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Overreactions with 53 to go: Sabres keep inexplicable run going, beat Flames 4-3

460334184_slideThe season is still young enough where the expected results don’t yet match the sample size. The Sabres, by far the worst team in the league in just about every category, somehow can’t find a way to get run over on a nightly basis where it matters most.

The regression is coming, but we’re not there yet.

Getting outshot 45-19 and out-attempted 76-36, the Buffalo Sabres, on the strength of a huge night from their top line, defeated Calgary 4-3.

Matt Moulson scored his second of the night with 7:29 remaining to give the Sabres a tenuous lead they wouldn’t surrender. Tyler Ennis would finish with three assists and Latvian god Zemgus Girgensons added a third period goal and an assist to pace the Sabres. Marcus Foligno scored Buffalo’s other goal.

“It wasn’t one of our better games,” said Sabres coach Ted Nolan. “But, it does show that the belief factor is starting to creep in.”

Jhonas Enroth was the workhorse again, stopping 42 of the 45 shots he faced. He’s come away with a win in 7 of his last 9 starts.

Buffalo has now won 8 of their last 11, and continue their homestand Saturday night against noted division rival Florida.

  • Tyler Myers and Josh Gorges… they did not have a good game. On the ice for every Calgary goal, Gorges himself was responsible for two of them, losing battles that quickly ended up behind Enroth. Myers was on the ice for 36 shot attempts against by the Flames.
  • Good that Marcus Foligno tallied a goal, but besides being smart enough to stand by himself on the back end of the goal crease, that goal was all Drew Stafford. Stafford made a great play to defend the puck behind the net and slide it cross-crease to an awaiting Foligno.
  • Really, really phenomenal game from Tyler Ennis. The top line has been playing very well and the result tonight is mainly on them. Read the rest of this entry

Overreactions, 12th Edition: Dumpster fire extinguished, Sabres beat Flames

Things have not been going well for the Sabres. Not at all. Blowing through a homestand, losing three of the first four, Buffalo needed to end the five-game stretch on a high note.

On a night where the Sabres couldn’t make the most of their opportunities, they made it out with two points.

Despite a stellar performance from Flames backup Henrik Karlsson, Buffalo was able to get the goals they needed, defeating Calgary 2-1.

Buffalo got goals from Drew Stafford and Nathan Gerbe to improve to 7-5-0 on the season.

“With the way things have gone, we needed a big win like this,” said Drew Stafford, who gave Buffalo a 1-0 lead in the first period. “We were going through a little bit of a rough patch, some tough games, and not necessarily playing a full 60 minutes. But tonight I thought that was a little bit different. We had a solid game against a team that has been playing pretty well.”

Stafford opened the scoring in the first period, ripping a one timer off a feed from Derek Roy. The goal snapped a seven-game goalless drought.

Gerbe made it 2-0 early in the third, burying a deflected Marc-Andre Gragnani pass. Calgary would counter exactly four minutes later as Alex Tanguay deflected a Jay Bouwmeester shot in the high slot, but it wasn’t enough.

Jhonas Enroth walked away with the win, making 29 saves in a solid performance. Enroth moves to 3-0-0, and now owns a 1.29 GAA and .958 save percentage, both near the top of the league.

  • Pretty sure Tyler Myers had his best game of the season, or at least his best in a long time. He was paired with superstar blueliner Andrej Sekera, and both had very good games. Sekera tallied an assist on Stafford’s goal, and is now +8 on the season.
  • Surprised nobody booed Chris Butler. I thought all former Sabres got booed? I guess I’ll keep that in mind when Toronto makes their first visit.
  • This was the first time the Sabres have won this season without Thomas Vanek or Jason Pominville earning a point. Both were held off the scoresheet. It was only the second time that has even happened, with the shutout loss in Tampa Bay being the only other time neither recorded a point. Read the rest of this entry

3MI LIVE: Sabres vs. Flames

Welcome to the Corey Tropp era of Sabres hockey.

The former Michigan State Spartan makes his NHL debut tonight as the Buffalo Sabres (6-5-0) host the Calgary Flames (5-5-1).

Tropp was recalled yesterday to fill the void left by Patrick Kaleta, who was suspended for four games for an incident in Wednesday’s loss to Philadelphia. The rookie will wear #78.

That Wednesday game left questions for many as to who should be in net for Buffalo tonight, with Ryan Miller getting chased in the opening minutes. According to Lindy Ruff, they decided to stick to their “schedule” and Jhonas Enroth will make his third start of the season tonight.

Enroth’s numbers are sparkling, sporting a 2-0-0 record with a 1.39 goals against and .955 save percentage.

It will be an all-Swedes matchup in net, as Calgary will send out Henrik Karlsson (3 GP, 0-1-1, 3.32 GAA, .881 sv%). The Flames are coming off a win last night in Detroit, defeating the Red Wings by a score of 4-1.

In other lineup news, Mike Weber is expected to return to the press box in favor of Marc-Andre Gragnani.

Keep checking back for updates, we’ll be live updating as soon as warmups start.

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Warmups // Mike Weber not dressed for warmups. Gragnani back in, as expected.

Corey Tropp is skating with Matt Ellis and Cody McCormick.

Drew Stafford the last player off the ice. Hits the open net from 130 feet.

Lines // Vanek-Adam-Pominville, Stafford-Roy-Leino, Boyes-Gaustad-Gerbe, Tropp-Ellis-McCormick.

Lineups // Scratches for Calgary are Niklas Hagman, Pierre-Luc Letournau-Leblond, and Derek Smith. Scratched for Buffalo it’s Mike Weber, Patrick Kaleta, Tyler Ennis.

Calgary’s starters: Curtis Glencross-Olli Jokinen-Jarome Iginla, Jay Bouwmeester-Chris Butler, Henrik Karlsson.

Buffalo’s starters: Ville Leino-Derek Roy-Drew Stafford, Jordan Leopold-Robyn Regehr, Jhonas Enroth

Game time.

15:13 1st // Sabres came out skating well, making smart decisions. Shots are one each.

12:01 1st // Drew Stafford scores his fourth of the year to open the scoring. Andrej Sekera brings the puck up ice, gives a nice little pass to Derek Roy as he enters the zone, and Roy finds a wide open Stafford at the top of the circle. One-timer beats Karlsson over the glove. Great goal.

10:18 1st // Former Sabre Cory Sarich takes a penalty, putting Buffalo on the powerplay.

8:12 1st // Sabres’ first man advantage chance does not bear any fruit but some good scoring opportunities. Karlsson stopped Drew Stafford on a goal-mouth redirection.

Read the rest of this entry

Looking Ahead: Previewing the Sabres’ homestand

With seven games under their belt in the 2011-2012 season, the Buffalo Sabres head into somewhat-unfamiliar territory: an extended stay in Buffalo.

To this point, the team has played exactly one game at their home rink this month, a loss to Carolina on October 14. They’ve been superb on the road, sweeping a set overseas and winning their first three away games in North America before Saturday’s loss in Tampa.

Now, the Sabres will face that same Lightning team as they open a five game set at First Niagara Center. Only a point back of Toronto (yes, Toronto) for the division lead, a strong showing at home could be extremely beneficial to widening the lead on the rest of the Northeast Division, which, heading into Tuesday, sits 12th (Boston), 13th (Ottawa) and 15th (Montreal) in the East.

The Sabres have plenty to be happy about and plenty to be unhappy about. Thomas Vanek is scoring goals like they want him to, leading the team with six. The top line of Vanek, Jason Pominville and Luke Adam have combined for 11 goals and 25 points in the team’s seven games to date. At 5-2-0, they are getting to a solid start.

But there’s other stuff that is of some concern. The team was awful on Saturday in Tampa, so they’re coming off their worst outing of the year. Tyler Ennis is out for a few weeks with a high ankle sprain suffered in that loss. Ville Leino, the key offseason addition at center, has been relatively atrocious and asked Lindy Ruff to be moved to the wing.

So, they got that going for them. Read the rest of this entry

Robyn says ‘Yes’, Sabres acquire Regehr, Kotalik & pick

It’s official.

After word leaked out Thursday that Calgary Flames defenseman Robyn Regehr was asked to waive his no-trade clause to clear way for a trade to Buffalo, the wait for an answer has dominated Sabres talk. When it appeared early Friday evening that he wanted to explore other options, the deal appeared D.O.A.

But, now, it’s done.

Announced officially this morning, the Sabres have acquired Regehr, as well as former Sabre Ales Kotalik and a 2nd round pick in 2012 from Calgary in exchange for Chris Butler and Paul Byron.

Regehr finished with 17 points and a plus-2 rating in 79 games this season. The 31-year-old defenceman has 163 points in 11 seasons.

The 32-year-old Kotalik spent last season between Calgary and the Flames’ AHL affiliate Abbotsford, recording six points in 26 games in Calgary.

Big shoutout to Joe Pinzone over at Buffalo Wins for being the first to break the details of the deal, even when it looked like Regehr wasn’t going to waive.

Buffalo now has an elite shutdown defenseman in Regehr, something they lacked last season in the absence of Toni Lydman. With Tyler Myers on record as saying the former Canadian Olympian was his favorite player as a kid, one would have to think this will help the big guy grow as a player. Read the rest of this entry

Toronto shakes up their roster

What an interesting Sunday it was for a pair of NHL teams who were both heading in the wrong direction. Well, the Maple Leafs have been heading in the wrong direction for five years now.

A deal which sent Calgary Flames defensemen Dion Phaneuf to the Toronto Maple Leafs was agreed upon late Saturday night and was completed on Sunday morning and it sent shockwaves throughout the hockey world.

There had been rumblings of Phaneuf being on the trade block for a few weeks now, and Sunday morning the hammer fell. Phaneuf was traded from the Flames to the Maple Leafs along with winger Fredrik Sjostrom and prospect Keith Aulie. Heading to Calgary are forwards Matt Stajan, Niklas Hagman, Jamal Mayers and defensemen Ian White.

For Toronto, I believe this trade will absolutely help them in the long run. Not only did unload guys that weren’t going to be part of the future going forward, but they also got a legitimate #1 defensemen,  rather than draft picks and prospect who may never pan out. Phaneuf brings the physical edge that Brian Burke loves so much, and he also brings plenty of offense to table (10 goals this season). Along with the likes of Mike Komisarek, Francois Beauchemin, and Luke Schenn the Leafs have relatively solid top 4 on defense capable of playing against an opposing teams top line on a nightly basis. I left out Tomas Kaberle because it appears he’s going to be odd man out going forward.

The Flames were a team that, before pounding the Oilers on Saturday night, were winless in nine straight games and were clearly in need of a roster shakeup, and boy, did they deliver. After trading for Jay Bouwmeester in the summer, it was believed by many that the Flames were set up for a Stanley Cup push this season. Well after a nice streak in November, the Flames had become a mess in January and saw themselves slipping out of a tight playoff race. They obviously needed to wake up the players in the room and I assume they did by trading away arguably their best defensemen.

Despite dealing Phaneuf, the Flames are still pretty solid on the blueline, with the likes of Bouwmeester, Robyn Regehr and now Ian White. They also get some nice, but not glamorous additions at forward in Matt Stajan and Niklas Hagman. The deal should put them in good shape to break out of this current slump and make a decent run at the playoffs.

The Leafs weren’t done wheeling and dealing either. Not long after they acquired Phaneuf, they filled a rather big hole in goal. Burke went to his former team and acquired former Conn Smythe winner and Stanley Cup champ J-S Giguere from the Ducks in exchange for goalie Vesa Toskala and forward Jason Blake.

Toronto hasn’t had a good goalie since Curtis Joseph (his first tour of with the Leafs, not the last one) and Giguere, despite losing his starting job to Jonas Hiller, is still capable of being a starting goalie, something the lowly Leafs have desperately needed. Giguere has another year left on his deal, so it also enables the Leafs to evaluate youngster Jonas Gustavsson to see where his game is and make a decision on Giguere after that.

For the Ducks, they unload Giguere’s big contract (they extended Hiller a few days ago) and add a decent, but overpaid, forward in Blake, who could help with a push for the playoffs. I doubt Toskala will be a key to the Ducks future and will likely hit the open market in July.

The deals don’t make the Leafs better today, but they’ve added and few pieces to the puzzle for the future and they’re probably not done dealing this season.