Blog Archives

Overreactions with 43 to go: Ineffective Sabres shut out by Luongo, Panthers

460980928_slideIt’s hard to explain the mastery over the Sabres by Florida Panthers goaltender Roberto Luongo. Yes, the Sabres aren’t good at hockey, but this is something.

Luongo continued his dominant run over Buffalo with yet another shutout, his second this season alone against the Sabres, as Florida won by a 2-0 score.

In his last five games against Buffalo, Luongo is 5-0-0, allowed two goals and has four shutouts while stopping 130 of 132 shots (.985 sv%). The last time he gave up a goal in Buffalo was 2006. He’s been alright.

Nick Bjugstad and Sabres legend Brad Boyes scored for Florida, who moved within one point of the New York Rangers for the final wild card spot in the Eastern Conference. Their goaltender turned away all 30 shots he faced.

Michal Neuvirth stopped 31 of 33 shots for Buffalo, who have now won just one of their last eight and are thankfully dropping like a rock to the league basement.

“I’m proud of my mental toughness tonight,” said Neuvirth.

We’re all proud, Michal. All of us.

  • This game wasn’t very entertaining.
  • This stretch against the Sabres for Luongo is kinda crazy. Not absurd, because this team is doo-doo butter and doesn’t score goals much to begin with, but Robbie knows how to lock it down. The Sabres next visit the Panthers on February 28th, right before the NHL trade deadline.
  • The fact Tyson Strachan isn’t undoubtedly the worst defenseman on this team says a lot about it. He was basically signed for Rochester, and he’s getting leaned on as a key veteran. Absurd.
  • Tyler Ennis was the best player on the ice for Buffalo. Ended up with three shots, but he seemed to be the one that created most of the offense. Don’t know if it was in the game plan, but he sure spent a lot of time trying to stretch the defense and catch outlet lobs from his own zone. Read the rest of this entry
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Overreactions with 77 to go: Panthers beat Sabres… There’s really 77 more of these?

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Coming off a win on Tuesday night in Carolina, it’d be expected that the Sabres would see the opportunity to keep it going and come out strong. That, they did not.

The visiting Florida Panthers jumped on the Sabres early, peppering goaltender Jhonas Enroth with shots, outshooting the home team 16-3 in the opening period. Despite Enroth’s valiant effort, Buffalo fell 1-0 on a second period goal by Panthers forward Sean Bergenheim.

“It’s frustrating,” said Sabres forward Zemgus Girgensons. “You feel bad for the goalie.”

Buffalo would turn it on over the final forty minutes, but couldn’t crack Panthers goalie Roberto Luongo, who registered his third consecutive shutout against the Sabres. Luongo hasn’t allowed a goal against Buffalo in 178:49, dating back to then-Sabre/now-Panther Brad Boyes’ (who had an assist tonight, of course) tally on March 3, 2012.

It was a very forgettable outing for Buffalo, who looked at times incompetent in front of the announced crowd of 17,364.

“We’re not happy,” said coach Ted Nolan after the game. “No one’s gonna help us get out of this except ourselves.”

The Sabres return to action Saturday, as division rival Boston comes to town for the first matchup between the teams this season.

Hey, we’ve got 77 more games of this. Fasten your seat belts.

  • Tonight was the first chance I’ve had to see Panthers rookie defenseman Aaron Ekblad play in the NHL, and he might have been the best defenseman on the ice for either team. Very poised, made great decisions with the puck… this kid is going to be a stud. I knew it when I saw him play with Barrie against the Niagara IceDogs last year, and less than a year later, he’s in the NHL to stay. Can’t feel bad about missing out because the Sabres never had a chance to pass on him. But he’s gonna be good.
  • Nicolas Deslauriers is Marcus Foligno without the hands or bloodlines.
  • At this point, it’s just a matter of playing out the nine games he gets without counting a year off his contract before Sam Reinhart goes back to Kootenay. Team low 7:09 of ice time. He’s just a body here. There’s zero reason Brian Flynn can’t be in the lineup doing what Reinhart does while the kid gets minutes in juniors. Read the rest of this entry

Overreactions, 80th Edition: Good thing the Leafs are awful, or this could’ve sucked.

It can’t ever be easy, can it?

Backs against the wall, playoff hopes on the line, hated rival in town, coming off a tough loss with chances to stay in the playoff picture fading faster than a Luke Schenn tee-shot, the Sabres were guaranteed to come out strong and make a statement.

There’s no guarantees, apparently. But who gives a shit if they come through at the end, right?

Spotting the clubhouse-bound Maple Leafs a 3-0 lead, the Buffalo Sabres made the most rousing of rousing comebacks, fighting back for a 6-5 overtime win. Derek Roy scored the game winner on a powerplay at 3:29 of overtime to tie Buffalo with Washington at 88 points for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

An epic goal by Jordan Leopold with 1:53 remaining in regulation tied the game at five, erasing a two goal deficit in the final ten minutes.

“Today was one of those days where we could’ve found ourselves losing that game 5-0,” Leopold said. “It didn’t work out that way, because we decided to dig in and push it all the way.”

Alexander Sulzer scored twice, Roy added another and Tyler Ennis also scored for Buffalo, who at one point or another, trailed 3-0, 4-2 and 5-3 before sending it to overtime.

Ryan Miller, despite the five goals allowed on the statline, made several phenomenal saves in stopping 20 of 25 shots he faced to get the win.

Buffalo’s scant playoff prospects remain alive until Thursday, when a matchup with the Flyers in Philadelphia and a Florida/Washington battle await. Until then…

…Wow.

  • In the final 43:29 of the game (second, third, and overtime periods) Buffalo outshot Toronto 36-12. It shouldn’t have been as close as it was.
  • Marcus Foligno, the well deserved first star of the night, was an absolute force. Throwing huge hits, dropping the gloves, picking up assists and overall being a pain-in-the-ass for the Leafs. And remember, there was a debate over whether the team made a mistake giving up on Zack Kassian.
  • Alexander Sulzer came to the Sabres with the following career totals: 74 games played. One goal. Seven assists. In 15 games with Buffalo, three goals, five assists and a good chance to get a nice contract this offseason. Read the rest of this entry

Overreactions, 73rd Edition: Sabres bolt ahead and beat Tampa

Games have tended to slip away from the Sabres lately.

There was the “give up a late goal to force overtime and lose in the shootout” one last Wednesday. And then the “come back to tie it and blow multiple chances to seal the win in a shootout” one in southern Florida on Saturday.

Tonight, the Sabres made sure that wasn’t happening again.

Holding a two goal lead after 20 minutes, Buffalo used a four-goal second period to pull away en route to a 7-3 win over Tampa Bay.

Jason Pominville and Marcus Foligno each scored twice for Buffalo, who kept pace with the victorious Washington Capitals and sit just two points behind them for the final playoff spot in the East.

“We were able to capitalize on a couple of rushes and made some good plays on our power play,” Pominville said. “When they have to change their game plan and open the game up, I think it falls into our style of play. We’ve got guys that have speed and can make you pay, and we did.”

Drew Stafford, Corey Tropp and Brad Boyes also scored, as the Sabres defeated the Lightning for the first time this season.

Ryan Miller made 24 saves to get the win, as his counterparts, starter Dustin Tokarski (four goals allowed on 15 shots) and Dwayne Roloson (three goals allowed on 23 shots) didn’t fare as well.

  • Tyler Ennis, Drew Stafford and Marcus Foligno are absolutely sublime right now. A combined three goals and four assists tonight, these guys look phenomenal together. Ennis’ move to center has singlehandedly rejuvenated Stafford, and Foligno has probably played his last AHL game, unless the Sabres miss the playoffs.
  • Good to see Jason Pominville pick up a couple nice goals, getting him to 27 on the year. He’s had a great season, and he should have a good look at breaking the 30-goal mark. Hey, somebody ought to be able to get that many.
  • Corey Tropp with an absolute beauty on a nice setup from Thomas Vanek. Tropp is the future of the bottom six on this roster. Decent size, good energy and solid hands. He’s developed into a hell of a player. Read the rest of this entry

Overreactions, 70th Edition: Tyler, Tyler, Tyler

This wasn’t just a game the Sabres need to win, it was a game they had to win. A simply dominating effort couldn’t go to waste. It almost did. But almost doesn’t matter.

Even after allowing a tying goal with just seconds left in regulation, the Buffalo Sabres rebounded quickly and thanks to a Tyler Myers goal 2:01 into the fourth period, defeated Montreal 3-2 in overtime.

Tyler Ennis was the star of the night, scoring both Sabres goals in regulation, including a dazzling marker to tie the game at 1-1 in the second period. Ennis would get credit for another in the third thanks to Montreal’s Alexei Emelin deflecting it past Peter Budaj.

Montreal would tie the game in the dying moments on a goal by David Desharnais, sending it to extra time. Two minutes in, it was Derek Roy finding a trailing Myers in the slot for the finish.

“I think it shows we’ve got good character,” Ennis said. “It can be deflating when you let in a goal with a few seconds left. And we bounce back and score right away in overtime.”

The win moved Buffalo past Winnipeg for 9th place in the East, and trail 8th place Washington by just two points.

Ryan Miller was solid in goal for the Sabres, stopping 26 shots.

  • Why was Marcus Foligno on the ice for the final shift that led to the tying goal? Great, the kid played well, reward him, but not right there. Don’t believe those three forwards (Foligno, Roy and Jason Pominville) played a shift together the whole game until then. It bit them.
  • Obligatory “Tyler Ennis is a superstar in the making whether you think so or not” bullet point. Gotta keep him at center.
  • After missing time with injury, Thomas Vanek had a good game and showed a lot of tenacity. Didn’t seem to me that he was laboring much at all. Came extremely close to getting himself on the scoresheet. Read the rest of this entry

Overreactions, 66th Edition: Sabres lose game, win because they get to leave Winnipeg

Sure, looking at the standings, Monday night’s game in Winnipeg (a vacation destination listed somewhere between Sarajevo and Chernobyl on the countdown of “Most Desirable Places To Visit”) looked like a big game. The Sabres, just two points behind the 8th place Thrashers-at-heart, could’ve jumped ahead with a regulation win.

Had it not been at the conclusion of a roadtrip that helped resurrect the team’s season, it might’ve been a do-or-die situation. But thanks to wins at Anaheim, San Jose and Vancouver, arguably, they were already playing with house money. Four-for-four wasn’t in the cards. Oh well.

Buffalo surrendered a lead for the first time in more than two weeks and rarely looked threatening in a 3-1 loss to the team they renamed the Jets.

Ryan Miller, who was sublime for the first three games of the trip, looked solid, but his 28 saves on 31 shots was not enough to steal any points.

Corey Tropp scored for Buffalo.

The Sabres looked lifeless for most of the game, showing signs of wear after three hard-fought wins before getting sent to play in poor conditions against a rested team.

Buffalo now sits four points out of a playoff spot, while still maintaining a game in hand. Winnipeg, clearly a better team in their AHL-sized home rink, plays just six games there for the remainder of the season. They have the 25th best road record in the NHL. Needless to say, the 8th spot is there for the taking.

  • Pretty shocked Lindy Ruff didn’t juggle lines a bit to find something other than the fourth line that might’ve shown something. The top line of Derek Roy, Thomas Vanek and Jason Pominville looked atrocious. They were each -2 and played under 17 minutes. Your top line is supposed to step up. They didn’t.
  • Seriously, when you’re down two in the final minutes and Matt Ellis is on the ice, your team has problems. Read the rest of this entry

Overreactions, 65th Edition: Sabres light up Luongo, beat Canucks

Enthusiasm for Sabres fans heading into Saturday night’s tilt in Vancouver could only be tentative.

After all, going into Rogers Centre, facing one of the best teams in the league in their own barn, after needing superb goaltending performances to win in Anaheim and San Jose?

Well, the offense decided to take care of that. Chasing Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo after just 5:10 and sitting on a 3-0 lead, Buffalo again weathered the storm, hanging on for a 5-3 win against the top team in the Western Conference.

Ville Leino scored twice in the opening 3:44 to give the Sabres a two goal lead, but it was a Brad Boyes goal, which had to be confirmed by review after play continuing, that chased Luongo and gave the visitors the cushion they’d never surrender.

“I told Ville after the game he’s a better shutdown guy than he is a scorer,” Ruff said. “Ever since we’ve put him in a shutdown line, he’s played well. I thought Ville played a great game. … He deserved what he got.”

Vancouver made it 3-1 late in the second, but Christian Ehrhoff’s goal early in the third proved to be the game winner. David Booth of the Canucks would add his second of the game to make it 4-2 soon after and former Sabre Zack Kassian scored his first as a Canuck with 2:46 left.

Tyler Ennis added an empty-netter with just over a minute left to seal the deal, and push Buffalo to 3-0-0 on their current four-game western trip.

The difference again was Ryan Miller, who stopped 32 of 35 shots and had his shutout streak stopped at 155:37. He held the fort as the Sabres were outshot 13-6 in the second period and 10-7 in the third.

The win sends Buffalo into Monday’s game in Winnipeg just two points back of the team that was ripped away from Atlanta, who heading into Sunday night’s Capitals/Flyers matchup, sit in the final playoff spot in the East.

  • Good for Zack Kassian deciding to show up for the game against his former team and decide to start hitting people. He’s the kind of player who shows up when he wants to, and Vancouver will learn that soon enough. Credited with 7 hits, he now has 16 in three games with Vancouver (5.3 per game). In 27 games with Buffalo, he had 39 hits (1.4 per game). Don’t worry Canucks, he’ll disappear at some point soon.
  • Same can be said for Marc-Andre Gragnani. Dude obviously played above and beyond against the team that gave up on him. Threw a whopping three hits against the Sabres, which is as many as he had in his last 11 games for Buffalo combined. If he would’ve played that motivated while he was here, he’d still be here. Was still a -2.
  • Rough night for the top line. Jason Pominville finished -3 on the night (a season worst), and Thomas Vanek played just 12:09, just ten seconds more than Corey Tropp’s team low total. Both were held off the scoresheet again. The team’s winning, but man, they’re going to have to turn that around. Soon. Read the rest of this entry

Overreactions, 63rd Edition: He dissed you bad, G!

Ryan Miller didn’t seem too happy yesterday. When pressed about his departed BFF Paul Gaustad, he seemed unsettled by not having the big guy around anymore. Never knowing how Miller will react mentally to things like this, it’d have been easy to have tenuous confidence about Wednesday night’s game in Anaheim.

Miller stepped up. Big time.

A sensational outing from the man in the crease propelled the Sabres to a scrappy 2-0 win over the Ducks at Honda Center. Miller made 43 saves for his fourth shutout of the season.

The first 40 minutes were a solid effort from the Sabres, jumping out to a two goal lead on a powerplay goal by Derek Roy in the first and a tip-in from Brad Boyes in the second.

For the Ducks, the roosters were crowing and cows were spinning circles in the pasture, as they came out flying in the third period. Anaheim outshot Buffalo 20-4 in the final frame, but couldn’t crack Miller.

Things got chippy at the end, as the Ducks’ frustration boiled over. Three scraps in the final minute, featuring Anaheim stars such as Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry marred the end of a solid night for the Sabres.

New acquisition Cody Hodgson looked sharp in his debut in blue and gold, earning a +1 in 16:04 of ice time while ripping four shots and winning 5-of-8 at the faceoff dot. Hodgson was centering Tyler Ennis and Drew Stafford, and the line looked dangerous for most of the night.

The Sabres now fly directly to San Jose for the second half of the back-to-back against the Sharks.

  • Hodgson was as-advertised, despite not picking up a point. He was buzzing all over the ice and didn’t hesitate shooting. He had a nice opportunity on a 2-on-1 with Tyler Ennis, but couldn’t beat Jonas Hiller. A nice effort to settle into the lineup.
  • On Ennis, he had a good look at an empty net, but made what looked like an unselfish play to try to find Drew Stafford in the middle. One with a killer instinct would look for him to shoot. One looking for team play would be cool with that decision. One named Al Iafrate would think Tyler’s a good egg.
  • Corey Tropp’s name shows up here a lot. Tonight was another good effort. He drew a boarding penalty that led to the Boyes goal. He threw down with Matt Beleskey. Can’t hate on the kid, dude just brings it. Read the rest of this entry

Litmus test awaits Sabres at MSG

A few weeks ago, this scenario seemed unlikely. The Buffalo Sabres were floundering and looked destined to spend their April hoping to win the lottery rather than a playoff series.

But that’s not where they sit tonight. They sit directly on the fence. Facing their last game before Monday’s NHL trade deadline, the course of action is far from obvious.

After last night’s victory over the Boston Bruins, the Buffalo Sabres sit only a handful of points out of a playoff spot, with the number standing at five heading into tonight’s game against the New York Rangers. Thanks to a 3-0-1 run in their recent four game homestand, the Sabres turned a battle for 15th into a battle back into the picture.

This streak of success this month has turned a wayward season into a decision whether or not to try to save this season or leave it to die on the operating table, and tonight is the last chance to decide. The opponent couldn’t be better selected.

Facing the Sabres tonight is the perfect test they could ask for. They head to New York to face the 1st place Rangers, who are running away with the top spot, currently holding a seven point lead on Boston. Hart Trophy candidate Henrik Lundqvist will get the start in goal. It couldn’t be a better situation. Read the rest of this entry

Instigator Podcast #5: Meeting Deadline

The moment you’ve all been waiting for, the fifth edition of “The Instigator Podcast” featuring Chris Ostrander of Two In the Box and myself is out.

This week it’s all about the deadline, we talk Rick Nash & Columbus, what the Sabres might do, what they can do, some twitter comments and a special bonus edition of Plus/Minus.

Comments & suggestions can be directed to us. Let us know below or on twitter, @3rdManIn or @2ITB_Buffalo.