Author Archives: Eric Schmitz
It’s now mid-August.
In a few weeks, the Sabres’ prospects will be hitting the ice in Traverse City, Michigan. In about a month, they’ll be hitting the First Niagara Center ice for training camp. Hockey is just around the corner, and to be honest, it’s the furthest thing from my mind.
I don’t know about you, but I’ve had one hell of a summer.
Over the last few years, with the local hockey team willing itself to new levels of my personal apathy through everything from on-ice performance to professional incompetence, I’ve fallen in love again. Not with the Sabres, my grade school soulmate, the burden I’ve carried. But with American soccer.
(Don’t worry this isn’t really a soccer post, so you can keep reading. Or don’t. Like I really give a fuck, you already clicked the link.)
I’ve always loved traveling for games. I started going to Sabres road games as soon as I could. I’ve been fortunate enough to hit almost half of the league’s buildings for games where my team is the home’s opponent. It’s something that keeps the fan’s soul fresh, experiencing something new, developing that bond with the team. Going to home games is great, and many are blessed with the ability to attend them regularly, but there’s diminishing value in being in FNC these days. But every time you wear your jersey in another team’s building, you get that rush that just maybe you’re going farther for your team. It’s a badge of honor.
That brings me to soccer. Read the rest of this entry
There aren’t many games this season that are a hot ticket. When Chicago comes to town, that’s it. And it’s not because they’re the Stanley Cup champions and one of the league’s premier teams. Well, not just that. But you’d be shocked to learn that one of their star players, Patrick Kane, is actually a Buffalo native. Did you know this?
If you didn’t, it’s true. Pat Kane is from Buffalo. And like clockwork, Kane was the star, scoring the opening goal in a 2-1 Blackhawks win over the Sabres. It was a good night for narratives.
Check here for more Buffalo and other NHL Hockey news.
Buffalo was able to keep the game close with some stellar goaltending from Jhonas Enroth, but Kane’s early tally and Chicago captain Jonathan Toews’ third period marker were enough to knock off the Sabres. Enroth would stop 29 of the 31 shots he faced.
The Sabres were only able to solve Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford once that counted, as Drew Stafford jammed home a loose puck in the crease midway through the first period for his 11th of the year. Tyler Ennis would beat Crawford again later in the period, but the goal was waived off as Ennis was given a minor penalty for hooking Crawford.
Cory Conacher picked up an assist in his debut with the Sabres, setting up Stafford’s goal.
- So many Blackhawks fans there. I’m sure these guys were really upset their Hawks gave up on Jean-Pierre Dumont so soon back when that trade was made.
- Really, really impressed with what Conacher added to the lineup. The line of Conacher, Ennis and Stafford was by far the team’s best offensively. If Conacher gets top-6 minutes, he’s gonna put up some nice numbers here. And there’s nothing wrong with that. Good for him, good for the Sabres, and good for Canisius.
- Speaking of Stafford, he’s long overdue for some dumb hat trick. Still an outside chance he can get to 20 goals with all the big minutes he’s going to get. Read the rest of this entry
It’s hard to sum up this game tonight. There was a game. It was an NHL regular season hockey game. It counted in the standings, but no one who has a twitter or was around people likely got invested in this game. It was a sideshow.
The impending trade of Ryan Miller finally happened. The impending trade of Steve Ott finally happened. And in one instant, the sense of dread on the horizon became a reality. And the Sabres played on.
While the team out on the ice walked away with a 4-2 win over the visiting San Jose Sharks, there’s not much to take from it. Jhonas Enroth was sensational. Brian Flynn scored again. Tyler Myers actually had a really good game.
And now, two points later, everything is different. The fact the team is currently riding a three game win streak out of the Olympic break is completely irrelevant. The soul of the team is forever changed. And even while Cody Hodgson, Matt Moulson, Flynn and Myers scored in a Sabres win at home on a Friday night, it doesn’t seem quite right. You don’t normally spend the third period’s television timeouts applauding for guys who aren’t on your team.
But the game’s a final, and Sunday, the team will take off out west for a roadtrip, and some of the guys on the plane may not be coming back to Buffalo on the same plane. They may have played their last game here. Matt Moulson, who scored the game winner tonight in maybe his last game as a Sabre (god, we can do this for everybody) wasn’t a story tonight.
There was a game. And I don’t think it matters too much right now.
- Picked a hell of a game to show up late. Team was already out for warmups by the time I got to the press box.
- Funny that you naturally didn’t want to put two and two together when Tim Murray missed his WGR spot at 5:30. It’d be too easy to assume there’d be a trade. Turns out, there was.
- Good to see Enroth step up and have a game like that when he needed to grab the reins and earn a shot at being the #1 guy for the rest of the way. He will be. He’ll get his shot. Read the rest of this entry
Wednesday night at First Niagara Center had loss written all over it. Coming into a game against Boston (who’s good), on the second night of a back-to-back against a rested team, with Jhonas Enroth in goal (who hadn’t won since October), the obvious was pointing to a loss.
And it was pretty damn close to being one. But that is why they play the game.
Matt Moulson’s tying goal with 53 seconds to go sent the game to overtime and Matt D’Agostini‘s fantastic finish 22 seconds into the extra session gave the Sabres their second win in as many nights, this time taking down the Boston Bruins with a 5-4 overtime win.
D’Agostini ended the game early into overtime by beating Boston goon Zdeno Chara to a loose puck in the Boston zone. D’Agostini went in on Bruins goaltender Chad Johnson, deked to the backhand and tucked it past him for the winner.
“I think he just thought he had time to go back and retrieve the puck,” D’Agostini said. “I kind of just snuck up behind him. I heard their bench screaming. I tried a little sneak attack on him in there, so it was good that I got by him and snuck it through the pad.”
Buffalo tied the game in a scramble around the net in the final minute. Likely goner Matt Moulson poked home his 16th of the year to send the game past regulation.
The Sabres also got goals from Zemgus Girgensons, Brian Flynn and Tyler Myers in just their 11th home win of the season.
Enroth, winning his first game since October 25th, made 29 saves.
- Buffalo, with the win, is five points behind 29th place Edmonton with a game in hand. It’s good to be in a place where winning can be fun. Because winning should be fun.
- Don’t know what it is about playing Boston, but Brian Flynn always seems to be flying when they do. Of course he’s a Massachusetts boy, so it does make some sense. His pass on the Girgensons goal was phenomenal. Deserved first star.
- Really happy for Jhonas Enroth. Dude needed that win. Great way to get it, too. Needed a confidence boost. Read the rest of this entry
We don’t know if Tuesday night was Ryan Miller’s last game with the Sabres. It might be. Then again, any game could be anybody’s last, because, you know… life.
But the impending NHL trade deadline is making these things more of a reality. And Miller made a hell of a case to be someone teams want on their squad against the Carolina Hurricanes, stopping 36 shots and even adding two assists in a 3-2 win in Buffalo’s first game back from the Olympic break.
Christian Ehrhoff scored twice for the Sabres, including the winner with 43.4 seconds remaining in regulation. Tyler Ennis also added a third period goal for Buffalo, who was outshot 38-18 on the night.
“Sometimes the hockey gods are good to you,” Ehrhoff said.
Ennis’ goal put the Sabres up 2-1 with less than eight minutes to go, but a fine individual effort from Carolina’s Alexander Semin tied the game at 2-2 with four minutes exactly on the clock.
Eric Staal also scored for Carolina.
Buffalo now hosts Boston on Wednesday night to continue a stretch of three games in four nights at First Niagara Center.
- The word “Latvia” came up more than I’m comfortable with during this game. Let’s not be them.
- How about that game out of Ville Leino? He was good. Drew two penalties, and was generally effective possessing the puck. Not bad for starting the game between Matt Ellis and Cody McCormick.
- Not sure I’m comfortable with the idea Tyler Myers has an “A” on his sweater. I don’t want him to be looked at as part of the core. There was one play with the Sabres on the powerplay, where he got caught with the puck at the blueline near the bench. With the team changing and trying to get onside, he just fired it into the corner, completely unaware that Christian Ehrhoff was alone and waiting for a pass at their own blueline. Simple play could’ve retained possession if he sends it back to Ehrhoff. Myers gives the puck away. The problem with Tyler is between the ears. Read the rest of this entry
Maybe if you watched the first ten minutes of this game, you thought the result might be in doubt. If you watched the last fifty, you knew better.
Even despite jumping out to a quick 1-0 lead on the Eastern Conference leading Penguins, the Sabres couldn’t take advantage of early chances before the giant awoke. The result of that is Pittsburgh dominating Buffalo en route to a 5-1 decision in the last game at First Niagara Center before the NHL’s Olympic hiatus.
Drew Stafford scored just under six minutes into the game, but that would be the only time Penguins’ netminder Marc-Andre Fleury would be solved. Buffalo got other chances, but Matt Ellis and Zemgus Girgensons couldn’t quite get it done and the lead was nothing but tenuous.
Then the beast came to life.
A rough hit from Steve Ott on Penguins star Harry Zolnierczyk seemed to rile up the NBC darlings. Zolnierczyk would tie the game late in the first period, and it was over from there. Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin each scored highlight reel goals in the second, and Brian Gibbons and James Neal added third period insurance goals.
“That’s a good team over there that’s obviously playing extremely well,” Ott said. “We shot ourselves in the foot with a couple of turnovers in the second, but there’s no lack of passion. Every guy is out there working hard trying to compete.”
Ryan Miller, looking to impress Team USA coach Dan Bylsma on the other bench, was solid but helpless, making 29 saves and getting hung out to dry on many occasions.
- Lots of Penguins fans in the crowd at FNC. Games against Pittsburgh are the right time to play the “Hey Penguins fan, do you know who Lasse Pirjeta or Tomas Surovy is?”
- Speaking of those guys, we’d all love to have a guy like Malkin or Crosby right? Here is a good reminder of what it takes to get one of those guys. Embrace it, because in the end, we’ll have guys on our team scoring goals like those in the second period. And I’ll take that over hearing the word “compete” on a daily basis 11 times out of ten.
- Mike Weber on the first Pittsburgh goal, top to bottom, was a complete mess. Sabres were possessing the puck well, moving up ice, and he gets it and fires it into the corner. Pittsburgh easily collects it, goes the other way and he chases them into the corner. By the time he gets there, the puck is headed to the front of the net and Zolnierczyk has all the time in the world to beat Miller. That shift in itself gets him cut from good teams. Read the rest of this entry
Things didn’t start well for Sabres goaltender Jhonas Enroth. They didn’t end well either.
Three times the Buffalo Sabres erased deficits to force overtime, but the Washington Capitals prevailed in a 5-4 overtime loss at First Niagara Center.
Enroth was beaten twice early by Washington’s engimatic star, Alexander Ovechkin, to give the visitors a 2-0 lead in the first five minutes. Ovechkin would add two assists, including the set up of Mike Green’s overtime winner exactly one minute into the extra period.
The Sabres did show a lot of compete, as they battled back from 2-0, 3-2 and 4-3 deficits to force the game past regulation. Cody Hodgson scored twice, once to tie the game at 2-2 and later to make it 4-4. Buffalo also got goals from Christian Ehrhoff and Phil Varone, who scored his first NHL goal in the second period.
Enroth battled throughout the night, but in the end, came up with another loss to fall to 1-10-5 on the season, making 30 saves.
It’s hard to win with this team, I guess.
- Few things are more enjoyable than being at a game and seeing a kid score his first goal in the National Hockey League. It’s the greatest milestone in hockey, and it’s a lifetime of hard work coming full circle. Congrats to Phil Varone, who’ll keep that puck the rest of his life.
- I’m not sure if Ted Nolan knows or supports line matching. I wonder because he willingly put the fourth line featuring noted shutdown winger John Scott out against Washington’s top line. Almost bit them in the ass, as Washington got a great opportunity but didn’t score. If you’re worried about winning, that shouldn’t happen.
- Also on Nolan, I’ve taken the time to focus and wait for him to say the word “compete” during a postgame press conference. The buzzword of all buzzwords wasn’t a focus. Read the rest of this entry
If anyone’s been seriously concerned about “the tank” lately, they’ve been seeing some issues. The Sabres, heading into Tuesday night, had picked up points in five of their last six (2-1-3), and more impressively in nine of their last ten (6-1-3) at First Niagara Center.
So with a strong run putting them on the brink of passing 29th place Edmonton, for at least one night, the heroic march to the 5th overall pick was stalled, this time by their historic Atlantic Division rival, the Florida Panthers. Despite two early goals by Drew Stafford that put the Sabres in front, a few deflections and an inability to finish late chances left Buffalo on the losing end of a 4-3 decision.
Ryan Miller struggled on his way to finishing with just 18 saves, getting beat three times in the first period on deflected shots. Florida scored twice in 52 seconds in the final minutes of the period, and the 3-2 lead would be a sustained advantage.
Florida’s Nick Bjugstad widened the gap with a second period snipe to make it 4-2, and Tim Thomas would weather the storm in the Panthers net over the final 20 minutes. Thomas stopped 15 of 16 Buffalo shots in the third period to hang on for the win.
Steve Ott would score his 100th career goal on the powerplay 8:36 into the final period, but the Sabres failed to tie it and took the loss in regulation.
- Tyler Myers got a lot of love after the last game (arguably more than merited) and he followed it up with a relative dud, which the stats back up. He activated offensively a few times early, but overall, he was unimpressive in his own zone. We need to have a real conversation about this guy.
- This space does not hesitate to rip on game presentation, but they’ve done an excellent job recognizing milestones over the PA. They even have graphics ready. It was good to see them make a big deal out of Ott’s 100th NHL goal. Now if they could only put the goal information in writing on the scoreboard, we’d be all set there.
- By the way, the music was a mess. Absolutely way too relaxed and chill for a game as close as that. Can’t lull the crowd to sleep like that.
- The boxscore isn’t kind to Miller, but hard to blame him much on the first period goals. Yes, as he said after the game, his positioning could’ve been better, but still, deflections. He’s the kind of guy who goes out of his way to take responsibility for things, which is incredibly admirable. But other than the Bjugstad snipe (which was gorgeous) he’s taking the heat a little more than he needs to. Read the rest of this entry
That was a close one.
Just when you thought the Sabres were out, there they go and pull you right back in. And before you know it, they’re right back out.
After Tyler Ennis tied the game with 3:13 remaining, it was Vincent Lecavalier’s dagger for Philadelphia with 14.8 seconds left that handed the Buffalo Sabres a 4-3 loss.
“That’s a game we could’ve won that slipped away,” said Cody Hodgson, who opened the scoring seven minutes into the game.
Philadelphia dominated the second period, tying the game early on a Jakub Voracek powerplay goal as they outshot Buffalo 12-7.
The Sabres retook the lead 6:27 into the third, as Matt D’Agostini put one past Flyers goalie Steve Mason after a dominant shift with Steve Ott and Cody Hodgson. And then the floodgates opened.
Philadelphia’s Brayden Schenn tied it up seven minutes later and then the Flyers took the lead for the first time on the night as Scott Hartnell ripped one over Jhonas Enroth’s shoulder. The Sabres would even it less than a minute later on Ennis’ goal, but in the end it was another mark in the loss column.
Enroth was sensational for most of the night, stopping 29 of 33 shots.
“It’s tough right now to think about how we lost that one, but we’ve got another game tomorrow. We can’t dwell on it,” said Hodgson.
- Mike Weber was not good. He ended up playing the third most minutes, which if you’re trying to tank, is cool. But not a coincidence seeing the result.
- Enroth took a little heat for saying it was “tough to win with this team” after his last loss because of lack of goal support. Now he looks like a dick for getting goal support and not winning. It’s not like he didn’t play well. He’s having a rough go lately.
- That shift that ended in the D’Agostini goal by him, Ott and Hodgson was absolutely fantastic. Very entertaining. Read the rest of this entry
Returning home from a two-game roadtrip where they got worked in two losses, the Sabres hoped the comforts of home would put them back on track. And they did.
Facing a Devils team playing the second half of a back-to-back, Buffalo, on the strength of a powerplay that helped them generate over half their shots and both goals, walked away with a 2-1 win at a sold out First Niagara Center.
Matt Moulson and Matt D’Agostini scored for Buffalo, as they won their fifth consecutive home game.
Moulson opened the scoring late in the second period, jamming home a loose puck from the top of the crease, his 14th of the year.
For D’Agostini, he finally tallied his first goal as a Buffalo Sabre, putting home a rebound with just over eight minutes remaining in the third period. Good work by Steve Ott and Linus Omark, who tallied his first point as a Sabre on the play, created the opportunity.
“I went in there and the puck was just laying there,” said D’Agostini.
The Sabres shockingly got a solid night out of Ryan Miller, who made 21 saves and got the win. Only a Michael Ryder goal on a two-man advantage blemished his outing.
Buffalo is now off until Tuesday, when they face Carolina in the second game of a three game homestand.
- Tyler Myers should probably get suspended for that hit on Dainius Zubrus in the third period.
- I hate that Mike Weber or anyone else has to fight after a big hit. It’s ok to hit people. If it’s a cheap shot, knock yourself out, but a good clean hit should be respected and not punished.
- For everyone in Buffalo that wants to see Ryan Miller start in Sochi, you better start making a bigger deal out of it or it won’t happen. Not one “U-S-A” chant in the first game since the roster was announced, even after multiple impressive saves. Gotta start getting to word out, people.
- Zenon Konopka was not overly impressive in 11:37 making his Sabres debut. Whatever. We’ll see where it goes.
- John Scott took a penalty, not for being John Scott, or for being targeted by officials, but for doing something against the rules. It happens. Not everything makes him a victim. Read the rest of this entry