Blog Archives

Overreactions, Edition 77: No need to panic

Things didn’t look to good in the lead-up to game time.

Coming off a 4-3 loss the night before to the hated Toronto Maple Leafs, word broke late that Ryan Miller would not play Wednesday night against the NY Rangers.

No problem.

Jhonas Enroth earned his 1st NHL shutout and Tim Connolly’s second period bullet proved to be enough to get the Sabres a 1-0 win over the Rangers, putting Buffalo into 7th place in the Eastern Conference.

Miller is day-to-day with an upper body injury, but Sabres fans should be feeling fairly confident about things after the rookie netminder’s performance.

“He gave us a chance to win,” Sabres forward Jason Pominville said. “We’ve come to know what to expect out of him, and he delivered it tonight.”

Enroth has now won his last four starts and doesn’t have an NHL loss since November. Sporting a 6-2-1 record on the season, his strong play in relief could be the difference with the playoff race down to the wire.

  • Thomas Vanek tallied an assist, but didn’t convert on a bunch of chances he had. Results or not, if Vanek plays like he’s been playing, that’s the kind of effort that can carry a team offensively. He’s been the team’s best player for a while now. Read the rest of this entry
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Overreactions, Edition 73: Miller, Gerbe help lock up win

Short of blowing their opponent out of the building, is there any other effort you’d prefer to see coming off that collapse on Sunday?

Playing a flawless road game, Buffalo went to Centre Bell and defeated Montreal, 2-0.

Ryan Miller made 31 saves for his fourth clean sheet of the season, and Nathan Gerbe scored both goals to keep the Sabres three points ahead of 9th place Carolina.

“We’ve got to get the points at all times,” Miller said. “Just watching what other teams do, they’re scraping by, they’re getting to overtime. There are a lot of three-point games out there so you just have to scrape and battle, and tonight was one of those games and we’re happy to get out of here.”

It was an overall solid outing for Buffalo, and a very encouraging effort. With a couple days off before they host Florida on Friday night, the Sabres can ride high on this win.

  • Nathan Gerbe is finally showing that he can consistently be effective at the NHL level. He had a very rough first half, but has really turned it on of late and has goals in three straight games. His effort that created the empty net goal was awesome. That kind of desire can elevate a player’s game immensely, and it has. 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.

Overreactions, Edition 66: Something’s missing, alright.

Despite the absence of several key Penguins, I’m not sure anyone could’ve seen what happened to the Sabres’ lineup between the end of Sunday’s win in Minnesota and the puck drop in Pittsburgh and said, “Oh yeah, they’re winning this one.”

Without flu-stricken leading scorer Thomas Vanek, the Buffalo offense was, in kind terms, anemic in Tuesday’s 3-1 loss to Pittsburgh.

Seriously, the odds of a team winning when Rob Niedermayer is the only goal scorer is similiar to the odds of seeing everyone in the crowd with a shirt on at a NASCAR race. Pittsburgh got all the offense they needed and completed the season sweep of the Sabres.

Ryan Miller made 28 saves in the loss.

It was the end of a good run for the Sabres, who had gone 5-0-2 in their last seven games. The loss was the first regulation defeat under the ownership of Terry Pegula.

With Vanek out, NHL veteran Mark Parrish made his Sabres debut, who played over ten minutes on the fourth line.

  • Buffalo didn’t do a very good job staying out of the box, taking eight minor penalties. The Pens didn’t score any powerplay goals, but the penalties often killed any momentum the Sabres had built up.
  • The first period was one of the most exciting periods of hockey we’ve seen all season. The second period? Well, let’s just say Dan Bylsma made the proper adjustments and toned it down a bit. Read the rest of this entry

Overreactions, Edition 65: Win-nesota.

It’s nice to see a player basically say “You know what? Enough of this shit. I’m gonna go score a goal and we can get out of here.”

Drew Stafford did just that Sunday night.

The Sabres forward, fresh off breaking out of a slump, stormed around Wild defenseman Brent Burns and ended the game less than a minute into overtime to give Buffalo a 3-2 win.

“I was kind of at the end of a shift, so I didn’t have too much left in me. I just tried going to the net and kind of pushed off of Burns,” Stafford said. “I just kind of leaned into him and happened to get a lane to the net, went in and put it in.”

Jason Pominville and Rob Niedermayer (yes, Rob Niedermayer) also scored for the Sabres, who blew a 2-0 second period lead but held on to get the two points. Jhonas Enroth made 24 saves for the first overtime victory of his career. His three previous wins were all by shootout.

The two points moved Buffalo into 8th place in the Eastern Conference, jumping idle Carolina. The Sabres still trail the New York Rangers by two points, thanks to their drubbing of Philadelphia Sunday afternoon.

Overreactions, Edition 60: Getting it done

Oddly enough, it was the Ottawa Senators, when you get down to it.

In the precarious position the Sabres find themselves in, it’s important to win the games they’re supposed to. When one of the league’s doormats, in the midst of a clearance sale to ignite a rebuild, comes to town, there’s no excuse for not walking away with two points.

Even if it is the Senators.

Buffalo did what it had to do, wrapping up a 4-2 win on Friday night. Ryan Miller was again solid for the home squad, and the Sabres got the goals they needed.

“We have to keep putting pressure on teams,” said McCormick, who posted his third multi-point game of the season. “If we can make them make turnovers, we can capitalize on it.”

Now the Sabres prepare for a visit from Detroit tonight, in what could be the last appearance for some players in a Sabres uniform ahead of Monday’s trade deadline.

  • Congrats to Rob Niedermayer for being the only one on the fourth line that did not get on the scoresheet.
  • Ryan Miller’s stats since taking a seat in the press box in Montreal last week: 1.83 GAA, .945 save %. Wonderful things can happen if he gets a break here and there. Read the rest of this entry

Now is not the time: The case to sell at the deadline

With the frenzy of deadline day only a mere week away, and the Buffalo Sabres living on the fringe of the playoff picture, there’s no easy answer as to what GM Darcy Regier should be doing.

(No, the answer is not “quitting” and/or “leaving town”, morons.)

New ownership is taking over tomorrow and with that comes hope for a new era. The only problem is the team isn’t showing us on the ice why there is reason to hope… for this season anyways. A three game losing streak comes at a horrible time, squandering a chance to put the team into the top 8 and creating doubt as to whether it would be worth it to try and make a push this season. The choice should be obvious.

Sell.

Sell everything you can and get whatever you can. The 2010-2011 Buffalo Sabres have done nothing to show they are capable of being successful in the postseason. What is the point of sacrificing potential down the road for a better chance to get nowhere? The returns for rentals is so high, it’d be stupid not to take advantage of it.

Now, keep in mind that the Sabres haven’t often been in the position to sell off rentals. In recent history, the only selling they have done was when they traded Brian Campbell at the deadline in 2008. At the time, Buffalo was in 9th place, tied with 8th place Philadelphia in points. Still, knowing they had an expiring asset, management decided to sell. The Sabres missed the playoffs, as they probably would have, finishing on a 9-7-3 run and four points out of 8th in 10th place.

But for the 19 games of Brian Campbell they gave up, the return was huge. The San Jose Sharks sent forward Steve Bernier and a 1st round pick to Buffalo for the red-headed defenseman. The Sabres would trade Bernier to Vancouver in the offseason for a 2009 3rd round pick and a 2010 2nd round pick, and then deal that 2010 pick at last year’s deadline in a deal for Raffi Torres.

In sacrificing a futile playoff push, the Sabres netted draft picks that brought them Tyler Ennis (the 1st from San Jose), Brayden McNabb (the 3rd from Vancouver) and an asset they could use for a rental when they have a better team.

This is not a suggestion to hold a clearance sale and get rid of everyone. It’s just a good idea to liquidate the expiring assets, because… well, they really aren’t going to make much difference this season. Read the rest of this entry

Overreactions, Edition 57: Conkblocked

There’s not really much you can say after this one. But there’s some things that need to be said.

The Buffalo Sabres, coming off a poor team performance in Wednesday night’s loss to Toronto, came out and sleepwalked their way to a 3-0 loss to the St. Louis Blues. Former Sabre Ty Conklin got the shutout, stopping 25 shots yet rarely getting a true test.

Buffalo’s defense struggled to handle the puck all night, struggled to pass the puck, struggled to keep the Blues from walking all over them. It was an effort without any effort, a game lacking any energy whatsoever.

“We have to be willing to put the work in,” said Ryan Miller, who stopped 21 shots. “It does get frustrating and the guys want to win and are putting the effort in. But we could’ve been smarter tonight.”

Now the Sabres ride a two-game losing streak into Sunday’s nationally televised matchup with Washington.

Can’t say fans should be feeling confident about the Caps game after this one.

Overreactions, Edition 56: Blowing Opportunities

There’s only two things I hate in this world: people who are intolerant of other people’s cultures and losing to Toronto. Read the rest of this entry

Overreactions, Edition 55: Who’s #1?

It’s too bad the NHL couldn’t just end the charade they call a hockey game and just have shootout contests. In that case, the Buffalo Sabres may just be the best team in the NHL.

Swedish rookie sensation Jhonas Enroth picked up his third career shootout win as the Sabres rebounded from a 2-0 deficit in regulation and 2-0 deficit in the shootout to grab two points from Montreal at the Centre Bell with a 3-2 victory.

Buffalo got goals from Nick Pappagiorgio-hot Drew Stafford and American hero Jason Pominville to send it to overtime. In the shootout, it was clutch goals from Thomas Vanek and Tyler Ennis to send it past the first three shooters. After both teams failed to grab the win, it was Jochen Hecht in the 10th round of the shootout who ended it.

But the star of the night was the guy wearing the “uno” on his uni, Enroth, stopping 32 of 34 shots and coming up big in the shootout, making the saves he needed to make.

  • Very nice to see the Sabres come back and get the shootout win, but Buffalo had multiple chances to end it well before Hecht got to shoot. Jason Pominville, Tim Connolly, Tyler Myers, Paul Byron and Jordan Leopold all had the winner on their stick and didn’t convert. The team must have a better killer instinct there. You can’t rely on teams giving you that many chances. Read the rest of this entry