As the Buffalo Sabres continue to struggle, and on the heels of the franchise firing their longtime and beloved coach, general manager Darcy Regier remains in charge.
Fans everywhere want him out, with some holding that opinion for longer than others. (Just ask the dude who yells for it five times at every home game) There’s more than enough reason to validate his removal.
During Regier’s tenure, he has retooled and rebuilt the roster multiple times. There’s been stretches of stagnation and some times of great success. As much as he’s to blame for the team’s current state, he also gets credit for building the post-lockout teams that were among the best in franchise history. He didn’t inherit those, he built them. And it took a few years of struggling to get the group that should’ve gotten them a Stanley Cup.
But that’s the past, and right now, this team sucks. It has a lot of solid pieces, and the whole is definitely less than the sum of the parts. This isn’t underachieving. This is not being good enough.
In that tenure, though, there’s never been the commitment and pressure to win, and win now, that the Buffalo Sabres currently claim. Are they serious? Just ask Lindy. If they’re willing to can the coach, they’d certainly be willing to do the same with the general manager.
But, you ask, what are they waiting for? Read the rest of this entry
The loss to New Jersey Thursday night was a lost opportunity among few remaining to reinsert their playoff hopes into discussion. After a couple days off, there was another, with the chance to vault two teams with a win over struggling 11th place Philadelphia.
It turned out well.
Facing a team that was such a mess as recently as the day before that they needed a closed-door, players only meeting after a pathetic performance in a loss, the Sabres came out flat and never really put themselves in position to win. They lost, falling to the Flyers in a 3-2 loss on national television.
Buffalo fell behind 2-0 before the game was even halfway through the first period. Sabres rookie Brian Flynn scored his second in as many games to cut the lead in half before the end of the opening frame.
Claude Giroux scored 17 seconds into the second period to give Philadelphia the margin they would need. Jochen Hecht scored a shorthanded goal in the third period, but Buffalo couldn’t tie it.
Ryan Miller stopped 25 of 28 shots in the loss for the Sabres.
- The Foligno-Porter-Flynn line was really good throughout the game. Flynn notched a goal, Porter added an assist and was named third star of the game. That can be one hell of a fourth line if this team is any good.
- Speaking of Flynn, his goal was possible because of a subtly-brilliant play just prior to it in the shift. With Philadelphia collapsing around the net, Flynn collected the puck above the faceoff dot. Instead of throwing it towards the net into traffic, he spotted Foligno on the far post and threw it into the far corner boards. Foligno easily won the race to the puck and the Sabres continued to work the puck around, eventually scoring. Possession likely doesn’t continue if not for that heads up play.
- Hopefully Jochen Hecht keeps scoring so someone might look at the scoreline and think he’d be a useful pickup at the deadline. Read the rest of this entry
Fresh off an apparently invigorating trip to Florida, where they claimed two wins in a row, they tacked on another in the confines of First Niagara Center without their leading scorer, taking a 4-3 shootout win over the New Jersey Devils.
Jason Pominville scored twice off feeds from Cody Hodgson to lead the way. The team twice surrendered leads shortly after gaining them, including a third period dandy from New Jersey’s Andrei Loktionov that tied the game at 3-3.
Pominville and Tyler Ennis scored in the shootout and Ryan Miller stopped both New Jersey shooters to secure the win.
“We’re getting more resilient as a team now, and I think that’s a good sign for us,” said coach Ron Rolston. “When I first got here if we would’ve gave up the third goal, it might’ve been a different result.”
Jochen Hecht also scored for Buffalo, his first of the season and his first goal since December 2011. Adam Henrique and Sabres legend Steve Bernier added goals for New Jersey, who got 20 saves from Johan Hedberg and a point in the standings.
It was also a nice win considering they were missing scoring sensation Thomas Vanek. In his absence, Brian Flynn made his NHL debut.
“The guys did a nice job of battling and we pulled one out,” said Miller, who made 28 saves.
The Sabres take off tonight for New York, where they face the Rangers at Madison Square Garden on Sunday night.
- Lots of chatter after the game about how good the crowd was. It wasn’t remarkable to me. The baseline is so far off with this place, it must’ve just seemed like it since people were actually loud for once. It’s supposed to be, at minimum, like this all the time. It’s certainly not the on-ice product spurring all of it, because that game was a mess. Just gotta get people in the mood. Not sure what it was today, but it was dead silent all through the first.
- Marcus Foligno’s hit on Alexei Ponikarovsky was beautiful. Just solid.
- Speaking of hits, near the end of regulation, Robyn Regehr destroyed Ilya Kovalchuk from behind with the puck nowhere in the area. Should’ve been a penalty, and it wasn’t. Officiating overall was pretty awful today. Read the rest of this entry
If you assumed things couldn’t get worse, they couldn’t really. It’s just not getting better very quickly.
On the heels of another loss in Ron Rolston’s debut behind the bench Thursday night in Toronto, the home debut didn’t go any better. In fact, it was worse. The Sabres were inept offensively and, at too many times, defensively in a 4-0 shutout loss to the 12th place New York Islanders.
Ryan Miller was solid again for Buffalo, stopping 28 shots, but got little help from his defense and no help from his offense.
Mark Streit and Michael Grabner scored 1:05 apart for the Isles late in the second period to take what would be an insurmountable lead. John Tavares and Cody McDonald scored in the third to stretch the final margin.
“We can’t point fingers,” said Sabres forward Thomas Vanek, who now has just one goal in his last seven games. “Everyone has to be better. I’m a goal scorer who’s not scoring goals right now.”
With now two games since the deparature of Lindy Ruff, the team has done little to silence the dissatisfaction of the home crowd. The crowd rained down boos for much of the latter part of the game.
“They’re booing for the right reason, we’re not winning,” said Sabres forward Marcus Foligno. “They wanna see a product on the ice that wins, and right now we’re not delivering.”
- The special teams has been horrid of late. Buffalo was 0-for-6 tonight, stretching their streak of abysmal play to 12 games where they have just two powerplay goals to show for it (2/46 in that stretch). The penalty kill hasn’t been much better, going 3-for-4 tonight, and has now allowed a powerplay goal in 9 of the last 12 games.
- The exchange of goalie-running at the end was moronic and it’ll be interesting to see how that impacts the final time these teams play, in the final game of the season. I’ll put good money on the fact that that game will be meaningless.
- Whatever new song they used for the intro video tonight, they can go ahead and never use that again. Who the fuck approves this shit? They sure as shit don’t have a clue what they’re doing. Blame the team losing all you want, but the crowds shouldn’t be this shitty. You need to set a better tone in this rink. The fact they don’t just exacerbates the on-ice issues. Read the rest of this entry
I’ve been sitting here for at least the last two of those eight trying to put words together to assess what today means… coherently, at least. It’s not just a hockey move that we can accurately analyze and come to a consensus before moving on. This is a big one.
As soon as the story broke, the lines about the amount of coaching changes and ownership changes and whatever else has happened since Lindy stepped behind the bench in Buffalo came flooding out. It was tired, but almost necessary. It’s hard to really gain perspective on how things have changed since he came in without making it a joke. But he’s been here forever.
Seriously, just think about the goalies who’ve seen time since he came in: Ryan Miller, Jhonas Enroth, Drew MacIntyre, Patrick Lalime, Mikael Tellqvist, Jocelyn Thibault, Ty Conklin, Martin Biron, Mika Noronen, Bob Essensa, Peter Skudra, Dwayne Roloson, Steve Shields and Dominik Hasek.
Some of those guys were here for a long time, too.
Ruff was behind the bench for more than a third of the franchise’s history. Anyone in their mid-to-late-20′s or younger who has watched this team their whole lives spent their formative years watching their Sabres coached by Lindy Ruff. I was 10 years old when he came in, and I’ve watched an obscene amount of games where he’s behind the bench. I joked on twitter about it being upwards of 99%, but in reality, it’s probably somewhere in the 96-97% range. And he coached 1,165 games here. Do the math.
All that said, it was time, if not overdue. The team showed it. Things couldn’t stay the same. Everyone saw the need to change. The same song has kept repeating for years now. Even still, you’d be lying if you said it wasn’t jarring to hear the news. And that’s a good feeling whether you realize that yet or not. Read the rest of this entry
Buffalo overcame an early 2-0 deficit only to blow a third period lead on their way to a 4-3 defeat in front of a national audience on Hockey Day in America.
Ryan Miller was fuming afterwards.
“It’s 3-3, get to overtime. It’s 3-2, fucking make them come all the way down. We work too hard,” said Miller, who made 31 saves, many of which were quite good. [full audio below]
Pittsburgh scored twice in the opening 1:27 of the game on goals by Pascal Dupuis and Sidney Crosby. Buffalo crawled back one on a Cody Hodgson goal five minutes later.
In the second period, Thomas Vanek scored his league-leading 12th goal of the season on a two-man advantage to tie the game. It would remain deadlocked until Steve Ott gave the Sabres the lead just past the five minute mark of the third period.
That lead would not even last two minutes as Dupuis scored his second of the game to tie it on a gorgeous pass from Kris Letang.
“We had a real good third period going until that moment,” said coach Lindy Ruff. “Chances were way down our chances were way up. We were putting some heat on them, we didn’t take advantage.”
Pittsburgh would take the lead at 17:56 of the third period on a goal by former Golden Gopher Paul Martin.
“It’s up to us be better in our zone,” said captain Jason Pominville, whose line was on the ice for two of the three Penguins goals at even strength.
Buffalo falls to 6-9-1 on the year and 3-4-1 at First Niagara Center.
- Didn’t know if you knew this, but that Sidney Crosby? He’s good. In 22 games against the Sabres, 12 goals, 20 assists. Yeah. He’s good.
- Lots of Penguins fans in the crowd today. Combination of proximity, Pittsburgh’s winning and the lack of desire Sabres fans have to actually go to games can be blamed. When you have so many season ticket holders, you shouldn’t see such a large traveling contingent. That’s your own fault.
- Christian Ehrhoff was fantastic today. Team leading 24:18, two assists. He’s the team’s #1 defenseman. The contract it took to sign him can be considered a steal any day now. Read the rest of this entry
They’ve been performing at levels that can be described somewhere between “garbage” and “R. Kelly’s Doo Doo Butter” since they had their hallmark-at-the-time win over their opponent on the night, the Boston Bruins. And Boston is quite good, despite a record against the Sabres that says otherwise.
But there go the Sabres, walking away with a 4-2 victory against the team with the second best record in the conference.
Drew Stafford gave Buffalo an early lead with his first goal of the season. That lead would disappear as Boston climbed out to a 2-1 advantage mere minutes into the second period. But thanks to some fantastic goaltending, they never extended it. Ryan Miller was sensational when he had to be, keeping the Sabres in it when they probably shouldn’t have been. He made 30 saves and got the help from the posts as well to keep Boston from pulling away.
“He’s the backbone of this team,” said Stafford. “It’s up to us to put the puck in the net and win some games for him.”
Buffalo would steal the game in the third period with goals from Tyler Myers, Christian Ehrhoff and Cody Hodgson. Boston registered just three shots on goal in the final 20 minutes.
“As much as they outplayed us in the first couple periods, we came out and played our game and turned the game around,” said Ehrhoff.
- Congrats to Boston’s Dougie Hamilton on his first NHL goal. Wish the Sabres would’ve shown some respect and announced that with the goal like they would if it was a Buffalo rookie. It’s a milestone achievement, it’d be a nice acknowledgement. The kid played junior hockey in what you consider your market, people would’ve appreciated it.
- Steve Ott ended up with 11 hits, the most since Paul Gaustad had 10 in the Winter Classic over five years ago. Honestly, I didn’t expect to see that number that high. He was definitely throwing the body around, but that’s crazy. Boston’s Milan Lucic had a physical game and he finished with 5. Read the rest of this entry
Yeah, I know. Lame and easy. But an afternoon that could’ve ended pleasantly in Buffalo will now only create more headaches. The Sabres jumped out to a 3-1 second period lead en route to a 4-3 loss to the Florida Panthers.
“We played stupid I guess,” said superhuman star winger Thomas Vanek. “We had some great chances, didn’t even hit the net on some of them. We need to be smarter.”
Vanek, the NHL’s leading scorer, extended his lead with a goal and two assists, giving him 19 points in eight games.
Cody Hodgson also tallied a goal and two assists, and Alexander Sulzer added his second goal in three games for Buffalo. But the story was the missed opportunities, not only to score, but to prevent goals. Tyler Ennis had a breakaway in the second period which he did not convert. Marcus Foligno, Mikhail Grigorenko, Jochen Hecht, and Drew Stafford all had notable scoring opportunities which were not finished.
Shawn Matthias, George Parros, Peter Mueller and former Sabre Brian Campbell scored for Florida, who won their first road game of the year.
The burden of Buffalo’s third game in four nights appeared to take it’s toll in the end, and the Sabres have just a one day break before they head to Ottawa on Tuesday.
“I thought our energy was, compared to yesterday, was great for the first 40 minutes,” said Sabres coach Lindy Ruff in his post game press conference. “We gotta do some things different… that’s obvious.”
“It just got away from us,” said Sabres goalie Ryan Miller, who stopped 29 shots.
- The George Parros goal was the epitome of a trainwreck for Buffalo. Alexander Sulzer makes a terrible play at the point to turn the puck over. Sulzer and the nearby Marcus Foligno get beat up the ice to create the rush. Christian Ehrhoff aimlessly slides through the slot to stop the play. Tyler Ennis glides up behind Parros as he beats Miller with a weak shot. In reality, that was the first nail in the coffin. The team was mailing it in from that point on.
- Marcus Foligno played a career-high 21:46, more than all but Christian Ehrhoff and Jordan Leopold. So, yeah… about that. What?
- Tyler Myers has been getting rightfully killed for his awful play, and he was an orange paint job away from being an actual pylon on the tying goal. But I guess it wasn’t all bad, because he ended up even. He was on the ice for the tying and winning goals against. It could be worse! Read the rest of this entry