Blog Archives

Overreactions, 76th Edition: I thought I told you that we won’t stop

The wins just keep coming.

It wasn’t long ago that the Sabres looked at the standings and saw themselves sitting dead last in the East. It wasn’t long ago that they were talking lottery pick instead of playoffs. But tonight, the Sabres will go to sleep sitting in 8th place, in prime position to win the last spot in the playoffs.

(Well, whenever they go to bed, after they spend the night downtown at the bars…)

Fresh off a convincing 4-1 win over New York the night before, the Sabres rebounded from an early deficit and earned a 3-1 win over the visiting Minnesota Wild.

Thomas Vanek tied the game early in the second period, knocking in a loose puck in front of the net. Buffalo would carry play for most of the middle period, outshooting Minnesota 17-5.

The Sabres took the lead 1:45 into the third period, as Tyler Myers ripped a point shot that found the leg of Marcus Foligno before hitting the back of the net to give Buffalo a lead they would never relinquish. Cody Hodgson scored a buzzer-beating empty netter to add the insurance.

Ryan Miller turned aside 24 of 25 shots, earning his seventh win in his last nine games.

Buffalo moved past idle Washington with 84 points, with the Capitals holding a game in hand, which they’ll play tomorrow evening when they host these Wild. The Sabres travel to DC on Monday for Tuesday’s showdown with the Caps.

  • Corey Tropp was the well deserved second star. He made the play in the corner that paved the way for the Vanek goal. He was a physical presence all night. That line is developing some nice chemistry. They chipped in two goals tonight.
  • Can I copyright the “Travis Turnbull is Adam Mair” comparison? I was on that early. Spent five seconds more on the ice (5:05 TOI) than in the box (5 PIM) tonight.
  • Tyler Myers made the play on the Foligno goal with a good point shot, but I thought he was overall bad with the puck. Senseless giveaways, fumbling the puck at the blueline and making poor decisions. It didn’t kill them, but it didn’t help. He can be better. Read the rest of this entry
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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, 71st Edition: Um… It’s not over yet.

With the Sabres just a few points out of a playoff spot, with more than ten games remaining, the season isn’t over yet. It’d be foolish to think otherwise.

Conversely, with your opponent trailing by a mere one goal with time running out, it’s not over yet. It’d be foolish to leave your head firmly planted inside your ass and let them tie the game before the clock expires. That just happened.

Again.

For the second game in a row, the Buffalo Sabres surrendered a tying goal in the waning seconds of regulation, this time off the stick of Colorado’s Jamie McGinn with just 1.6 seconds on the clock. Unlike Monday night, they failed to rebound, falling 5-4 in a shootout.

Buffalo held three separate one goal leads that disappeared. Marcus Foligno opened the scoring just 1:39 into the game. After Colorado tied it seven minutes later, Drew Stafford scored shorthanded to take a 2-1 lead. Colorado would answer with a David Jones goal in the final minute of the opening period.

The Avalanche grabbed their only lead of the night early in the second on a Gabriel Landeskog goal. They led until Marcus Foligno tied it at 3-3 with just under nine minutes remaining in the second.

Alexander Sulzer’s first goal as a Sabre appeared to give Buffalo the lead that would get them to the win, but McGinn’s goal spoiled the night.

Peter Mueller of the Avs scored the only goal in the shootout, as Semyon Varlamov stopped Brad Boyes, Jason Pominville and Tyler Ennis to get the win.

Ryan Miller was strong, but not strong enough, stopping 38 of 42 shots for the Sabres, who earn one point but sit three points behind 8th place Washington with 11 games left on the schedule.

  • Nice moment for Marcus Foligno, scoring that early goal. It ignited the crowd, and his first jump has been highly anticipated from the time they drafted him. He had a phenomenal game. Scored twice, added three hits and finished +3 in 14:41.
  • Speaking of rooks, Brayden McNabb quietly made his return to the lineup after being recalled from Rochester. Needless to say, he looked shaky. Played just 13:17 and looked uneasy. With Myers out for at least the next two games, lets get Andrej Sekera an extra IV or something.
  • The Foligno-Ennis-Stafford line was superb tonight. Stafford and Foligno both scored and provided a physical presence. Ennis was Ennis, dancing around the ice and picking up three assists. They looked really good. Unfortunately, their line was the only line that showed up. 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, 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

Overreactions, 62nd Edition: Not the answer we were looking for

Saturday night’s game in New York was previously referred to as a litmus test here on this blog. One would’ve been looking for an “A” or an “F” from the Sabres.

Call it a “C” because everyone is now left “clueless” when trying to determine where to go. Or you could use “C” for “clusterfuck.”

In their last outing before Monday’s NHL trade deadline, the Buffalo Sabres had a chance to gain more ground on that elusive 8th playoff spot as they travelled to New York to face the conference-best Rangers. They travelled home to Buffalo sitting six points out after a 3-2 overtime loss.

Drew Stafford scored both goals for Buffalo, who twice let one-goal leads slip away. Ryan Miller was sensational early on, stopping 25 shots on the night, but Buffalo couldn’t put the game away.

Ryan Callahan’s goal three minutes into overtime ended it, deking past a sprawled Patrick Kaleta and beating Miller.

“We could have won the game,” Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said. “We need those extra points.”

Buffalo more than held their own against the team they’re likely battling for a chance to play against in round one of the playoffs. The Sabres have 20 games remaining to catch 8th place.

  • Drew Stafford really needed a game like this. He’s had his chances all year, he just hasn’t been finishing. This game was a game where he was finishing.
  • Andrej Sekera got big minutes in this game, and deservedly so. Dude had a great game and picked up an assist on the first Stafford goal. Play has been phenomenal of late.
  • Patrick Kaleta had the worst game of his season. Earned himself a nice -3 rating and was burned on both the tying and winning goals. That line with Paul Gaustad and Nathan Gerbe has been relied upon to be up against team’s top lines and they’ve held their own. If they’re going to be put in that role, great, they’ve acquitted themselves by now. But if they’re playing the Rangers in the first round and they can’t contain New York’s studs, it’ll be a four and out. Read the rest of this entry

Overreactions, 61st Edition: So much for selling…

Hard to believe, but there’s no firesale in Buffalo this weekend.

Left for dead not long ago, the Sabres won’t go away. Somehow, they’re getting themselves back into the playoff picture, and the wins keep finding their way to Buffalo.

Facing the defending Cup champs and Northeast Division leading Boston Bruins at First Niagara Center on Friday night, both teams played well enough not to lose. Since the game has to be decided eventually, the shootout handed the Sabres two points and a 2-1 victory.

Thomas Vanek and Derek Roy scored in the shootout, and Ryan Miller only allowed one goal after stopping 35 of 36 shots in the game.

Andrej Sekera gave the Sabres their only lead of the night with just over five minutes remaining in the second period. Boston came out gunning in the third, outshooting the Sabres 15-5 and tying the game on a powerplay goal by Zdeno Chara.

“I think we got on our heels a little bit in the third,” said Lindy Ruff after the game.

Buffalo held on, and even killed a late Thomas Vanek penalty that ran into overtime without surrendering the deciding goal.

The Sabres now move to 27-27-7 on the season, good enough for 11th in the Eastern Conference and just five points behind 8th place Florida.

The Panthers sit at 66 points, one back of Southeast Division leader Winnipeg with four games in hand. For all intents and purposes, Buffalo is chasing the Jets, who at 63 games played, hold a tenuous spot in the playoff picture.

  • Having played three incredibly intense games so far this season, these teams played one absolute stinker tonight. Animosity was limited. Each team doled out only 20 hits through 65 minutes of action. Very few scrums. It was an incredibly lackluster game to watch considering the previous efforts.
  • Ryan Miller has been the backbone of the Sabres’ resurgence. In his last 13 outings, he’s allowed more than two goals just four times. He is 8-2-2 in that stretch. His save percentage is up to .910 on the season.
  • Good for Andrej Sekera to get rewarded for his great play with a goal. It was a nice play by Ennis to set it up, and Sekera filled in a open lane to perfection. Guy has been a rock lately, even in limited ice time.
  • Liked Corey Tropp getting the recall, and even with taking two penalties, he brought a good game. The kid plays with energy, physicality, and he actually has hands. I’m ready to put him on the fourth line next year. Read the rest of this entry

Overreactions, 28th Edition: Is it over yet? Cool. Wait, they won?

There are plenty of games throughout the year where the Sabres might come out and play a strong game, or it might be a fun game to watch, but at the end of the night, they just can’t get it done.

Scratch that, reverse it.

In one of the more tedious stretches of 60 minutes we’ll see this season, the Buffalo Sabres and Florida Panthers couldn’t determine a winner. Thankfully, it didn’t last much longer than that.

Jason Pominville‘s breakaway goal 2:19 into overtime gave the Sabres their second home win in the last four weeks as they defeated Florida 2-1.

“It wasn’t a pretty one, but we got it done against a team that was going really well,” Pominville said. “We talked about trying not to hand them opportunities by giving pucks away, and we were better with the puck. You want to generate more, but at the same time I thought we stuck with it.”

Ryan Miller made 22 saves for Buffalo, who also got a goal from Derek Roy in the first period.

The two points were surely worth a game that the NHL marketing department would probably love to burn the tape of. The teams combined for nine shots in the third period.

Buffalo, despite the win, took a couple losses on the night. Jochen Hecht got hurt blocking a shot in the third, while rookie Corey Tropp should miss some time after being rocked by Florida’s Dmitry Kulikov in the first period.

But still, a win’s a win.

  • Paul Szczechura has been really good in each game he’s played for the Sabres. Showing to be a phenomenal depth signing this offseason. That pass to Pominville? Szczweet.
  • Speaking of sweet, the effort all around on Buffalo’s first goal was beautiful. Brayden McNabb with the great effort to get the puck out. Tyler Ennis with the nice play to push it up ice, and Drew Stafford threading a perfect pass to Derek Roy, who made no mistake. Pretty.
  • Jordan Leopold’s return to the lineup was noticeably good for the defense. Leo had an assist on the winner and was solid in 20 minutes of ice time. Sabres should get a big boost if he keeps up his play from before the injury.
  • Ryan Miller had a really good night. Can’t fault him on a five-on-three. Made the saves he needed to. Read the rest of this entry

Overreactions, 27th Edition: Grag reflex

It’s enough to make you sick.

With the memories lingering of Philadelphia’s last visit to First Niagara Center, where the Flyers jumped out to an early 3-0 lead, the Buffalo Sabres made a concerted effort to make sure that didn’t happen Wednesday night. It didn’t. In fact, it was the opposite.

Unfortunately, a 3-0 lead wasn’t enough to get the win, as Buffalo let an early advantage slip away en route to a 5-4 overtime loss. Early goals by Ville Leino, Zack Kassian and Thomas Vanek were cancelled by Philadelphia before the end of the second period, and it was a goal by Drew Stafford with just 1:35 remaining in the 3rd that saved them from walking away empty handed.

Philadelphia’s Claude Giroux ended the game midway through the extra period, as he intercepted a careless pass by Marc-Andre Gragnani in the Flyers’ end and beat Ryan Miller on the breakaway.

“I’ll take the blame for that,” Gragnani said. “If I saw him, I wouldn’t try that pass.”

Ryan Miller made 29 saves in the loss.

Buffalo seemed to be in complete control early. They a force offensively and a force physically. They responded in kind to dirty play by the Flyers. Joe Finley jumped Zac Rinaldo in the first period after he threw a high hit on Tyler Ennis. Corey Tropp later scrapped with Rinaldo after he backed away from Finley.

In the second period, it was Matt Ellis going after Flyers’ defenseman Marc-Andre Bourdon after he buried Nathan Gerbe into the boards from behind. Gerbe would be knocked out for the game, and his future status is uncertain. Lindy Ruff indicated after the game that he’d expect supplemental discipline for the hit.

The Sabres have now won just one of their last seven at home.

  • Good for Ville Leino. The goal was a beautiful effort from that Kassian-Leino-Adam line, which was solid.
  • Speaking of Kassian, whenever you wanna grab #19, go ahead Zack. You should be sticking around a bit.
  • Marc-Andre Gragnani deserves to be benched for that atrocious decision in overtime. Unfortunately for everyone except whoever the Sabres play, Buffalo has no options and can’t sit him down. They need to get healthy. When they do, Marc-Andre’s status in the lineup should be considered tenuous.
  • The powerplay was quietly 2-for-4 and the penalty kill was able to survive the only shorthanded chance from the Finley penalty in the first. Special teams like that should win you games.
  • Rough night for Brayden McNabb. -3 on the night, some awful giveaways, and overall not a great effort. Luckily for him, he wasn’t first on the defensive shitlist thanks to Marc-Andre. Read the rest of this entry