Blog Archives

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, 9/48 Edition: Sabres not so Super, lose to Panthers

20130203 sabres suckHey, what a shocker… a Buffalo team loses on Super Bowl Sunday.

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.”

Buffalo now has lost six of their last seven after starting 2-0 on the shortened year.

“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

Delayed Overreactions, 81st Edition: So much for that

“It’s disappointing. It’s embarrassing to miss the playoffs,” Sabres goalie Ryan Miller said. “We have a lot of talented players on this team and we just didn’t get it going early enough this season.”

And so it ends.

Despite a rousing run to insert themselves back into the playoff race, all postseason hopes are gone after a 2-1 loss in Philadelphia Thursday night.

Ville Leino gave Buffalo a 1-0 lead in the second period, but the Flyers rebounded in the third period, tying the game on a Marc-Andre Bourdon goal six minutes into the period.

With the Sabres holding on trying to send the game to overtime and earn at least one crucial point, Philadelphia rookie Matt Read took advantage of Robyn Regehr’s defensive zone miscue to add the dagger with 4:21 remaining.

“We just didn’t finish,” Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said. “We had our chances, and we didn’t get the kind of shots we needed. There were far too many chances by the wayside.”

What should’ve been a mad scramble to tie the game turned into a circus, as Philadelphia dominated possession in the final minutes and the Sabres were unable to create good opportunities to tie the game.

Thanks to Washington’s victory over Florida, Buffalo is officially eliminated from playoff contention and will finish 9th in the Eastern Conference. The Sabres will miss the postseason for the first time since 2009.

“We did this to ourselves,” Miller said.

  • Buffalo’s tentative play for most of the game put them in the spot that in the end did them in. They sat back for most of the game, and it was one mistake that turned into the difference. Dangerous way to play against a team that’s so strong.
  • Rough night for the Sabres’ best line of late, as Tyler Ennis, Drew Stafford and Marcus Foligno were on the ice for both Philadelphia goals.
  • No blame goes to Ryan Miller for this one. While his goals allowed the last few games had taken a bump, Miller was outstanding and made the saves needed to keep Buffalo in position to win. Not on him. Read the rest of this entry

Overreactions, 80th Edition: Good thing the Leafs are awful, or this could’ve sucked.

It can’t ever be easy, can it?

Backs against the wall, playoff hopes on the line, hated rival in town, coming off a tough loss with chances to stay in the playoff picture fading faster than a Luke Schenn tee-shot, the Sabres were guaranteed to come out strong and make a statement.

There’s no guarantees, apparently. But who gives a shit if they come through at the end, right?

Spotting the clubhouse-bound Maple Leafs a 3-0 lead, the Buffalo Sabres made the most rousing of rousing comebacks, fighting back for a 6-5 overtime win. Derek Roy scored the game winner on a powerplay at 3:29 of overtime to tie Buffalo with Washington at 88 points for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

An epic goal by Jordan Leopold with 1:53 remaining in regulation tied the game at five, erasing a two goal deficit in the final ten minutes.

“Today was one of those days where we could’ve found ourselves losing that game 5-0,” Leopold said. “It didn’t work out that way, because we decided to dig in and push it all the way.”

Alexander Sulzer scored twice, Roy added another and Tyler Ennis also scored for Buffalo, who at one point or another, trailed 3-0, 4-2 and 5-3 before sending it to overtime.

Ryan Miller, despite the five goals allowed on the statline, made several phenomenal saves in stopping 20 of 25 shots he faced to get the win.

Buffalo’s scant playoff prospects remain alive until Thursday, when a matchup with the Flyers in Philadelphia and a Florida/Washington battle await. Until then…

…Wow.

  • In the final 43:29 of the game (second, third, and overtime periods) Buffalo outshot Toronto 36-12. It shouldn’t have been as close as it was.
  • Marcus Foligno, the well deserved first star of the night, was an absolute force. Throwing huge hits, dropping the gloves, picking up assists and overall being a pain-in-the-ass for the Leafs. And remember, there was a debate over whether the team made a mistake giving up on Zack Kassian.
  • Alexander Sulzer came to the Sabres with the following career totals: 74 games played. One goal. Seven assists. In 15 games with Buffalo, three goals, five assists and a good chance to get a nice contract this offseason. Read the rest of this entry

3MI Roadtrip Recap: Toronto

(In place of a traditional “Overreactions” post, which would be extremely tardy, this is 3MI Roadtrip Recap. A mix of what the postgame blogs usually look like and a look into the trip. Hope you like it. If you don’t, well, go lay down on train tracks.)

Preamble

It’s about as close to being at the center of the hockey universe as you can get. Saturday night in Toronto. Hockey Night in Canada. Nationwide up north and on NHL Network in the United States.

The aura of the Air Canada Centre is something that has to be experienced. And it’s something that I’ve been fortunate enough to have the opportunity to experience. Multiple times. Many, many times.

So when you look at the calendar and see Sabres at Leafs on a Saturday night at the end of March, two thoughts come to mind:

  1. Going to games in Toronto is awesome.
  2. The Leafs will be eliminated from playoff contention by then.

Which brought us to Saturday, which was as big as big games could get after losing Friday night to Pittsburgh.

So me and my buddy headed up north for the day. A nice afternoon of watching hockey at Real Sports Bar & Grill across the street from the ACC and some Saturday night hockey. Got standing room only tickets off StubHub at box office price. Can’t beat it.

Sabres @ Maple Leafs
Viewed at: Air Canada Centre, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

If you want to write the book called “How to fuck up your playoff chances in a game you should win,” I’ve got a suggestion for what you can include.

Making the short trip north for a showdown with a free-falling Toronto Maple Leafs, who came into Saturday riding an 11-game winless streak at home, who happened to be starting their fourth-string goalie because their third-string goalie got shelled the game before, Buffalo proceeded to back away from any decent shot at a playoff spot.

Unable to beat Ben Scrivens or shut down a struggling offense, the Buffalo Sabres dropped a 4-3 defeat at the hands of the golf-course-bound Leafs in Toronto.

Ryan Miller was unable to rebound from a rough outing the night before, giving up four goals for the second straight night. He made 25 saves in the loss.

“We scored some goals tonight, so I didn’t need to be perfect,” Miller said. “But I needed to make another save or two.”

Tyler Ennis, Ville Leino, and Drew Stafford scored for Buffalo, who never led at any point. Read the rest of this entry

Overreactions, 73rd Edition: Sabres bolt ahead and beat Tampa

Games have tended to slip away from the Sabres lately.

There was the “give up a late goal to force overtime and lose in the shootout” one last Wednesday. And then the “come back to tie it and blow multiple chances to seal the win in a shootout” one in southern Florida on Saturday.

Tonight, the Sabres made sure that wasn’t happening again.

Holding a two goal lead after 20 minutes, Buffalo used a four-goal second period to pull away en route to a 7-3 win over Tampa Bay.

Jason Pominville and Marcus Foligno each scored twice for Buffalo, who kept pace with the victorious Washington Capitals and sit just two points behind them for the final playoff spot in the East.

“We were able to capitalize on a couple of rushes and made some good plays on our power play,” Pominville said. “When they have to change their game plan and open the game up, I think it falls into our style of play. We’ve got guys that have speed and can make you pay, and we did.”

Drew Stafford, Corey Tropp and Brad Boyes also scored, as the Sabres defeated the Lightning for the first time this season.

Ryan Miller made 24 saves to get the win, as his counterparts, starter Dustin Tokarski (four goals allowed on 15 shots) and Dwayne Roloson (three goals allowed on 23 shots) didn’t fare as well.

  • Tyler Ennis, Drew Stafford and Marcus Foligno are absolutely sublime right now. A combined three goals and four assists tonight, these guys look phenomenal together. Ennis’ move to center has singlehandedly rejuvenated Stafford, and Foligno has probably played his last AHL game, unless the Sabres miss the playoffs.
  • Good to see Jason Pominville pick up a couple nice goals, getting him to 27 on the year. He’s had a great season, and he should have a good look at breaking the 30-goal mark. Hey, somebody ought to be able to get that many.
  • Corey Tropp with an absolute beauty on a nice setup from Thomas Vanek. Tropp is the future of the bottom six on this roster. Decent size, good energy and solid hands. He’s developed into a hell of a player. Read the rest of this entry

Overreactions, 71st Edition: Um… It’s not over yet.

With the Sabres just a few points out of a playoff spot, with more than ten games remaining, the season isn’t over yet. It’d be foolish to think otherwise.

Conversely, with your opponent trailing by a mere one goal with time running out, it’s not over yet. It’d be foolish to leave your head firmly planted inside your ass and let them tie the game before the clock expires. That just happened.

Again.

For the second game in a row, the Buffalo Sabres surrendered a tying goal in the waning seconds of regulation, this time off the stick of Colorado’s Jamie McGinn with just 1.6 seconds on the clock. Unlike Monday night, they failed to rebound, falling 5-4 in a shootout.

Buffalo held three separate one goal leads that disappeared. Marcus Foligno opened the scoring just 1:39 into the game. After Colorado tied it seven minutes later, Drew Stafford scored shorthanded to take a 2-1 lead. Colorado would answer with a David Jones goal in the final minute of the opening period.

The Avalanche grabbed their only lead of the night early in the second on a Gabriel Landeskog goal. They led until Marcus Foligno tied it at 3-3 with just under nine minutes remaining in the second.

Alexander Sulzer’s first goal as a Sabre appeared to give Buffalo the lead that would get them to the win, but McGinn’s goal spoiled the night.

Peter Mueller of the Avs scored the only goal in the shootout, as Semyon Varlamov stopped Brad Boyes, Jason Pominville and Tyler Ennis to get the win.

Ryan Miller was strong, but not strong enough, stopping 38 of 42 shots for the Sabres, who earn one point but sit three points behind 8th place Washington with 11 games left on the schedule.

  • Nice moment for Marcus Foligno, scoring that early goal. It ignited the crowd, and his first jump has been highly anticipated from the time they drafted him. He had a phenomenal game. Scored twice, added three hits and finished +3 in 14:41.
  • Speaking of rooks, Brayden McNabb quietly made his return to the lineup after being recalled from Rochester. Needless to say, he looked shaky. Played just 13:17 and looked uneasy. With Myers out for at least the next two games, lets get Andrej Sekera an extra IV or something.
  • The Foligno-Ennis-Stafford line was superb tonight. Stafford and Foligno both scored and provided a physical presence. Ennis was Ennis, dancing around the ice and picking up three assists. They looked really good. Unfortunately, their line was the only line that showed up. Read the rest of this entry

Overreactions, 70th Edition: Tyler, Tyler, Tyler

This wasn’t just a game the Sabres need to win, it was a game they had to win. A simply dominating effort couldn’t go to waste. It almost did. But almost doesn’t matter.

Even after allowing a tying goal with just seconds left in regulation, the Buffalo Sabres rebounded quickly and thanks to a Tyler Myers goal 2:01 into the fourth period, defeated Montreal 3-2 in overtime.

Tyler Ennis was the star of the night, scoring both Sabres goals in regulation, including a dazzling marker to tie the game at 1-1 in the second period. Ennis would get credit for another in the third thanks to Montreal’s Alexei Emelin deflecting it past Peter Budaj.

Montreal would tie the game in the dying moments on a goal by David Desharnais, sending it to extra time. Two minutes in, it was Derek Roy finding a trailing Myers in the slot for the finish.

“I think it shows we’ve got good character,” Ennis said. “It can be deflating when you let in a goal with a few seconds left. And we bounce back and score right away in overtime.”

The win moved Buffalo past Winnipeg for 9th place in the East, and trail 8th place Washington by just two points.

Ryan Miller was solid in goal for the Sabres, stopping 26 shots.

  • Why was Marcus Foligno on the ice for the final shift that led to the tying goal? Great, the kid played well, reward him, but not right there. Don’t believe those three forwards (Foligno, Roy and Jason Pominville) played a shift together the whole game until then. It bit them.
  • Obligatory “Tyler Ennis is a superstar in the making whether you think so or not” bullet point. Gotta keep him at center.
  • After missing time with injury, Thomas Vanek had a good game and showed a lot of tenacity. Didn’t seem to me that he was laboring much at all. Came extremely close to getting himself on the scoresheet. Read the rest of this entry

Overreactions, 69th Edition: Sabres get it done in Ottawa

In the spot they’re in, the Sabres are going to put themselves into a good spot if they find a way to assert themselves and grab games early. Saturday night in Ottawa, they never led for a second. But they left Canada’s capital with two points.

Erasing a one-goal deficit not once, not twice, but three times, the Buffalo Sabres found a way to win, earning a 4-3 shootout victory over the Ottawa Senators.

Tyler Ennis scored the decisive goal in the shootout.

Buffalo got yet another strong game from Ryan Miller, who made 33 saves, some in spectacular fashion before stopping two of three in the shootout.

Three times Ottawa took a lead, but they were all answered by the Sabres. Nathan Gerbe scored midway through the second to make it 1-1. Ennis tied the game at 2-2 with less than 20 seconds left in the middle period. The clutch goal to send it to overtime was scored by Marcus Foligno, his first career goal in his 2nd NHL game with 5:54 left on the clock.

“It was good to see us get pucks to the net, and we got a couple of nice bounces and that comes from just putting the puck in good areas,” Miller said. “They all count and they were a little bit dirtier. We needed it.”

It was an impressive effort from the Sabres to rebound, as Ottawa capitalized on Buffalo errors to jump ahead throughout the game. A Tyler Myers turnover at the blueline led to Erik Condra’s shorthanded goal. A breakout pass into Cody Hodgson’s skates set up Erik Karlsson’s first goal of the night. The third goal was a lost battle in front that led to Karlsson banking a shot off Miller and in from behind the goal line.

Buffalo now heads home, where they have Sunday off before facing Montreal at First Niagara Center on Monday.

  • The most important contract Darcy Regier has to get signed this summer is Tyler Ennis. The much discussed “second contract” is going to be key for the team’s cap situation for the next few seasons. Getting this guy signed for a reasonable rate is important. Injuries have kept his totals down this season, which should help, but Ennis is going to be a star by the time he has to sign his next deal. The most dynamic player in the organization, Ennis could be the team’s #1 center in a few years.
  • When Marcus Foligno came up earlier in the season, it was blatantly obvious he was not ready for the NHL. Seems like a totally different player now. I’d prefer to keep him in Rochester longer to continue development unless injuries provoke recalls, but you see why Zack Kassian was expendable. Solid 16 minutes from the rookie.
  • The defense is going to have to make a concerted effort to aim for the blade of Cody Hodgson’s stick instead of the blade of his skates. Read the rest of this entry

Overreactions, 67th Edition: On to the next one

As game time approached Wednesday night at First Niagara Center, the signs of a “trap game” started popping up. Whether it was Lindy Ruff sticking Ryan Miller in net again, the dreaded “first game back after a road trip” game, a late scratch of Andrej Sekera due to illness… you could find your reasons.

Buffalo responded with an effort that got them the result they needed.

Before a surprisingly lively crowd, the Sabres came home and in the end, took care of business, knocking off the Carolina Hurricanes with a 3-2 overtime victory on the strength of captain Jason Pominville’s powerplay goal 56 seconds into the fourth period.

After falling into an early hole and facing a one goal deficit after one, the Sabres had grabbed a 2-1 lead just 1:02 into the second on goals by Tyler Myers and Thomas Vanek. Carolina would later tie it up and the teams remained deadlocked after 60 minutes until the American hero, Pominville, ended it.

Ryan Miller made 22 saves for Buffalo, moving to 7-1-2 in his last 10 starts.

The Sabres now sit 10th place in the Eastern Conference at 70 points, just two behind 8th place Winnipeg with 15 games to go.

  • Thomas Vanek’s ice time in his four-game streak without a point: 17:41, 17:45, 12:09, 16:20. Tonight: 19:47, two points. Likely due to the above-the-norm amount of powerplays, but noticeable.
  • Big ups to Carolina’s Jussi Jokinen for taking three, yes, three minor penalties tonight. The way they’re calling games, penalties don’t get called often. Takes a supreme effort to pull that off.
  • Alex Sulzer had a pretty solid game as a late replacement for the apparently sick Andrej Sekera. Three blocked shots, two shots on goal, and a snipe off the pipe that could’ve broken the tie in the second period. Looked good in his home debut. Read the rest of this entry
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