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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, 41/48 Edition: The wheels are officially off

166357552_slideIf Tuesday’s loss wasn’t all you needed to write off the season, the Buffalo Sabres wanted to make up your mind tonight. And they did, in emphatic fashion.

With a split crowd thanks to legions of visiting fans in First Niagara Center, there was no home ice advantage, and the home team got crushed by the Montreal Canadiens in a 5-1 loss.

“That was an embarrassing loss,” said Sabres forward Cody Hodgson. “They played a lot better than we did and we, collectively as a group, didn’t match it.”

Buffalo got outplayed for the duration of the game, getting outshot 42-15, and after Rene Bourque opened the scoring 6:43 into the opening period, the outcome was never in doubt. Montreal would take a 2-0 lead on an Alex Galchenyuk goal moments later, and added two more in the second period.

Ryan Miller ended up getting pulled after 40 minutes, surrendering four goals on 32 shots. Jhonas Enroth would stop 9 of 10 he faced in the third.

Rookie Brian Flynn scored the only goal for Buffalo, his fifth of the season, while the team was shorthanded in the third. Montreal’s star defenseman P.K. Subban added a powerplay goal late to extend the final margin.

The Canadiens clinched a playoff berth with the win, while the Sabres are for all intents and purposes dunzo. The only race they’re in now is to the bottom.

  • The Sabres got assessed a bench minor for abuse of officials near the end of the game. I don’t know if anyone asked what happened, but I at least appreciate the passion. That’s something.
  • Steve Ott can’t get praised enough for what he does. He does everything he can to win. He’s got the right attitude and mindset, and if you look at the numbers, he does back it up. Seeing him in the locker room, full equipment still on, bruised and bloodied… as a fan, you can’t ask for more.
  • As much as the team on the ice needs fixing, they got enough work to do off ice as well. Such a miserable place to see a game.
  • Really taking a liking to Brian Flynn, which I’ve stated in here before, but I’ll reiterate it whenever I feel the need. I could handle a Flynn-Porter-somebody fourth line next year. He’s gonna need some time to develop, but the tools are there. Read the rest of this entry

Overreactions, 31/48 Edition: Wait, I thought this team was bad?

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Sabres forward Steve Ott did score the game deciding goal, but he did a better job summing up the night in the locker room after the game.

“That’s fun,” said Ott.

Buffalo came back from an early 2-0 deficit to tie the game at three before the end of the second and held on in the third to get the game to overtime before they eventually downed the Toronto Maple Leafs with a 5-4 shootout win in front of 19,070 raucous fans, in both teams’ colors, at First Niagara Center.

“Honestly that’s easy energy you can take from the crowd,” added Ott.

The game got off to a wild start as Buffalo John Scott dropped the gloves with Toronto’s Fraser McLaren as Leafs tough guy Colton Orr tried picking a fight with Sabres pest Patrick Kaleta. Orr was booted from the game and Buffalo started off with a four minute powerplay which they failed to capitalize on.

Toronto would open up the scoring with two goals 1:16 apart just minutes later, beating Ryan Miller twice on five shots in the opening period. Tyler Ennis scored late in the period to cut the deficit to one.

The physical play continued to escalate throughout the game, and Toronto regained their two-goal lead on Mikhail Grabovski goal about nine minutes in. Buffalo would storm back on goals 0:45 apart by Marcus Foligno and Jason Pominville to tie the game, and then take the lead early in the third on a Christian Ehrhoff powerplay goal.

Leafs leading scorer Nazem Kadri would tie the game six minutes later, and except for a lot of hitting, the game was unresolved through 65 minutes of play.

“It was nasty and chippy and that’s the way it should be,” said Foligno.

Drew Stafford tallied in round 2 of the skills competition and Ott would score the shootout winner as Miller stopped 5 of 6 Leafs shooters, complementing his 30 saves through regulation and overtime.

Buffalo, with the win, sits just four points out of 8th place with 17 games remaining. Just when you thought they were out, they suck you right back in.

  • John Scott, as much as he gets bashed, may have had his most effective game as a Sabre in 3:02 of ice time. He was able to bait Leafs forward Phil Kessel into a coincidental minor, which is a trade you take any day. And he had some fun after the game.
  • Marcus Foligno always seems to step his game up when they play Toronto. Not just on the scoresheet (has six points in six career games) but as a physical presence. Makes you wish they played the Leafs more often.
  • The drumline in the arena looks dumber and dumber each game. Yes, having someone lead chants is great until they stop, and then everyone else does. You’re creating sheep instead of putting the onus on the fans to make their own noise. Band-aid over a bullet wound. Read the rest of this entry

Overreactions, 29/48 Edition: Loss with a Capital “L”

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At least the whole country got a taste of this mess.

In a battle of two struggling teams trying to maintain any semblance of playoff hopes, it was the Capitals who walked away with two points and the Sabres walking away with a 5-3 loss in our glorious global superpower nation’s capital.

Searching for another strong start, Buffalo was able to keep the Capitals off the scoreboard for a respectable 19 seconds, as legendary hockey GM Mike Milbury’s favorite player, Alex Ovechkin opened the scoring. That was actually the high point of the first period, which was an overall craptacular period of hockey.

Buffalo would tie it just 12 seconds into the second period, as Cody Hodgson scored his 11th of the year. Washington came back with three straight before Brian Flynn scored his third to make it 4-2 after two.

Hodgson would add another in the third to cut the deficit to one before Washington’s Mathieu Perrault added an insurance marker for the Caps, who jump the Sabres in the Eastern Conference standings. The Sabres now sit in 14th, while the Caps move up to 13th.

Ryan Miller made 20 saves for Buffalo.

  • Mark Pysyk looked pretty solid in his NHL debut. Really came out calm and make some smart plays in the first. He looked bad on the fifth goal, but that was really his only hiccup in 14:55 of TOI.
  • The game Steve Ott played tonight is the game you really want out of him when he’s not scoring. He was a pest all night, drew a couple penalties and really was all up in Washington’s shit. He didn’t get on the scoresheet, but he was effective.
  • Personally, I would’ve gone with Jhonas Enroth in goal tonight. His last performance merited another start. This was the best situation you could ask for. Don’t know when he gets in again. Maybe on the Florida road trip? Read the rest of this entry

Overreactions, 22/48 Edition: New invention called “winning streak” all the rage in Buffalo

20130302 millerwinThere was as much reason to expect less as you’d think there was. In the end, the Buffalo Sabres found a way to get it done.

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

Overreactions, 16/48 Edition: Sabres lose to Penguins, unimaginative post titles abound

20130217 regehrIt didn’t start well, and it sure as hell didn’t end well.

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

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, 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

Overreactions, 2/48 Edition: Sabres beat Leafs, Earth orbits around Sun

20130121 pominvilleLast season, the Toronto Maple Leafs accomplished something incomprehensible: they swept the season series with the Sabres at the Air Canada Centre.

Luckily, we’ve had enough of that shit.

In the first of two meetings in the center of the hockey universe, Buffalo, fresh off a season-opening win over the Flyers, headed up the Queen Elizabeth Way and defeated the Leafs by a score of 2-1 in Toronto’s home opener.

Buffalo jumped out to a 2-0 lead on goals by Cody Hodgson and American hero Jason Pominville. A late powerplay goal by Toronto’s Nazem Kadri, with the teams skating 6-on-4 made it close, but the Sabres held on.

Ryan Miller was strong in net for Buffalo, stopping 34 of 35 shots. For the second game in a row, he was also the beneficiary of not one but two disallowed goals. In 42 career games against Toronto, Miller now has a record of 28-14.

Thomas Vanek also registered an assist on Pominville’s game winner to retain the NHL scoring lead with six points.

Buffalo sits at 2-0-0 on the season, and next heads to Carolina for the first game of a home-and-home Thursday in Raleigh. Toronto, well, they’re still struggling with that expansion to a 12-team league.

  • At some point, someone other than Vanek, Pominville or Hodgson is going to have to create a goal. They’ve been in on everything so far, and it’s not a concern yet, but it will be soon.
  • Ryan Miller looked locked in most of the night, and made some very good saves. Overall, he seemed completely in control.
  • John Scott with 1:58 of ice time and a fight, which, was alright I guess. After two games, he’s spent 4:08 on the ice and 5:00 in the box. Again, this can’t last. 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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