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)

  • Wednesday, January 28, 2009


    For this game the score really says it all. It wasn't anywhere near being close for the entity of the night. With one goal ten seconds in, and a second goal just 61 seconds later, this game was more or less done at that point.

    Still the Sabres poured it on and Roy, Stafford, Connolly, and Vanek all had three points and Spacek put up and impressive plus four. The game as a whole was a complete runaway. Buffalo even scored shorthanded with a little over a minute left to get into the double digits.

    Buffalo almost outscored the all star teams in this game, and that was going up against an actual defense. While the Oilers made many mistakes you still have to credit Buffalo for taking advantage of them.

    This game was so close to not being shown on television and would have been a real pity to have missed. The announcers were ok, but their comment about Buffalo putting the game away through the third to go up 9-1 seemed a tad bit late. This game was over at the 1:11 mark.

    Official Three Stars
  • Drew Stafford
  • Thomas Vanek
  • Derek Roy

  • My Three Stars
  • Drew Stafford (three goals)
  • Tim Connolly (two goals, one assist, plus three)
  • Thomas Vanek (one goal, two assists, four shots)

  • Tuesday, January 27, 2009

    Badly injured on Defense

    Once again the Sabres are experiencing a shortage of healthy players on Defense. Tallinder, Sekera, and Numminen are all injured as well as Weber who is still in the AHL. Rivet is currently doing ok, but has been in and out of the line up quite a bit this season.

    Marc-Andre Gragnani is being called up to fill in for the depleted blue line, but I'm not even sure if there is anyone after him on the depth chart. Hopefully some people get healthy soon.

    Monday, January 26, 2009

    Reviewing the All-Star Game

    The All Star Game had it's usual inflated goal total of 11-12, with the Canadians Alex Kovalev being named the game MVP. The game went to a shootout, and in overtime a penalty was called for a blatant hooking, which marked the first penalty called in an all star game in years.

    Buffalo's lone representative Thomas Vanek failed to score any goals in the game and that shouldn't come as a surprise. While Vanek is one of the top goal scorers in the league, he gets most of his points by sitting in front of the crease and tipping in shots and putting away rebounds. While these are useful skills during normal hockey games, they don't translate well to the no defense no effort style played in the all-star game. Still Vanek was glad to be there.

    The Sabres get back to playing on Tuesday night.

    Sunday, January 25, 2009


    The All-Star game is tonight, and while I can't get too excited about there is really little other hockey news to speak of.

    Last night was the skills competition and young stars game. Buffalo didn't have any youngstars in the game, which is mostly a result of the teams preference to keep its younger talent in the AHL.

    Most of the winners were predictable. Chara once again won the hardest shot competition, and Ovechkin was his usual fun self in the trick shot category. Kane also was decent putting in a shot using the opposite end of his stick. Campbell for the third straight year failed miserably in the fastest skater competition coming in second last in the event, and only because the other skater almost fell.

    Buffalo's Vanek I guess was in the shootout competition, but I had bored of the event by that point, so I can only pass on that he didn't win.

    The big game is tonight, where Vanek will become the first Austrian to play in the NHL all star game.

    Saturday, January 24, 2009

    No games on TV, or maybe there are

    The next four Sabres games will not be televised. Nobody really has a clear answer why. While later games on the west coast may not be the most profitable games, MSG is certainly not loosing money on them. Furthermore while the games will be on radio, Rick Jeanneret will not be broadcasting the games, which makes it even harder to listen to.

    Combined with the all-star game this means around 20 days without seeing the Sabres play hockey. While I will still have Center Ice to show Blackhawks games, and college games to go to this is whole blackout is really pointless.

    At the very least couldn't MSG just broadcast the other teams feed? Really what better thing does MSG have to broadcast. I don't think I have ever watched a single thing on that channel besides Sabres games.

    At the very least the rumour is that the the other teams feed will be available via We will see how it goes. Still there should be no need to resort to such sites.

    Update:Common sense has prevailed and the games will be on television after all. Turns out this was mostly a squabble about money.

    Thursday, January 22, 2009

    Buffalo can't get things together in loss

    Buffalo had a game that they were supposed to win against the Tampa Bay Lightning, but failed to gain control of the game and lost. Buffalo went down by two early in the game, and despite a bit of a comeback were never able to tie it back up after that. In the end Tampa Bay won 5-3.

    Derek Roy lead the Sabres back by scoring two goals, but Buffalo was hurt by allowing two powerplay goals in the game. While one was a five on three that was the result of two bad calls, the Sabres need to continue killing off their penalties, as that is the only real advantage that they have had over other teams as of late.

    Steve Eminger had a good game for the Lightning, scoring one goal, and shutting down Buffalo's offense completely for the first and last periods. Traditionally the knock on Tampa is that they have no secondary scoring, but that wasn't true in this game as five different players scored for the Lightning, and Lecavalier and St Louis were both kept from getting a single point.

    Official Three Stars
  • Cory Murphy
  • Lukas Krajicek
  • Derek Roy

  • My Three Stars
  • Steve Eminger (one goal, four shots)
  • Derek Roy (two goals, three shots)
  • Cory Murphy (one goal, one assist)

  • Tuesday, January 20, 2009

    The game of ugly goals

    Buffalo Sabres
    The goals that were scored in this game were all around ugly, not a single one of them should have found the back of the net. Still Buffalo was able to prevail in the shootout against a team that is right behind them in the standings.

    The scoring opened with David Booth scoring on a penalty shot, which while it doesn't really count was really the right call by the refs. Mid way through the second period it was beginning to look like neither team would score.

    The comes in Tim Connolly who finished the game with the fun state line of one goal and zero shots. After nicking the corner of the puck in a failed attempt to control a rebound the Panthers then passed the puck through the crease, off of the defender and the goalie and into the net. Officially it went into the books as a wrist shot which is perhaps what Lydman took when he shot the puck half a minute earlier.

    Vanek then gave Buffalo a lead on the powerplay after he hacked at the puck a few to score on his birthday. Horton came back to tie the game on a Florida powerplay with might have been the only goal in the entire game to come off of a legitimate shot.

    In the shootout Kotalik did his thing going to the backhand, and Miller stopped both of the attempts at his end including another shoot by Booth. Then true to how the game went Roy messed up just as he was approaching the net, but was able to watch as the puck slowly drifted five hole and into the net to give the Sabres the win.

    Official Three Stars
  • Ales Kotalik
  • Ryan Miller
  • David Booth

  • My Three Stars
  • David Booth (one goal, one assist, seven shots)
  • Ryan Miller (27 saves plus both in the shootout)
  • Tim Connolly (for scoring without shooting)

  • Monday, January 19, 2009

    Buffalo handles Carolina

    Buffalo earned a 3-1 win over the Carolina Hurricanes Saturday night, winning a game that they were supposed to win. Buffalo was in control throughout the game, and Tim Connolly stole the show by netting two goals.

    Buffalo returned to form by killing off all five of their penalties in the game. Teppo Numminen also scored a goal, but the downside is that he took a puck to the face and is hurt badly.

    Official Three Stars
  • Tim Connolly
  • Ryan Miller
  • Thomas Vanek

  • My Three Stars
  • Tim Connolly (two goals, plus two, five shots)
  • Teppo Numminen (one goal, plus one)
  • Ryan Miller (36 saves on 37 shots)

  • Friday, January 16, 2009

    Goose leads comeback against the Stars

    Buffalo Sabres
    The Sabres came out flat to start the game and quickly found themselves down 3-0 to the Dallas Stars. However the Sabres came back, lead by Paul Gaustad to eventually win the game in the shootout.

    The turnaround was twice the result of Gaustad's effort in this game. The Goose got the Sabres first goal. Then after Buffalo looked to have ruined their comeback chances after going down 4-2, Gaustad scored again to bring Buffalo right back into the game. After that there was little doubt that the Sabres would be able to complete the comeback. Buffalo did, and while they outplayed the Stars at the end of the game and in overtime, they were unable to win before the shootout.

    In the shootout, two very good goalies were in, as was showed by the inability of both teams to score. Buffalo did win after six rounds, with Miller stopping five of the six shots against him.

    Still not everything went well for the Sabres in this game. Dallas' first two goals both came on the powerplay, and the third right after another powerplay had just expired. Buffalo had been very good down a man until this game. Not only did the Sabres allow goals against, but they never really looked as if they had control, and gave the Stars multiple chances to score. Allowing Ott to walk in almost uncovered was a huge mistake, and how you don't expect them to press when up a player is inexcusable.

    Official Three Stars
  • Paul Gaustad
  • Steve Ott
  • Trevor Daley

  • My Three Stars
  • Paul Gaustad (two goals, 8 for 10 on faceoffs)
  • Jason Pominville (two assists, five shots, shootout goal, plus two)
  • Steve Ott (one goal, one assist)

  • Thursday, January 15, 2009

    Outworked by Chicago

    As the Sabres took on my favorite team in the West, they got off to a good start with an early goal by Kotalik. However poor goaltending and an inability to produce on the powerplay cost Buffalo the game.

    Lalime looked very bad in net, and allowed a number of goals by him that he really shouldn't have. While he is the second string guy, this should have been a winnable game for the Sabres and letting in that many soft goals ruined the chances for the team.

    Not that the rest of the Sabres were playing all that well either. With the notable exceptions of Henrik Tallinder, and Tim Connolly nobody was willing to shoot the puck. The Sabres were given a six minute powerplay (which is weird in and of itself), but were only able to generate a single shot on net during that entire stretch. While Chicago does have one of the better penalty kill units in the league, that is no excuse for Buffalo to do that poorly.

    The game was full of fights and confrontations usually surrounding Gaustad and Stafford. The goose actually had a pretty good game, disrupting the Blackhawks flow and finishing the night plus one with two shots on net.

    Instead of the high flying Blackhawks the Sabres get to play the struggling Stars on Thursday night. Hopefully that is enough of a chance that they can actually take advantage of it.

    Official Three Stars
  • Cristobal Huet
  • Jonathan Toews
  • Matt Walker

  • My Three Stars
  • Jonathan Toews (one goal, one assist, plus two)
  • Martin Havlat (one goal, plus one)
  • Ales Kotalik (one goal, plus one in the loss)

  • Tuesday, January 13, 2009

    Around the blogs

    Buffalo Sabres
    Sabres have a bit of a break in their schedule, which gives us a chance to look around and see what everyone else is saying. Die by the Blade has a look at everyone that has departed from the Sabres over the past two seasons, including Brian Campbell who the Sabres will play against for the first time on Wednesday.

    Also wanted to point out the amusing NHLOL where our picture of "secret agent Roy" comes from.

    Also an early look at the playoff picture that shows the Sabres of having a 64.1% chance of making the playoffs. For a less number heavy version Mirtle has once again started his playoff push where Buffalo currently has to finish with a 21-18-1 record to get in.

    Sunday, January 11, 2009

    Detroit overruns Buffalo

    The Sabres really got overrun by Detroit in their 3-1 loss. Buffalo got outshot 48-22 in the game. Yet Miller put in one of his best performances, and almost stole a second straight game.

    The Sabres scored the games first goal, but there was no question throughout the entire game that the Red Wings were the better team. The only difference was Miller, who was able to hold onto Buffalo's lead for a long while, before finally letting some by at the end of the third.

    Detroit also dominated on faceoffs, winning an impressive 65%, with not a single Sabre finishing the game with a winning percentage.

    Official Three Stars
  • Mikael Samuelsson
  • Ryan Miller
  • Johan Franzen

  • My Three Stars
  • Mikael Samuelsson (one goal, one assist, plus two, four shots)
  • Ryan Miller (45 saves, and the only reason the game was close)
  • Jiri Hudler (one goal, one assist, plus two)

  • Saturday, January 10, 2009

    Miller wins in the shootout

    Buffalo Sabres
    While Ryan Miller is a good goalie, the knock against him seems to be that he doesn't steal games and win them on his own. However last night he did just that, as the Sabres were only able to score one point, but earned a win through Miller's strong play.

    Buffalo started out the game real well, then gave up a goal and played poorly for a long stretch of time. Then a quick turnover forced by Vanek got Buffalo a goal, and then they played well enough in the third and overtime to get to the shootout. Like he had all game Miller once again came through in the shootout, saving all three of the shots at his net.

    The game had almost no penalties, with only two called against the Sabres and none against the Rangers. Buffalo killed off both of their shorthanded situations.

    Tim Connolly was back, and while he didn't make the score sheet he played well. He may even be healthy enough to play again as the Sabres take on the Detroit Red Wings Saturday night.

    Official Three Stars
  • Ryan Miller
  • Derek Roy
  • Scott Gomez

  • My Three Stars
  • Ryan Miller (43 saves and 3 for 3 in the shootout)
  • Thomas Vanek (forced the turnover for lone Buffalo goal)
  • Derek Roy (one goal, 4 shots, 10 of 15 on faceoffs)

  • Friday, January 9, 2009

    Vanek named to the All Star team

    Thomas Vanek was named to the All Star team which really shouldn't be much of a surprise to anyone. If you had to pick one player from the team to go, how could it not be him. That said the all star game is a joke, so it doesn't really matter much anyhow.

    The more interesting thing is the AHL all star game where the Portland Pirates got in two players in Mark Mancari and Tim Kennedy. If either of them will be in the NHL at the time of the game is yet to be seen, but that's what happens when you have an all star game in a minor league.

    Thursday, January 8, 2009

    A belated look at the Winter Classic

    Winter Classic
    Once again this new years day the NHL staged an outside game for the second year in a row. The game was quite different from outdoor games of the past, with the ice conditions actually good, and the weather ideal for the event. This allowed it to become a high scoring affair with Detroit making the comeback to win 6-4.

    As I predicted the game was well watched in the Buffalo area, with the market just behind those that actually had teams playing in the game.

    For a look at where the game may go in the future things haven't changed much from last year, but right now the leading contender looks to be Boston which really wouldn't be that bad of a choice. Still I wish the event could stay in Buffalo, as I am sure the city would be able to support it on a yearly basis.

    I still feel that Baseball venues are ill suited for this type of event, but they made it work. Just 357 days until the next time the NHL plays outdoors.

    Wednesday, January 7, 2009

    Buffalo wins third straight

    Buffalo Sabres
    Buffalo won their third straight game with a 4-2 victory over the struggling Senators. The Sabres started out strong, and despite a small collapse midway through the second period they were able to hang on to the win.

    Ellis scored just fifteen seconds into the game to give Buffalo the early lead. This was Ellis' fourth goal of the season and his third in the past two games. Drew Stafford then scored another goal late in the first, and then Roy got a fluke goal early in the second to give Buffalo an early 3-0 lead.

    This was not however until after Jarkko Ruutu decided to bite Andrew Peters finger. Fortunately Peters had his glove on so he wasn't too hurt, but that was still a tad ridiculous. Then to add insult to injury the only penalty on the play went to Peters who didn't really do anything, and backed out after Ruutu chomped down on his finger. The refs instead mostly pretended that nothing happened, which then forced them to break up skirmishes the rest of the game between two teams that already do not like each other. Hopefully the Senators take a hint from Dallas and keep Ruutu out of the NHL permanently, but we already know that they are not a classy organization.

    Ottawa almost came back as Jason Spezza scored two goals just 32 seconds apart seven minutes into the second period. The first one was a bit of a fluke that Miller let bounce off of him and trickle in, while the second was scored on a breakaway. Buffalo however held onto their slim lead and got a fourth goal when Stafford set up Vanek for an empty netter.

    The powerplay for both teams was rather weak in this game, with the only the empty netter coming with the man advantage. While Buffalo has had a good penatly kill all season, had they been able to put up an extra point earlier it would have gone a long ways towards giving them an easy win.

    Official Three Stars
  • Derek Roy
  • Jason Spezza
  • Ryan Miller

  • My Three Stars
  • Jason Spezza (two goals)
  • Derek Roy (one goal, two assists, plus two)
  • Drew Stafford (one goal, one assist, plus two, should have been given another assist on Roy's goal)

  • Tuesday, January 6, 2009

    Canada and the Tylers win gold

    Winter Classic
    Team Canada won it's fifth straight world juniors with a lopsided 5-1 victory over Sweden. Canada's final two goals were both empty netters, but this game really was not close at any point. Joining Team Canada in the victory were Buffalo Sabres prospects Tyler Myers and Tyler Ennis.

    Myers played very solidly on defense for Canada. He used his size to his advantage and played well on the top penalty kill unit. It really will not be long until he will be in the NHL with Buffalo, or at least with their AHL affiliate.

    Expected number one draft pick John Tavares lead the tournament in goals, and looked impressive on the ice. However in his post game interview he sounded like an idiot, and I'm not convinced that I would want him on my team. Canadian teammate P.K. Subban seemed to be a much more likable player, but is already been drafted by a northeast rival, so that may not work out as well.

    Monday, January 5, 2009

    Buffalo pulls off win over Boston

    Once again the Sabres have been a streaky team this season, but were able to pull off a 4-2 victory over the very good Boston Bruins. The team was lead unexpectedly by Matt Ellis who had two goals and an assist in this game.

    I really haven't been a fan of Ellis this season, and would rather see the roster spot go to one of our talents in the AHL. However Ellis has been better since he was last recalled from Portland. He was the obvious star of this game, and may go to show that management knew what they were doing when they claimed him from the Kings.

    The other Sabres goals came from Paul Gaustad and Thomas Vanek, and then an impressive third period by Ryan Miller to keep the Bruins from coming back into the game.

    Official Three Stars
  • Matt Ellis
  • Jason Pominville
  • Milan Lucic

  • My Three Stars
  • Matt Ellis (two goals, one assist, plus three)
  • Paul Gaustad (one goal, four shots, 10 of 15 on faceoffs)
  • Ryan Miller (29 saves)

  • Thursday, January 1, 2009

    The Winter Classic enters its second year

    Winter Classic
    While Buffalo does not have the same excitement for this years version of the ice bowl, this is still a major event on the NHL calendar. The Chicago Blackhawks will host the Detroit Red Wings at Wrigley Field.

    While Buffalo is not involved, and is actually playing later today against Toronto, there is still plenty of reasons to be interested in this game. For one these type of events do not happen all too often, although Ty Conklin always seems to be involved. This is Conklin's third outdoor NHL game, making him the only player to go three for three. Secondly after dismissing the game as the "fucking stupid ice bowl" Campbell is back to telling the media how awesome the idea is, and how much fun he is going to be having at the event.

    Detroit is a very good team (they are the defending champions), but I will be rooting for Chicago, who has put together a very good past month themselves. I have mentioned by support for the Blackhawks before, they are a very good and very likeable team.

    Last season I looked at where the Winter Classic might go next, and Chicago was an option, although I was thinking of their football stadium rather than a baseball field. Baseball fields are a bit different, and it is likely that some of the seats will be very far away and have almost no view of the rink. Overall I think the event would have been better served if it had simply stayed in Buffalo, but it will be interesting to see how long it takes to finally come back.

    A few things to watch for in this game, first the ice conditions had a huge effect on the ending last time. Both goals were scored at the very beginning of the periods when the ice was in better shape. Both players who scored in that game were also traded away before the end of the season, expect that not to repeat itself. Watch for Ty Conklin to be in his third ever outdoor game, which is rather lucky. Also tomorrow look and see what the TV ratings in the Buffalo area are. My guess is that they will continue to be high, as the region remembers last years event with pride.