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Sabres ship Gaustad to Nashville

As first reported by USA Today’s Kevin Allen, the Sabres were indeed active prior to the NHL’s trade deadline.

Buffalo traded pending unrestricted free agent center Paul Gaustad and a fourth round pick to the Nashville Predators for their 1st round pick.

Gaustad, 30, is on the verge of hitting the market on the expiry of his current deal, which has a cap hit of $2.3 million. The Fargo, North Dakota native spent his entire career with the Sabres after being drafted in the 7th round of the 2000 NHL Draft.

In 479 NHL games, he accumulated 71 goals and 181 points over eight seasons. He grew into a leader on the team, filling a key role on the team’s penalty kill unit while being a faceoff ace.

There was much debate heading towards 3:00 eastern about Darcy Regier seeking too high of a return on Gaustad, but in the end, he got his pick.

The Preds, who are likely going to battle for home ice in the 4/5 matchup out West, are getting a key faceoff guy to fill out their bottom six. With other pending free agents such as Ryan Suter and pending restricted free agent Shea Weber, Nashville’s going for it now.

 

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

Overreactions, Edition 71/72: Getting the point

The sky is not falling.

Yes, the last few minutes of yesterday’s 4-3 overtime loss to Nashville were not the work of a great team. But the Sabres are an average team. That’s why they’re in 8th place in a 15 team conference.

But average teams can be successful when they perform above-average, which is what they did Saturday night, blowing out Atlanta 8-2. But that outstanding effort got overshadowed by Sunday night’s collapse.

“It’s stunning,” coach Lindy Ruff said. “When you get up by two, and you’ve got a couple minutes left and you give up a point, that one really hurts. It was a quiet room walking in there.”

I’d say the team needs to look at that result and use it as motivation, but it’s the seventh, yes, seventh time they’ve blown a two-goal lead this season. But flashes of brilliance Saturday night, and solid play for the majority of the weekend should be a point of emphasis.

Again, the sky is not falling. The Sabres are still in a great position to make the postseason, holding a three point edge on Carolina, with one matchup remaining between the teams and ten games to play. If they can win in Raleigh on April 3rd, chances are very good that they’ll do enough to get in.

  • Defending a one goal lead late, with the opponent pressing, why the hell are Rob Niedermayer, Mike Grier and Cody McCormick on the ice with under two minutes to go?
  • It appeared the Sabres coaching staff did a good job of keeping Nashville’s Shea Weber away from the Vanek-Connolly-Pominville line. That line was incredibly effective Sunday, and had some great pressure.
  • I’m not sure I agree with Lindy Ruff deciding to play Ryan Miller again on less than 24 hours rest Sunday. After letting in a couple shaky goals Saturday, and playing a Western Conference team, it would’ve been a great opportunity to get Jhonas Enroth back in. Instead, Miller, who has been good but not great of late, will likely play his third in four nights on Tuesday.
  • If the Sabres were a better team, I’d love to have a line like Gerbe-Gaustad-Mancari as a fourth unit. They had a solid weekend. Unfortunately, they’re the third line, and until they can fill out the roster a little better, it’ll have to do.
  • Tyler Ennis just continues to get his touch, and if he can remain a consistent scoring threat, it’ll make the Sabres’ offense so much more formidable.
  • Atlanta’s Evander Kane is on the short-list of guys in the NHL I wish were on the Sabres’ roster. Kid’s dynamite.
  • Predators rookie Blake Geoffrion, who scored the hat trick in Sunday’s game, is the first NHL player from the Nashville area, growing up in suburban Brentwood, Tennessee. Southern expansion is working, whether the hosers like it or not.
  • Mark Mancari is definitely making a case to keep his roster spot. I don’t know if Grier’s penalty killing is enough to keep Mancari in the press box over him with a healthy roster.
  • Tim Connolly had a very good weekend. His snipe on Sunday was gorgeous.

My thoughts on my trip back to Buffalo will come later… and believe me, I’ve got stuff to say.