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Overreactions with 30 to go: Blues (good team) shutout Sabres (not good team) to kickstart new streak

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It had been a long two-plus weeks since the Sabres last graced the First Niagara Center ice with their presence. Coming off their first win of the calendar year, they faced a tough test in the visiting St. Louis Blues.

The result was predictable.

Despite a solid outing from goaltender Jhonas Enroth, the Blues jumped ahead on a second period Dmitrij Jaskin goal and that would be all they needed. St. Louis goaltender Jake Allen stopped all 23 shots he faced and picked up an assist as Sabres fell 3-0.

462811978_slideVladimir Tarasenko and Jaden Schwartz added third period goals to pad the final tally, but Buffalo was unable to cash anything. Buffalo’s Chris Stewart and Brian Flynn each had breakaways at points in the game that weren’t finished, as the Blues looked like an elite team as they moved into a temporary tie for the best point total in the National Hockey League.

Enroth would stop 27 shots to claim his 20th loss of the season.

The Sabres continue their homestand Saturday as Lindy Ruff and the Dallas Stars visit First Niagara Center.

  • Nice of the Sabres to do a little tribute to former captain Steve Ott in his first visit since being traded before last season’s deadline. Not everyone deserves a tribute, but he was the team’s captain. That honor deserves respect. Also, bonus points for having it say “Thank You Steve” not “Thank You Ott.”
  • Speaking of former Sabres, look at legendary defenseman Chris Butler getting on the scoresheet with an assist on the winner.
  • The time of game was officially 2 hours and 14 minutes. It went quick. Only three minor penalties, and only 49 total face-offs. Get in, get out, get a loss. Read the rest of this entry

Chris Stewart: the paradox of the expendable, ideal Sabre

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Sabres fans always seem to be sort of conflicted about who they’re supposed to like. Who fan favorites are supposed to be. Who should be part of the core and who’s ripe to be run out of town. It seems like it’s a case-by-case basis.

There’s one guy on this current Sabres team that fits the bill for what Buffalo sports fans seem to love.

459847500_slideWorks hard? Check.

Fights guys? Check.

Scores goals? Check.

Hits people? Check.

Seems like he’s the full package. Except that no one’s really embracing him, regardless of the fact that he’s likely out the door at some point in the near future.

Since the Sabres acquired him in the deal that sent captain Steve Ott and franchise cornerstone Ryan Miller to St. Louis before last year’s trade deadline, Chris Stewart‘s shown he has the tools. The production has been underwhelming (as it is with just about everyone else on the roster), as he’s notably been cold with just three goals in 25 games, good for a tie for fifth most goals on the team. But he’s not someone who doesn’t have a track record.

Stewart broke into the NHL in 2008, scoring 11 goals in 53 games with Colorado in 2008-09. He followed that up with consecutive 28 goal seasons, one with the Avs and the other split with Colorado and St. Louis. He’s posted double-digit goal totals every season in the NHL, never less than 15 in a season since his rookie year, and he’s still on pace to break 10 despite his well-below-average shooting percentage this season (5.5%). Read the rest of this entry

Sabres trade Jordan Leopold to St. Louis

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Only days away from the NHL trade deadline, the first domino has fallen at First Niagara Center.

Just hours before the Buffalo Sabres would drop the puck against Washington, the team announced they had traded defenseman Jordan Leopold to the St. Louis Blues in exchange for their 2nd round pick in the 2013 NHL Draft, as well as a conditional 5th round pick in 2013.

The conditional pick is contingent on the Blues’ postseason success, as it is upgraded to a 4th round pick should St. Louis advance past the first round of the playoffs.

Leopold is in the last year of his three-year contract he signed with the Sabres as an unrestricted free agent in 2010. He registered 67 points in 174 games with Buffalo, and his 25 goals in Buffalo rank 18th among defensemen in franchise history.

“The first couple deals set the market,” [Blues GM Doug] Armstrong said on a conference call Saturday afternoon. “Pittsburgh set the market for defensemen when Murray went for a second [round pick] and I think a third that goes to a second based on a certain number of things…

“[Sabres GM] Darcy [Regier] might have been able to hold and see if the market goes up, but with that you’re always in the risk of an injury and getting nothing for the player. Everybody has to weigh the proper time for their team, and I know it was the proper time for us.”

Read the rest of this entry

Overreactions, 48th Edition: Shock and awful

First off, credit to the Sabres, carrying a double digit losing streak on the road, for actually holding a lead in this game. That was a shock.

(Ed. note: That was stated with sarcasm.)

For as bad as the team has been playing (and they’ve been awful), this is the game on the roadtrip of death that they seemed least likely to win. And they didn’t.

The St. Louis Blues moved to 21-3-3 at home on the season, the best mark in the National League, as they defeated the basement-dwelling Buffalo Sabres by a score of 4-2 Saturday night.

An early goal by Mike Weber rewarded the Sabres for a strong first period, after which they led 1-0. St. Louis took over in the second, and by the time Tyler Myers scored to get back within one in the third, it was too late.

St. Louis got two goals and two assists from David Backes, whose empty netter sealed it.

Ryan Miller made 23 saves on 26 shots in the loss.

“It kind of got away from us in the second period,” Miller said. “We didn’t do some of the things we needed to do. It turned into a period that gave them back the edge.”

Again, like many of these now 12 straight road losses, Miller has made the saves early and failed to see the team take control offensively. A one goal head-start lasted into the second and was never recovered.

Buffalo next heads to New Jersey on Tuesday for a date with the Devils.

  • Lindy Ruff reunited the Luke Adam with Thomas Vanek and Jason Pominville to start the game, and their first few shifts were pretty solid. Unfortunately, the line didn’t produce much. Pominville added an assist on Myers’ late goal, but Adam finished -2 and Vanek -3.
  • Brad Boyes had a very good game, albeit one where he failed to score yet again. He generated some good pressure offensively, and played 19:00 in his return to St. Louis. It was the first time this season he broke 19:00 in TOI. He’s had more than 17:00 of ice time just five times this season.  Read the rest of this entry

The Boyes move

I figured it’d be a good idea to wait to see how the deadline shakes out to talk about the Sabres making a move for Brad Boyes. With no other moves being completed by Buffalo, it looks like the folks in Pegulaville truly have put a premium on a playoff push this season.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

I was on record with the argument to sell at the deadline, not just because of the market, but because it didn’t seem like this was the team to buy for. That philosophy was predicated on the idea that Darcy Regier wouldn’t be able to make as smooth of a move as this.

While Boyes has struggled this season compared to his totals of years past, giving up a 2nd round pick for a player of this talent who doesn’t qualify as a rental is a pretty solid move. Personally, I hate moving high draft picks, especially in a salary cap era where you need to fill out your roster with young, cheap talent. But seeing as this draft isn’t very strong, this is the year to make this kind of move. 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.

Dan Hinote knows how to plan a wedding

If that headline doesn’t grab you to say “What the hell is this about?”, I don’t know what will.

I was perusing through Deadspin, and came across this nice little article from the Rocky Mountain News about St. Louis Blues forward Dan Hinote’s recent wedding.

Fidel Castro, Marilyn Monroe, Elvis Presley and Groucho Marx all gathered at Keystone Ranch on Friday to witness the nuptials between former Avalanche- turned-St.-Louis-Blues player Dan Hinote and the ga-ga-gorgeous Amy McCarthy…

The wedding party of 10 groomsmen and 10 bridesmaids wore traditional garb for the ceremony, but the guests were asked to show up in their favorite ’50s costumes, which would explain the dead celebs who attended the wedding.

A costume party. Unbelievable. What do you think the reaction was when the relatives got that invitation in the mail. Did they think it was a joke?

There were several fellow NHLers in attendance, and apparently all participated. Some, more than others, as detailed in the article.

During the dinner, the groom addressed his friends, family and fans. “It’s been a wonderful day for my beautiful bride and me,” he said. “You must be a bunch of screwed up people to dress up like the ’50s, right? I have a teammate dressed as a woman.”

And, of course, your first reaction is, who could this possibly be? Read the rest of this entry

Well, that Steve Bernier deal worked out well for the Canucks

In regards to the Steve Bernier trade last week, there was speculation that the Canucks were ready to give the then-Sabres forward an offer sheet, forcing the Sabres to match or take a second round pick, giving Darcy Regier reason to accept a 2nd and 3rd in exchange for the winger.

The Canucks, who tried the whole offer sheet thing with St. Louis forward David Backes (and were matched by the Blues), got Bernier.

Now the Blues have got them back.

One week after the Vancouver Canucks signed restricted free agent forward David Backes to an offer sheet, the St. Louis Blues have struck back.

The Blues signed Group II free agent forward Steve Bernier to an offer sheet worth $2.5 million for next season, which the Canucks have seven days to match. If they don’t, Vancouver receives St. Louis’ second round draft choice in 2009.

The thing that’s so great about these offer sheets is this frontier justice that is coming between the teams. It started last season when Edmonton GM Kevin Lowe started picking fights with “Don’t shop here” Buffalo, then went after Anaheim, creating that Lowe-Brian Burke pissing match that got really public recently.

Now Vancouver and St. Louis are going after each other.

Who says the offseason is boring?