabres fail to perform

    Buffalo Sabres
    While the game against Atlanta was a disaster because of the lack of a backcheck and incompetent goaltending, the game against the Bruins, added a lack of offense to the problem. The Sabres came out flat in every aspect of the game.

    Connolly looked really good in the first period, including the goal he scored along with Pominville, but then was giving no effort on any play by the third.

    While Buffalo did generate 33 shots, most were very poor, and they allowed 40 shots against. The Sabres were unwilling to maintain any pressure whatsoever in this game and that hurt them. The game had only three penalties between both teams before the final two minutes of the game, and all of them were killed off minimizing any effect that special teams had in the game.

    Stafford was back on the ice for this game, as Paille sat out instead.

    Official Three Stars
  • Chuck Kobasew
  • Dennis Wideman
  • Manny Fernandez

  • My Three Stars
  • Chuck Kobasew (one goal, one assist, plus two)
  • Tim Connolly (one goal, plus one)
  • Dennis Wideman (one goal)
  • Saturday, November 8, 2008

    A Second loss to Atlanta

    For the second time this season, the Buffalo Sabres lost to the Atlanta Thrashers in overtime. Buffalo actually looked good for alot of the game, but had a few defensive gaps, and Miller played very poorly.

    Ryan Miller was a wreck almost all night, and probably should have gotten pulled for Lalime after goal number three. Now that Buffalo has a capable backup they may as well use him. Hopefully Lalime gets the start tonight against Boston, so that Miller can be back in form for the next game.

    To get under the roster limit Matt Ellis was waived and Stafford sat out the game. Also despite what everyone had been saying apparently Stafford would have to clear waivers. Ellis probably will not be claimed, but Mancari should still should get called up before him.

    Bryan Little had a real good game for Atlanta with two goals and an assist. Meanwhile Vanek scored for Buffalo, keeping him on top of the league in that category.

    Official Three Stars
  • Thomas Vanek
  • Bryan Little
  • Derek Roy

  • My Three Stars
  • Bryan Little (two goals, one assist, plus two)
  • Jason Williams (two goals)
  • Vyacheslav Kozlov (three assists)
  • Thursday, November 6, 2008

    Hecht returns to health

    Buffalo Sabres
    Jochen Hecht will return to the Sabres lineup after being out a few weeks with an injury to his hand. While this is good news, it is also a problem as Hecht coming off of IR will put the Sabres over the roster limit with 24 players.

    Only three players can be sent to Portland without needing to clear waivers, and they are Clarke MacArthur, Drew Stafford, and Andre Sekera. In preseason MacArthur would have been sent down, but he has played very well for Buffalo so far and is fifth on the team in points and second in goals to only league leader Thomas Vanek. Sekera has been solid as well, so of those players the one most likely to be sent down is Stafford.

    More likely is that one of the team's current scratches will try to clear waivers instead. Paetsch, the team's seventh defenseman is no better then Portland's Mike Weber, but the drop off is a bit steep after that, and the two of them already found themselves both playing already in this early season. Paetsch would almost positively get taken by another team so keeping him is in Buffalo's best interest. Peters may be able to make it through waivers but is clearly better than Matt Ellis. Does anyone really care if the team losses Ellis to waivers? Are we not better off if Gerbe or Kennedy or Mancari get a few occasional starts with Buffalo instead? The obvious solution is to let Ellis go and hope that someone does take him.

    It is also possible that nobody will need to be sent to Portland as guess who is injured? While the injury may not be serious enough to put him on IR, it may as well be done now, as it is just going to have to happen by the end of the weekend otherwise. Two straight games already exceed any expectations that anyone had for him.

    Wednesday, November 5, 2008

    All star voting

    The NHL has announced the ballets for the All-Star game, and of the 104 players selected there were four Sabres.

    Ryan Miller was selected as a goalie, and given how he has done this season he deserves to be in the game. At this point he leads the league in goals against average at 1.62. In save percentage he is second in the league at .942, just behind the .944 posted by Boston's Tim Thomas. Furthermore he hasn't allowed a single goal against in the last 125 minutes of game time.

    Buffalo Sabres
    The second Sabres all star selection is Thomas Vanek. As the Austrian is currently leading the league in goals with eleven, while he is tenth in the league in total points with 14. Also very deserving and very probable to make the all-star team.

    The other Sabres forward selected was Derek Roy. The selection of Roy is a bit odd, as he is only ninth in points on his own team, falling behind players like Kotalik and Pominville who are beating out Roy in every statistic that there is. It's not that Roy has been doing bad, but he should not be the team's second choice.

    On defense the only Sabre selected for the ballet is Teppo Numminen. A bit of an odd choice, especially given how influenced by last years numbers these selections appear to be. Still I would pick Tallinder or Rivet as the team's top player on the blue line. Even Spacek deserves a mention with the eight assists he has earned so far this season. Probably none of Buffalo's defense will make it in.

    Tuesday, November 4, 2008

    Buffalo beats New Jersey

    Buffalo Sabres
    Going into the game, Martin Brodeur's absence was the story of the game. However backup Kevin Weekes played well behind a disastrous Devils team. Buffalo dominated the first period, outshooting New Jersey 20-3. However they only scored one goal in that span on a nice shot by Jason Pominville.

    In the final two periods the Sabres were outshot 21 to 10 by the Devils, but Miller stayed strong and earned himself a second straight shutout. Kaleta scored when he deflected Sekera's shot through the five hole.

    Rivet was played in this game, returning earlier then expected from his injury. Paetsch sat out the game to make room on the roster for the captain's return. Speaking of injuries, Tim Connolly made it through a second straight game, although he even took a shift without his helmet.

    Buffalo blew some five on three chances in the game, but did finish the game a respectable one for five on the powerplay.

    Official Three Stars
  • Ryan Miller
  • Jason Pominville
  • Kevin Weekes

  • My Three Stars
  • Ryan Miller (shutout, 24 saves)
  • Kevin Weekes (0.933 SVP, 28 saves)
  • Jason Pominville (one goal)
  • Monday, November 3, 2008

    Pre New Jersey injuries

    After playing against a Capitals team without Ovechkin, the Sabres will get the opportunity to play against the Devils without Martin Brodeur. Kevin Weekes is expected to get the start against Buffalo instead.

    This should help Buffalo's chances alot. Still New Jersey is a decent team, and will not be an easy win.

    For the Sabres both captain Rivet, and alternate captain Hecht will still be out with injuries. Hecht should be returning soon, while the Rivet still has awhile to go.

    Sunday, November 2, 2008

    Sabres turn things around against Washington

    Buffalo Sabres
    After two really bad losses, the Sabre came out firing in their last game to win 5-0 over the Washington Capitals.

    Thomas Vanek scored his first goal of the game just 72 seconds in.After receiving the pass on the blueline on a partial breakaway, he single handedly danced around Mike Green who is one of the better defensemen in the league. In the second period Vanek scored another goal on a backhand with only three seconds remaining. These two goals bring Vanek back up to his goal per game pace, as he leads the league with eleven goals in eleven games.

    Buffalo outplayed the Capitals all around in this game, and got a very pretty goal midway through the third from Paille and Kaleta. The Capitals were without Ovechkin, but given how the game went it would not have made a difference.

    Tim Connolly was back from the dead, and posted 19 minutes of injury free ice time, and also earned an assist. Peters sat out to make room for him on the roster.

    Miller earned a shutout for the first time this season, even as the Sabres got slightly outshot in this game. Buffalo also looked very poor on the powerplay only converting one of their many chances.

    Official Three Stars
  • Ryan Miller
  • Thomas Vanek
  • Jason Pominville

  • My Three Stars
  • Thomas Vanek (two goals, plus two)
  • Ryan Miller (shutout, 29 saves)
  • Jason Pominville (one goal, one assist)
  • Saturday, November 1, 2008

    Mike Ryan finds a home

    After months of trying to play hockey everywhere Michael Ryan has finally found a home. Yesterday he signed a contract with the Carolina Hurricanes, but will spend most of this season playing for Albany in the NHL.

    This has been a long and crazy summer for Ryan who first signed with the KHL's HC Dinamo Minsk in Belarus, then signed a tryout contract with the Nashville Predators, before being cut by that team. Now on a two-way contract with Carolina, he looks to be set.

    Still it is a wonder that no other team jumped at the oppertunity to sign him. While not a top level talent, Ryan was pretty good during his time in Buffalo, and played 65 NHL games with the Sabres. There are alot of teams that would have been better off with him on their rosters as opposed to the talent they currently have up front. Even the Sabres could have used him, as a clear improvement over Matt Ellis, who we signed at the last minute, yet is behind Peters on the depth chart.

    Buffalo plays against the Capitals tonight, who are without their star Ovechkin. After three straignt losses, the Sabres really need a win in this one.

    Friday, October 31, 2008

    Another 5-2 loss

    Buffalo Sabres
    The Buffalo Sabres lost 5-2 for the second straight game. This game was all around really bad. Buffalo was outshot 40-31. Miller probably should have had a few of them, but often the goals were due to players being out of position.

    MacArthur, Sekera, and Weber were the only players who looked good for Buffalo in this game. Clarke MacArthur got the first goal for Buffalo, while Sekera's shot was tipped in by Vanek for the second Buffalo goal in the game. Spacek also got assists on both of the goals, while Paille finished the game plus one with an assist.

    Tampa Bay is mostly a one dimensional team, and Kolzig is no longer that great of a goalie, so Buffalo has no excuse for losing this one. This is the third straight game the Sabres have lost, and they really need to turn things around now, or they will end up falling short just like they did last season.

    Paul Gaustad was finally back in the lineup for this game, leaving Matt Ellis scratched. Gaustad only received limited minutes in the game though. Henrik Tallinder was also back, with Paetsch sitting out the game rather than sending Weber back to Portland.

    Rookie Steven Stamkos had a great game with an assist, and the first two goals of his NHL career. If he can continue playing like he did in this game he will be able to win the Calder trophy by season's end.

    Official Three Stars
  • Steven Stamkos
  • Vincent Lecavalier
  • Paul Ranger

  • My Three Stars
  • Steven Stamkos (two goals, one assist)
  • Vincent Lecavalier (two assists, plus one)
  • Clarke MacArthur (one goal)
  • Thursday, October 30, 2008

    Early Calder Favorites

    Drew Doughty
    It's a bit early in the season to be talking about the NHL's end of the year awards, but there are already a few favorites to claim the title of "Rookie of the Year".

    As the first pick in last years draft, Steve Stamkos was the preseason favorite to win the Calder this year. Last year it was won by the drafts top pick, Patrick Kane. Playing for the Tampa Bay Lightning, Stamkos has gotten off to a poor start this season. After eight games he has zero goals and only on assist. He has had earned a negative three plus/minus rating while only having limited ice time.

    Fabian Brunnström did not play in the first two games for Dallas, but when he did get in he scored a hat-trick. Over the next six games he earned two more goals and an assist. However he also has a plus/minus rating of negative six and leads the league in goals against per sixty minutes. While his offense has been impressive, he has proven to be a liability in his own end.

    The Los Angeles Kings' Drew Doughty has been very solid for them as a rookie defenseman this season. After eight games he has an impressive plus/minus of positive eight, and has been trusted with significant ice time. Against Colorado he even scored a goal, but as a defenseman is not likely to put up big enough offensive numbers to be picked as the Calder winner.

    After three solid seasons at the University of North Dakota TJ Oshie is playing as a rookie for the St Louis Blues this season. After eight games he only has three points (two goals and one assist). Still he has been a better two way player than Stamkos or Brunnström, and as such is more likely to be trusted with more playing time throughout the season.

    Still it is early to try and figure out who the Calder favorite is. It could still go to a player like Toronto defenseman Luke Schenn who has been playing decently. It could even go to a player like Buffalo's Nathan Gerbe who has plenty of potential, but has yet to even play in a single NHL game.

    Wednesday, October 29, 2008

    On Buffalo, Logos, World Juniors, and Bettman

    On Monday before the miserable loss to the Senators, the formal announcement of the world juniors took place. This was a big time media event with Golisano and Bettman both in town for the announcement. The event itself provided little information that hadn't already been leaked, expect for the greatly exaggerated numbers on the economic boost it would give the city.

    Buffalo Sabres
    Still look at the logo in the image of the the announcement. The Sabres have been avoiding the slug logo on almost everything for a while now. After putting the classic logo on the ice, I think it is safe to say that we won't see anymore of the slug after this season.

    League commissioner Gary Bettman who was in town for the announcement then spent some time on the Sabres intermission show, resulting in a very awkward interview. Much of the discussion was about Golisano's purchase of the team, which happened six season ago now. Bettman then spent the rest of the interview sucking up to Golisano for really unknown reasons. Technically Golisano and the other thirty team owners give Bettman his job, but he came across and extremely desperate and childish in doing so.

    Tuesday, October 28, 2008

    No comeback against Ottawa

    Buffalo Sabres
    The Sabres failed in their comeback against Ottawa losing the game 5-2 for their first regulation loss of the season.

    Buffalo outplayed the Senators for most of the first period, but both Alex Auld and Patrick Lalime did a good job of keeping the pucks out of their nets. Ottawa eventually scored one on a powerplay with less then two minutes to go in the period.

    In the second period the Sabres began to fall apart allowing Heatley to score a powerplay goal, just 19 seconds in. Ottawa also got two goals from Spezza in the second as well. Buffalo went down 5-0 early in the third, before finally scoring on the powerplay when MacArthur tipped in a nice shot by Afinogenov. Teppo Numminen then scored another goal in the game's final minute to make the score 5-2.

    Despite the lopsided score Buffalo didn't actually play too poorly in this game. While their powerplay didn't score until late, they had been generating chances all along. Also the refs didn't help much calling a number of penalties against the Sabres without any real good reason at all, especially a very poor one on Afinogenov just before the end of the first.

    Patrick Lalime looked very shaky in net after letting in the second goal. He had played very well in the first period, but was giving up too many rebounds for the rest of the game, and should have covered some of the ones that did end up going in. Hopefully this is just a bit of a fluke game for him and not the beginning of a downward spiral.

    Mike Weber looked good in his first game with Buffalo this season and had three blocked shots. Afinogenov meanwhile still hasn't scored a goal this year, but did have the assist on both of the goals that Buffalo did score.

    Official Three Stars
  • Jason Spezza
  • Dany Heatley
  • Antoine Vermette

  • My Three Stars
  • Alex Auld (25 saves)
  • Jason Spezza (two goals)
  • Dany Heatley (one goal, one assist, plus two)
  • Monday, October 27, 2008

    Pre-Ottawa focus on Defense

    According to James Mirtle, the Sabres have the oldest defense in the league, with 32.1 being the average age. Granted Numminen throws off these numbers significantly. Still I don't feel as if this is a bad thing, having a more veteran presence on defense like Buffalo has this year with Teppo and Rivet has so far looked to be a good thing.

    Unfortunately Rivet is out with an injury, and Henrik Tallinder might be as well. Tallinder's injury does not appear to be serious, but leaves the possibility that he might not play against Ottawa.

    If Henrik is out then Mike Weber would be called up from the Portland Pirates to take his place. Arguably he is even better the Paetsch who was put in as a replacement for Rivet. Weber played real well with Sekera at the end of last season, so expect those two to be paired up together again.

    Injuries to Buffalo's defense look to hurt the team more than any injuries to their forwards would. Still Weber has shown himself to be a dependable player and I doubt Tallinder will be out for too long.

    Buffalo's monday night opponent, the Ottawa Senators, have gotten off to a very poor start at 2-5-1. A fall was expected from Ottawa, but they still have a number of very good players and can not be taken lightly by Buffalo. Even the season the Sabres won the president's trophy they lost half of their games against Ottawa.

    Sunday, October 26, 2008

    Shootout loss in Colorado

    The Sabres got in their tight low scoring game that we expected against Minnesota, against the Colorado Avalanche instead. This was supposed to be an easy opponent, but given the way Buffalo played they were lucky to earn the one point on the night.

    Buffalo looked out of position and confused for most of the game, and then in the third period and in overtime they looked flat out bad. The one goal Buffalo scored was a bit of a fluke as well.

    In the shootout, both Kotalik and Roy had very nice goals, but Stafford who was very good coming into this game failed to score. On the other end Miller was too far out of his net again, and only stopped two of five shots against.

    This was Buffalo's second loss of the season, but they got a point for the tie. Due to Montreal's loss to the Ducks, Buffalo still has the best record in the Eastern Conference.

    Official Three Stars
  • Ryan Smyth
  • Peter Budaj
  • Ryan Miller

  • My Three Stars
  • Peter Budaj (only one goal against, shootout win)
  • Ryan Smyth (an assist, shootout goal)
  • Toni Lydman (an assist, plus one)
  • Saturday, October 25, 2008

    Buffalo Wins! (the world under-20 championships)

    Buffalo has been rewarded with the World U-20 championship tournament, (better known as the World Juniors). Buffalo was first selected as one of three finalists a little over a month ago. The official announcement about this will be made on Monday.

    This is just the latest in a long line of hockey announcements that have leaked ahead of time. The whole world knew about the ice bowl, months before it was announced. Both the recent third jersey, and the slug logo were both leaked well ahead of time as well.

    Still this is great news for the City of Buffalo. The Sabres play against the Colorado Avalanche tonight. Colorado has not gotten off to a good start this season, but this shouldn't be an easy win either. All thirty NHL teams are playing tonight (the only time that happens all season), and then nobody plays at all tomorrow for unknown reasons.

    Friday, October 24, 2008

    A Victory of Errors

    So much for the goaltender showdown this game was supposed to be. After a disastrous second period Buffalo came back to somehow win the game in overtime.

    Coming into the game both of the starting goaltenders had excellent starts to their season and were each undefeated with a 4-0-0 record. Tonight however, both teams allowed more goals against then they have the entire season, and let in a number of soft goals.

    Buffalo got out to a quick start with a goal by Drew Stafford, that came on a backhand following a series of good passes. This is the second straight game Stafford has had, and is starting to finally get into a groove this season. At this point you would have to assume that he will have a better year then he did last season.

    In the second period Buffalo began to fall apart. They only got outshot by a little bit, but Miller let in two soft goals. In the third period, Miller shot the puck into his own net during Minnesota's powerplay to give them a 3-1 lead.

    For the third straight game however, Buffalo closed a two point deficit. This is the type of thing that they did all the time in the two season following the lockout, but were missing last year. Things got rolling when Mair tipped in a shot by Nathan Paetsch. Paetsch was playing in his first game this season to fill in for the injured Craig Rivet, and played well this game.

    Thomas Vanek then tied up the game late in the third on a bit of a weak shot to send the game into overtime. 44 seconds in, Derek Roy scored to give Buffalo the win.

    The Vanek-Roy-Stafford line had three goals and three assists between them, and carried the team offensively in this game. It would have been easy to give up going down by two early in the third on an own goal, but the Sabres should be commended for not allowing it to happen.

    Also Doug Johnson is an idiot. The job of picking the game's three stars fell to this man and for star number one he picked the goalie that despite winning let in two soft goals and then shot the puck into his own net. That was not a anywhere near an award winning performance. His Johnson's choice for the third star was Antti Miettinen who finished the game with no points and a game low minus three rating. I usually disagree somewhat with the three star selection, but I have never seen it this poorly done.

    Official Three Stars
  • Ryan Miller
  • Brent Burns
  • Antti Miettine

  • My Three Stars
  • Drew Stafford (one goal, one assist)
  • Thomas Vanek (one goal, one assist, game leading plus three)
  • Derek Roy (game winning goal, one assist, plus two)
  • Thursday, October 23, 2008

    Knee Surgery

    Sabres captain Craig Rivet had knee surgery on Wednesday morning and as a result will be out for a few weeks. Obviously not good news for Buffalo, as Rivet had been playing well and even set up one of the goals in the game against Boston.

    Gaustad, Hecht and Connolly are also out for the Sabres, but this is the first injury they will have to deal with on the defensive side of things. Nathan Paetsch who has been a healthy scratch so far this season should take his spot. Paetsch's play was questionable at times last season, but he has also proven that he can be good as well.

    Buffalo has been very good defensively this year, not giving up more than two goals to anyone. They will have to do even better against their Thursday night opponent, the Minnesota Wild.

    The Wild are undefeated at 4-0-0 and have a very solid backend. Last week's NHL first star Thomas Vanek was followed closely by second star Niklas Backstrom. He has a 1.72 goals against average, so besides putting up points, Buffalo will also have to their best to limit any against. It should be a good game, against a team that we do not see too often.

    Wednesday, October 22, 2008

    Buffalo comes back against Boston

    Buffalo Sabres
    For the second straight game Buffalo started out slow and did poorly in the first period. Buffalo was outshot 16-6 in the first period and outscored 1-0. Then Boston came out as the stronger team at the beginning of the second and the Sabres allowed their first power play goal of the year against to go down 2-0. Soon after they scored their first of the game when MacArthur tipped in a blast from Rivet on the powerplay. Buffalo then kept the pressure on and tied the game up on a beautiful goal by Stafford. Buffalo went on to win in the game after a five round shootout.

    Both of the Bruin's goals came on relatively weak shots. However Miller more than made up for that with many fantastic saves. Ryan finished the game with 29 saves and another four stops in the shootout.

    Thomas Vanek did not score a goal in the game for the first time this season, but actually had the game winner in the shootout with a very impressive fake and shot combination. Kotalik's unstoppable backhander was actually stopped in the shootout, but Stafford managed to score on the move from farther out. Manny Fernandez looked rather nervous during the shootout and almost allowed goals by Roy and Pominville to trickle in.

    Boston's goals came from Wideman and Kessel with their lone shootout goal coming from Krejci. The Bruins looked good at times, but never as if they were playing the type of dominating game that suggested that Buffalo could not come back.

    Official Three Stars
  • Ryan Miller
  • Derek Roy
  • Thomas Vanek

  • My Three Stars
  • Drew Stafford (a goal, a shootout goal, second in game in shots)
  • Ryan Miller (kept the team in the game, then saved four of five in the shootout)
  • Dennis Wideman (one goal)
  • Tuesday, October 21, 2008

    Random pre-Boston updates

    According to ESPN, the Sabres are 12-0-2 against Boston whenever Vanek scores at least one point. Given how the Austrian's play has been recently I'm feeling pretty good about that.

    Nathan Gerbe has been playing well in Portland where he had two assists in his first game, and then scored two goals in a 3-2 win in game number two. The pirates are currently 2-1 on the year.

    The Boston Bruins are 2-1-2 this season, so another trip to the shootout many be in the works. Goalie Tim Thomas has always been good against Buffalo, but Manny Fernandez is expected to start instead. Buffalo has not had to face him since before the lockout.

    The last time Buffalo played the Bruins was the final game of last season, where Numminen finally came back, Vanek scored a hat-trick, and Jocelyn Thibault got a shutout to end his time as a Sabre.

    Monday, October 20, 2008

    Vanek named the NHL's top star for the week

    Buffalo Sabres Thomas Vanek
    Thomas Vanek was named the top star in the NHL for the past week. Considering the numbers he has put up this shouldn't surprise anyone. In the four games in the past week Vanek has six goals and two assists including two shorthanded goals, while the Sabres put up a 3-0-1 record. Vanek has at least one goal in every game so far this year, and even had a natural hat-trick in the final game for Buffalo last season. The question is if he can keep this up, but there is really no reason to expect this offensive production to slow down any either. Buffalo will only get better as Hecht and Gaustad return from their injuries.

    Sunday, October 19, 2008

    A shootout loss to the Thrashers

    The Buffalo Sabres had their first loss of the season to the Atlanta Thrashers in a shootout. Patrick Lalime was in goal for Buffalo, who feel behind early, but played better in the later periods to tie the game up.

    Thomas Vanek had yet another goal, to give him his seventh of the season just five games in. Buffalo remained strong on special teams as Vanek's goal came five on three, while Buffalo continued to be able to kill off all their penalties.

    In the shootout Kotalik didn't go with his normal backhander and failed to score. Stafford did and Vanek continued to do poorly in the shootout like he has for his whole career. Ilya Kovalchuk and Vyacheslav Kozlov scored in the shootout for Atlanta.

    Official Three Stars
  • Kari Lehtonen
  • Patrick Lalime
  • Ilya Kovalchuk

  • My Three Stars
  • Ilya Kovalchuk (one goal, plus another in the shootout)
  • Todd White (two assists, plus two)
  • Jason Pominville (one goal, one assist)
  • Saturday, October 18, 2008

    Still Undefeated

    Buffalo Sabres
    Buffalo keeps on winning on the strength of their special teams. The Sabres have still allowed no goals against while on the penalty kill, and added two more powerplay goals in the first period to give themselves the early lead.

    Clarke MacArthur got another goal, Ales Kotalik scored his fourth, and Vanek incredibly scored his sixth of the season already. Afinogenov has looked good, and Spacek put together a solid game, scoring the first goal, and getting three shots on net. Ryan Miller looked a bit shaky, as he probably should have had both of the shots that he let by him.

    Buffalo was very disciplined not taking any penalties until the end of the first, and the only bad one, was the diving call on Kaleta. Still Buffalo allowed two goals against, the second to former Sabre Steve Bernier. MacArthur was on the ice for every single goal in the game, for and against. Vancouver sat Roberto Luongo, their captain and all star, but given how dominant Buffalo was it would have been unlikely to have made a difference.

    Official Three Stars
  • Thomas Vanek
  • Ales Kotalik
  • Jaroslav Spacek

  • My Three Stars
  • Thomas Vanek (one goal, two assists, seven shots on net)
  • Ales Kotalik (two goals)
  • Jaroslav Spacek (one goal, one assist, plus two)
  • Friday, October 17, 2008

    Early Statistics

    The Season is still early (Buffalo has only played three games), but they have done very well in those three outings, and are now the only undefeated team in the eastern conference. So far Buffalo is leading the league in average goal differential, thanks in a large part to their 7-1 win over the New York Islanders.

    The teams 1.00 Goals against per game average is the best in the league, ties with San Jose, while their offensive output of 3.67 goals per game is second best in the league, behind only Minnesota and Vancouver. This puts them on pace to be one goal ahead of the 305 they scored last season.

    The offensive statistics are of course being held up be Thomas Vanek who has five goals already. If he keeps up his current pace he will end the season with 137 goals of which 55 will be shorthanded.

    Pulling out the statistics at this point has the Sabres lined up to go 82-0 this season, and with Connolly being injured every game. Well the later may very well happen, all the Sabres need to do is play well enough to make the playoffs, and the way their powerplay has been they will. Currently on track for zero powerplay goals against, 137 powerplay goals for, and 55 shorthanded tallies. That would guarantee a playoff spot.

    Currently the Sabres have a 65.5% chance of making the playoffs, a number that can be brought up to 100% with just 47 more wins. The Sabres can get their next win tonight against the Vancouver Canucks.

    Thursday, October 16, 2008

    Sabres triumph over the Rangers

    Buffalo Sabres
    The Buffalo Sabres beat one of the best teams of this early hockey season, giving the New York Rangers their first lost of the season. The Sabres did so in a way that was very rare for this team last year, with the man advantage. Buffalo scored both of their first two goals with the man advantage, and then got their third goal shorthanded.

    The shorthanded goal was Vanek's second in two games, and the shows much potential for the penalty killing that Buffalo has this year. Both Paille and Vanek flew down the ice to create a beautiful play for that goal. Furthermore the Sabres have yet to allow a goal against this season while on the penalty kill, and have overall been very good at keeping the puck out of their own net, not giving up more than a single goal in any of their games so far.

    Matt Ellis got in his first game as a Buffalo Sabre, but had limited ice time in the game. Clarke MacArthur however has been showing that he deserves to be on the team. After only being on the opening night line up due to Connolly being injured, he has now scored two goals in the season's first three games and has overall looked to be a very good player.

    Official Three Stars
  • Thomas Vanek
  • Ryan Miller
  • Ales Kotalik

  • My Three Stars
  • Thomas Vanek (two goals)
  • Clarke MacArthur (the other goal)
  • Ryan Miller (only one goal against)
  • Wednesday, October 15, 2008

    Lindy Ruff gets career win number 400

    Buffalo Sabres
    Wednesday night's victory over the Rangers is the 400th win in Lindy Ruff's career as head coach. He is now in his eleventh season with the Sabres and has an overall record of 400-320-103.

    Tuesday, October 14, 2008

    The Rangers start the season well, while Chicago falls apart

    After starting the season with two wins over Tampa Bay in Prague, the New York Rangers have just kept on winning. The team has improved it's record to an impressive 5-0 start in a league with amazing parity. The only other undefeated team in the Eastern conference are the Buffalo Sabres who are 2-0 on the year. The two teams will play against each other in their next games on Wenesday night. Still the Rangers are a bit of a surprise to be doing so well. This past offseason the team lost some of its offense with the departures of Shanahan and Avery.

    A team who has not been doing so well are the Chicago Blackhawks. Well being highly touted in the offseason, so far the team has not lived up to its reputation. The team finally got its first point in a shootout loss to Nashville, but has looked lack luster so far this season. They have been playing well early in the game, but at the first sign of adversity have been completly falling apart are losing themsleves the games. They also have a bit of a goalie problem as Huet has not played nearly as well as they would have liked him to. He failed to save either of the two shots against him in the shootout and has let in a number of soft goals already this year.

    Monday, October 13, 2008

    Buffalo beats down on the Islanders

    Buffalo beat down on the Islanders by a score of 7-1. New York played its second straight game without all-star goalie Rick DiPietro who has been having knee problems. Buffalo however also played their back up goaltender Patrick Lalime for his first game in Buffalo.

    The game had 150 minutes worth of penalties with Rivet and Kaleta each getting two game misconducts and Bergenheim, Witt and Thompson earning game misconducts for the Islanders.

    Buffalo looked good on the powerplay this game, scoring three times with the man advantage. The penalty kill allowed one goal against, but also scored a shorthander.

    Hecht left the game early with an injury and will likely be out for a couple of games. Staffard also was limping a bit towards the end of the game, while Connolly was still out. The scoring in the game was fairly evenly distributed, but Vanek scored two putting him on pace for 123 for the season. At the very least he should not have the slow start that he had last season. Both Kotalik and Pominville had a goal and two assists.

    Official Three Stars
  • Thomas Vanek
  • Jason Pominville
  • Ales Kotalik

  • My Three Stars
  • Thomas Vanek (two goals)
  • Ales Kotalik (a goal and two assists)
  • Patrick LaLime (only one goal against)
  • Sunday, October 12, 2008

    Northeast Division

    The northeast has been one of the toughest divisions since the lockout, but the competition is beginning to level out. Neither Ottawa nor Buffalo are as dominate as they used to be, and Montreal and Boston have improved into playoff contenders.

    #1 Montreal Canadians
    They took second in the division last year, and have mostly brought back the same team. Their most notable addition is Robert Lang who they picked up from Chicago, and will give them some additional offense. The main downside for this team is that Price is still rather unproven in goal, and could go either way.

    #2 Buffalo Sabres
    Buffalo missed the playoffs last year, but should make it this season. Their main weakness was on defense, but they have shored up that position with the addition of Rivet and the return of Numminen. Buffalo also has the division's best goaltender in Ryan Miller.

    #3 Ottawa Senators
    Ottawa won the division last year, but fell apart at the end of the season and then got swept out of the playoffs in the first round. The team has some talent, but there is no reason to think that they will recover from their collapse and are unlikely to make the postseason.

    #4 Boston Bruins
    Boston is a bit of a question mark as they have the possibility of easily making the playoffs, and also finish near dead last. The team has some big name players, but lacks the depth to be a top of the league team. Goaltending is also a huge question mark for this team as it could end up being anywhere from amazing to awful.

    #5 Toronto Maple Leafs
    Toronto has been having a very tough time getting things together since the lockout and this season doesn't look any more promising for them. They have no consistent scoring, and only mediocre defense. They surprisingly upset the defending champion Detroit Red Wings in their season opener, but that is not how the entire season is going to go for this team.

    Saturday, October 11, 2008

    Sabres start season with a shootout win

    The Buffalo Sabres got their 2008-2009 season off to a much better start then last year. Not only was it a win, but a win over one of the teams that is expected to end the season at the top of the eastern conference. Montreal played well, but Buffalo was the better team throughout the game, and deserved to win after earning more scoring opportunities then the Canadians did.

    Buffalo's lone goal came from Thomas Vanek on a bit of a delayed shot. Vanek lead both teams with eight shots in the game. The Canadian's goal came from Robert Lang in his first regular season game with Montreal.

    In the shootout Buffalo looked much better then they did last year. Kotalik started things off with his unstoppable backhand. Stafford then pulled the exact same move as Kotalik and also scored. If these two can score every shootout then the Sabres will be in a good position. Miller stopped both of the shots on his end, although Koivu never really got his shot off.

    Still despite the win Buffalo still looked a bit sloppy with their passes at times, and definitely have plenty to improve on. The powerplay was awful. Tim Connolly was out of the game with an injury, but that's not really even news anymore. Buffalo's next game is Monday against the Islanders.

    Official Three Stars
  • Thomas Vanek
  • Ryan Miller
  • Carey Price

  • My Three Stars
  • Ryan Miller (only one goal against, perfect in the shootout)
  • Thomas Vanek (eight shots and one goal)
  • Robert Lang (scored the only goal for Montreal)
  • Friday, October 10, 2008

    Ranking the top 27 Buffalo Sabres

    Last season I listed the "top 26 Sabres" before the season began. With a new season starting tonight a new ranking is in order. These are based upon the importance each player brings to the team for the coming season. As a result long term potential for anything beyond this season is not counted, also these are not strictly based on the talent each player has, but also his importance to the team. As such the goalies are not really comparable, but thrown in regardless because I did so last time.

    The last list was fairly accurate, but overestimated Connolly's ability to stay healthy and did not give enough respect to Spacek. This year's list is as follows...
    1. #1 Jason Pominville - Although ultimately not named captain, he will still be looked to lead this team. How his stats end up is highly dependent on who he plays with, but he will need to be counted on to play a full game every day of the season.
    2. #2 Derek Roy - Number one last year, the Sabres need to count on Roy again this season. As the center for Buffalo's top line, he is likely to touch the puck more than anyone else on the team.
    3. #3 Craig Rivet - New to town Rivet will be expected to take care of things on defense. This is where Buffalo needs help, and if Rivet can perform then things will go much better for Buffalo this year. Earning himself the role of captain only heightens his expectations.
    4. #4 Ryan Miller - As the goalie he is obviously the most important player on the team, and will need to be solid in net for the Sabres to have any chance. If he can get good in the shootout again, that would earn another three of four wins that the team missed out on last season.
    5. #5 Thomas Vanek - Buffalo's scoring machine had a disappointing season last year. While he still scored alot of goals, he was not playing both ways as much as he needed to, and went from leading the league in plus minus to ending the year minus four
    6. #6 Henrik Tallinder - Will be relieved with the addition of Rivet and Numminen, but will still need to be the team's shut down defender.
    7. #7 Toni Lydman - Same story as Tallinder. These two need to guarantee no goals against.
    8. #8 Jochen Hecht - A captain for most of last season and an alternate this year, Hecht will be counted on to continue leading this team. While he doesn't have the biggest offensive numbers he is a very solid two way player.
    9. #9 Teppo Numminen - Just like last year's list defense is extremely important. Numminen is a very consistent and reliable defender for the team. His only limiting factor is he is not likely to get lots of ice time, and isn't a huge help when it comes to scoring.
    10. #10 Paul Gaustad - Out for the start of the season he is still one of the hardest working players on the team. Also has a history of coming back early from injuries so may not be out all that long.
    11. #11 Jaroslav Spacek - Proved last season that he actually can play. If his pairing with Rivet works well, he could see alot of ice time and have a very good year.
    12. #12 Patrick Lalime - Last season nobody had any confidence in the backup goaltender forcing Miller to be overworked. Last season Lalime earned himself a winning record as the backup for a team that failed to make the playoffs. If he can be a reliable backup once again, then Miller should be able to be better off when he does play.
    13. #13 Patrick Kaleta - Should see more games this year even if playing time is still limited. He is a real difference maker on the team, and is defensively responsible enough to be counted on.
    14. #14 Maxim Afinogenov - May very well prove that last year was a fluke. Has the ability to play very well, and if he gets in sync with Roy and Vanek has the possibility to have a great year. Also is in danger of getting traded mid-season though.
    15. #15 Ales Kotalik - He hasn't always been providing the offense needed, and needs to return to his backhand in the shootouts. If he can keep scoring there, that will give Buffalo some free points in the standings.
    16. #16 Tim Connolly - Will probably miss a large number of games due to injury, but is still a great talent when he is on the ice. If he can stay healthy it would give Buffalo a huge advantage up the middle.
    17. #17 Andrej Sekera - Looked very good at the end of last season but will have to continue to play well to prevent losing his job to Paetsch or Weber. Is likely to be part of the third defensive pairing with Numminen.
    18. #18 Adam Mair - The bedrock of the fourth line will continue in that role. He sees limited ice time, but is usually pretty good when he is out there.
    19. #19 Daniel Paille - Paille is a player that has the potential to be good, but still has yet to really prove it. He still needs to find his spot on the team.
    20. #20 Drew Stafford - Like Afinogenov he needs to prove that last season was a fluke. He showed much promise in his rookie year, but fell off from that somewhat. If he can get scoring again, it would be a huge asset to the team, and if he plays on a line with Roy and Vanek he better be able to contribute heavily.
    21. #21 Nathan Gerbe - starting the season on the minors, Gerbe should figure to be the first call up, and be an excellent player for Buffalo. He won the NCAA frozen four last year with Boston, and has proven himself to be able to play very good hockey. If Buffalo has any long term injuries, Gerbe will be needed to contribute.
    22. #22 Clarke MacArthur - With some NHL experience he may get a call up before Gerbe does. While he has some very good games last season he needs to do so more consistently if he wants to make the NHL full time.
    23. #23 Mike Weber - He will start the season in the AHL, but proved to be good when paired with Sekera at the end of the last season. Despite being more talented will probably be behind Paetsch in the depth chart.
    24. #24 Nathan Paetsch - Currently the seventh defenseman he will need to rebound from last season which was a bit of a disappointment for him. Still it is highly unlikely that the team will go all year without any injuries so he should see some playing time.
    25. #25 Tim Kennedy - Fresh out of college he will not see much time in the NHL this season, but looks to be a very good player down the road. If he does get called up count on him to look impressive.
    26. #26 Andrew Peters - Will have a hard time justifying his roster spot with so much talent in the team's prospects. Furthermore with Kaleta playing a more prominent (and well rounded) role Peters may no longer really have a spot on the team. In fact new Sabre and captain Craig Rivet is probably even a better fighter than Peters is.
    27. #27 Matt Ellis - not really sure why he is on the team. If he couldn't make the cut with the Las Angles Kings there is no reason to believe that he deserves to be here.