Overreactions: Panthers edge Sabres in regulation

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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

Overreactions: Tank marches on, Sabres surrender late goal to Flyers

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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

Overreactions: Sabres defeat Devils in hockey game

460610051_slideReturning 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

Delayed Overreactions: Sabres defeat Coyotes in ridiculous finish

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To quote Vin Scully, who called Kirk Gibson’s unlikely home run in the 1988 World Series, “I don’t believe what I just saw.”

Pretty much.

On what was and will be one of the most incredibly ridiculous goals you’ll ever see, the shorthanded Buffalo Sabres defeated the Phoenix Coyotes 2-1 in overtime. Mark Pysyk got credited for the winner as the puck was carried over the goal line by Coyotes goalie Mike Smith.

Reaching for a rebound from his own shot, Pysyk’s effort was deflected up in the air above Smith, and it fell directly into his waistline. Not knowing where the puck was, Smith retreated to his goal, unaware that the winning goal was stick on his backside. That’s a turn of events that could be referred to as “unlikely,” but that definitely happened.

The Sabres were able to get the win despite playing with an incomplete roster, only dressing 16 skaters thanks to a flu bug making its way around the locker room. One of those 16 was John Scott, and another was Drew Stafford, who was ejected mid-way through the second period. Somehow, the home team made it happen.

This was all made possible by a late goal by Tyler Ennis to tie the game at 1. Buffalo dominated play for much of the third period, and a miscue at the Phoenix blueline by the Coyotes allowed Zemgus Girgensons to find Ennis alone in front to beat Smith.

“It’s a great win for the guys,” said Ennis. “We beat some adversity today.”

Ryan Miller made 36 saves to get the win for the Sabres, and was strong in the first period as Phoenix outshot Buffalo 15-3. He was only beaten by a questionably-high deflection from Coyotes forward Martin Hanzal early in the second period.

“These are the kind of things that weren’t happening for us,” said Miller. “It’s a little bit of a Christmas present for us, and we’ll take it.”

More like a Festivus miracle.

  • I commented after the first period how impressed I was with Tyler Myers defensively. I thought that might have been his best 20 minutes of the season. The next 40-plus? Back to unimpressive Tyler he went.
  • That goal went “viral,” as the kids call it on the internet, and for once the Sabres actually got on SportsCenter and Deadspin and dumb stuff like that. It was a dumb goal that brought a lot of brilliance, especially Harrison Mooney’s Grammy Award worthy “Goal In A Butt”. So much fun, guys.
  • Girgensons has been fantastic lately, but I think people need to realize he’s only 19. Let’s not build him up into something he’s not yet. Temper the enthusiasm a bit. I know there’s not much to be excited about with this team, but you run the risk of it getting to his head. That’s dangerous (see: Myers, Tyler) and we do not want to ruin anything about this kid. He’s the real deal. Read the rest of this entry

Overreactions: Sabres now unstoppable, score goals and win second in a row

458006505_slideIt can get a bit redundant writing about losses ad nauseum. I mean, we know what the deal is this season, but still. And then you have a game like this, and you realize you forgot how much more fun winning is.

And the Sabres, for the second game in a row, did just that.

With the despised Boston Bruins in town, Buffalo rebounded from a 2-1 second period deficit with a 4-2 victory at First Niagara Center.

Drew Stafford and Tyler Myers both scored their third of the season in a 1:20 span in the final minutes of regulation to provide the margin of victory. Stafford, who has struggled offensively this season, finally got one to go in after missing a few solid chances early on.

“I had to stick with it. Sooner or later one was going to have to go in,” said Stafford.

Buffalo also got goals from Brian Flynn and Marcus Foligno. Flynn was the first star of the game, adding an assist as he finished +3. Foligno also finished with two points, assisting on Myers’ insurance goal.

Ryan Miller got the win in goal, as he stopped 34 of 36 shots. Brad Marchand had both goals for the Bruins.

The teams finish their home-and-home set Saturday night in Boston.

  • So happy for Drew Stafford. He gets a lot of shit from fans and media (merited on results), but you can’t question his effort. It’s bound to come eventually. Is “progression to the mean” a thing? Because he’d be due for that.
  • Brian Flynn is awesome.
  • Said it during the game, but I’ve frequently mentioned how I want “Bridge Burning” by Foo Fighters to be used for the team’s intro video. They played it during the game, right after Mike Weber went after Milan Lucic. The next faceoff was at center ice after Flynn scored. Not saying, just saying. Read the rest of this entry

Overreactions: Sabres beat Sens in shootout

454972815_slideThe Sabres only needed one goal to get themselves a point tonight. No one said it had to be pretty, and they ended up snagging two.

Buffalo’s Zemgus Girgensons scored once in regulation and the shootout winner as the Sabres defeated the Ottawa Senators by a 2-1 final.

After falling behind early in the first period on a Milan Michalek goal, Buffalo tied it in the second as Girgensons threw a shot from the goal line into Ottawa goalie Robin Lehner’s skates. Despite appearing to take the lead later in the period on a delayed penalty, the game would end 1-1 after 60 minutes as the go-ahead goal was disallowed.

Matt Moulson, Brian Flynn, Steve Ott and Girgensons scored for Buffalo in the shootout, which last ten rounds before Ryan Miller stopped Erik Condra to end it.

Miller made 35 saves on the night, as he won his first game against a team other than Toronto since Ted Nolan took over as interim head coach.

  • I figured there was going to be a lighter crowd, and I took some pictures early in the game and posted them on twitter, but it did fill in a bit. The secondary market was extremely soft and the weather likely scared some people off, but there were no more than 14,000 in-house tonight.
  • Got into multiple arguments on twitter, but the disallowed goal was not a bad call. The referee reserves the right to determine what constitutes possession when it comes to blowing play dead on a delayed penalty. Did it work out for the Sabres? No. But the rules are written poorly in terms of language defining possession. That’d be nice if it were clearer.
  • Here’s the official statement from the league on the disallowed goal: Read the rest of this entry

Overreactions: Sabres win in overtime, beating Leafs still super fun

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Don’t know what it is about Toronto, but I don’t think anyone cares.

The Buffalo Sabres moved to 13-1-1 in their last 15 visits from the Maple Leafs as Christian Ehrhoff scored 38 seconds into sudden death to give the home team a 3-2 overtime victory in front of throngs of visiting fans.

With a late penalty to Toronto’s Paul Ranger expiring, Ville Leino won an offensive zone faceoff and the puck was worked back to Ehrhoff at the top of the slot. Not long after, the puck was behind Leafs goalie James Reimer and Buffalo had their sixth win in 27 league games.

“I didn’t have the time to do a big wind-up there,” said Ehrhoff “I saw the opening between the legs and I put one through there.”

Matt Moulson and Luke Adam scored for Buffalo, who twice came back from one-goal deficits in the second period.

Phil Kessel and Nikolai Kulemin scored for Toronto, who got 26 saves from Reimer.

“It’s good to see the guys get rewarded for doing the right things,” said Ryan Miller, who finished with 22 saves in the win.

  • Leino, who is a frequent target of derision, was fantastic tonight. Drew the penalty late in regulation and made the key play on both the opening goal and the overtime winner. Really, really good game from him.
  • Two of Buffalo’s three regulation-and-overtime wins (ROW) have come in the two visits from the Maple Leafs.
  • Matt D’Agostini gets the nice +1 on his stat line in his Sabres debut, as he set the screen on Reimer for the game winner. He was good, made some nice plays in the offensive zone and wasn’t a liability at all. Of course, since he didn’t score in his first game, he will be marked as a massive disappointment for life. Read the rest of this entry

Overreactions: Sabres lose to Red Wings, look awful doing it

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For what really should be a momentous occasion in a club’s history, there wasn’t a lot of anticipation for this one. Rightfully, and unfortunately so.

The Buffalo Sabres unveiled their fifth third jersey in franchise history tonight at First Niagara Center, and the result of the game was a lot prettier than the result of the design process. Detroit, playing their third game in four nights, and without star center Pavel Datsyuk, handed the locally-based hockey franchise a 3-1 loss in front of 18,721.

Cody Hodgson opened the scoring, as Buffalo took a lead for the third game in a row. Those three games all ended in the same result: a loss.

Detroit tied the game on a Darren Helm goal just thirty seconds into the second period, and finally took the lead in the third period as Johan Franzen beat Ryan Miller with Tyler Myers in the penalty box. Losing the special teams battle was  the difference, as the Buffalo powerplay went 0-for-2.

“It’s just something we have to clean up, that’s for sure,” said captain Steve Ott, when asked about the team’s penchant for taking penalties. “It’s gonna cost us games like it did tonight.”

Red Wings veteran Daniel Alfredsson (of course) added the empty netter to seal it.

Miller was fantastic for the Sabres tonight, stopping 31 of 33 shots and doing all that he could to keep the game close.

Buffalo has now lost four in a row, and hosts Montreal on Wednesday night.

  • Even when the things got leaked/unveiled, there’s that “wait until you see them on the ice” crowd that withheld judgement. Well, they still looked like shit.
  • Darren Helm’s goal was pretty. Shook Tyler Ennis’ coverage in front of the net, and whipped a quick backhand past Miller. You’d like to see more goals like that and less like Franzen’s ugly one.
  • Matt Moulson is a few games like this away from showing up on a milk carton.
  • Very few people in the crowd wearing the new jersey. Shockingly, there didn’t seem to be much interest in buying it. But great job, Sabres creative team! (Editor’s note: previous statement is sarcasm. Please do not take seriously. It was meant to be taken as a facetious remark. In no way is this an honest compliment to the Buffalo Sabres organization and/or their creative services department.) Read the rest of this entry

Revising the blueprints

PC3_slideIt’s still weird.

It was weird when the press release came through around 9:30am on Wednesday. It’s weird early Friday morning when I’m finally putting words to it. Enough about the organization lately led everyone to be skeptical at the words “major press conference,” enough to the point I almost didn’t bother heading to First Niagara Center to witness it. And it had to be seen to be believed.

Even as the news that a new position had been created, and would be filled by one of the franchise’s hallmark talents (a feasible and exciting addition by the organization), the rest was almost unfathomable. It had to be seen to be believed. Despite the addition of Pat LaFontaine as President of Hockey Operations, that didn’t necessarily imply that Darcy Regier’s tenure in Buffalo was over. Nor that they’d cut ties with head coach Ron Rolston.

So when word started filtering out from sources that have remained questionable for many years, that Regier was gone, Rolston was gone, and Ted Nolan… Ted Nolan was back to coach the team on an interim basis, you realize that “major” isn’t quite strong enough to describe it. You don’t see that come through your twitter feed and believe it. Not when you’re sitting at work trying to figure out what’s going on. Not when you’re sitting on a blue chair in the Pavilion at First Niagara Center, staring at four empty chairs and a podium.

And then here comes Terry Pegula, Ted Black, Pat LaFontaine and Ted Nolan walking over from the elevator.

Then it all becomes real. And you don’t know what to think.

So I sat there, watching these faces from the past become faces of the present. And still, almost two days later, it’s hard to put together a concise thought about it all.

In honesty, when we’re sitting there at 9:30 on Wednesday, wondering what’s going on, and someone tweets out that Darcy and Ron Rolston are out and Ted Nolan is back as coach, we’re all laughing because there’s no fucking way that’s happening, right? Someone’s either saying that because it’s meant to be a joke or they’re the type of guy that’s been calling in to WGR’s postgame shows for the last decade.

Then it happens and you have to make the transition from “Yeah, right…” to “Ok then.” Read the rest of this entry

Delayed Overreactions: Bruins beat Sabres, and there’s that John Scott thing

185680683_slideLeading up to the national television broadcast on NBCSN, there was an emphasis on hyping up the Bruins-Sabres rivalry. Lots of hype. Lots of clips of Milan Lucic running over Ryan Miller. And for much of the game, it seemed a bit misguided.

And then John Scott skated through the neutral zone and caught an oblivious Loui Eriksson with a hit and then we were back to where we started. Boston won the game, beating the Sabres 5-2, but that was hardly the big story. It was the hit.

Eriksson would leave the game (and stay in Buffalo overnight with concussion-like symptoms) and Scott would get jumped by Boston’s Adam McQuaid for the only fight of “Rivalry Night.” It was an ugly incident that marred the game, which dropped the Sabres to 1-9-1 on the season.

Cody Hodgson and Nikita Zadorov scored for Buffalo, who got 29 saves out of Ryan Miller.

Boston’s Milan Lucic and Torey Krug each scored twice, while Dougie Hamilton registered the game winning goal for the Bruins.

  • The hit was dirty and everyone knew that when it happened. You don’t need video review, it passed the eye test. But there’s no way there’s as much furor over it if it wasn’t a plug like John Scott throwing it or if it wasn’t a star player like Eriksson getting knocked out. He deserves supplemental discipline, but the deck is certainly stacked against Scott. Not that we should be upset that a guy who can’t score is out of the lineup.
  • Funny that the Bruins get commended for not going after a Sabres player for retribution when after the Lucic-Miller thing, it was the Sabres getting torn apart for not going after the Bruins.
  • This blog and this blogger complains frequently about game presentation being out of touch, and if it wasn’t obvious before, playing that horrible, stupid “Big Bad John” song after the hit should make it obvious to everyone else. The organization should be absolutely embarrassed that they employ people that would do that. No concept of what’s actually going on. Read the rest of this entry
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