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Overreactions, 45/48 Edition: Sabres lose, tee times await

You could say the Sabres went down swinging. You could say that, but you’d be wrong. It was worse than that.

With their flickering playoff hopes in the balance, and the 8th place New York Rangers coming into First Niagara Center, there was little doubt. Buffalo gave up six straight goals en route to a hope-extinguishing 8-4 loss.

“It’s unexplainable, unexcusable,” said Sabres defenseman Christian Ehrhoff. “That’s just the way our season went. Just like it did tonight.”

The Sabres held the Rangers in check for the first 18:42 of the opening period, but a Carl Hagelin goal opened the floodgates. Brad Richards would score 57 seconds later, and Ryan Miller would have one of the worst fuck-ups of his career, handing the puck to Ryane Clowe who made it 3-0 with less than four seconds left in the period.

“That’s one of the worst plays I’ve made while I’ve been here,” said Miller. “Just shitty timing.”

New York scored early in the second, with Anton Stralman and Brad Richards extending the lead, as the Rangers opened up a 5-0 lead in a span of 2:58 of play. Rick Nash made it 6-0 before Buffalo finally found the board.

Cody Hodgson, Nathan Gerbe, Drew Stafford and Mark Pysyk, with the first of his NHL career, scored for the Sabres, who are now officially relegated to watching the postseason.

Miller was pulled after the fourth Rangers goal, giving up four goals on 14 shots. Jhonas Enroth didn’t fare much better, stopping 11 shots and allowing four goals as well. Ryan Callahan also scored for New York, and Brad Richards finished the hat trick midway through the third period.

Thanks to the shitshow in Boston this week, the NHL postponed what would’ve been a trip to Pittsburgh to play the Pens tomorrow. Now, the Sabres are off until Monday. Time to let it sink in.

  • Glad to see the media piling on game presentation for not referencing the fact the suspect in the Boston Marathon bombings was caught. Could’ve been an emotional moment, huge missed opportunity. The crowd has been awful all season, and in a do-or-die game, they were even worse tonight. Everyone in that department deserves a pink slip based on performance alone. Letting this shit continue is just accepting below-average results.
  • John Scott played 11:00 tonight. The man has not scored a goal since November of 2009. What did I just say about accepting below-average results again?
  • Ron Rolston got fiery in his postgame press conference when an unnamed Buffalo News reporter who may or may not drive a white van offered some weak questions. Few media in the room desired to break it up. Can only speak for myself, but it was enjoyable. Read the rest of this entry

Overreactions, 27/48 Edition: Sabres win, Tortorella still thinks they suck

163580867_slideOn paper, this wasn’t going to go well.

On the ice, well, that’s why they actually play the games, right?

Jhonas Enroth, starting for the ill Ryan Miller, was sensational on the night, stopping 32 shots to lead the Buffalo Sabres to a 3-1 win over the New York Rangers. It was Enroth’s first win since November 26, 2011.

“I felt very confident and I had control of every shot,” said Enroth. “I didn’t give up any bad rebounds and stuff like that, so it was pretty much a perfect game for me.”

Buffalo got two goals from Marcus Foligno and the game winner from, surprise, Thomas Vanek.

Even after surrendering the first goal, yet another shorthanded marker scored by Rangers forward and fine American Derek Stepan, Buffalo kept their composure for the most part. Foligno scored moments later to tie the game, and Vanek added what would be the winner with just over seven minutes remaining in the second.

Foligno tallied the insurance marker with about eight minutes to go in the third, banging in a rebound in front of the net. The Sabres, who rocket up to 27th in the NHL standings with the win, would hold on despite getting outshot 18-3 in the final 20 minutes.

Hey, a win is nice every once in a while.

  • Andrej Sekera was fantastic for the Sabres. Great with the puck, made smart and confident plays. Picked up two assists, but those weren’t even his best plays of the night. Overall great game from the Slovak, who played 21:48 of great hockey.
  • Brian Flynn and Kevin Porter may be earning themselves spots on the team. It’s obvious the team may be looking to deal at the deadline, and right now, these guys may be locked in for the remainder of the year if they keep this up. Flynn had an assist and Porter is showing more and more dependability. They bring what you need out of your bottom six.
  • Really shocked that the officials didn’t try to even out the penalty calls in the third period. New York ended up with just one opportunity, where they obviously didn’t score. Read the rest of this entry

Overreactions, 75th Edition: Bandwagon seeing population growth, Sabres beat Rangers

For the doubters, this was a statement game. For the dreamers, this was just another step.

As the Buffalo Sabres have resurrected their playoff hopes, there have been many key victories to get them back into contention. It could be a Friday night win in New York City that may have allowed the team to escape the casket their season had been placed.

Drew Stafford scored twice, and Tyler Ennis added a goal and two assists to lead the Sabres to a 4-1 win over the East-leading New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden.

“We’ve put a lot of work into getting to the position where we’re at right now, but obviously we’re not there yet,” Stafford said. “We’re not worried about the other teams around us. We know if we play well, take care of our business and win the games, we’ll be sitting just fine. Right now we haven’t accomplished anything.”

Ryan Miller was spectacular in goal, stopping 26 shots and outdueling Hart-candidate Henrik Lundqvist at the other end. Miller stopped all 13 Rangers shots in the third, allowing the Sabres to pull away.

Travis Turnbull also scored his first NHL goal for Buffalo, who with the win, had briefly vaulted into 8th place before Washington picked up a point in an overtime loss to Winnipeg. The Capitals and Sabres are tied with 82 points, but Washington holds the tiebreaker.

  • Looking at the remaining schedule coming into this game, you could’ve justified saying this was a game the team would be alright not getting two points. The best team in the conference on the road? Maybe that’s asking too much. They went in and picked up bonus points.
  • Congrats to Travis Turnbull on his first NHL goal. Didn’t get a chance to do a recap of his debut Wednesday, but he made enough of an impact in the mere 3:27 he played Friday. The kid reminds me of Adam Mair. Shows a lot of hustle but too often looks lost. He let Brian Boyle drift to the front of the net undetected on the lone Rangers goal. Good for the kid to get rewarded for his hard work, but I don’t see him earning a spot in the lineup if the team is competitive. 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

Litmus test awaits Sabres at MSG

A few weeks ago, this scenario seemed unlikely. The Buffalo Sabres were floundering and looked destined to spend their April hoping to win the lottery rather than a playoff series.

But that’s not where they sit tonight. They sit directly on the fence. Facing their last game before Monday’s NHL trade deadline, the course of action is far from obvious.

After last night’s victory over the Boston Bruins, the Buffalo Sabres sit only a handful of points out of a playoff spot, with the number standing at five heading into tonight’s game against the New York Rangers. Thanks to a 3-0-1 run in their recent four game homestand, the Sabres turned a battle for 15th into a battle back into the picture.

This streak of success this month has turned a wayward season into a decision whether or not to try to save this season or leave it to die on the operating table, and tonight is the last chance to decide. The opponent couldn’t be better selected.

Facing the Sabres tonight is the perfect test they could ask for. They head to New York to face the 1st place Rangers, who are running away with the top spot, currently holding a seven point lead on Boston. Hart Trophy candidate Henrik Lundqvist will get the start in goal. It couldn’t be a better situation. Read the rest of this entry

Delayed Overreactions, 51st Edition: Encouraging efforts aren’t always enough

After an extended absence from First Niagara Center, there may have been some hesitation in expecting a welcoming atmosphere. The Sabres had dropped to the basement of the Eastern Conference in the course of their 18 days between home matches, and finally seemed to be turning a corner in their last two games, both tight wins.

But it turned out alright. Not good, but alright.

Welcoming the 1st place New York Rangers to town, the Sabres got a stellar performance from Ryan Miller in a 1-0 shootout loss.

Of course, there’s a fine line between a low scoring game being brutal to watch and intense. The Sabres and Rangers walked the line and a national television audience enjoyed a goaltending clinic.

“It was fun to be a part of. I haven’t had too many good outings in the last few months,” Miller said. “To go up against Lundqvist, who’s having a great season, and have a night like this, where it kind of puts us in the spotlight at each end, it’s nice to be a part of.”

Miller made 29 saves to earn his second shutout of the year, but took the loss after Ryan Callahan beat him in the fifth round of the shootout.

All-Star captain and American hero Jason Pominville was the only Sabre to beat Henrik Lundqvist in the shootout, extending it in the third round after New York’s Marian Gaborik scored in the first round.

  • The deservingly vilified atmosphere in the arena was noticeably improved, and the active crowd was a pleasant change. It felt like an important game for once. They should. They’re all important.
  • Tyler Ennis looked like the best forward on the ice, even considering the two penalties he took. He drew a penalty on Rangers defenseman Anton Stralman late in regulation, and rang a potential winner off the post in the shootout. He’s the most exciting player on the roster.
  • Henrik Lundqvist’s save on Brad Boyes in the shootout was straight-up dirty. Read the rest of this entry

Overreactions, 29th Edition: Enroth takes trip to Sieve City

If you can say one thing about tonight’s game, it was at least a hell of a lot more entertaining than last night’s win over the Panthers. Despite the on-ice intrigue, the result didn’t match.

Thanks to two shorthanded goals and a two goal night from Swedish scoring sensation Carl Hagelin, the New York Rangers handed Buffalo a 4-1 defeat in front of 18,690 and a horde of HBO camera crews at First Niagara Center.

Jhonas Enroth made 29 saves in perhaps one of his weakest outings of his career. The game winner turned out to be Ranger captain Ryan Callahan’s soft backhand that beat Enroth through the legs.

Thomas Vanek scored his 14th of the season for Buffalo, who falls to 15-12-2 on the year.

“Scoring one goal is not good enough,” Vanek said. “On special teams, you don’t have to score, you just want to create some positive momentum and today it cost us the game.”

Former Sabre Martin Biron was sensational for New York, stopping 32 shots.

It was the second time this season Buffalo allowed two shorthanded goal in one game, both instances coming in losses. All five shorthanded goals they’ve allowed this season have been at home.

  • Hagelin’s shortie was a snipe, but holy shit, that Callahan goal was absolutely awful. Christian Ehrhoff defended him well and cut off the opportunity. Enroth has to stop that.
  • Buffalo had just one player who was more that 50% at the faceoff dot: Drew Stafford, 3-for-4.
  • On Enroth, he has to be a lot better when he gets these starts. The key to the Sabres’ success this year is going to be the ability to rest Ryan Miller on a regular basis because they have a competent backup. If he is the difference in games to a negative degree like he was Saturday night, Lindy Ruff might be pushed to stick with Miller more often. An overworked Miller is a Miller no one wants to see. Read the rest of this entry

3MI LIVE: Sabres vs. Rangers: Game Presentation Edition

Whether you’re a fan or a player, the most vital part to your experience at a game is the atmosphere. The final score usually helps, but you remember how being at the game makes you feel.

One of my biggest, actually, no, my biggest issue with the Sabres as an organization is how horrible the game presentation at First Niagara Center continues to be.

The crowd is habitually dead. The tone is extremely passive. The music continues to be a laughing stock. (See: media, some who weren’t even at the game, poking at them playing Christopher freaking Cross during the second intermission last night)

Travel to pretty much any other NHL arena and you’ll notice how much energy is in the building on a regular basis. The teams that struggle to draw struggle to create an energetic environment but that pretty much goes without saying.

This is supposed to be “Hockey Heaven,” right? What part of “Hockey Heaven” involves uninterested crowds, a complete lack of electricity in the building and nothing done to change it?

Think about it, every pending unrestricted free agent that comes to this arena as an opponent is taking notes. If you come here and experience how terrible the crowd is and how lame the atmosphere is, is that going to make you say “Screw the other 29 teams in the league, I gotta sign in Buffalo?” You’re deluded if you think so.

The environment is what sells. Sure, the team on the ice has something to do with it too. But whether you’re a fan, a player, a sponsor, anyone, if you come to a game and aren’t wrapped up by the intensity of this sport then somebody is doing something wrong. This is one of the greatest games on the planet. You have to try really hard not to get it right.

Of course, these are just my opinions. Feel free to corroborate what I think or disagree. It’s a discussion that not enough people take seriously.

So here we go.

+ + + + +

  • Pre-Warmups
  • Christmas music is getting mixed in, to fit the season. Of course, it’s that time of year. Why would we be able to escape the same fifteen songs that we’ve been hearing for the last four weeks for a couple hours? That’d be stupid. LET IT SNOW!
  • Warmups
  • I think pregame warmups are the easiest to do right. The players have input. They know what they want to hear. Usually they have good taste. Sabres come out to hard rock. I’m sure they all listen to this. “Bridges Burning” by Foo Fighters is next. If you’re just walking in right now, odds are you’re liking it.
  • One thing I’d love to see changed is what’s displayed on the videoboard during warmups. Currently, all they show is the traditional score banner on the top ribbon board, extended closeups of each player with minimal statistical information, and a Sabres logo graphic on the bottom board. Complete waste.
  • A good thing to do right now would be to cut off one of the ends of the main video screen and show NHL standings, league leaders, team leaders, etc.  I get the feeling that a lot of people who come to games don’t really think of what the game actually means in the grand scheme of things. They could also be scrolling out-of-town scores on the bottom ribbon board right now so fans might actually be reminded, “Oh yeah, there’s other games going on right now.”
  • As an organization, you want to bombard the fans with information. You want to show them why this game matters. Too much of what happens on a regular basis here disregards the fact that this is important beyond tonight.
  • The outer ribbon board around suite level is also showing that Sabres logo graphic. I think everyone would be okay if that was advertising right now. Go ahead and sell it.
    Post Warmups
  • Hard rock music goes to some soft funk song as a bed for the PA announcements. Happy Holidays graphic on the board. It’s like someone just opened a window.
  • I’d also like to point out that informational graphics on the video board are more effective when you pick a font that people can actually read.
  • I’m ok with the commercials. They’re necessary. I don’t think they’re that obtrusive.
  • They’re now playing some “It’s Almost Saturday Night” song now. This “Oh it’s (day of the week) today, so let’s play this song because it fits!” attitude needs to be dropped. Play something that’s going to engage the crowd, not bore them.
  • As I say that, they fade into “Axel F” because nothing says Saturday night hockey like the theme song to Beverly Hills Cop.
  • Moving on to pseudo-country Kid Rock doesn’t help either. But it’s a “Saturday” song!
  • Pregame
  • New intro was recently installed. Set to “For Those About To Rock We Salute You” by AC/DC. Would be great if this was a JV football team. Just because it’s a hard rock song doesn’t mean it’s good for an intro. It’s a step in the right direction, but not a step far enough.
  • The flag is no longer an integral part of the pregame. But it’s still there. The thing is extremely lame. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen it make it around the arena right-side-up.
  • One thing they do right here: the anthems. Always very classy. Doug Allen is a winner.
  • I don’t know what’s the perfect song to play before puck drop, but it isn’t “Panama” by Van Halen.
  • 1st Period
  • First real “stoppage” gets the organ doing “Let’s Go Buffalo.” I’m okay with that.
  • They’re now playing some pseudo-techno crap. And fade that into “Enter Sandman” as they show highlights of last night. I wonder if that was intentional since that game was sleep-inducing. They seem to love cute stuff like that.
  • Now playing: Digital Underground’s “The Humpty Dance.” I support this late in a game that’s been safely put away. In a tied game early, no need for it. Setting a bad tone.
  • Now playing: Tom Petty’s “Running Down A Dream.” Good.
  • Now playing: Britney Spears’ “Toxic.” The cutoff for Britney songs being useable is 2001. If it’s after that, it’s not welcome. The only need for any Britney is late in a game that’s out of hand, when it’s supposed to be loose and fun.
  • Nothing is a better segue from Lee Greenwood than “We R Who We R” by Kesha.
  • Blooper reel hits at 14:13 of the first period. If it was on an actual tape, I’d love to burn it. I’m sure UB Orthopedics would be willing to renegotiate sponsorship if they wanted to make a change. This shit has to stop.
  • Now playing: “Moves Like Jagger” because god forbid we can go somewhere and not hear it.
  • Another thing that bothers me is that there is nothing that gives any indication to what “NYR” means on the scoreboard. If you don’t know the logo, you don’t know who they’re playing. Obviously the majority of fans don’t have an issue with this, but I think it’s very shortsighted and ignorant to put shitty design ahead of actually putting up required information.
  • There’s been a lot of organ so far.
  • 1st Intermission
  • Now playing: ELO’s “Fire On High.” I support this.
  • They’re playing some crappy cover of some crappy song while they do the kids shootout. Even the kids can’t like this crap.
  • We have our first Enya appearance of the night. Holy shit, people should get the chair for playing this garbage.
  • They’re doing birthdays and playing some horrible birthday song. The crowd is not engaged at this point. You’ve lost them for the rest of intermission. Congrats.
  • Playing commercials is great during intermission. Promotes in-arena events. Brings in ad revenue. But that shouldn’t be the most engaging part of intermission entertainment.
  • Now playing: Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas Is You.” It’s surely driving people to the concession stands. Good work, DJ.
  • Now playing: Some Beach Boys Christmas song. Surely, everyone in this arena is more interested in cuddling up beside the fire with a loved one than get excited for a hockey game that’s supposed to count. Nice touch.
  • They’re showing the MSG intermission report’s Around The NHL feature. At some point in the future, I’d love to see the Sabres have an in-arena host that can do an extended version of that for the people at the arena, since they don’t have the perk of flipping the channel.
  • Speaking of out-of-town games, why isn’t there somewhere in the arena that anyone can go and watch other games? Is Center Ice that hard to hook up? Is there no room for a bar area with a bunch of televisions for congregating?
  • Now playing: That song from Ferris Bueller when they’re driving into Chicago.
  • 2nd Period
  • Now playing: Linkin Park’s “Bleed It Out” for puck-drop. Maybe one of my favorite in-arena songs. Brings so much intensity. It just fits.
  • Now playing: Some shitty song that keeps saying “coast to coast.” Not sure the title. I’ll call it “shitty.”
  • Sabretooth roaming the aisles with a drum during action is completely unnecessary. Distracting people from what they’re supposed to be here to see is completely the wrong concept here.
  • They spent the last television timeout showing that video of the house with Christmas lights set to “Sabre Dance.” Cool video, but when you play stuff like that, you’re hurting crowd energy. The place is a library now.
  • Kudos to the Sabres for bringing the “Mad Minute” promo over from the Bandits. A very cool concept that can be rewarding for the fans. Sponsors love the spot too.
  • When you have to loop your powerplay song, you need to pick something else.
  • This whole “goal horn to Jeanneret call to Sabre Dance” isn’t getting enough credit for being awful. Can we have a goal song? A good one? Is that too much to ask?
  • Enterprise Hat Trick Challenge trivia. Great concept. I never feel like the questions are good.
  • Now playing: Some horrible Black Eyed Peas song. Can we get them eradicated from the arena music library?
  • Now playing: Devo’s “Whip It.” Some songs are what I define as “typical.” The goal should be “good without being typical.” I get the feeling that’s not the same goal they have.
  • After the Kiss Cam they just played about five seconds of a song that had potential. I get the sense they try to avoid picking something good and sticking with it so they can shuffle through three different things in the same amount of time. Leads to training short attention spans.
  • Organ now playing “Start Me Up” by Rolling Stones. Perfect timing. Get things started… with 3:00 left in the third period.
  • Now playing: Some awful 80’s hair band song. Sad when this is a high point.
  • 2nd Intermission
  • Now playing: “Green Onions” by Booker T. and the MG’s. Good song. I think I can accept it in this spot, too.
  • Now playing: Some horrible pop song.
  • They’re replaying the birthdays. Again. Too busy to come up with something original? You have 7,000 people sitting here ignoring whatever you’re doing.
  • I do like the Junior Sabres updates
  • Now playing: The song the townspeople sing in the “Grinch Who Stole Christmas.” Unbelievable.
  • Now playing: Some instrumental, can’t think of the title. Regardless of the name, it’s Christmas, and it’s awful.
  • I like the stampeding buffalo video as the team comes back to the ice.
  • 3rd Period
  • Now playing: “Fuel” by Metallica. Our second Metallica entry of the night. They can play a horrible metal band twice but no chance they mix in an old Goo Goo Dolls song. Sigh.
  • They need to find a way to get these law office ads to be less obtrusive and less awful.
  • Rangers take a timeout. The answer to generate momentum? “Mony Mony.” Crowd responds with silence. Good pick.
  • Some horrible Bon Jovi song is the answer to reenergize the crowd after New York’s third goal.
  • This “play Piano Man because it’s 9:00 on a Saturday in real life” isn’t funny or good. See: that pregame “what day of the week is it” song.
  • Hey organist, we need a pick me up. How about “Santa Claus Is Coming To Town?”
  • Now playing: Bobby Brown’s “My Prerogative.” Great choice if they’re up two. Not quite right when down two.
  • The New York Lottery feature with the featured number is one of the best additions to the game presentation in a while. Very nice feature.
  • The DJ seems oblivious to the fact that the team is losing right now, and that music that would induce adrenaline may be more appropriate.
  • Who picked that font they use for the team names on the scoreboard anyways? What the hell is that? Looks bland and passive. Maybe it fits.
  • Carubba Collision set to Pat Benatar’s “Hit Me With Your Best Shot.” What an inspired choice. Never hear that enough.
  • Now playing: Some song that was in NHL 11. Hockey fans like hearing songs they hear playing fake hockey.
  • Sabretooth decides to show up ten feet in front of me and bang his drum during play with 3:25 on the clock. Rangers score. Fans hit the stairs.
  • Now playing: “Danger Zone” by Kenny Loggins. They’re down three and there’s a minute left.
  • End of game
  • Now playing: “Shattered Dreams” by Johnny Hates Jazz. That wraps it up I think.

Fan input from throughout the game:

@juiceboxhero585: Yeah, no more damn PP chimes. The PP has gone terribly downhill because we’re playing like Ottawa.

@sabres916: I too would like more out of town stuff. Even show video of out of town goals during intermission

@BLMC88: Pretty sure every game I’ve been to there has been a different intro so far, which keeps it interesting. I like that.

@HockeyRef13: @SabresDotCom can we just let @3rdManIn run game presentation one night so we don’t have to listen to him bitch on twitter anymore?

Closing Thoughts

If you really sit down and look at the game presentation and what they actually do instead of just isolating it as background noise, you’ll continue to be disappointed each time you walk in the building.

Throughout the night, while continually updating this post, it’s been overwhelmingly agreeable feedback on much of what’s been covered. Most of the dissension has been questioning whether it’s even worth complaining about. Pretty much none of the comments I received have argued against anything that’s been said here. That says a lot. There’s not much worth defending.

When the Pegulas took over and instituted the “#SabreTunes” thing, it was a step in the right direction. Soliciting suggestions is always a worthwhile cause. But as the saying goes, you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink. That’s the problem here. The suggestions get cherry-picked to the point where it’s songs that aren’t out of the ordinary getting picked, and nothing is changing.

The upper management has been on record as saying they feel they have great people working here. In a lot of cases, they do. There’s a nasty side effect in believing in your people. If your people aren’t willing to change, you need to be willing to make the change. Having a loyalty can only go so far. You can’t be afraid to go in another direction for the sake of being loyal. Whether that’s a head coach, a player, a cook or someone in the office. If they aren’t doing their job to the best possible degree, you need to decide what’s more important. I would hope the answer to that is progress.

Overreactions, Traverse City Edition

The Buffalo Sabres are champions!

(Editor’s note: Sorry to alarm those who haven’t been following close, but it’s not like there’s ever been opportunities to say that outside of an EA Sports product or Eastside Hockey Manager. Take what you can get, right?)

With a 5-2 victory over the New York Rangers, the Sabres’ young guns captured the 2011 Traverse City Prospects Tournament title in the franchise’s first ever appearance. Led by two goals from Marcus Foligno, Buffalo never trailed throughout the game.

Luke Adam opened the scoring with a powerplay marker, followed just minutes later by Foligno’s first of the night. After Corey Tropp scored the eventual game winner early in the third period, the Sabres got insurance goals from Dan Catenacci and the aforementioned Foligno.

2011 draft pick Nathan Lieuwen made 21 saves in net to earn the victory.

Now, the Sabres head back to Buffalo for the official start of training camp. All players report on Friday, with the first practice Saturday.

Some thoughts:

  • Are the Sabres waiting for something in particular to happen to sign Phil Varone? The prospects camp-invitee turned training camp-invitee was one of the best players on the ice. He’d look good in an Amerks uniform.
  • The line of Marcus Foligno-Luke Adam-Zack Kassian was reportedly dominant all tournament, and you can see why. They all have so much big game experience. They’re all big bodies. They all have skill. I don’t think you make them a line in Rochester, because it’d be good to have a vet somewhere in there. I can’t imagine Adam is gonna stay in Rochester long anyways if he keeps developing as quick as he is.
  • The powerplay, which according to the boxscore went 1-for-7, looked good controlling the puck. Without knowing how much they’ve installed powerplay tactics, the work on the points by the defenseman were impressive. Except maybe for their efforts in getting shots through. But the possession was good! 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