Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Setting up the Sweep

All three of Tuesday's games have given the winner a 3-0 series lead, and a chance to get the sweep. While the Stars wins over the Sharks have been the closest (two of the three came in overtime), they will have the first chance to eliminate their second round opponent when they play on Wednesday night.

There is a possibility that all three teams will pull off the sweep, and the second round will be over much quicker then the first round was. Round two could see three series over after just four games, while round one only saw that happen once, and had three series go to the full seven.

The Penguins are going the best of all the teams and are 7-0 in the playoffs so far. Theoretically they could win all 16 games to take the cup. Regardless they are at least doing much better than the 0-4 record that they put up in the post season last year.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Possible Upsets

Both the Dallas Stars and the Philadelphia Flyers are up in their second round series. While slightly unexpected, the fact that both teams beat out their opponents in round one was not too out of the ordinary. The fact that they are both doing so in round two as well is.

The San Jose Sharks have been a favorite pick to win the cup, but are now down 2-0 to the Dallas Stars and look to be on the way out. Montreal who was also expected to have an easy time beating Boston is now down 2-1 to the Flyers. The other two series are of course currently 2-0 in favor of the favorites so no surprises there.

Both the Stars and the Flyers are relying upon their goaltenders to get them through. While Turco does not need a shutout every game like he did last year, the Stars would not be going anywhere without him. The Flyers meanwhile have gotten excellent play out of Marty Biron in both of their series so far. This is actually Biron's first time playing in the post season, and is a very good 6-4 so far. Both of these teams are helping their goalies though, and I would even pick Dallas to beat the Red Wings if they have to match up against each other.

Additionally has an excelent article on Marty Biron.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Playoff Beard?

The NHL has a tradition of growing a "playoff beard" throughout the post season, and it is something that is done by most of the players. Sidney Crosby is trying to grow a playoff beard of his own, but things are not going so well. The picture to the right is three weeks in. That is absolutely pathetic. Even baby faced Danny Briere did better last season. Most players have bigger beards after the three days of not shaving, let alone three weeks. (Visit Going Five Hole to track Crosby's (lack of) progress).

Also the stats for this season are starting to back up what a few Sabres fans have thought all along, which is that we should have kept Martin Biron. While he had always beat out Miller in terms of humour and consistency, Miller had come through big alot last season, and there was little reason to second guess the decision. Now though, Biron has put up phenomenal five on five numbers, while Miller has had a sub par season. Still I like Marty so it's good to see him doing so well.

Also, back in round one the Flyers and the Capitals played an afternoon game on NBC. Where were the ratings the highest? Right here in Buffalo. Even beating out Philadelphia, and Washington. This only confirms what I've said all along, that Buffalo is the most hockey friendly city in the US. Too bad the Sabres aren't still playing...

Friday, April 25, 2008

Jason Pominville nominated for the Lady Byng

The NHL has announced the three finalists for the Lady Byng award, and Pominville made the top three. Unlike most of the other awards in the league, this one is really up in the air, and could go to any of the nominees.

Typically the Lady Byng award goes to a top tier guy known for taking very few penalties. Pominville has got a legitimate shot at winning, but it could also go to Detroit's Pavel Datsyuk or Tampa's Martin St. Louis. Datsyuk may have a small advantage of being the only one of the three to be in the post season.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Predictions for round two...

My earlier predictions went reasonably well, with me getting six of the eight series correct. Some of my premonitions were dead on (picking the Pens to sweep), other picks ended in the right result but not as accurate (Montreal will have an easy time against Boston) and . Still I did pretty good, and I didn't have the Capitals nor the Wild winning in round two anyhow.

EA sports simulation of the series gave them a perfect eight for eight in their predictions. Apparently they really do know what they are doing over there.

Fortunately EA's picks past the first round, are the same as mine where. Given that all of the teams are still in it, and that the flawless computer program agrees with me, I'm going to stick with them.

My second round picks in the East are Montreal and Pittsburgh, with Detroit and San Jose in the West. Out East I would really like to see Philly and the Rangers both lose so I'm hoping that I've got that one right. Out west I'll be cheering for the Stars to pull off the upset, but I don't think that the team has the depth to pull that off. Once again the Colorado series has little interest from me.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Neither Iginla nor Ovechkin carry their team

On what had promised to be a very exciting day of hockey, neither of the teams I was rooting for managed to win. While Jerome Iginla and the Flames, and Alex Ovechkin and the Capitals, both won their game sixes to force the seventh game neither was able to get it done in the end. The Flames fell apart in the second period, and found themselves in a 5-2 hole, and were mostly shutout for the rest of the game. Even when Calgary was able to keep the game close early on, it was clear that the Sharks were playing better.

The Flyers Capitals game was more exciting and made it all the way to overtime. This game was very much up for grabs throughout, and was finished when Lupul scored six minutes into overtime. Huet didn't have a bad game, but it probably would have helped if he was at least looking in the general direction of the puck when he gave up the game winner.

The second round is starting in a rush, and will have two games as early as Thursday. As for my first round predictions I was 6 for 8 which I guess is probably about average in terms of picking a seeded tournament.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Game Seven

The two most exciting series in the first round this season are both going to a game seven, so that should make a good night of watching hockey. The Calgary San Jose series has been close all along and while the Flames are the underdogs, they do have Iginla which always gives them a chance. The Flyers Capitals series has also been very good, and while it looked as if Washington was going to run away with it after game one, Philly shut down Ovechkin and got some production from Briere to take a solid 3-1 lead in the series. Ovechkin got rolling again in game six with two third period goals to force a game seven.

Another game seven took place on monday night where the Montreal Canadians eliminated the Boston Bruins. Boston did much better than expected in this series, and as a result Montreal can't really be the favorite in the East anymore. At this point the Penguins look to be in the best position, and have the benefit of extra rest after sweeping the Senators.

On CNN Wolf Blitzer made an idiot of himself when he admitted to have no clue who Sidney Crosby was. Even if you don't follow hockey he's kindof a big name, if it was a player like Tyler Kennedy I maybe could understand, but not Crosby. At the least Blitzer could have at least pretended to know what was going on. Furthermore it's not as if Blitzer is from Alabama or some other hockey deprived part of the world. Instead he was born and raised in hockey mad Buffalo. As such there is really no excuse for such ignorance. No wonder the people of Buffalo prefer Tim Russert (who like me has decided to root for the Capitals).

Monday, April 21, 2008

More teams eliminated

The Senators are no longer the only team to have been bounced out of the first round, and have been joined by the Devils, Predators, Wild, and the Ducks. Of these only the elimination of Anaheim was surprising (even if more than welcome). Dallas of course owes a big part of their success to the play of Marty Turco.

The other three series still going on include the Flyers 3-2 lead over the Capitals, and the Boston-Montreal and Calgary-San Jose matches which are headed to a game seven. The Bruins are really a surprise to make it this far and actually have a shot at moving on. Montreal no longer looks to really be the favorite in the East anymore as they have had some difficulty this round. The battle between Calgary and San Jose has been the most exciting in the playoffs this year, and the fact that it is going all the way to game seven should surprise no one.

The real first round surprises this year have to be the eight seeds of Boston and Nashville. Neither was expected to have much of a chance, but at one point the Predators had the series tied at two, and Boston has gone on to force a game seven giving themselves the opportunity to be eliminated by the Penguins.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Playoff update

Now that Turco can win without a shutout, he seems to be abusing this opportunity by allowing a single goal with less then ten seconds remaining in the game. Still the Stars won 3-1 and have an opportunity to eliminate the Ducks next game.

The Flames-Sharks series continues to be exciting, with the Sharks grabbing a 3-2 lead overall. This came in a close 4-3 game where the team that scored first once again lost the game. The math says that scoring first should help the team, but you might want to avoid that advice in this series. In fact it was being suggested even before game five.

The Capitals are now down 3-1 to the Flyers, but probably have the best chance out of all of the teams that are two games back. Their last loss was a hard fought double overtime game where they may have leaned on Huet a little too much, but actually had a lead going into the third. Daniel Briere scored the goal to tie up the game, which he would not have done last year. Briere was dreadful in the playoffs last season, but seems to be actually trying now, and has scored five goals, and has a game winner as well.

The Bruins managed a win, but that shouldn't matter. Colorado is now up on the Wild. The Rangers have a chance to finish off the Devils tonight.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

The Penguins sweep the Senators

No, I did not photoshop that picture. And, Yes, I am loving it.

The Penguins followed through on my (and pretty much everyone else's) prediction and beat the Senators in round one. Ottawa was in so much of a slump coming in that I was eagerly anticipating the sweep as well.

I believe that Spezza Heatley and Alfredsson combined for one assist and zero goals in the playoffs. While that trio did have some time missed due to injury, the Senators traditionally count on those three to have half of their goals. If zero goals is half of your production, you're going to be in big trouble.

Still as a Sabres fan I couldn't have asked for any better results. Lets just hope that Dallas can finish off the Ducks, and that the Rangers find a way to lose as well.

Nashville also had an awesome game last night, and have come back to tie the series with the Red Wings at two a piece. This was really unexpected and I still don't think that Nashville can pull of the upset, but I would be loving it if it did happen.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

This would be a better post if the Sabres were in the playoffs

The Sharks have come back and tied the Flames at two, in what is looking to be the most interesting matchup in the first round. The Wild have taken a 2-1 lead over Colorado in a series in which every game had a final overtime score of 3-2. The Flyers meanwhile are showing that they might beat Ovechkin and have a 2-1 lead.

About a weak ago the Sabres signed defensemen Chris Butler to a minimal three year contract. Butler played for the University of Denver this season, and is part of a shift the Sabres are seeing towards college players with others like Michigan State's Kennedy and Boston College's Nathan Gerbe also in the system. Traditionally the College route was not considered to be as good as drafting players from Europe or the minor Canadian leagues (like the OHL and the QMHL). This seems to be changing with the Sabres, and possibly the league as Mirtle has noticed the trend with some players in Phoenix as well.

Also Covered in Oil has a very scientific study on why getting hit in the groin with a puck is not as bad as getting hit in the groin with a bullet, but it still hurts a real lot. Of course they can afford to discuss such things, because the Oilers too are out of the playoffs.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Former Sabres in the playoffs

Although the Sabres failed to make the post season a few of the team's former Sabres are in for other teams across the league.

In San Jose former Sabres Brian Campbell and Mike Grier are not doing that well. Despite being my pick to win the cup the Sharks are down two games to one, and both of these players are struggling. Grier has been rather quiet, and Campbell has been flat out bad in these playoffs. While Campbell has been awful in this series (he was on the ice for every goal against last game), thats not to say that he is a bad player. Goose's roost has a Defense of Number 51 that I mostly agree with, and points out how good Soupy has been over the past few years. Additionally I wouldn't say that Campbell is bad in the post season either, because despite how poor he has been this series, he really stepped up his play in the playoffs the past two seasons. That said most players are known to be on the top of their game during a contract year, and Campbell is clearly an exception to that rule.

In the Ducks Stars series former Sabres Stu Barnes and Brad May (yes he is still playing) are facing off against each other with Dallas up after winning the first two on the road. Neither have put up any offensive stats.

In Nashville former Sabre JP Dumont finally got a win against the Red Wings. He had one assist and a plus one rating in the win, but was a combined minus four in the first two games. Still nobody expects Nashville to win, so they have actually been above expectations so far. Red Wings goalie Dominik Hasek is also a former Sabre and has been playing well despite being well past retirement age (although Cu-Jo earned the win for Calgary on Sunday as well).

Finally in other good news, the Penguins are now up 3-0 on the Ottawa Senators, and don't appear ready to let up. The Sens have been bad coming into the playoffs and even worse in them. Pittsburgh is not only going to get a first round win, but have plenty of rest to be in a better shape then most for the second round where it looks as if they will be matched up against a divisional opponent (one of the three).

Monday, April 14, 2008

Is a shutout needed?

Marty Turco won a playoff game last Saturday and it was amazing. There is nothing special about simply winning a playoff game, but for Turco the fact that he won without earning himself a shutout is something extra special.

For the nine previous playoff games Turco had earned himself four shutouts, yet only had four wins. Last season he had managed to get three shutouts in a single series, and yet still not move on. Although the Stars have made the playoffs every season since the lockout, this was only the second time since then that Turco has won on a night he wasn't perfect himself.

Even when the Sabres rode Hasek all the way to the cup finals they were not as reliant on him for wins as Dallas has been the last few years. In those four playoff series in 99 Hasek only had two shutouts.

It is possible of course that Turco has just passed the curse on. Marty Biron now has two playoff games under his belt and one shutout, and only one win. If the FLyers think they can shutout Ovechkin for four out of seven games they are going to be in trouble...

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Nathan Gerbe leads Boston College to Victory

Nathan Gerbe picked up another two goals to lead Boston College to the NCAA Frozen Four Championship victory. Notre Dame hadn't been expected to win a single game, but then made it all the way to the final two before finally losing. Boston College was all around the better team, and was able to dominate the game.

The best thing about is that Nathan Gerbe is lined up to become a Sabre. He was a fifth round draft choice in 2005, and could very well end up one of the teams best selections. In the final two games of the NCAA tournament, he had five goals, and a handful of assists. He was a final three Hobey Baker finalist, and was named the NCAA playoff tournament's "Most outstanding player". He still has one more year of college eligibility left, but he looks to be good enough to crack the NHL lineup if he wants to come next season. If the Sabres have any strength it's that they know how to draft.

Also in the NHL, the refs went a bit out of their way to hand the game to Montreal. In the final 7:10 of regulation and the first 1:31 of overtime the refs called ten minutes of penalties against Boston. Not only did they call ten minutes worth of penalties in under nine minutes, but they called nothing against Montreal, and some of the calls made were rather weak. Montreal of course has the best powerplay in the league, and while it took them a while this time, given that much five on four, and even a few short five on threes, even the Sabres powerplay would have found a way to win that game. The final penalty was pretty weak to begin with. Calling that when in overtime of a playoff game when Boston is already a man down is insane.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Ovechkin in the playoffs

Alexander Ovechkin had quite the first playoff game of his career. With the game tied at four late in the third period, he rushes the defenseman, steals the puck, dances around another defender and beats the goalie to win the game. With plays like that, he might even be a better player than Iginla.

Ottawa also lost their second game which is awesome...

Friday, April 11, 2008

Recapping more hockey

Well, the college games didn't go as planned. I thought that North Dakota would be able to win over Boston College, but they had a goaltending breakdown (some of those were really bad), and failed to put up any points themselves. Boston College went up 4-0 early, and had the game more or less settled. Final score was 6-1, and it wasn't even as close as that.

The team I expected to get run over instead, put on a solid effort, and won the game in overtime. Even after coming from the last seed to make the frozen four, I still didn't have much confidence in Notre Dame. Then the Fighting Irish built up a solid 3-0 lead in the first period. When Michigan scored two quick goals at the start of the second it looked as if things were about to finally fall apart, but Notre Dame held on to enter overtime with the game tied at 4 a side. Then early in OT Notre Dame finally found the ability to score again and got themselves into the final. The championship game is on Saturday.

In the NHL most of the games went as planned, with Montreal beating Boston and Detroit beating Nashville. San Jose shutout Calgary in game two too even out the series. The Sharks outshot the Flames 43-21 in the game, and 27-3 in the second period. The Stars upset the Ducks, winning 4-0 with all of their goals coming on the powerplay. Marty Turco got yet another shutout, but that didn't help them too much last season...

Thursday, April 10, 2008

The Frozen Four

The NCAA Division I hockey tournament, has been down to their final four for a while now, but will resume play Thursday night for the semi-finals.

The first game is between North Dakota, and Boston College, and should be the more exciting game. Both teams got in with overtime victories in their last game, and have meet each other in the playoffs for the past three years. North Dakota should be favored to win, as they have the ability to score more goals. While being overly dependent on their top line, North Dakota uses them enough, that they should be able to manage enough points. Additionally North Dakota's goalie is brilliant and should keep Boston College's scoring to a minimum.

The other game is between Michigan, and surprise team Notre Dame. Statistically Michigan should blow them out of the water, but Notre Dame has beaten the odds all along, so there is no reason for that to continue. Either way the winner will probably get beaten by the winner of the Boston-North Dakota game.

Jarome Iginla carried Calgary to win over the Sharks, and the Penguins beat on the lifeless Senators. I really want to see Pittsburgh win this in four...

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Playoff Predictions and Preferences

With all of the games that Buffalo has against the eastern conference teams, I tend not to like too many of them. With that said though, I have to root for the Capitals in the East. While I think Pittsburgh or Montreal is more likely to come away with it, I really have to root for the Washington and Ovechkin and hope that they win. Fortunately I think they will at least win their first round match up against the Flyers.

I think that Montreal will have an easy time against Boston, and that the Penguins will dominate the struggling Senators. The Rangers remind me alot of last years Rangers, and once again I think they are good enough to win in the first round (versus the Devils this season), but are not a real contender and will lose after that.

For the later rounds I guess that leaves me with Montreal over the Rangers and the Penguins over the Capitals (despite what I want). I have to pick Montreal and their killer powerplay in the Conference Championship over Pittsburgh.

Out west there are more teams that I like and can root for. Of course the top two are playing each other in the first round. I kindof like the San Jose Sharks, with two former Sabres in Grier and Campbell (plus a really good goalie). On the other hand I also like Calgary with Iginla (does anyone not like him?) and Phanuf (spelling probably wrong) and Kipersofv (probably messed up the spelling again). In the end, I guess I have to root for the Flames, but realistically San Jose is more likely to win.

I don't really like Dallas, but I'm a fan of Marty Turco so I have to root for the Stars as well (still kindof like Stu Barnes, I guess). While their first round opponent is the Ducks who I cheared for last season, I'm really not feeling that now. After Sealane and Niediemier sat out most of the season, the team traded away McDonald, and decided to pick up Bertuzzi, there really isn't too much reason to cheer for them. Also considering that I don't really like Pronger anymore, and their opponent isn't the Senators I really want them to lose. However, due to a lack of offense from Dallas, I think that Anaheim has to be the favorite to win.

While I still like JP Dumont, I don't like the rest of his team, and hope that Detroit eliminates them in the first round. In all likelyhood that will happen. The Wild should be able to beat Colorado in a matchup, where I'm not really rooting for anybody.

In the Second round, I would guess it will be Detroit over the Ducks, and the Sharks over the Wild. With the San Jose Sharks beating out Detroit to go to the final.

With Montreal and San Jose facing off for the cup, I'll pick the Sharks to win a close one. Oddly enough, that just so happens to be the same outcome predicted by the video games.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Ovechkin is a lock for the MVP

Alexander Ovechkin is all but guaranteed to be the NHL's MVP this season. There was a belief that it may be hard for him to earn it unless his team made the playoffs, but now that they are in there is really no question about it. Besides leading the league in points and goals, Ovechkin has also been towards the top in terms of hits, and plus minus.

He is the first player to score more than 60 goals in 12 years, and went well over that mark to score 65. In an attempt to compare eras Mirtle has figured that in terms of goal scoring, Ovechkin has had the third best season ever.

Furthermore this is only the third year in his career and all three have been very solid. This is his second season in which he is over 100 points and 50 goals. The one season where he missed these marks he still had a very respectable 46 goals, and 92 points (better than any Sabre this season). Also he hasn't really missed that many games. He has played a full 82 both of the past two season, and only missed a single game in the year before that. With Backstrom getting better those numbers are only likely to go up.

Speaking of Backstrom, he is one of the favorites to win the rookie of the year award. It is slightly more likely to go to the Blackhawk's Patrick Kane, but could even end up with his teammate Jonathan Toews. Although Toews has his chances hurt, after being hurt himself for a stretch this season.

Lindstrom is almost as guaranteed as Ovechkin to get the the Defensive player of the year award. Coach of the year is up for grabs, but the favorite here should be the Capitals as well.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Checking on my regular season predictions

Before the season started I put into place my predictions on how the NHL regular season would turn out. At this point I like to see how well (or poorly) I did, and to try and make some better predictions for the post season. As tempted as I am to go back and edit my original predictions at this point, I'll let it stand, and do a real anlaysis. (My pre-season predictions)

Things were pretty bad in the Northeast. I still thought that Buffalo was going to win the whole thing. I discounted Montreal completely, and also had Boston missing the playoffs (although the differences between just out and just in are not really that big). Still I had Toronto actually making the post season, and wasn't alone in assuming that Ottawa would be just barely in.

Did much better in the Atlantic division, correctly picking the three playoff teams, and ignoring the hype at the time that said the Flyers would be winning everything. In the southeast I also did pretty well, picking the top two correctly (if in the wrong order), and don't feel it was that bad of an assumption that at least two teams from each division would make it. Especially because the Hurricanes did end the season in ninth.

Out west I did much better. I picked the two playoff teams in the Central and picked Detroit to win it (not too daring of a guess). Although I didn't expect Kane and Toews to contribute as much as they did so early, and had them in last.

Out in the Pacific division I nailed the expectations, and got the top three playoff teams correct, and even in the right order. San Jose had more or less been the preseason favorite, and while those expectations died down over the season, based on the past month, I see no reason now why it couldn't happen. I did thing that Phoenix was going to bomb out much worsen then they did, but they did manage to miss the playoffs.

In the Northwest my predictions were not as accurate either, as I had put too much stock into Luongo, and really underestimated the Wild once again. Calgary and Edmonton though, were pretty safe bets.

In an attempt to redeem myself I'm picking Kansas to win tonight. Not that I'm actually going to watch the game, but I've got at least a 50% chance of getting it right.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

A win to finish out the year

After no effort in so many important games, the Sabres showed up to collect a meaningless win over the Boston Bruins. Vanek got a hat-trick, and Thibault got a shutout to give Buffalo a 3-0 victory.

The powerplay finally looked good for Buffalo, with the Sabres scoring on two of their three powerplay chances. Vanek's hat-trick was the fourth of the season (and his career).

Teppo Numminen played his first (and last) game of the season, and finished the year with just over 16 minutes of ice time. Hopefully he is more healthy next year.

Thibault got his second shutout of the year, despite only playing in nine games. Based on his play a few of the times he has been in, I have no idea how this happens.

The Capitals won their game meaning that they secured the last playoff spot for this season. I guess I have to root for Ovechkin to win at least the East.

My Three Stars
  • Thomas Vanek (three goals)
  • Derek Roy (two assists)
  • Jocelyn Thibault (shutout)
  • Saturday, April 5, 2008

    Numminen comes 81 games late

    Apparently Numminen is expected to play in the Sabres final game of the season. While the team has missed him all season long, there really isn't much of a point in him coming back now. Anyhow he is, and hopefully he resigns with the Sabres to play a full slate of games next season.

    Also the whole playoff race is almost completly set already, with still a few days worth of games remaining. The only spot left is reserved for the southeast winner, and can be claimed by the Capitals with either a win, or an overtime loss in their final game of the season. (Otherwise the spot goes to the Hurricanes).

    If the Sabres need incentive for their final game against the Bruins, know that if Buffalo wins then the Senators have to face the Capitals in the first round where they are sure to get destroyed.

    Friday, April 4, 2008

    No surprise

    The Sabres lost to the Montreal Canadians (on the powerplay of course) 3-1. With this loss Buffalo is now mathematically out of the playoffs. Buffalo of course lost this game, the same way in which they have lost most of their games this season, which is by failing on the powerplay, and only really trying for ten minutes.

    The Sabres held their own, until the Canadians got a powerplay, on which the Canadians did what they do on 95% of their powerplays which is score a goal. The game completely fell apart after that. Kotalik finally did score a goal, but at that point it was far to late, and all it did was avoid the shutout.

    The final game of the season is Saturday, but it doesn't much matter at this point. Right now the Sabres need to resign Gaustad, and get Numminen and Connolly healthy (assuming of course that it possible).

    Official Three Stars
  • Bryan Smolinski
  • Carey Price
  • Steve Begin

  • My Three Stars
  • Bryan Smolinski (two goals)
  • Steve Begin (one assist, plus two, eight hits)
  • Carey Price (only allowed one goal against)
  • Thursday, April 3, 2008

    More Math

    The Sabres chances of getting into the playoffs is getting more and more tricky. For example, the Bruins overtime loss to the Devils means that if the Sabres beat Montreal and the Bruins lose to Ottawa, then the Sabres will have to beat the Bruins in regulation to get ahead of the Bruins on the fourth tie breaker.

    The Penguins did come through, and Philly is still down at 91 points (with two games to go). Given the remaining schedules the Capitals are going to be hard to catch, and should claim the seventh spot. Also Carolina's win puts them out of reach for the Sabres, not that I was aware that they were in reach to begin with (turns out they were).

    Both Buffalo Main Event and Mirtle have taken a look at their chances. The short version is that while it is mathematically possible, odds are against it happening. As for tie breakers the Sabres will have the advantage over the Bruins and the Flyers, but lose out to the Capitals. This would have to happen at 92 points, which means that the Sabres still need to win everything.

    What both of them failed to talk about is three way ties, and also four way and five way ties (yes those are possible). Furthermore a six way tie is almost possible, except for the fact that the Senators and the Bruins play each other.

    Alot of this is actually simple. By virtue of more wins the Hurricanes, Capitals, and Senators would all move on. In the case of a three way tie between one of these teams and either Boston or Philly, Buffalo would be ok, as they would go against these teams one on one where we win the tie breaker. In a three way tie between the Sabres, Flyers, and Bruins things get more complicated.

    Tie breaking rule number three reads as follows:
    The greater number of points earned in games between the tied clubs. If two clubs are tied, and have not played an equal number of home games against each other, points earned in the first game played in the city that had the extra game shall not be included. If more than two clubs are tied, the higher percentage of available points earned in games among those clubs, and not including any "odd" games, shall be used to determine the standing.

    In short, suddenly all of the games count, and the individual games for Philly count more because they play Boston and Buffalo less then they play each other. In eight games against Boston the Sabres are 4-2-2, and in four games against Philly the Sabres are 3-0-1. Overall the Sabres earned 17 points in 12 games or .708% of all possible points. The Bruins also went 4-2-2 in their eight games against Buffalo, and went 3-1-0 against Philly giving them 16 points in 12 games right behind Buffalo at .667% of all possible points. The Flyers went 1-1-2 in four games against Boston, and 1-2-1 in four games against Buffalo. This leaves Philly with 7 points in 8 games which is only .438 of all possible points.

    Short version is that between these three teams Buffalo wins the tie breaker, and if it ends up being a three way tie for seventh (because Washington lost out) then the Bruins get the eighth seed. Also if the Capitals, Bruins, Flyers and Sabres all tie for seventh, both the Capitals and the Sabres would be in. Of course a three way (or four way) tie involving the Capitals for eighth place doesn't work out so good.

    Of course if the Sabres had just done half way decent against the Rangers this season, none of this would matter. I'm pretty sure those numbers are correct, but if not let me know. First of course the Sabres need to beat Montreal or none of this counts for anything.

    Wednesday, April 2, 2008

    Hanging on through the shootout

    The Sabres made it through one more game, and are still mathematically in this. With the teams shootout win over Toronto, the Sabres could still finish as high as seventh.

    The Maple Leafs were a team that Buffalo was supposed to beat, and while they did, it was ugly. Miller played very poorly and let in two easy goals. On the games second goal, he was a good five feet out of position, and couldn't make the save despite the puck directly hitting his glove. Lets put Gaustad in net, at least we know that he would try.

    Still with good play from Roy and Sekera and a very lucky goal by Bernier the Sabre managed to tie the game in regulation, and move onto a shootout. Bernier has been very quiet since his debut, but managed to stuff the puck across the line on a very broken play that had to be reviewed. Sekera continued to impress as Vanek's game tying goal was a deflection of the defensemen's shot.

    The shootout went a full six rounds, but Buffalo looked pretty good. Kotalik finally went back to the move that worked so well for him last season, and scored. If he had been doing that all year, we might not have needed this win so badly. Although he didn't score Pominville had a pretty good shot, as did Vanek (for a change). Roy got robbed on his shot, and Afinogenov's was a very pretty goal. On the other side of the ice to his credit Miller played pretty well. After letting in the first shot, he stayed back a bit more, and saved the next five straight.

    The Sabres next must win game is Thursday at Montreal, but they need some help Wednesday night from the Devils and the Penguins first. The Capitals won last night, which really doesn't help either.

    Official Three Stars
  • Derek Roy
  • Anton Stralman
  • Ryan Miller

  • My Three Stars
  • Maxim Afinogenov (one assist, plus shootout goal)
  • Tomas Kaberle (one goal, plus two in the loss)
  • Derek Roy (one goal, 60% on faceoffs)
  • Tuesday, April 1, 2008

    Remaining possibilities

    The Sabres are still not mathematically out of it, but their chances are continuing to disappear. The Rangers last win puts them out of reach for Buffalo, and leaves only the Philly and Boston spots within reach. The downside is that a single win by either of those clubs puts them out of reach as well.

    The Sabres need to win out. This would give them a respectable 92 points for the season. Currently the Flyers and the Bruins are both sitting at 91 points with three games to go. This means that a single win puts them up to 93 points and out of reach. Either they need to lose out, or at the very least do no better than one tie (0-2-1). The Capitals are also ahead of the Sabres but can win two and still be caught.

    If we all end up at 92 points, the Sabres should win the tie breaker against the Bruins and the Flyers, but would lose out to the Capitals. Preferably, they will stay at 91 points and it won't come down to that.

    The Sabres next game is Tuesday night against the Maple Leafs and unless Buffalo can win this game then none of this really matters anyhow.