Sunday, November 8, 2009

Sabres lose Enroth's first start

Jhonas Enroth
Tim Thomas and Ryan Miller are two of the best goalies in the NHL right now, and are the favorites to start for team USA in the Olympics in a few months. However instead of a battle between the Olympians both coaches started their backups and a match-up between Jhonas Enroth and Tuukka Rask.

This was Enroth's first NHL start, and despite the lopsided loss, he played pretty well. None of the 4 goals against him were bad, and he came up big on a few breakaways throughout the game, including one by former Sabre Daniel Paille.

The Sabres need to start playing better, losing two in the row now for the first time this season, and still yet to get a single win without Miller in net.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Sabres not looking so good this weekend

The Sabres escaped this weekend with a 1-1 record, and are still among the best teams in the NHL with a 8-2-1 record. Still they didn't look all that great in their past two games against somewhat weak teams.

The Toronto Maple Leafs who only have one win to their name so far this season forced the Sabres to go to overtime on Friday. A second goal in that game by Tim Connolly earned Buffalo the win, but the game was still far closer than it ever should have been.

On Saturday the Sabres then got blown out 5-0 by the New York Islanders of all teams. While they did have former Buffalo goalie Marty Biron in net, the Sabres need to play better against what are the league's weaker teams. Buffalo is starting to show the same mistake of losing the easy games that cost them a playoff spot last season. Hopefully there is still time for them to turn things around.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Sabres continue to play well

After a dominating 6-2 win over the traditionally very good Detroit Red Wings, the Sabres went on to beat the traditionally not so good New York Islanders by a score of 6-3.

Tyler Myers got the first goal of his NHL career in this game, after pick up two assists already this season. At this point Myers has proven himself, and his ability to play on this team. The weak line on the Sabres defense at this point appears to by Lydman and Montador, although neither of them are likely to get bumped when Sekera gets healthy again.

Clarke MacArthur and Hecht both played well against the Islanders. MacArthur got rewarded for his hard with with a penalty shot, that he masterfully used to get the second goal of the game. With that play MacArthur made a very serious argument to be used in the shootout for the Kotalik less Sabres. MacArthur than picked up an assist on Connolly's goal. Hecht got his own goal in the Second Period after blasting in a takeaway.

Kaleta also scored well, getting his second goal in two games. If he can continue to put up points in addition to his physical presence this year, that will do alot to help this Sabres team.

Former Sabres goalie Marty Biron was brought in mid-way through the second period for the Islanders and received a large cheer from the crowd. Biron was always a favorite here, and is one of a few former Sabres still loved by most. The Islanders other goalie, Dwayne Roloson is also a former Sabre, who played two playoff games against the Maple Leafs back in 1999.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Low scoring wins for Buffalo

The Sabres have been winning close low scoring games, which is not something that they have really been known for doing so the past few years. They have gone 2-0-1 outscoring their opponents by a mere 4-3 and look more like the Sabres of the late 1990's.

While Buffalo did have a pretty good hockey team 10 years ago, that was not the style of play expected out of this group. And while Miller is one of the league's best goaltenders, this team can not rely on him like it used to rely on Hasek. Still at the very least this team does have a strong defensive mindset, lead mostly by the return of Grier.

They play tonight against the very good Detroit Red Wings, lets hope that they can keep this season going.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Real Hockey has started

The actual NHL hockey season started yesterday with four games across the country. The most exciting was a 4-3 overtime win by the Canadians over the Maple Leafs. Already three players have two goals this season, including Alexander Ovechkin, Wojtek Wolski, and Patrick Marleau.

The Sabres still have one more day off before they start playing on Saturday. At least the real season is finally here.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Myers staying on

Tyler Myers is staying with the Buffalo Sabres for at least the start of the season. The Sabres have up to nine games to decide to keep him, or to send him down. However as Lydman will be starting the year off with a hand injury, they might just be keeping him until that gets better, and then giving him another shot next year.

However if he does stay it means that Weber will be back in the AHL, and that the Sabres can afford to trade away a defenceman or two. The trade market in the NHL has been rather quiet of late, but that option is at least there.

Hopefully Myers can play up to the hype.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

A pre-season win

The Sabres avenged their opening pre-season loss, by beating the Washington Capitals 2-1 on goals from Stafford and Kaleta.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Peters scores a powerplay goal

Andrew Peters
The Sabres have let Andrew Peters go this past off season, but now trying out for the New Jersey Devils he has done what he rarely did in Buffalo, and scored a goal. Furthermore he scored a powerplay goal.

Given his lack of offensive achievement (3 career goals), the Sabres never put him on the powerplay. Perhaps they should have and Peters would now be our fighting/power play specialist, and would be a valuable part of the team, scoring 20 goals a year.

Or maybe his goal was just a lucky fluke.

Either way I hope he is able to come back and play somewhere in the NHL, even though I agree with the Sabres decision not to bring him back.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Sabres defeated in pre-season opener

The Sabres lost their first preseason game of the year 4-3 to the Washington Capitals in overtime. However, being the preseason, the fact that they lost is not important, and the only real news to take away from this is that the preseason has finally begun, and that real hockey will be starting soon. The NHL season starts once again in under two weeks. For the Sabres, the summer has been long enough already.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Stafford finally signed

A week into training camp, the Sabres have finally come to an agreement with Drew Stafford, which will see him stay with Buffalo for two more years. The contract is worth $4 million, which will have a cap hit of $2 million per season.

This signing is the real last piece to the Sabres lineup this season, with the team pretty well set. The only question at this point is if any rookies (such as Tyler Myers) make the opening day roster or not.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Remembering Afinogenov

Maxim Afinogenov has played for the Buffalo Sabres for 9 seasons, but will not be returning for next year. Well there is little demand for him to come back for another season, he played well during his time here and will be remembered fondly.

His jersey was always among one of the best selling on the team (and often in the league). He is a very good skater and stick handler, but never was quite able to finish and often wasted some very good opportunities that he created. But at the very least he was an exciting player to watch.

Now as a free agent it is surprising that nobody has signed him yet. While he has been a bit off the past two seasons, and would be expected to take a bit of a pay cut, there is no reason that Afinogenov should not be playing in the NHL again next year.

While his disagreements with Coach Lindy Ruff is reason enough for Buffalo not to take him back for one more year, he would be a very good third line player for some other team in the league. Perhaps Afinogenov has been offered more money to play in the KHL in his native Russia, and wants NHL teams to match that offer, which is not likely to happen.

For more on Afinogenov and his departure from the Buffalo Sabres see Top Shelf and The Willful Caboose.

With the exception of Drew Stafford who is still unsigned as a restricted free agent, the Sabres roster is pretty much set for next season, which is now only a month away.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

A new Schedule for a new season

The Sabres schedule was released today, but did not really include anything of note. Still 82 games, although starting a bit earlier in October to make time for the Winter Olympics.

This year's winter classic will be held in Fenway Park in Boston as the Bruins take on the Flyers. The idea of having this game in a baseball stadium still doesn't make all that much sense, but that seems to be the new direction that the NHL is going.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Sabres sign Joe DiPenta

The Sabres have signed defenselman Joe DiPenta to a one year contract. No idea why really.

DiPenta has mostly been a career minor league player, who played one full season in the NHL to win a cup with the Ducks. Last year he spent the season on the other side of the world in Sweden.

The Matador signing made sense in that it was replacing the loss of Spacek. It is a bit hard to tell what this signing is setting up. There really appears to be no compelling reason to start him ahead of Tyler Myers.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Zack Kassian drafted by Buffalo

With their first round draft pick the Sabres took Right Winger, Zack Kassian. Incidentally this is exactly what was predicted by James Mirtle and SBN. Given that nobody has really heard about any of these players besides Tavares and Hedman, I'll repeat their assessment of Kassian.

At 6'3" and 215 pounds, Kassian is the most NHL-ready prospect in the draft. His offensive upside may not be as great as some of the other prospects but he makes up for that with size, speed and strength. He is everything the Sabres are not. Big, strong and tough.

The knock on Kassian though is that sometime he will take a shift off, and that is really the last thing this Sabres team needs.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Sabres Pictures

This Spring I had the opportunity to attend a Sabres game, and produced the following pictures (mostly during warm ups).

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Penguins win the Stanley Cup

Stanley Cup
The Penguins did the impossible, and actually won a game on the road this series in order to win the Stanley cup in game seven over the Detroit Red Wings. Malkin was the series MVP (as Mirtle predicted a week ago). Marian Hossa and Ty Conklin who both lost with the Penguins last year in the finals, did so this year with Detroit.

Sidney Crosby was hurt in the game and played only one shift in the second half. Being game seven of the finals there was really no reason to nurse the injury, but as it turned out, the Penguins didn't really need him anyways. The star of the game was Maxime Talbot, who scored both of Pittsburgh's goals.

Four months until the Sabres are back in action...

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The home team wins again

The Penguins won at home to force game seven against the defending champion Red Wings which will be played on Friday. The home team has won every game so far this series, which would indicate that Detroit would be expected to win the cup as they have the only remaining home date. Still now that it is up to a single game seven the series could very well be decided by a single lucky bounce, and Pittsburgh does not need to much of a fluke to happen to pull off the win. All the team really needs is a good game from Fleury. Still it may well happen that no team wins on the road all series, either way everything is over by the end of this week, with one team or the other taking home the trophy.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Short handed goal allows Pittsburgh to tie up the series

Jordan Stall put together an all around great two way game including a short handed goal to tie up the Stanley Cup finals with Detroit. By winning two of the first four games the Penguins avoid the finals from being a repeat of last year, or a repeat of the Detroit-Chicago series.

Kennedy also had a real nice goal in the game, forcing a turnover, and then two passes later sending the puck into the net.

This has been a series in which match ups have been important, and the home team has won every game so far, in part because of the ability to get the needed match ups. If the Penguins want to win they will have to take at least one game on the road.

Still for the first time this series the Penguins have to be viewed as the favorite to win. Their two wins were far more convincing than the two by the Red Wings, and any chance of the defending champions simply overrunning Pittsburgh have now been shown to be unrealistic. This series is now guaranteed to go at least six games, and has a good chance of lasting the full seven.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Penguins use the powerplay to get a win

The Pittsburgh Penguins won their first game of the finals Tuesday night with a score of 4-2 after earning two goals off of the powerplay.

The Penguins got the early lead in the game, but then quickly gave it up and even fell behind, before tying up the game 2-2 where the score stayed from the middle of the first period until midway through the third. Then the Penguins took a 3-2 lead off of a powerplay goal and got another empty netter to seal the deal.

The Penguins were two for three on the powerplay and it made all the difference in this game. Detroit for their part were one for two on their man advantage opportunities.

The Penguins now have a chance in this series, only being down 2-1. Still they lost in the finals last year after being in the same position, and will need to continue this production with the man advantage, and to get more out of Sidney Crosby if they want to win the Stanley Cup.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Buffalo's post season connections

Sports Illustrated has a story about all the Buffalo connections in the conference finals this year. A story that is actually written by Jim Kelley who himself is a former writer at The Buffalo News.

The one player that stands out on the list is Miroslav Satan who really looked to be on the absolute downswing of his career put has had a rather good postseason. After getting sent down to the minors this season, and almost nobody sorry to see him go after he left Buffalo a few years ago now, suddenly Satan is having a good run of games when it matters most.

What is the deal with Osgood in the playoffs? He struggled all season, but has been playing excellently in the postseason and is being more difficult on the Blackhawks than Luongo even was. If it were not for him Chicago probably would have won game two and be up the series now. Last year he was not the starter for most of the regular season and came in to get sixteen wins in the playoffs, including wins in his first nine games.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Why a Hamilton team would be good for Buffalo

There has been a lot of pessimism among Buffalo Sabres fans about a team coming to Hamilton Ontario. The two state senators have even sent a letter to the NHL in opposition (they should be more worried about the Islanders). However putting an NHL team in Hamilton would be good for the Sabres.

First of all giving the Phoenix Coyotes to Jim Balsillie and moving the team to Canada will be good for the league as a whole. It would generate more gate revenue, and higher TV contracts (in Canada) coming to a net profit for the league as a whole (including the Sabres franchise).

The arena in Hamilton is within 50 miles of the one in Buffalo, so Balsillie would have to pay off the Sabres (and the Maple Leafs), giving Buffalo a good amount of money in this deal right off the bat. While this payment wouldn't be too huge it will be significant and would be beneficial to the Sabres organization.

Particular to Buffalo is the fact that an estimated 15% of the Sabres tickets go to Canadians. Many are worried that somehow having another franchise in Hamilton will reduce this flow of Canadians to the arena in Buffalo. The problem with this outlook is that many of these people are not Sabres fans to begin with. Most only come when one of the Canadian teams are playing (usually Toronto and Montreal) and stay away for the rest of the season anyhow. The Sabres have noticed this and raised ticket prices on those games, knowing that it had no effect on their average fan and only took money from the Canadians.

With another team in Canada Buffalo will only have more opportunities to take money from Canada. With an additional three home games a year against a local Canadian opponent, that is three more games to pack HSBC arena full of northerners and continue to make money. Games against teams from Canada will increase from 13% to 16% and gate revenue will most likely go up to match.

Don't worry, hockey in Hamilton is not a threat to the Sabres.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Tellqvist to Russia

Buffalo Sabres
Mikael Tellqvist has signed a deal with Ak Bars in Russia and will not be returning to the Buffalo Sabres or any NHL team next season. This isn't really too much of a surprise as all along Tellqvist was only brought in to play with Lalime during Miller's injury. With Lalime under a reasonable contract for one more year there was no place for Tellqvist on the roster anyhow.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Still better than Toronto

The Sabres have showed that they have yet to bottom out completely, as they solidly beat the Toronto Maple Leafs 3-1. As a result the team is still mathematically in it. As they say, as long as their is life, there is hope. So as long as Buffalo wins their two remaining games, and the Rangers and Panthers both lose both of theirs, then the Sabres are back in the playoffs this season. Not likely, but possible.

The team finally got some solid play from Pominville who had two point and six shots in the game. Gaustad and Vanek came through as usual and score the other two goals.

Buffalo was actually outshot in this game 33-29 but got good play from Miller who has been wearing a new helmet the last handful of games.

Thursday night has three of the games that Buffalo needs to go their way. The Sabres, Flyers, and Thrashers all have to win or else that 2.1% drops to zero.

Official Three Stars
  • Ryan Miller
  • Nikolai Kulemin
  • Jason Pominville

  • My Three Stars
  • Jason Pominville (one goal, one assist, six shots)
  • Paul Gaustad (one goal)
  • Ryan Miller (32 saves, only one goal against)

  • Wednesday, April 8, 2009

    And a loss to the Red Wings

    Buffalo inched closer to being mathematically eliminated by losing to the Red Wings 4-1 in a game that wasn't even close.

    While there was a back and forth first period, Buffalo predictably gave up and allowed the game to get out of hand.

    The one exception as usual was Paul Gaustad. After Detroit scored to go up 3-0, the camera went to Gaustad on the bench and he looked rather pissed that his team had been scored on. Had Gaustad been out on the ice for that shift he probably would have prevented that goal. Next shift when he did get on the ice, he put in Buffalo's only goal of the night.

    Official Three Stars
  • Marian Hossa
  • Tomas Holmstrom
  • Chris Osgood

  • My Three Stars
  • Marian Hossa (two goals, one assist, plus two)
  • Nicklas Lidstrom (one goal, one assist, plus three)
  • Pavel Datsyuk (two assists, plus two)

  • Sunday, April 5, 2009

    Possibly the end

    The Sabres lost 3-2 to the New Jersey Devils in a defeat that could possibly mark the end of Buffalo's playoff hopes. While mathematically still in it, and still able to hit Mirtle's magic number if they win out, things do not look promising for the post season hopes of the Sabres. There is still a 10.4% chance so the team will have something to play for, but even if they win out, they will need some significant help.

    The Sabres got out to a bad start against New Jersey, allowing two goals early in the game. In the second period Buffalo all but gave up, going down an additional goal and getting only four shots on net.

    For the third period the Sabres seemed to be giving up, pulling Miller from the net and sitting in a three point deficit. Still the team came through for that single period and outshot New Jersey 23-6 in those 20 minutes. Despite scoring two goals to make the game close, they were unable to overcome their lazy play in the first two periods of the game and ended with a loss.

    Official Three Stars
  • Jamie Langenbrunner
  • Martin Brodeur
  • Clarke MacArthur

  • My Three Stars
  • David Clarkson (one goal, plus one, four hits)
  • Martin Brodeur (35 saves)
  • Jochen Hecht (one goal, plus one, four shots)

  • Saturday, April 4, 2009

    Back to winning

    The Sabres continue to hang on by a thread with a 5-4 overtime victory over the Washington Capitals. Given the free five on threes that the Capitals were given, Buffalo clearly deserved to win this game, and finally did in overtime.

    Buffalo Sabres
    Alexander Ovechkin and Alexander Semin combined for 18 shots on goal, but Washington did not have the goaltending to back it up. Meanwhile Pominville finally had a decent game going plus two in the game, getting an assist, and the game winner in OT. MacArthur got a lucky goal, and Rivet and Afinogenov both put in good performances as well. Lydman and Spacek were the only two Sabres to play poorly in this game.

    Official Three Stars
  • Alex Ovechkin
  • Jaroslav Spacek
  • Sergei Federov

  • My Three Stars
  • Maxim Afinogenov (one goal, plus two, four shots)
  • Tim Connolly (three assists, plus three)
  • Alex Ovechkin (one goal, two assists, nine shots)

  • Friday, April 3, 2009

    Matt Generous signed

    The Sabres have signed Matt Generous to a one year contract following the conclusion of his college career playing for St. Lawrence. Generous was a seventh round draft pick in 2005 and is not expected to be up with the Sabres anytime soon. He will however help Portland with their defenseman shortage for the rest of this season. More details on his NCAA playing days...

    The Sabres play the Washington Capitals tonight, although a win yesterday by Montreal is pushing Buffalo towards being mathematically out.

    Thursday, April 2, 2009


    The Sabres have failed horriably all year against the Ottawa Senators and the Atlanta Thrashers. These are two teams that the Sabres easily should have beaten and have repeatadly failed to do so.

    Buffalo's overtime loss to the Thrashers on Wenesday night should have been anticiapated as indicative of Buffalo's lack of success against the team all season. At least getting the one point for making it to overtime is not close to enough against a weaker team like Atlanta. Once again Buffalo is going to end up just outside of the playoffs and throwing away points against easy teams will once again be the reason why.

    Despite scoring two goals, Vanek still ended the game -2. Of all of the Sabres in this game only Henrick Tallinder and Craig Rivet played well, and impressed througout.

    Official Three Stars
  • Alex Kovalev
  • Ilya Kovalchuk
  • Christopher Higgins

  • My Three Stars
  • Ilya Kovalchuk (one goal, one assist, plus two)
  • Thomas Vanek (two goals, seven shots)
  • Vyacheslav Kozlov (one goal, plus one, six shots)

  • Wednesday, April 1, 2009

    Montreal and Florida win

    Both Montreal and Florida won last Tuesday night leaving Buffalo in an even tighter spot. Even if the Sabres do win out, they have little to no chance of making the playoffs.

    Kaleta however says that he is up and ready to go despite his concussion. From the sound of it he intends to play through the injury knowing how much each game counts. The effort is why we all like Kaleta in the first place.

    Sunday, March 29, 2009

    The Sabres win in a shootout

    The Sabres continue to slowly gain on the eight place Canadians, with a 4-3 shootout win over them that leaves Buffalo only four points out of the playoffs. Given the lack of game left that is doubtful to be enough, but at least they are finally trying.

    This was a real even back and forth game with each team scoring one goal on the powerplay. Buffalo got goals from MacArthur and Mair who have both been quiet as of late (although MacArthur did get one last game), while Afinogenov was sat out again despite decent play in the last few games.

    In the end the game came down to a shootout, and Miller proved once again why he was the Sabres number one goalie. Miller stopped all six shots that he faced, while the Sabres struggled to score on the other end until Lydman of all people got a shootout goal. Stafford needs to go back to being reliable in the shootout, had Miller not returned from injury, this most likely would have been a loss.

    Official Three Stars
  • Alex Kovalev
  • Tim Connolly
  • Christopher Higgins

  • My Three Stars
  • Tim Connolly (one goal, one assist, four shots)
  • Alex Kovalev two goals, five shots)
  • Ryan Miller (32 saves, 6 for 6 in the shootout)

  • Saturday, March 28, 2009

    Sabres stay alive with Win

    The Sabres continued to pretend that they have a shot at the playoffs with a win over the Toronto Maple Leafs on Friday night. Ryan Miller returned in goal for Buffalo, but the real reason for the win was the return of Jochen Hecht who has all but disappeared this season. Hecht got the first goal in the game only 37 seconds in starting what would amount to a 4-0 lead. Hecht would later add an assist on the final goal of the game.

    Of course Buffalo almost blew their 4-0 lead, but a third period goal by Paul Gaustad allowed the Sabres to hold onto for a 5-3 win. Toronto actually played ok, outshooting Buffalo 36-24, but saw Curtis Joseph allow four goals on just nine shots.

    Official Three Stars
  • Tim Connolly
  • Paul Gaustad
  • Chris Butler

  • My Three Stars
  • Tim Connolly (two goals, plus two, four shots)
  • Paul Gaustad (one goal, one assist)
  • Matt Stajan (one goal, one assist, plus two, 71% on faceoffs)

  • Friday, March 27, 2009

    The Sabres actually win

    After a few long weeks of losses, the Sabres actually came out and won a game against a team that they are chasing in the standings. Furthermore they did so coming back from a 3-1 deficit, and got goals from MacArthur, Afinogenov, and Pominville.

    Jason Pominville has been a bit of a disappointment all season long but finally got things together in the third period for this game, getting a goal and two assists. Buffalo has needed him and MacArthur to pick up their games this season, and they both came through against the Panthers. Now Jochen Hecht just needs to get on board.

    Max Afinogenov has been doing the same routine lately, where he makes dumb mistakes early on, and then plays full out for the rest of the game in an attempt to make up for them. If he can play like that without the early mistakes he may even be worth keeping for next season. Afinogenov was eventually rewarded for his work with an empty net goal.

    Buffalo is still in trouble playoff wise unless they win out, but this game at least proves that they can play if they want to.

    Official Three Stars
  • Jason Pominville
  • Brett McLean
  • Patrick Kaleta

  • My Three Stars
  • Jason Pominville (one goal, two assists, five shots)
  • Tim Connolly (one goal, one assist, plus three)
  • Brett McLean (one goal, one assist, plus two)

  • Tuesday, March 24, 2009

    Ryan Miller practicing

    Ryan Miller
    Ryan Miller has returned to practice and is back working out with the team. Regardless this may be a case of too little too late for the Sabres, who except by winning out the season have little hope of making the playoffs.

    The Sabres next game is Wednesday, although it is unclear if Miller will be ready to play by then.

    Monday, March 23, 2009

    Air Force wins the Atlantic Hockey championships

    The final two rounds of the Atlantic Hockey playoffs were held this past weekend in Rochester, with the winner getting an automatic bid for the NCAA tournament.

    Atlantic Hockey
    The first game between Air Force and Bentley was extremely lopsided and at no point, really close. After a scoreless, but relatively even first period, Air Force pulled away in the second, and never let Bentley back into the game. Air Force completely dominated the play, and Bentley struggled to so much as get into the offensive zone. While they were the lowest seed still in the tournament, they looked as if they were not even deserving of being there.

    The late game between RIT and Mercyhurst was between two of the three highest scoring teams in the country, and was exciting as it was expected to be. Mercyhurst got the early lead with a bit of a fluke goal within the first minute, but after that RIT proved to be the better team at even strength. RIT built up a 3-1 lead early in the second period, only to see Mercyhurst come back, going three for five on the powerplay to earn a 4-3 lead early in the third. RIT came back to tie up the game with one minute left, but than came out very flat in overtime. Mercyhurst dominated overtime play and won the game a little over two minutes into the extra period.

    The final game between Mercyhurst and Air Force was a repeat of last years, Atlantic Hockey championship, with Air Force once again pulling off the win. Air Force outshot Mercyhurst 33-25, and was able to do what RIT wasn't, in killing off the Mercyhurst powerplays. Mercyhurst went zero for six with the man advantage, and ultimately lost 2-0, in what was Air Force's second shutout of the weekend.

    Sunday, March 22, 2009

    Yet another loss

    The Sabres are now seemingly unable to win, and are more or less out of the playoff picture at this point. Even if they were to win out the season, they would need so much help, and currently only have a 9.8% chance at making the postseason.

    The Rangers 5-3 win was much closer than most of the Sabres other games of late, but still resulted in a loss. The Sabres actually outshot New York 40-31, but were sloppy at times, giving to many chances to the Rangers. New York got some major help from Henrik Lundqvist who played well throughout the night.

    Buffalo's next game is Wednesday against the Florida Panthers, but it is hard to say at this point that it matters.

    Official Three Stars
  • Nikolai Zherdev
  • Nik Antropov
  • Ryan Callahan

  • My Three Stars
  • Nik Antropov (two assists)
  • Ryan Callahan (two goals, three shots)
  • Henrik Lundqvist (37 saves)

  • Saturday, March 21, 2009

    Still unable to beat Philadelphia

    Like with Ottawa and Atlanta, the Sabres seem completely unable to even compete with the Flyers this season. The Sabres 6-4 loss was not close at any point, and is resulting in the Sabres drifting farther and farther from the playoffs.

    Moore got his first goal as a Sabre, and Chris Butler also played well, with two goals and plus two rating. Former Sabre Danny Briere scored two goals to put the game out of reach, just when the Sabres were finally coming back into it.

    Official Three Stars
  • Mike Richards
  • Danny Briere
  • Claude Giroux

  • My Three Stars
  • Danny Briere (two goals, plus two, four shots)
  • Kimmo Timonen (three assists, plus two)
  • Mike Richards (one goal, two assists)

  • Friday, March 20, 2009

    Atlantic Hockey

    Atlantic Hockey
    Besides the two Sabres games this weekend, Rochester will be hosting the NCAA Atlantic Hockey finals and semi-finals. Friday's games will feature Bentley vs Air Force, and RIT vs Mercyhurst, with the winners playing in the championship on Saturday.

    Last weekend in the qualifying games only Mercyhurst swept their series, while the other teams all had to go the full three games. Still in the end, the top seeds all ended up with the win. Mercyhurst is the top scoring team in the nation and has been very good recently. Still within Atlantic Hockey RIT and Air Force are undoubtedly the two favorites.

    In the regular season both RIT and Air Force tied for first place with identical 20-6-2 records and 2-2 against each other. All season long they have been miles ahead of the rest of the conference and have rightly earned their top seeds.

    Last year however neither of the top seeds made it past the semifinals as Army and RIT were upset by Mercyhurst and Air Force. While this is always as possibility in single elimination tournaments, the odds are still against it happening.

    The Sabres play against the Flyers tonight, and need a win against a team that they have not had much success against.

    Wednesday, March 18, 2009

    Still unable to beat Ottawa

    The Sabres have struggled against some poor teams this year, such as the Atlanta Thrashers and the Ottawa Senators. If Buffalo had won at least half of their games against these teams this year, they would be in playoff position.

    Buffalo's Tuesday night loss to the Senators was among the team's worst performances of the year. To begin with Buffalo was outshot 36-13. The Sabres were outshot an incredible 13-1 in the second period.

    Buffalo main problem was with special teams. Ottawa scored three of their goals on the powerplay, while the Sabres did very little on their opportunities.

    Still Buffalo had a 2-0 lead going into the second period, and a 2-2 tie going into the third. Despite their poor play they actually had a shot at winning, but completely failed to capitalize on their chances.

    This was the first start for Buffalo newest goalie Mikael Tellqvist. While it was a loss, he was not the one responsible for getting only 13 shots on net all game.

    Official Three Stars
  • Brendan Bell
  • Filip Kuba
  • Dany Heatley

  • My Three Stars
  • Brendan Bell (two goals, four shots)
  • Filip Kuba (three assists)
  • Toni Lydman (one goal, plus two)

  • Monday, March 16, 2009

    Missing a Point

    Buffalo Sabres
    The Buffalo Sabres played one of three periods well against the Atlanta Thrashers to get one point in a shootout loss. After the refs called a lopsided first period, Buffalo came back to control the second period and take a 3-1 lead. However Buffalo then gave up a shorthanded goal, and then allowed a last second goal to tie the game up after being unable to clear the zone for a full minute.

    Pominville was all around bad in this game. He was hardly ever moving his feet, and passed it right to the other team to allow the game tying goal. Afinogenov on the contrary actually had a really good game. After taking a dumb penalty due to laziness in the beginning of the game, he was flying through the rest of the night, and finished plus two with a goal. Paille who also scored a goal, had a real good game, and was defensively responsible throughout the night.

    Lalime played ok. None of the goal were real bad, and he had no help in the shootout. With four shots, Buffalo was unable to score a single time. Having Kotalik would have helped, as would at least seeing Stafford try the backhand himself. Still credit Kari Lehtonen for saving all of the shots, and for keeping the outshot Thrashers in this game.

    Official Three Stars
  • Kari Lehtonen
  • Maxim Afinogenov
  • Derek Roy

  • My Three Stars
  • Daniel Paille (one goal, plus two)
  • Maxim Afinogenov (one goal, plus two, three shots)
  • Derek Roy (one goal, one assist, five shots)

  • Friday, March 13, 2009

    Buffalo back on track

    Buffalo Sabres
    The Buffalo Sabre returned to their winning ways in a very important game against the Florida Panthers who are just above them in the standings. Buffalo ended the first period with a 2-1 lead, and was able to hold onto it until Vanek got a fluke goal towards the end of the third to put the game away for good. Still the Sabres had far more chances then the Panthers throughout the game and especially in the scoreless second period and deserved to win.

    Florida's best chance at coming back was during a solid powerplay opportunity at the beginning of the third period, where they had over a minute of five on three hockey. The Sabres, especially Lalime, were able to shut them down.

    The one goal that Lalime did let in was a bit soft, but he more than made up for it, making many big saves throughout the rest of the game.

    Furthermore, not everything went right for Buffalo's opponents Thursday night. Besides the Florida Panthers' loss, the Flyers and Hurricanes also lost, while the Penguins and Canadians both only earned one point. Of the teams close to Buffalo in the standings only the Rangers won their game.

    Official Three Stars
  • Patrick Lalime
  • Jaroslav Spacek
  • Henrik Tallinder

  • My Three Stars
  • Daniel Paille (one goal, plus one)
  • Patrick Lalime (30 saves, one goal against)
  • Michal Repik (one goal, plus one, three shots)

  • Wednesday, March 11, 2009

    Heading in the wrong direction

    The Buffalo Sabres lost in spectacular style for the second straight game in a 5-2 loss to the Flyers. With three losses in three games with Philadelphia this season Buffalo's success against them has been almost as bad as against Ottawa.

    Lalime played poorly and was replaced by Tellqvist who didn't play much better letting in one of four shots against. However nobody on the team played well, with the possible exceptions of Hecht and Kaleta.

    Still Buffalo got no help again last night as Montreal won, and Pittsburgh and Florida went to a shootout. The Sabres are starting to fall out of the playoff picture, and now need to do well above .500 hockey to get back into it.

    Official Three Stars
  • Jeff Carter
  • Scott Hartnell
  • Joffrey Lupul

  • My Three Stars
  • Scott Hartnell (two goals, two assists, plus three)
  • Jeff Carter (two goals, plus two, eight shots)
  • Jochen Hecht (one goal, plus two in loss)

  • Tuesday, March 10, 2009

    No Help

    While the Sabres have continued to play average hockey the teams around them have been doing better leaving Buffalo needing to pick up the pace if they want a chance to make the playoffs. Except for the struggling Rangers all of the teams near Buffalo in the standings have done phenomenally well. In their past 10 games the Carolina Hurricanes have gone 8-2-0, the Montreal Canadians have gone 6-4, and the Pittsburgh Penguins have posted a 8-1-1 record. Buffalo meanwhile has won less than half going 4-5-1.

    Buffalo gets its next chance to win against the Flyers on Tuesday night.

    Monday, March 9, 2009

    In Memory of Kotalik

    Buffalo Sabres
    Now a few days after a trade sent him to Edmonton, the Sabres are doing pretty well without Ales Kotalik, but he had been a huge part of Buffalo's franchise for a long while.

    Ales Kotalik has often been criticized for not being physical enough, but just because he is a big guy, doesn't automatically imply that being physical has to be part of his game. His real problem was a lack of consistency, and the fact that his defense wasn't always there.

    That said he wasn't bad. This was his sixth full season for Buffalo, which has been the only NHL team he has every played for. Recently he had been averaging around 20 goals a season, which is decent if not anything special.

    Still the interest that Kotalik was likely to get in this coming summer is more than the Sabres would have been willing to spend, so giving him up is not too much of a loss. Kotalik was however, surprised to be traded, but was almost a casualty of Buffalo committing its future cap dollars towards Connolly instead. From the start of the season it appeared as if only one of Connolly, Kotalik, and Afinogenov would be resigned, and the team chose to go with Tim instead.

    The thing that will be most remembered about Kotalik of course is his role in the shootout. He always went first for Buffalo and almost always scored when he went to the backhand, and only really ever went to a different move for the sake of mixing it up. He is still one of the top shootout players in the league, and those few extra points that he picked up for Buffalo really are important. Stafford has adopted Kotalik's backhander as his own for the shootout sometimes, but still doesn't do it quite as well.

    Kotalik was never a critical part of the team in Buffalo, but still he will be missed.

    Sunday, March 8, 2009

    Still unable to beat Ottawa

    Buffalo Sabres
    The Buffalo Sabres have been unable to beat the Ottawa Senators all year, and failed to do so once again on Saturday night. The team came and went all night in a game that saw poor performances by both goaltenders. In the end though, Nick Foligno and Dan Alfredsson proved to be too much and outscored the Sabres 6-3.

    Buffalo got all three of their goals on the powerplay, but allowed too many shots against in the game, and had too many breakdowns. While it was close until the end, at no point did the Sabres look like the best team on the ice. Lalime let in too many soft ones, and should have been pulled after the second period.

    Buffalo also got no help from around the league as the Hurricanes, Flyers, and Panthers all won as well.

    Official Three Stars
  • Nick Foligno
  • Chris Campoli
  • Daniel Alfredsson

  • My Three Stars
  • Nick Foligno (two goals, plus two, two for two on faceoffs)
  • Daniel Alfredsson (two goals, five shots)
  • Chris Campoli (one goal, one assist, plus three, five shots)

  • Saturday, March 7, 2009

    Buffalo wins second straight game

    Buffalo Sabres
    The Buffalo Sabres soundly beat the Phoenix Coyotes 5-1, in their second straight win after the trade deadline. New Sabre Dominic Moore was in the line up for this game, but the team was really lead by Tim Connolly who just signed a two year extension.

    Connolly scored the first goal of the game, and cleanly won a face off for the primary assist on the Sabres second goal. Once Buffalo got up 2-0 early in this game, it was mostly over as the Coyotes did not appear capable of making a comeback at any point. Connolly went on to score another goal on the powerplay in the second period and earned an assist towards the end.

    Buffalo Sabres
    The refs certainly did not help at all in this game, with many calls being rather unfounded. Buffalo did a good job killing off the penalties though, and only allowed one goal against on the powerplay in the third. Buffalo did get two more powerplay goals of their own in the game's final minutes though.

    MacArthur and Numminen sat out of this game, and Tellqvist is expected to get the start in Buffalo's next game Saturday night in Ottawa.

    Official Three Stars
  • Tim Connolly
  • Andrej Sekera
  • Patrick Lalime

  • My Three Stars
  • Tim Connolly (two goals, two assists, plus two, six shots)
  • Andrej Sekera (one goal, one assist, plus two)
  • Patrick Lalime (29 saves, only one goal against)

  • Friday, March 6, 2009

    Introducing Dominic Moore

    Buffalo Sabres
    On Wednesday the Sabres traded away Ales Kotalik to the Oilers for a second round draft pick, and then traded a second round draft pick to the Toronto Maple Leafs for Dominic Moore. The result is that the team lost Kotalik and gained Moore, the question is if they will be better for it.

    At first glance the differences between Moore and Kotalik are not all that obvious. While Moore has slightly more points in a few more games played this season, he is one goal behind Kotalik. Offensively the output from Moore will be about the same as it was from Kotalik, except without the huge advantage in the shootout.

    There are reasons that the Sabres choose Moore though. First of all he plays center, where Buffalo is bit weak, and where he can be good with faceoffs. Secondly, management may feel that they have a better chance of convincing Moore to stay then they did with Kotalik. In reality though, Moore has been around the league alot already and is not any less likely to avoid moving on. The final reason is defense. Moore has earned himself a reputation for being a two way player. He has a minus one plus minus rating, but that is still six points above where Kotalik was, not even considering the fact that he had to play for the Leafs.

    Hopefully Moore can be a good addition to the Sabres lineup, even if it is only for a few months. His first game in a Buffalo uniform is Friday night against the Coyotes.

    Thursday, March 5, 2009

    A post trade deadline win

    Buffalo Sabres
    On this side of the trade deadline the Sabres are looking like a much better team. Buffalo didn't change all that much through trades, but looked really good in this game. While the Sabres have struggled to score in front of Lalime this season they got five goals Wednesday night against Montreal.

    Lalime for his part also did really good especially in the first period when he saved all 18 shots taken on him. He came within a minute of earning the shutout before allowing a single goal against with a little over a minute to go. A trick Miller has pulled many times before.

    Newcomer Tellqvist was the backup goalie for this game. Former Maple Leaf Dominic Moore was unable to get to the arena in time to play.

    Afinogenov who is surprising still a Sabre played in the game for the first time in months. He was actually pretty good registering and assist, and two shots on net. Vanek was also back and played with a lower cage in addition to his visor.

    Paul Gaustad and Derek Roy both had two goal games for Buffalo, each of them getting one goal on the powerplay. Gaustad's second goal then came shorthanded and was a real nice play. Spacek had the other real nice play in this game dancing around the defender, before blasting his shot into the net. He also had the primary assist on Roy's first goal.

    Buffalo did really good on special teams in this game, scoring on two of four powerplays. Then on the penalty kill the Sabres killed off all six of Montreal's chances and even score a shorthanded goal.
    Buffalo Sabres

    Official Three Stars
  • Patrick Lalime
  • Paul Gaustad
  • Derek Roy

  • My Three Stars
  • Patrick Lalime (shutout, 38 saves)
  • Paul Gaustad (two goals, plus one, three shots)
  • Derek Roy (two goals, plus one, three shots)

  • Wednesday, March 4, 2009

    Connolly sticking around, Tellqvist aquired

    Buffalo Sabres Tim Connolly
    The Sabres have signed Tim Connolly to a two year deal worth $4.5 million per year. This should end any trade rumors surrounding Connolly and confirms expectations that this trade deadline was to be a quiet one for the Sabres.

    That Connolly is going to be given an increase in his salary is a tad bit surprising, but the good news is that he will continue to play in Buffalo and solidify that position for the team.

    If Connolly can stay healthy, then he is easily worth the money. Tim has been doing pretty good for the past few months, and despite a rocky start to the season has been playing game in and game out for a while now. Still Connolly has still played in less games than Afinogenov this season. However the deal is only for two years, so if it turns out that Connolly's health doesn't last, Buffalo is not responsible for him year after year.

    Buffalo also traded a fourth round pick for goalie Mikael Tellqvist in Phoenix. There is little danger of him replacing anyone's job in the system, but gives Portland some more flexibility, and a healthy goaltender to work with. Miller will still be the starter, Lalime will still be the back up, and Enroth will still be the future of the team. Still Tellqvist has been in 90 more NHL games than Enroth and will probably take over the backup role for as long as Miller is out. Enroth will then start for Portland, while Denis remains injured.

    The Sabres are one of only four teams to be playing tonight as they take on the Montreal Canadians. As far as Buffalo goes, this may be as exciting as the trade deadline gets.

    Tuesday, March 3, 2009

    The Quiet Before the storm

    One day before the trade deadline, and everyone is mostly just waiting for things to start happening. With so many teams having a shot at the playoffs out west, really anything could happen at the deadline this year. However there is the possibility that overall things may just be a bit more quiet.

    The Sabres strategy for the trade deadline is more predictable to guess than most, but even that is a bit of an unknown. Besides getting something in return for Afinogenov, Buffalo does not have any obvious goals. Besides the injured Vanek and Miller really no one else on the team is truly safe.

    Afinogenov, Connolly, Kotalik, and Spacek are the big name players set to become free agents this summer and slightly more likely to be moved, but anything could happen. There is some talk about defensemen Tallinder and Paetsch who both have a full year remaining on their contracts. Technically Buffalo is still in this so they are not sellers, but it is questionable what may happen.

    Overall this should be a quiet trading year. There will probably still be plenty of action, but not in regards to the bigger names. Most of the true cup contenders are all pretty well set, with the top four in each conference more or less decided.

    The other impact on the trade deadline this year is the economy. The salary cap is likely to stay the same for next season, and for those GM's who were counting on an ever expanding cap this could be a problem. Some bigger name players may get traded just for the cap relief. In fact Buffalo getting back Drury for Afinogenov almost seems plausible despite it not being an even skill for skill trade.

    Monday, March 2, 2009

    The Afinogenov question

    Buffalo Sabres Patrick Lalime
    With the trade deadline quickly approaching the Sabres have one player that stands ahead of the rest as one likely to go, and that is Maxim Afinogenov.

    Unlike Kotalik, Connolly, and Tallinder there is obviously no interest in bringing back Afinogenov next season, and it doesn't look all that likely that he will play again this season either.

    While technically still on the injured reserve list, the whole world knows that he is ready to go, but is more convenient to keep on the sidelines, now that he is behind Andrew Peters and half of the Portland Pirates on the depth chart.

    So while the reasons that Buffalo wants to get rid of him are obvious, there is little interest that other teams are likely to have in him.

    Any teams not making the playoffs will want nothing to do with Afinogenov as he will be a free agent this summer, and will only give them questionable quality in return. Teams towards the top of their conference also have no interest in Afinogenov as they would not want to break up their roster for a player of questionable talent.

    That only leaves the teams in the middle, and despite how things appear I think it is more than likely that one of them will be interested in Max Afinogenov. For one, he can be had at a very cheap price. The Sabres have shown no interest in him, and will probably put him on waivers to the AHL if he can't be traded this weak, as a result Buffalo would be happy to get anything in return for him, so he could be had for very little, and a low round draft pick would be seen as a good trade for Buffalo.

    The teams that will want Max will be those on the edge of making the playoffs, and realizing that they need to change something to turn things around. Montreal and the Rangers are two such teams that while currently in a playoff spot, are in freefall, and are desperate to change something to turn things around. The Canadians are unlikely to take a risk with Afinogenov, but the Rangers would be interested in him. New York has been struggling as of late, and needs to shake up the lineup in one way or another, Afinogenov does have the potential to be decent in the right system, and the Rangers have one where teamwork is already not a main priority. Furthermore Max is both cheaper and more reliable then the Rangers other option in Sean Avery.

    Another team in the East who may be interested are the Ottawa Senators who appear to still think that they can make a run at the playoffs this season. Basic math indicates that they are out, but their GM is an idiot and who has indicated that the Senators look to be buyers at the trade deadline this year.

    Out west the market for Afinogenov looks smaller as border teams such as the Ducks, Predators and Wild are all unlikely to be willing to take the risk. The most interested team in the west would probably be the Columbus Blue Jackets who may be looking for some extra fire power as they try to hold on and make the playoffs for the first time in the franchise's history.

    Sunday, March 1, 2009

    Sabres hit a new low

    Things are at an all time bad for Buffalo this season, because nothing can really get worse than being shutout by the Islanders. If there was an easy win to come out of this stretch this game was it, and the Sabres absolutely blew the opportunity.

    Seriously, has anyone even heard of Yann Danis before? Let alone that he had the Islanders playing in front of him with one player out of the game suspended, another out to be traded, and the rest of them Islanders. Yet that seemed to be enough to stop Buffalo completely.

    Coming into this game the Sabres have struggled to score in front of Lalime, but at least they had not yet been shutout in any of those.

    Lalime actually played well, saving 32 of 34 shots, and putting Buffalo in a position to win the game. At the very least three points against the third worst defense in the league shouldn't be too much to ask for.

    The only hope is that Vanek should be ready to go play for the next Sabres game on Wednesday night. However he will have to do so all by himself. For this being the last game before the trade deadline, every player has given themselves great reason to get sent away.

    Official Three Stars
  • Sean Bergenheim
  • Yann Danis
  • Jack Hillen

  • My Three Stars
  • Yann Danis (shutout, 31 saves)
  • Sean Bergenheim (two goals, plus two, six shots)
  • Jack Hillen (one assist, plus two, four shots)

  • Saturday, February 28, 2009

    Not playing offense in front of Lalime

    Buffalo Sabres Patrick Lalime
    Patrick Lalime has a disappointing record of 2-8-2, but is actually a far better player than his win loss record indicates. The problem is that whenever Lalime gets in a game the Sabres don't play any good offense in front of him.

    Last Thursday he played great against the Hurricanes stopping 31 of 32 shots, but ended up with an shootout loss after the Sabres could only manage one goal themselves and none in the shootout.

    In Lalime's last ten games played the Sabres only scored more than two goals in a single one of those games and averaged only 1.9 goals per game. Overall this season the Sabres are averaging 2.82 goals per game. If Buffalo would keep up this scoring pace when Lalime is in net, they would have been able to win a number of those games, especially as many of them were very close.

    There is also no reason to see why the change in goaltender would result in any significant change to Buffalo's play. Both Lalime and Miller play a similar style, and neither of them are big puck movers like Turco and Biron are.

    Buffalo just needs to player better in front of Lalime, and stop making him look so bad. Buffalo will get a good chance to do so Saturday night when they play the New York Islanders. If there was ever a chance to run up the score on an opponent, this is it.

    Friday, February 27, 2009

    Sabres only get one

    Buffalo Sabres
    The Sabres outplayed the Carolina Hurricanes through most of their 2-1 shootout loss, but were unable to take a commanding lead at any time. Buffalo outshot Carolina 37-32 and for most of the night were the all around better team. The Sabres real problem in this game is that they only had one goal to show for it, and ended the night with only one point.

    Carolina for their part did just enough to hang on, and for the most part rode their goalie Cam Ward to the victory. Ward had 36 saves, plus he stopped all three shots in the shootout.

    The Sabres shootout was in trouble this game, with none of the shooters scoring and even Kotalik not being able to get anything right. Buffalo was without Ryan Miller, who has been among the best goaltenders in the shootout this season, but still got a decent showing from Lalime who stopped two of three and had an all around solid game.

    Official Three Stars
  • Cam Ward
  • Anton Babchuk
  • Joni Pitkanen

  • My Three Stars
  • Cam Ward (36 saves, one goal against, three for three in the shootout)
  • Patrick Lalime (31 saves, one goal against)
  • Anton Babchuk (one goal, five shots)

  • Thursday, February 26, 2009

    Another Loss to the Ducks

    Once again the Sabres came out very poorly in a loss to the Anaheim Ducks. Gaustad and Kotalik both scored, but they were the only players who did anything on offense. Both goals came from Kotalik just blasting the puck into the net, and it's something this team has to do more often.

    The Ducks received solid play from Buffalo native Todd Marchant. While getting outshot by the Sabres in the first period, they better took advantage of Buffalo's defensive breakdowns.

    Official Three Stars
  • Jean-Sebastien Giguere
  • Todd Marchant
  • Paul Gaustad

  • My Three Stars
  • Ales Kotalik (one goal, one assist, five shots)
  • Todd Marchant (one goal, one assist, plus two)
  • Teemu Selanne (one goal, plus one, four shots)

  • Tuesday, February 24, 2009

    Life without Ryan Miller

    Buffalo Sabres
    With Ryan Miller's ankle sprain he will be out for some time, and will leave the Sabres without one of the leagues best goaltenders to rely on. From personal experience I know that ankle sprains can mean anything as far as time out goes, but that the absolute worst thing you can do is to come back too early.

    So for the short term that leaves Patrick Lalime and Jhonas Enroth as the Sabres goalies. Enroth is a promising prospect who played very well last season in Sweden and has looked decent so far this year in the AHL. He may well be the future goaltender for this team if something happens to Miller.

    However in the coming days Lalime will be getting the vast majority of the starts. His record this season had not been too good, but more often then not that was the result of the play in front of him, and not Lalime playing poorly. Last season he had a winning record for a non-playoff team in Chicago getting a bunch of starts due to an injury to the starting goaltender there.

    The other option is to trade for a goaltender, but with the trading deadline just over a week away there are only a limited number of options available. There is no obvious team looking to give up a quality goaltender and it is unlikely that the Sabres could pick up someone much better than Lalime. Detroit would probably trade Osgood, but given how he has played this season, the Sabres probably wouldn't want him. A trade for a big name player is more unlikely because Miller should be back in time for the playoffs, so this would be an even shorter term player rental.

    The best option for the Sabres is to hope that their defense stays healthy and the Lalime is good enough to get the job done. He looked good the last two games in which he replaced Miller, lets now see him win some starts.

    Sunday, February 22, 2009

    A Win mitigated by the possibility of injury

    The Buffalo Sabres soundly beat the New York Rangers on Saturday night 4-2. The Sabres may be in trouble as a whole though as Ryan Miller had to leave the game injured. Currently it isn't clear how bad it is, but Buffalo needs its starting goaltender going into the playoffs.

    Buffalo soundly outplayed the Rangers for the first two periods. Then following Miller's injury at the beginning of the third, they started to allow the Rangers to get some shots on net. Still after allowing a powerplay goal right after going in Lalime played well enough to give Buffalo the win.

    Tallinder returned for this game, and the defense was all around better as a result. The Rangers first goal where two players were on the guy with the puck looked like the only real defensive mistake that was made all game, and Buffalo is now doing better as far as injuries go, although having Miller and Vanek out isn't exactly ideal.

    Official Three Stars
  • Derek Roy
  • Daniel Paille
  • Tim Connolly

  • My Three Stars
  • Derek Roy (one goal, two assists, plus two)
  • Daniel Paille (one goalthree shots)
  • Ryan Miller (zero goals against, 20 saves)

  • Friday, February 20, 2009

    No Defense results in a loss

    The Sabres need to step up their defense a bit. Ryan Miller played a great game despite letting four goals in, while there was enough scoring to keep the Sabres in the game. The defense was repeatedly bad. If not for Miller the score would have been far worse. Players were forever uncovered right in front of the net, and the Flyers managed to get a three on two while shorthanded. Spacek scored two goals, and was still bad enough in his own end to finish the game minus one.

    Hopefully Tallinder can get back soon, and the rest of the team can remember how to play both ways. Unless that happens, there is no way that Buffalo will be in the playoffs.

    Official Three Stars
  • Mike Richards
  • Simon Gagne
  • Jaroslav Spacek

  • My Three Stars
  • Mike Richards (two goals, three assists, plus five, five shots)
  • Derek Roy (one goal, one assist)
  • Simon Gagne (two assists, plus two)

  • Wednesday, February 18, 2009

    A Solid Win against the Leafs

    Buffalo Sabres
    The Sabres won a 4-1 game against the Maple Leafs on Tuesday night, but still looked a bit shaky at times.

    While the game was pretty well decided after the Sabres ended the first period with a 3-0 lead, things did not go perfect. Two of the goals were a bit soft and Justin Pogge did not play great in what was only his third NHL start ever. Also the Sabres were outworked in the first ten minutes of the game, and allowed a powerplay goal against, when just a month ago, the penalty kill was a highlight for this team.

    Stafford played well scoring two powerplay goals, while the team also got bailed out by Miller most of the night. Ellis also had a good game filling in the role traditionally done by Gaustad.

    Pominville had one of his goals discounted after it bounced off of his chest. The goal should have been good, but the game was pretty well decided by that point anyhow. Buffalo beat a team that they were supposed to, while Carolina lost giving the Sabres a bit more separation.

    Official Three Stars
  • Ryan Miller
  • Drew Stafford
  • Niklas Hagman

  • My Three Stars
  • Ryan Miller (27 saves, .964SV%)
  • Drew Stafford (two goals)
  • Daniel Paille (one goal, one assist, three shots, plus two)

  • Tuesday, February 17, 2009

    Coming apart against the Hurricanes

    The Sabres did not show up in this game at all. They gave no effort all night and failed to score any goals loosing the game 3-0.

    Lalime was put in net for the final two periods, and while he played very well, the team in front of him was still bad. The one goal that did get past Lalime should never have counted, but given how bad the rest of the team was that is a minor issue.

    The Sabres allowed 47 shots against, allowed an unassisted powerplay goal, and took advantage of none of their own powerplay opportunities.

    Official Three Stars
  • Cam Ward
  • Eric Staal
  • Patrick Lalime

  • My Three Stars
  • Eric Staal (one goal, two assists, seven shots)
  • Cam Ward (shutout, 36 saves)
  • Patrick Lalime (28 saves)

  • Saturday, February 14, 2009

    An eventful game

    Buffalo Sabres
    The Buffalo Sabres beat the San Jose Sharks 6-5 in a shootout, in what may have been the most exciting game of the year. The Sharks came in as the best team in the Western conference, while the Sabres have struggled in their last two games against a poor team in Ottawa.

    However the Sabres came through in this game. Buffalo scored three early goals to take a commanding lead early and looked good throughout. They gave up a goal late in the first period to make the score 3-1, but Buffalo was consistently out skating the Sharks and had more scoring chances then them by far.

    The second period was not as good for Buffalo with San Jose outshooting them 17-8 in the period and closing the score to a 4-3 Buffalo lead. Going into the third things did not look as promising and it was mostly assumed that the Sharks would take the lead in this game. They did, but instead of this turning into a 5-4 San Jose victory the Sabres tied up the game with four seconds left.

    To get the goal at the end of regulation the Sabres had a line of Hecht, Pominville, and Ellis on the ice, none of who have been particularly hot lately. Ellis however won the faceoff, and without Gaustad in the lineup, I guess he must be our top guy.

    Rivet had a good game against his former team, with his shots from the point being tipped in for both the first and final goals of the game. The final shot was tipped in by Jason Pominville who scored in the first time in forever, and then had another goal in the shootout after having an assist earlier in the game. Roy also posted the same stats as a goal, an assist and a shootout goal.

    The shootout got off to a slow start for the Sabres with the regular three shooters of Kotalik, Stafford, and Connolly all failing to score. Kotalik did not even try to go backhand, but did have a decent game for the Sabres as he scored the team's lone goal in the second period. Miller however came through on the shootout and saved four of the five shots against him.

    For a look at this game through the lens of the recent Flight 3407 tragedy, The Gooses Roost has a good look at things.

    Official Three Stars
  • Craig Rivet
  • Joe Thornton
  • Jason Pominville

  • My Three Stars
  • Craig Rivet (three assists)
  • Jason Pominville (one goal, one assist, five shots, a shootout goal)
  • Patrick Marleau (2 goals, a shootout goal)

  • Friday, February 13, 2009

    Unable to beat Ottawa

    For the second straight game in a row, the Buffalo Sabres failed to beat the Ottawa Senators scoring just one goal in the loss.

    Ottawa is on a bit of a rebound now under their new coach, but are still a weak team and one that the Sabres should have beaten. The Penalty Kill was part of the Sabres problem as they allowed two goals against when down a player.

    This team is really missing Gaustad and Vanek. While the two players are very different, they both take the job of standing in front of the net, and it is clear that the rest of this team is not in a position to easily take over that role. However both will still be out for a while.

    Official Three Stars
  • Jason Spezza
  • Ryan Miller
  • Brendan Bell

  • My Three Stars
  • Jason Spezza (one goal, one assist, five shots)
  • Brian Elliott (31 saves, only one goal against)
  • Brendan Bell (2 assists, three shots)

  • Wednesday, February 11, 2009

    AHL in Buffalo

    The Portland Pirates played a game against the Albany River Rats at HSBC arena Tuesday night. Without the game on television I didn't actually see it, but following a large brawl the Pirates lost 5-4 in a shootout.

    The game was pretty well attended, and while the Arena was not full it drew a bigger crowd then most AHL games tend to do. Trying to do this more then once a year would be difficult, but showcasing the farm team once a year is a good move by the Sabres, and should be repeated again.

    When Rochester was the Sabres farm team, they were just a short trip down the road from Buffalo and well within Sabres territory. Now in Portland Maine, things are a bit more distant and the tie between the teams isn't as close. Games like this help restore that connection.

    Also the AHL is currently running five player shootouts like soccer does. I'm still not a huge fan of the shootout, but going for a full five players is a better system then having just three.

    Nathan Gerbe will be playing with the Sabres tonight as they face the Ottawa Senators.

    Monday, February 9, 2009

    A look at the Standings

    While it may not feel like it, the end of the season is approaching fast and the Sabres have little time left to solidify their playoff spot. Fortunetlly things are looking pretty good for them.

    According to Mirtle's simple standard of needing 91 points to make the playoffs, the Sabres need to finish the season with a 14-13-1 record. While that does not make Buffalo's entrance to the post season automatic, it is simple enough that they should have no problem in achieving it.

    According to the Sabres have a 76.5% chance of making the playoffs and can guarantee themselves a spot if they finish with a 20-8 record. Still even if they only have a 16-12 record they would still have a 96.8% chance of making the playoffs.

    Currently the Sabres are seventh in the conference which would give them a playoff spot. However they are third in their conference and while they are right behind Montreal, they are well behind the Bruins and are unlikely to catch them, meaning that Buffalo is unable to get one of the top three seeds.

    The Pittsburgh Penguins are in trouble though. Currently they are in tenth in the East and have already played more games than anyone else. They only have a 29.7% chance of making the playoffs.

    Meanwhile out west, the Dallas Stars who started the season so poorly are now sitting in fifth place with a 72% chance of making the playoffs. Since getting rid of Avery they have really turned things around and are currently second in their division behind only the very good Sharks.

    Sunday, February 8, 2009

    Comeback leads to a shootout loss

    Buffalo Sabres
    After falling behind 2-0 in the second period the Sabres came back in the third to even the score at 2-2. However they failed to capitalize in the shootout, and walked away from the game with only one point.

    Buffalo got outplayed badly in the first two periods, being outshot 30-18 and outscored 2-0. They turned things around in the third with goals from Mair and Stafford.

    In the shootout Kotalik and Connolly scored for Buffalo, while Stafford and Roy missed. Miller allowed three of four to get past him, and probably should have saved two of them, but played well enough in regulation that this loss can not be blamed on him. In the shootout the first seven shots were all backhands, with all three of Buffalo's original shooters going for Kotalik's move.

    Thomas Vanek left the game during the first period after taking a puck to the face. He will be out for a few games as a result. Hopefully it won't be for all that long.

    Official Three Stars
  • Brian Elliott
  • Ryan Miller
  • Daniel Alfredsson

  • My Three Stars
  • Anoine Vermette (one goal, three shots, plus one)
  • Drew Stafford (one goal, three shots)
  • Brian Elliott (28 saves, 0.933SV%)

  • Saturday, February 7, 2009

    A big win over Montreal

    Buffalo Sabres
    The Buffalo Sabres came through and earned a solid 3-2 win over the Montreal Canadians on Friday night.

    For the first time in a long while the Sabres were able to dress a respectable blue line. In his first game back, Spacek scored the first goal of the game. Buffalo then got their second goal from Nathan Paetsch who was bumped up to playing forward in this game. Buffalo's scoring was then finished up by Tim Connolly who scored his ninth goal in the past nine games.

    Montreal got scoring from Saku Koivu and Roman Hamrlik, but it was not enough to come back in this game, as Miller played well, earning the win in a game where the Sabres were outshot 37-22.

    Official Three Stars
  • Ryan Miller
  • Tim Connolly
  • Maxim Lapierre

  • My Three Stars
  • Roman Hamrlik (one goal, three shots, plus one)
  • Ryan Miller (35 saves, 95% saves)
  • Nathan Paetsch (one goal, plus one, two shots)

  • Friday, February 6, 2009

    Buffalo needs to stay strong against Montreal

    Coming into their Friday night game against the Montreal Canadians, there has been a lot of talk lately about the Sabres being a really good team. Still they haven't been any better than .500 as of late, and beating the Maple Leafs isn't the most impressive task that there is.

    Buffalo should be commended for the way that they have dealt with injuries, and for continuing to hold on, but that is all. They need to beat some good teams, and recent games against the Ducks, the Red Wings, and the Blackhawks have all resulted in losses. The Montreal Canadians however are a good team, and if Buffalo can beat them in their game Friday night then the Sabres can start talking about how good they are. Buffalo did beat the Canadians to open the season, and there is no reason why they can't do it again.

    Additionally the rumor is that Spacek should be returning to play for this game, so maybe we can have a respectable lineup on defense after all.

    Thursday, February 5, 2009

    Beating up on the Leafs

    Buffalo Sabres
    The Sabres team has had wild swings between success and failure recently, and solidly destroyed the Toronto Maple Leafs 5-0 Wednesday night. Thomas Vanek lead the way with a natural hat-trick while Tim Connolly scored his fifth goal in the past five games, and Drew Stafford scored another to continue his recent success.

    Ryan Miller, who did not play last game against the Ducks, got his second straight shutout, after facing only 16 shots. Toronto has rookie Justin Pogge in net, but the loss was more of a result of the poor showing by those in front of him.

    Buffalo has been short on defensemen for some time now. They got some help with the return of Numminen in this game, but Rivet still looks as if he is playing hurt, and did limp off to the dressing room at one point last game, before returning and playing for around 18 minutes in the game. At a few times Buffalo used five offensive players on the powerplay, and this was probably so that they could give their depleted defense as much rest as possible.

    Still over the past six games Buffalo has dominated in this 5-0 win over Toronto, a 2-0 win over Phoenix and a 10-2 win over Edmonton, but then struggled in losses to Tampa Bay, Calgary, and Anaheim. It's hard to tell if all of these injuries on defense are actually hurting the team or not.

    In an odd occurrence I agree with the three stars selection for this game. Buffalo next play the Canadians at home on Friday.

    Official Three Stars
  • Thomas Vanek
  • Ryan Miller
  • Drew Stafford

  • My Three Stars
  • Thomas Vanek (three goals, one assist, six shots)
  • Ryan Miller (shutout, 16 saves)
  • Drew Stafford (one goal, one assist, plus three)

  • Tuesday, February 3, 2009

    Defenseless against the Ducks

    The Sabres were the better team in the first period, but allowed 20 shots against in the second, and put together very little offense in the third to lose to the Ducks.

    Lalime was in net, but played very well, and kept the Sabres in the game for far longer than they should have been. Buffalo's main problem was their lack of experienced defensemen. The team was down to just Rivet and Lydman for last night, and Rivet had 12 minutes of penalties so his on ice contributions were even further limited. Until the team can get healthy Buffalo either needs to overpower their opponents with offense or they are going to lose a few games.

    Kaleta had the games first goal, and played really well, in part because Anaheim plays a physical game which is one of Kaleta's strengths. The other goal came from Rivet, off of a rebound from a shot by Gaustad. Paul also had an assist on the earlier goal as well.

    Official Three Stars
  • Chris Kunitz
  • Scott Niedermayer
  • Chris Pronger

  • My Three Stars
  • Chris Pronger (one goal, plus one, five shots)
  • Corey Perry (one goal, five shots)
  • Patrick Kaleta (one goal)

  • Sunday, February 1, 2009

    Slow and Steady wins the game

    Buffalo Sabres
    Buffalo earned a boring but solid 2-0 win over the Phoenix Coyotes Saturday night. The Sabres were in control for most of the night, but were unable to really pull away at any point.

    Kaleta returned to the line up for this game after being gone for some time, while Adam Mair once again sat out with a minor injury. Injuries are still a serious concern on the defense, with things getting worse and Spacek not playing past the first period. We are honestly running out of defensemen and would be greatly benefited from getting one or two back. Pominville may be on defense for next game.

    Tim Connolly scored again in this game, making this his third straight game with a goal. He has played real well as of late. The other goal came from Paille, who hasn't been as reliable in the past month, but who hopefully gets things going again.

    Official Three Stars
  • Ryan Miller
  • Derek Roy
  • Tim Connolly

  • My Three Stars
  • Ryan Miller (shutout, 28 saves)
  • Tim Connolly (one goal, four shots)
  • Daniel Paille (one goal)

  • Thursday, January 29, 2009

    An opportunity lost

    Buffalo Sabres
    The Sabres lost to Calgary 5-2 but had every opportunity to win the game. Buffalo was done in by their lack of depth on defense, and Mikka Kiprusoff outplaying Ryan Miller.

    Buffalo got into a hole early after a bad turnover, but were able to come back from a 2-0 hole to tie up the game going into the third period. Once there they were unable to score again, and watched Miller allow some pretty weak goals to let the game get out of hand.

    Mike Cammalleri scored a hat-trick in the game, while Buffalo's best player was Tim Connolly who followed up on his two goals and assist from the day before with another goal and assist in this game.

    Official Three Stars
  • Mike Cammalleri
  • Todd Bertuzzi
  • Miikka Kiprusoff

  • My Three Stars
  • Mike Cammalleri (three goals, six shots)
  • Miikka Kiprusoff (25 saves, one assist)
  • Tim Connolly (one goal, one assist)