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)