Blog Archives

Overreactions with 38 to go: A banner night for Hasek is a loss

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It’s been a rough year.

If you’re a Sabres fan, it’s been rough. If you’re a Buffalo Sabres season ticket holder, it’s been even rougher. Every game is draining, both emotionally and financially. It’s long been discussed (here on this blog and increasingly elsewhere) that the organization tends to be sloppy with things like marketing and game presentation, but this was going to be a special night.

It was underwhelming.

After a short, subdued ceremony to honor the greatest goaltender in franchise history and possibly the greatest player to ever wear the uniform, the Sabres dropped their eighth in a row, falling by a 3-1 score to the visiting Detroit Red Wings.

Mike Weber’s second period goal, his first of the season, would be the only offense the Sabres could muster.

Buffa461501680_slidelo fell behind midway through the opening period, as Darren Helm scored shorthanded to give the Wings a 1-0 lead. Gustav Nyquist and Tomas Tatar would add second period goals and the result was never in doubt.

Czech native Michal Neuvirth made 27 saves for the Sabres, while fellow Czech Petr Mrazek got the win for Detroit, stopping 25 shots.

One game on the schedule stood out as important for the fans. Tonight was that one game.

The game wasn’t thrilling. Little about the night was.

  • Seriously, the organization should be embarrassed about that. You don’t retire numbers often. This organization has arguably retired some numbers undeservedly. There isn’t a chance to do this better next year. There isn’t anyone close to being a candidate right now. It could be decades before we do this again. This should’ve been a seminal moment in team history, and it was completely underwhelming.
  • Little fanfare for Zac Dalpe’s Sabres debut. Honestly didn’t even notice him on the ice until near the end of the first period.
  • Whoever designed the patches the players wore tonight needs to take a lap. Uninspired and weak design. You’re retiring a number, why is the logo the primary focus of the patch?
  • Twenty years from now, the Sabres will be hit with a rash of injuries and will recall Matt Ellis from the Rochester Americans. The guy will never go away. That’s not an insult or anything. Ellis just seems like he’s always around and he never really hurts you. Read the rest of this entry
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Overreactions: Sabres lose to Red Wings, look awful doing it

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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

Overreactions, 45th Edition: Detroit Rock Bottom

Things didn’t look too promising coming in to Monday’s game at Joe Louis Arena.

Riding an eight-game losing streak on the road, Buffalo was about to run into a buzzsaw. Detroit was ready to extend their home winning streak to a franchise record 15. The numbers indicated it could be trouble for the Sabres.

Surprise, surprise.

While they held them off the board for just over five minutes, there wasn’t much reason to think the Sabres had any chance to get out of there with points, and they dropped a 5-0 loss to the Detroit Red Wings presented by Amway.

“We’ve got to wake up,” Buffalo forward Jason Pominville said.

Ryan Miller got chased after allowing five goals on 14 shots in the first 24:32 of action. He expressed his frustration after the game, and, just like many of us have been saying, there’s no magical cure in his eyes.

“If you want to just destroy a team and go out and be reckless and do something, yeah. Then there’s going to be new guys in here. But other than that, this locker room is going to be pretty much the same, if not completely the same and we gotta find it from in here [points to chest]. You can’t sit and wait for somebody else to fucking do it.”

The nine game losing streak shows no signs of stopping, with the team unable to put together a good road game and visits to Chicago, Winnipeg and St. Louis, all arenas where the home team has dominated, awaiting them.

This is what a season slipping away looks like.

  • Lindy Ruff decided to mix up the defense pairings and forward lines after seeing the team fail to beat the last place Islanders on Saturday. With Andrej Sekera returning in place of Robyn Regehr and T.J. Brennan replacing Joe Finley, there wasn’t going to be much continuity on the blueline anyways. It turned out to be a disaster. Jordan Leopold and Mike Weber looked lost playing together, both being on the ice for four of the five Detroit goals.
  • One of the changes Ruff made was putting Derek Roy between Jason Pominville and Thomas Vanek. Defensively not withstanding, that line looked alright in the offensive zone, especially Roy, who I thought looked good in the attacking zone. The trio had 10 of the Sabres’ 27 shots on Detroit’s Jimmy Howard.
  • Oddly enough, Marc-Andre Gragnani was even on the night. He’s been one of the team’s shakiest defenseman. Somehow his plus-minus doesn’t reflect that. Read the rest of this entry

3MI Roadtrip Recap: Nashville

(In place of a traditional “Overreactions” post, which would be extremely tardy, this is the newest addition to the site, 3MI Roadtrip Recap. A mix of what the postgame blogs usually look like and a look into the trip. Hope you like it. If you don’t, well, go find a bridge.)

Preamble

As a fan who is growing increasingly tiresome of the experience at First Niagara Center, as I have over the last couple years, the answer to the disinterest in attending home games is combining the desire to see the team I follow live and the joy I find in traveling. Road games are an option overlooked by many fans who don’t see it as a feasible alternative. I tend to believe that it’s a necessity.

To this point, I had seen the team in ten other cities outside of Buffalo: Boston, Carolina, Columbus, Florida, Montreal, New Jersey, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Tampa Bay and Toronto. Each trip, each arena is a unique experience, so when I tear apart things they do at FNC that I deem awful, I actually have a lot of other exploits to base it off of.

Things worked out perfectly time-wise to return to what I consider my second home, Nashville, for Saturday night’s matchup. I lived there from this January to September, and loved every minute of it. It’s an extremely fun city if you like to party. The food is great, the people are friendly, and there’s a bevy of places to drink.

So, along with my friend Tom, I was able to go back to the place I miss so dearly, reconnect with some friends, and check another road game off the list.

Nashville is about a 10-11 hour drive from Buffalo, an extremely enjoyable ride. You pass through enough major cities to break up the trip (Cleveland, Columbus, Cincinnati, Louisville) and it’s all major highway. We left Buffalo at 8pm Thursday night and were driving around Nashville at 5am CT.

Friday
Red Wings @ Sabres
Viewed at: Broadway Brewhouse (Midtown), Nashville, TN

In a surprise to many Sabres fans, Joe Finley can not win games by himself.

The legendary rookie made his Sabres debut, but the game was never close. Detroit jumped to an early lead and cruised to victory by a score of 4-1.

Super sniper Jochen Hecht had Buffalo’s only goal midway through the third period.

“We’ve got to win a game, that’s the bottom line,” Buffalo forward Thomas Vanek said. “We’ve got to make a run here.”

Jhonas Enroth had 32 saves for the Sabres, who were outshot 18-8 in the first period and 35-28 overall.

  • Thanks to Broadway Brewhouse for being so accommodating. Nice place to watch a game, and we were joined by another group of guys who had driven down from Buffalo. Reports on the food weren’t glowing, but the beverage options were plentiful. Tom was smitten with the 73 taps at the bar.
  • We got stuck watching the game in Midtown rather than on Broadway because there was a Christmas parade. Really. A Christmas parade on December 2nd. Can’t condone that one Nashville. Read the rest of this entry

NHL Realignment: Planning for now and later

Possibly the biggest burning issue in the NHL, other than concussions, taking advantage of the NBA lockout, avoiding a lockout of their own next year, players getting attention for their Halloween costumes and whether Sidney Crosby will ever play again, is realignment.

The abduction of the Atlanta Thrashers to balmy Winnipeg threw a wrench in the league’s alignment. With the Thrashers franchise, or Jets as they are referred to now, still in the Southeast Division, something needs to change.

And it will.

The NHL’s Board of Governors will meet this winter and figure it all out. The funny part is, it’s already figured out. There’s a great way to do this, and I’ve got it all figured out.

Some teams will be really happy about this proposal, such as:

  • Columbus. The franchise is getting close to the ICU due to horrible play on the ice. No one wants to pay to see a loser, and that’s all the Blue Jackets have been for over a decade. They play too many games out west and not enough in primetime to gain a television audience or attention. Getting them east will improve the franchise’s future.
  • Dallas. Finally, a majority of games inside their own time zone, as they move to a group closer to the mid-west.

Teams that will probably be pissed at this include:

  • Detroit. They claim they were promised dibs on moving back East the first chance they got. Well, they’re gonna have to suck it up, because there’s already too many teams further east than they are. Thinking they would get to move East and Columbus wouldn’t is delusional. They complain about too many games against western teams at late hours, in this scenario, the number of those games is extremely limited. The concept they’d leave Chicago as the only Original Six team in the West is selfish on their part.
  • Nashville. They’d like to go east to try to get more early games and limit travel. They’ll be fine where they are.
  • Pittsburgh and Philadelphia. You boys are going to have to split up.
  • Winnipeg. Stranded from the rest of the western Canadian teams. They may complain about that, but they don’t have to worry about selling tickets because they’re a true hockey market, right?

So without further adieu, here is how you split up the teams, and how it’ll all work:

Read the rest of this entry

Traverse City: Great idea. Buffalo: Better idea.

After an off day yesterday, Luke Adam and the rest of the Buffalo Sabres’ rookie class wraps up their round robin schedule at the Traverse City prospects tournament tonight against the host Detroit Red Wings.

The Sabres head into the match having already wrapped up the top spot in their division and a spot in the 1st Place game, thanks to wins over Columbus and Minnesota, both by scores of 6-3. (By the way, stick tap to Kevin Snow of the Sabres, the only Buffalo media guy who’s there, for a solid job recapping the events.)

The championship game will take place Wednesday night as the Sabres take on the New York Rangers at 7:00 ET, a game which will be broadcast live on MSG and NHL Network.

It’s a positive step for the organization to be participating in an event like this. It’s a great opportunity for new Amerks coach Ron Rolston to get know his players. It will be a bonding experience for all the prospects in the organization. It’s even giving the team an opportunity to get an extra look at a few free agent invitees who may not get much of a chance to shine once the full roster is together.

The only real downside of the whole thing is the inability for anyone to watch without being inside the rink.

It begs the question… why are they not doing this here in Buffalo? Read the rest of this entry

Two games & too many options

The Buffalo Sabres, on the verge of concluding an extended home stand and knee-deep in Pegula-palooza, face a fork in the road this weekend.

With tonight’s matchup against Ottawa, and tomorrow’s visit from the Detroit Red Wings, the Sabres have two more chances to evaluate and plan for Monday’s NHL trade deadline.

Just three points out of the final playoff spot in the East with two games in hand on 8th place Carolina, Buffalo clearly isn’t gearing up for a Cup run. But there is the debate whether or not they should be buyers or sellers come Monday, or maybe even inactive.

As I covered in my post on Monday, there’s plenty good reason to sell off what pieces they can. But a couple wins this weekend and an undefeated reign in Pegulaville, and the delusions of grandeur could get the better of Sabres fans.

No matter what happens this weekend, the Sabres will not be eliminated or locked into a spot for the postseason. It’s just another two games of the 23 they have remaining.

Is there any indication as to what the team’s philosophy for Monday’s deadline is? According to the incredibly interesting interview of Terry Pegula by the Buffalo News that was posted on their website, it appears they’re more willing to sell than buy. Realizing they will not pursue rentals, and seeing high prices, it appears the Sabres want to go with what they have and see who’s ready to step up, and who may be expendable come the offseason.

But until Darcy gets that fax machine fired up this weekend (side note: now we never have to worry about whether they can afford a functional fax machine in the office), all that’s in front of the team is a division rival who’s having an awful year. Brian Elliott is no longer around to torment the Sabres’ offense. A win is expected.

The litmus test is Saturday night, when the Red Wings come to Buffalo. Can the Sabres hold up against one of the better teams in the league? We’ll see. Will that impact the team’s direction and attitude for this season? We’ll see.

Dominik Hasek Retires. Again.

Dominik HasekBy now you’ve heard the sad news, future first ballot Hall-of-Famer and Sabres legend, Dominik Hasek has retired.

Again.

We believed him the first time, when he said his children needed to grow up in the Czech Republic. He kinda bailed on that one.

We figured he was done when he finally won his Stanley Cup in 2002. We assumed he wouldn’t return following the lockout in 2005. It was widely expected he’d hang them up when his Ottawa Senators fell apart in the 2006 playoffs. But each time, he defied the odds and returned.

Now, he retires with his second Stanley Cup, as he watched from the bench as his replacement Chris Osgood backstopped the Red Wings to a title. Read the rest of this entry

Detroit wins. Welcome to the offseason.

Congrats to Swedish legend Andreas Lilja and your 2008 Stanley Cup Champion Detroit Red Wings.

Although it would’ve been nice to see it go 7 games, it was a hell of a series.

Props to Detroit for playing a system that completely sucks the life out of their opposition. With all the firepower Pittsburgh had, there were times when they could not generate anything. If I’ll be the one to say it, I’ll say it: It was boring as hell to watch.

Maybe I’m spoiled, getting to watch the Sabres play every night, but the Red Wings reminded me why I loved the rule changes. Obstruction everywhere, shut down defense… just boring-ass defensive hockey.

And amazingly, the ratings were phenomenal. Props to the NHL for pulling that off.

But now is the sad part, no chances to see action on the ice until September.

Read the rest of this entry

Holy crap. Marc-Andre Fleury: Half-man, half-god

Marc-Andre FleuryThat goalie for the Penguins is really good.

For those who missed last night’s Game 5, you missed one of the best goaltending performances I’ve ever seen. Marc-Andre Fleury was standing on his face all night, on his way to leading the Penguins to a 4-3 win in triple overtime on the strength of 55 saves, many of them simply spectacular.

Fleury’s toe save on a Red Wings odd-man rush could be one of the greatest saves in the history of hockey, considering the magnitude of the game. With Detroit outshooting Pittsburgh 58-32, it was Fleury who held the Penguins in the game long enough to be in a position to win it.

All in all, it was one of the best Final games the NHL has seen in many years. Read the rest of this entry