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Overreactions, Preseason Edition: Kids help Sabres beat Hurricanes

It’s good to be back.

In the Buffalo Sabres’ return to their home rink for their first home game of the preseason slate, a squad littered with young talent overcame a sloppy first 30 minutes to storm away with a 5-2 win over visiting Metropolitan Division rival, the Carolina Hurricanes.

Johan Larsson, acquired at last year’s trade deadline in the Jason Pominville deal, scored twice for Buffalo, who moved to 3-0-0 on the preseason campaign.

Trailing 1-0 after one period of play, Joel Armia scored his first of the preseason to tie the game. After surrendering another goal just minutes later, Larsson scored his first of the game, tipping in a Brayden McNabb point shot to deadlock the score after two periods.

Buffalo would go on to score three unanswered goals in the third, led by Cody Hodgson’s redirection of a Thomas Vanek pass with just under six minutes to go. Larsson and McNabb (who finished with a goal and two assists) would score insurance goals before the clock ran out.

The Sabres also got a very strong performance out of Ryan Miller, who played his first full game after splitting duties with Matt Hackett in Wednesday’s win over NHLBettingTips.com Metropolitan Division underdog Columbus. Miller stopped 34 of 36 shots to get the win.

While an undefeated record in preseason only means so much, the Sabres now face a home-and-home with Toronto. The Leafs will visit First Niagara Center on Saturday night for a Hockey Night in Canada broadcast.

  • Really like Johan Larsson’s game tonight. The guy does everything you’d want him to do. He goes to the net, wins draws (71% on 17 draws) and shows a lot of hustle. He could force his way into a roster spot, but if he doesn’t, he won’t be in Rochester long.
  • Best guy on the ice for Carolina tonight? You guessed it: Andrej Sekera. Led Carolina with 23:03 of ice time, showed a lot of possession of the puck, and save for the two third period goals he was on the ice for, was really, really good. The Canes are gonna love him. Compher better pan out.
  • Brayden McNabb’s game has been hit-or-miss for a little while, but tonight his work in the offensive zone is evident in the boxscore. That shot can generate a lot of opportunities, whether it’s going straight in, or he’s putting it in places that guys can tip it. He needs to show that if he wants to stick. Read the rest of this entry

Instigator Podcast #26: Cool Draft

Yes, I’m not dead. The NHL dDaft was a good enough excuse for my and my man Chris to get together and do a podcast. This is it. Listen to it.

Hit us up on twitter, @3rdManIn or @2ITB_Buffalo with comments.

Overreactions, 45/48 Edition: Sabres lose, tee times await

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You could say the Sabres went down swinging. You could say that, but you’d be wrong. It was worse than that.

With their flickering playoff hopes in the balance, and the 8th place New York Rangers coming into First Niagara Center, there was little doubt. Buffalo gave up six straight goals en route to a hope-extinguishing 8-4 loss.

“It’s unexplainable, unexcusable,” said Sabres defenseman Christian Ehrhoff. “That’s just the way our season went. Just like it did tonight.”

The Sabres held the Rangers in check for the first 18:42 of the opening period, but a Carl Hagelin goal opened the floodgates. Brad Richards would score 57 seconds later, and Ryan Miller would have one of the worst fuck-ups of his career, handing the puck to Ryane Clowe who made it 3-0 with less than four seconds left in the period.

“That’s one of the worst plays I’ve made while I’ve been here,” said Miller. “Just shitty timing.”

New York scored early in the second, with Anton Stralman and Brad Richards extending the lead, as the Rangers opened up a 5-0 lead in a span of 2:58 of play. Rick Nash made it 6-0 before Buffalo finally found the board.

Cody Hodgson, Nathan Gerbe, Drew Stafford and Mark Pysyk, with the first of his NHL career, scored for the Sabres, who are now officially relegated to watching the postseason.

Miller was pulled after the fourth Rangers goal, giving up four goals on 14 shots. Jhonas Enroth didn’t fare much better, stopping 11 shots and allowing four goals as well. Ryan Callahan also scored for New York, and Brad Richards finished the hat trick midway through the third period.

Thanks to the shitshow in Boston this week, the NHL postponed what would’ve been a trip to Pittsburgh to play the Pens tomorrow. Now, the Sabres are off until Monday. Time to let it sink in.

  • Glad to see the media piling on game presentation for not referencing the fact the suspect in the Boston Marathon bombings was caught. Could’ve been an emotional moment, huge missed opportunity. The crowd has been awful all season, and in a do-or-die game, they were even worse tonight. Everyone in that department deserves a pink slip based on performance alone. Letting this shit continue is just accepting below-average results.
  • John Scott played 11:00 tonight. The man has not scored a goal since November of 2009. What did I just say about accepting below-average results again?
  • Ron Rolston got fiery in his postgame press conference when an unnamed Buffalo News reporter who may or may not drive a white van offered some weak questions. Few media in the room desired to break it up. Can only speak for myself, but it was enjoyable. Read the rest of this entry

Overreactions, 28/48 Edition: Sabres lose in Sabres fashion to Sens

163808165_slideThe Buffalo Sabres played one of their best first periods of the season on Saturday.

Their opponent had limited quality scoring opportunities and good work in the offensive zone gave them a solid 2-0 lead after 20 minutes. But this is the 2012-2013 Buffalo Sabres.

Ottawa stormed back in the second period with three goals, and scored the winner in overtime as they defeated Buffalo by a score of 4-3. Kyle Turris won it with the Senators enjoying the extra man thanks to a Christian Ehrhoff penalty halfway through the extra period.

The Sabres salvaged a point thanks to a third period equalizer by Drew Stafford, who scored his second of the game with approximately eight minutes left. It was his second of the game, doubling his season goal total.

“We gave them a point tonight,” said defenseman Mike Weber, who tallied his first goal of the season. “It’s extremely upsetting. I don’t know what else to say.”

Goals by Patrick Wiercioch, Chris Phillips and Kyle Turris turned the game around for Ottawa, who outshot the Sabres 15-9 in the second. Buffalo, by virtue of the point earned in overtime, temporarily moved into 12th place in the East.

Ryan Miller stopped 30 shots in the loss.

“We’ve got to put together a hell of a stretch here just to have a chance to get in the playoffs. To go to sleep there for 20, it’s extremely disappointing,” said Weber.

  • Ville Leino looked really good in his season debut. He picked up an assist on the Weber goal, and was in position to get a piece of it on its way through. It’s hard to gauge how his absence has effected the team. As much as he draws the ire of many, the team is better with him than without him.
  • Not sure I’d have called it “interference,” but Christian Ehrhoff definitely earned that penalty in overtime.
  • Hopefully, Drew Stafford gained some confidence with his two goals. He earned them how he should be earning them regularly: going to the front of the net and getting pucks on goal. If anyone could use a little hot streak, it’s him. Read the rest of this entry

Overreactions, 27/48 Edition: Sabres win, Tortorella still thinks they suck

163580867_slideOn paper, this wasn’t going to go well.

On the ice, well, that’s why they actually play the games, right?

Jhonas Enroth, starting for the ill Ryan Miller, was sensational on the night, stopping 32 shots to lead the Buffalo Sabres to a 3-1 win over the New York Rangers. It was Enroth’s first win since November 26, 2011.

“I felt very confident and I had control of every shot,” said Enroth. “I didn’t give up any bad rebounds and stuff like that, so it was pretty much a perfect game for me.”

Buffalo got two goals from Marcus Foligno and the game winner from, surprise, Thomas Vanek.

Even after surrendering the first goal, yet another shorthanded marker scored by Rangers forward and fine American Derek Stepan, Buffalo kept their composure for the most part. Foligno scored moments later to tie the game, and Vanek added what would be the winner with just over seven minutes remaining in the second.

Foligno tallied the insurance marker with about eight minutes to go in the third, banging in a rebound in front of the net. The Sabres, who rocket up to 27th in the NHL standings with the win, would hold on despite getting outshot 18-3 in the final 20 minutes.

Hey, a win is nice every once in a while.

  • Andrej Sekera was fantastic for the Sabres. Great with the puck, made smart and confident plays. Picked up two assists, but those weren’t even his best plays of the night. Overall great game from the Slovak, who played 21:48 of great hockey.
  • Brian Flynn and Kevin Porter may be earning themselves spots on the team. It’s obvious the team may be looking to deal at the deadline, and right now, these guys may be locked in for the remainder of the year if they keep this up. Flynn had an assist and Porter is showing more and more dependability. They bring what you need out of your bottom six.
  • Really shocked that the officials didn’t try to even out the penalty calls in the third period. New York ended up with just one opportunity, where they obviously didn’t score. Read the rest of this entry

Overreactions, 19/48 Edition: Sabres get shutout in yet another loss

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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

Overreactions, 15/48 Edition: Well, how about that.

20130215 millerHard to say anyone had reason to expect much out of the Buffalo Sabres on Friday night.

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

Overreactions, 7/48 Edition: Thomas Vanek is good at hockey

Sabres win, 7-4. I got nothing else.

 

Well, maybe… Read the rest of this entry

Overreactions, 4/48 Edition: Vanek can’t do everything

20130125 canes celebrate

Well, the defense tightened up a bit at least.

After dropping a 6-3 decision the night before in Raleigh, the Buffalo Sabres again took one in the loss column, a 3-1 defeat to the Carolina Hurricanes.

Thomas Vanek scored the lone goal for Buffalo, his third of the campaign, to open up a 1-0 second period lead. (AD: Click here to visit BetOnIt.org to learn more about betting online) Vanek has been on the ice for all 11 goals the Sabres have scored this season.

“Thomas is off to one hell of a start,” said Sabres coach Lindy Ruff. “He’s played awesome.”

Unfortunately, that one goal wasn’t going to be enough, as Carolina tied it a few minutes later on Alexander Semin’s first goal as a Hurricane. Jay Harrison’s point shot at 15:10 of the 3rd found the back of the net behind Ryan Miller to give Carolina the lead, and Jeff Skinner’s empty netter sealed it.

Dan Ellis, yes, that’s right, Dan Ellis, was superb in goal for Carolina, stopping 40 of 41 shots.

“Coming into Buffalo and getting a win is not easy, and he was a big of a part of that win tonight,” Hurricanes coach Kirk Muller said after the game.

The Sabres did get a solid night out of Ryan Miller, who stopped 39 of 41 shots. But when you don’t have goal support, it’s tough to put it on the goaltending.

“You need to win these games or at least get to overtime,” said Miller after the game. “I need to make one more save.”

Buffalo next heads to Washington for a Sunday matinee with the winless Capitals.

  • Lindy deemed Tyler Myers’ play tonight as “Okay” after the game, and while he did settle in and play decent defense at times, that’s irrelevant due to the egregious mistakes he made. The absolutely mindless play that created a 3-on-0 break for Carolina in the second period is completely unacceptable for what is expected of him. The only thing stopping me from saying he’s been Buffalo’s worst defenseman is the fact Robyn Regehr has possibly been worse.
  • I avoided mentioning it above, but what the fuck is the point of having Mikhail Grigorenko here? Ruff gave an acceptable reasoning as to why he tried putting other lines out for defense. You know what? Fine. But you just made a budding franchise-cornerstone-type offensive center prospect skate with John fucking Scott. This develops him how? Playing him 6:48 a night when your team can’t score goals helps you how? Send him back to Quebec and let him get relied on for 20+ minutes a night. Don’t make him play with fucking plugs.
  • Andrej Sekera: team leading 22:18 TOI. Most shots by a defenseman. Most takeaways. Most blocked shots. Best defenseman in a Buffalo uniform tonight. Was excellent jumping into the rush and busted his ass to get back. Read the rest of this entry

Overreactions, 1/48 Edition: Thomas Vanek is all man, baby.

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There may have been some reason to worry about the fact that the Buffalo Sabres were about to play their first game in nine months. Of course, their opponent, the Philadelphia Flyers, had a chance to shake off their rust beforehand, and they were motivated by their loss to Pittsburgh the day before.

Didn’t really matter.

Sabres LW Thomas Vanek had a career night pitching in on every goal as Buffalo dispatched the Flyers with a 5-2 victory in front of a national audience on NBC. The Austrian superhunk scored twice and added three assists to take over the NHL scoring lead on day 2 of the 2013 season.

“That’s one team I really like to beat, and it’s one team I really hate to lose to, so I feel pretty good right now,” coach Lindy Ruff said after the game.

Buffalo took an early lead on a powerplay goal by Sabres newbie Steve Ott. Philadelphia stormed back early in the second, scoring twice to take the lead. Then it was all Vanek. With less than five to go in the second, he deked Ilya Bryzgalov out of his jockstrap to tie the game. Then Vanek added helpers on a go-ahead goal by Tyler Myers and the insurance marker by Cody Hodgson late in the third.

He also added an empty netter for good measure, and linemate Jason Pominville tallied three assists.

“We scored timely goals,” Vanek said after the game. “It’s nice to get a win obviously, but if we would’ve lost, we would’ve talked about ‘It’s just one game with many more to go,’ so it’s the same mindset really.”

Buffalo was the beneficiary of two goals wiped out by the officials, one for goaltender interference and another because the official blew the whistle prematurely. Ryan Miller stopped 27 other shots to earn the win.

Sitting atop the Northeast Division, the Sabres head to Toronto tonight for tomorrow’s game against the Leafs.

  • First and foremost, kudos to the Sabres PR department for the additional access for bloggers this season. A few selected, premier sites were given full locker room access, this esteemed one included. There’s also open voting for the three stars of the game, which I will now include my selections and the actual ones in each Overreactions. Pretty surreal experience for me personally, but I’m not complaining.
  • Tyler Myers had the game winning goal and was overall terrible for the entirety of the night. Ended up with a team high 23:11 TOI and only credited with two giveaways. Was extremely shaky all game. If he’s gonna be the horse, he has to tighten it up.
  • Scott Hartnell is a piece of shit. Any time your team faces him, remind your players “Heads up, don’t duck,” because they’re gonna end up being boarded at some point. Read the rest of this entry
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