Thursday’s Sabres/Oilers matchup might have been the most anticipated of the back half of the Buffalo Sabres’ season.
The hyperbole was in overdrive as 30th place Buffalo took on 29th place Edmonton, with just two points separating the two and a Sabres win enough to push them past the Oilers on a tiebreaker for the moment. It went about as well as you’d expect for a team riding a 12-game losing streak, with Edmonton claiming a 3-2 win, pushing said streak to 13.
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The wheels came off of this season a long time ago, but looking ahead, there isn’t much reason to think this is going to end anytime soon. Vancouver out-Corsi’d the Sabres 70-29, one night after the 29th place Oilers racked up a 74-37 tally against the struggling Sabres. Struggling might not be a strong enough term.
This roster isn’t strong, but they’re not even playing the type of game that gives them a chance to win. The unsustainable (called it, by the way) streak through November-December was a combination of puck luck and strong goaltending. If the goaltender of the night is not standing on his head, this team’s got no shot in any given game.
They’ve got no confidence, which is fitting since their coach is known as a motivator. Their scorers aren’t scoring, with guys like Matt Moulson in slumps that date back to mid-December. Cody Hodgson can’t even stay in the lineup, much less earn a position on a scoring line or powerplay unit. Read the rest of this entry
It finally happened.
After an incredible run through November and December, just over a month removed from a streak where the Sabres improbably won 10 of 13 games, they have parachuted to dead last. And despite an improved effort Saturday night against the visiting Flyers, the 4-3 loss, combined with Edmonton’s shootout win over Florida puts the Sabres in 30th place.
Buffalo scored late in the opening period to take a 1-0 lead on a goal by Zemgus Girgensons, but the Flyers would take over in the second and controlled the game from there. Power play goals from R.J. Umberger and Mark Streit gave Philadelphia a lead, and they wouldn’t trail again.
Tyler Ennis would score his 10th of the season late in the second, but the Flyers would add two more in the third. A late marker by Girgensons, his second of the night and 13th of the season wouldn’t be enough.
Michal Neuvirth was solid in net for the Sabres, stopping 28 of 32 Flyers shots in the loss. Rob Zepp made 24 saves for the Flyers.
It’s been three weeks since the Sabres’ last win, and it may be much longer until the next.
- Maybe Tyler Myers’ best game in a long time. He was good. Logged a lot of minutes (27:33).
- Very, very quietly, Chris Stewart is racking up points. His two assists tonight gave him 14 points on the year. It was his first multi-point game of the season and he has four points in his last five games.
- Cody Hodgson played 5:57 tonight. Drew Stafford? 9:05. Who needs offense when you’ve lost 10 in a row? Read the rest of this entry
For once, as this has been a rare occasion this 2014-2015 season, you can look at a game that the Sabres won and say to yourself, “They deserved the win.” Tonight was just one of those nights.
Nikita Zadorov‘s goal 29 seconds into overtime was the gamebreaker, as the Sabres defeated Florida, 4-3.
“I probably never had that big a goal in my life,” said Zadorov. “It’s a great feeling and I’m going to try to do it again.”
The young defenseman, fresh off a debate about whether or not he’ll be allowed to go play for Russia in the upcoming IIHF World Junior Championships in Toronto and Montreal, received a cross-ice pass from Tyler Ennis and ripped the winner past Panthers goaltender Al Montoya.
Cody Hodgson, Marcus Foligno and Brian Gionta also scored for Buffalo, which has now unreasonably won nine of their last 12.
Hodgson, who was stuck in the press box last game due to his lack of production, broke things open just 2:06 into the game, taking a pass from Patrick Kaleta and ripping it past Montoya.
“He got exactly where goal-scorers have got to get to,” said Sabres coach Ted Nolan.
Sean Bergenheim, Jimmy Hayes and Jussi Jokinen scored for Florida, who turned a 2-0 deficit into a 3-2 lead before Gionta’s equalizer. Sabres goaltender Jhonas Enroth stopped 25 of 28 shots for the win.
Buffalo closes their four game homestand Monday against Ottawa.
- This was just the third time this season that the Sabres outshot their opponent. Buffalo finished with 32 shots on goal, just ahead of Florida’s 28. They are 3-0-0 when outshooting their opponent.
- Seriously, just three times in 30 games. That’s ridiculously terrible.
- Nikita Zadorov is a star and he’s rapidly moving up the list of “Easiest guys to root for.” Kid is very charismatic and more importantly he’s very good at playing hockey. Part of the Sabres’ surge is due to the fact he’s been getting minutes.
- That Tyler Myers breakout pass to Brian Gionta’s tying goal was fantastic and the finish was beautiful. That’s a hell of hockey play. Read the rest of this entry
Riding a hot streak coming into Tuesday night’s game against the first-place Lightning, anyone could’ve respectably expected the Sabres run to come to an end. The team’s winning ways have been marked by stellar goaltending and puck luck, things that people who use logic and evidence would consider “unsustainable.”
But Ted Nolan knows how to get his boys to grit out wins, so the streak continues.
A late Zemgus Girgensons goal forced overtime, and the Buffalo Sabres walked away victorious in the shootout, defeating Tampa Bay 2-1.
Cody Hodgson and Tyler Ennis scored in the shootout for Buffalo, who’ve now won six of their past seven. But the star was goaltender Jhonas Enroth, who made 26 saves and kept the Lightning off the board for the first 49 minutes of the game.
“Obviously the confidence is a little bit higher now,” Enroth said.
Ondrej Palat scored for Tampa Bay, who were limited to two shots as a team in the opening period.
“The one thing we are doing is we’re getting better and we’re working on certain things,” Sabres coach Ted Nolan said. “Part of getting better is that resiliency, to keep going and keep going.”
The teams head to Florida to complete their back-to-back on Thursday.
- That game was absolutely brutal to watch. Forget the result, that wasn’t entertaining hockey. But that’s Ted Nolan for you.
- One of the few players who jumped out at me as playing well was Nikita Zadorov. Kid has been really good all year. In fact, he’s been so good it might be a good idea to let him go play in the World Juniors.
- I get that Girgensons has been playing well, but let’s take a step back on the All-Star talk. It’s a bunch of Latvians voting like crazy. If every team gets a guy, then maybe he’s that guy. But he’s not even top 100 in scoring. Relax. Read the rest of this entry
After a notably poor performance in the opening period of last night’s loss to Florida, the Buffalo Sabres came out flying against the Boston Bruins on Saturday night. Outshooting the visitors 16-12, it was a much better start for the struggling Sabres. Except for that whole scoreboard thing, of course.
A goal by Bruins defenseman Dougie Hamilton near the midway point of the first period held up, and Boston rookie goaltender Niklas Svedberg collected his first NHL shutout as the Sabres lost by as score of 4-0.
Zdeno Chara, Torey Krug and Carl Soderberg also scored for Boston, who collected just their third win of the young season.
Sabres goaltender Jhonas Enroth, starting for the second consecutive night, put in an admirable effort, stopping 32 shots and falling victim to some traffic in front of him. Unfortunately, the admirable effort
“Everybody’s frustrated when you lose,” said forward Cody Hodgson.
Buffalo extends their scoreless streak to 142:06, having last scored a goal Tuesday in Carolina. They now head west, with their next game in Anaheim on Wednesday.
- Losing isn’t a bad thing, considering the endgame of this season, but it’d be cool to see some competent offense once in a while.
- Brian Gionta, Tyler Ennis and Matt Moulson were on the ice for three goals against. Gionta has been highly ineffective to this point and he’s wearing a big letter on his chest. It’s still only six games in, but it’s becoming disconcerting.
- The Sabres are going to end up being slumpbusters for a lot of teams this season. Read the rest of this entry
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
It’s hard to sum up this game tonight. There was a game. It was an NHL regular season hockey game. It counted in the standings, but no one who has a twitter or was around people likely got invested in this game. It was a sideshow.
The impending trade of Ryan Miller finally happened. The impending trade of Steve Ott finally happened. And in one instant, the sense of dread on the horizon became a reality. And the Sabres played on.
While the team out on the ice walked away with a 4-2 win over the visiting San Jose Sharks, there’s not much to take from it. Jhonas Enroth was sensational. Brian Flynn scored again. Tyler Myers actually had a really good game.
And now, two points later, everything is different. The fact the team is currently riding a three game win streak out of the Olympic break is completely irrelevant. The soul of the team is forever changed. And even while Cody Hodgson, Matt Moulson, Flynn and Myers scored in a Sabres win at home on a Friday night, it doesn’t seem quite right. You don’t normally spend the third period’s television timeouts applauding for guys who aren’t on your team.
But the game’s a final, and Sunday, the team will take off out west for a roadtrip, and some of the guys on the plane may not be coming back to Buffalo on the same plane. They may have played their last game here. Matt Moulson, who scored the game winner tonight in maybe his last game as a Sabre (god, we can do this for everybody) wasn’t a story tonight.
There was a game. And I don’t think it matters too much right now.
- Picked a hell of a game to show up late. Team was already out for warmups by the time I got to the press box.
- Funny that you naturally didn’t want to put two and two together when Tim Murray missed his WGR spot at 5:30. It’d be too easy to assume there’d be a trade. Turns out, there was.
- Good to see Enroth step up and have a game like that when he needed to grab the reins and earn a shot at being the #1 guy for the rest of the way. He will be. He’ll get his shot. Read the rest of this entry
Things didn’t start well for Sabres goaltender Jhonas Enroth. They didn’t end well either.
Three times the Buffalo Sabres erased deficits to force overtime, but the Washington Capitals prevailed in a 5-4 overtime loss at First Niagara Center.
Enroth was beaten twice early by Washington’s engimatic star, Alexander Ovechkin, to give the visitors a 2-0 lead in the first five minutes. Ovechkin would add two assists, including the set up of Mike Green’s overtime winner exactly one minute into the extra period.
The Sabres did show a lot of compete, as they battled back from 2-0, 3-2 and 4-3 deficits to force the game past regulation. Cody Hodgson scored twice, once to tie the game at 2-2 and later to make it 4-4. Buffalo also got goals from Christian Ehrhoff and Phil Varone, who scored his first NHL goal in the second period.
Enroth battled throughout the night, but in the end, came up with another loss to fall to 1-10-5 on the season, making 30 saves.
It’s hard to win with this team, I guess.
- Few things are more enjoyable than being at a game and seeing a kid score his first goal in the National Hockey League. It’s the greatest milestone in hockey, and it’s a lifetime of hard work coming full circle. Congrats to Phil Varone, who’ll keep that puck the rest of his life.
- I’m not sure if Ted Nolan knows or supports line matching. I wonder because he willingly put the fourth line featuring noted shutdown winger John Scott out against Washington’s top line. Almost bit them in the ass, as Washington got a great opportunity but didn’t score. If you’re worried about winning, that shouldn’t happen.
- Also on Nolan, I’ve taken the time to focus and wait for him to say the word “compete” during a postgame press conference. The buzzword of all buzzwords wasn’t a focus. Read the rest of this entry
That was a close one.
Just when you thought the Sabres were out, there they go and pull you right back in. And before you know it, they’re right back out.
After Tyler Ennis tied the game with 3:13 remaining, it was Vincent Lecavalier’s dagger for Philadelphia with 14.8 seconds left that handed the Buffalo Sabres a 4-3 loss.
“That’s a game we could’ve won that slipped away,” said Cody Hodgson, who opened the scoring seven minutes into the game.
Philadelphia dominated the second period, tying the game early on a Jakub Voracek powerplay goal as they outshot Buffalo 12-7.
The Sabres retook the lead 6:27 into the third, as Matt D’Agostini put one past Flyers goalie Steve Mason after a dominant shift with Steve Ott and Cody Hodgson. And then the floodgates opened.
Philadelphia’s Brayden Schenn tied it up seven minutes later and then the Flyers took the lead for the first time on the night as Scott Hartnell ripped one over Jhonas Enroth’s shoulder. The Sabres would even it less than a minute later on Ennis’ goal, but in the end it was another mark in the loss column.
Enroth was sensational for most of the night, stopping 29 of 33 shots.
“It’s tough right now to think about how we lost that one, but we’ve got another game tomorrow. We can’t dwell on it,” said Hodgson.
- Mike Weber was not good. He ended up playing the third most minutes, which if you’re trying to tank, is cool. But not a coincidence seeing the result.
- Enroth took a little heat for saying it was “tough to win with this team” after his last loss because of lack of goal support. Now he looks like a dick for getting goal support and not winning. It’s not like he didn’t play well. He’s having a rough go lately.
- That shift that ended in the D’Agostini goal by him, Ott and Hodgson was absolutely fantastic. Very entertaining. Read the rest of this entry
For what really should be a momentous occasion in a club’s history, there wasn’t a lot of anticipation for this one. Rightfully, and unfortunately so.
The Buffalo Sabres unveiled their fifth third jersey in franchise history tonight at First Niagara Center, and the result of the game was a lot prettier than the result of the design process. Detroit, playing their third game in four nights, and without star center Pavel Datsyuk, handed the locally-based hockey franchise a 3-1 loss in front of 18,721.
Cody Hodgson opened the scoring, as Buffalo took a lead for the third game in a row. Those three games all ended in the same result: a loss.
Detroit tied the game on a Darren Helm goal just thirty seconds into the second period, and finally took the lead in the third period as Johan Franzen beat Ryan Miller with Tyler Myers in the penalty box. Losing the special teams battle was the difference, as the Buffalo powerplay went 0-for-2.
“It’s just something we have to clean up, that’s for sure,” said captain Steve Ott, when asked about the team’s penchant for taking penalties. “It’s gonna cost us games like it did tonight.”
Red Wings veteran Daniel Alfredsson (of course) added the empty netter to seal it.
Miller was fantastic for the Sabres tonight, stopping 31 of 33 shots and doing all that he could to keep the game close.
Buffalo has now lost four in a row, and hosts Montreal on Wednesday night.
- Even when the things got leaked/unveiled, there’s that “wait until you see them on the ice” crowd that withheld judgement. Well, they still looked like shit.
- Darren Helm’s goal was pretty. Shook Tyler Ennis’ coverage in front of the net, and whipped a quick backhand past Miller. You’d like to see more goals like that and less like Franzen’s ugly one.
- Matt Moulson is a few games like this away from showing up on a milk carton.
- Very few people in the crowd wearing the new jersey. Shockingly, there didn’t seem to be much interest in buying it. But great job, Sabres creative team! (Editor’s note: previous statement is sarcasm. Please do not take seriously. It was meant to be taken as a facetious remark. In no way is this an honest compliment to the Buffalo Sabres organization and/or their creative services department.) Read the rest of this entry