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
So me and Chris Ostrander of Two In the Box do this podcast sometimes, and we’re always trying to get guests. This episode, we have WGR 550′s Pat Malacaro joining us.
The topic of the day is Mikhail Grigorenko, what the Sabres should do and why. Beyond that, we have a solid version of Plus/Minus, talk Tyler Myers, faceoffs, The Bills Mafia and more.
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
After an extended tour of Europe, Scandinavia and the sub-continent, we are back with the eighth version of “The Instigator Podcast” featuring Chris Ostrander of Two In the Box and myself.
This week we talk about, well, rage about the fact there was no end of the season press conference, discuss what to do with Lindy Ruff since he’s staying, the team’s core, and where to go from here. Oh! Plus/minus too!
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…
- 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
Sure, looking at the standings, Monday night’s game in Winnipeg (a vacation destination listed somewhere between Sarajevo and Chernobyl on the countdown of “Most Desirable Places To Visit”) looked like a big game. The Sabres, just two points behind the 8th place Thrashers-at-heart, could’ve jumped ahead with a regulation win.
Had it not been at the conclusion of a roadtrip that helped resurrect the team’s season, it might’ve been a do-or-die situation. But thanks to wins at Anaheim, San Jose and Vancouver, arguably, they were already playing with house money. Four-for-four wasn’t in the cards. Oh well.
Buffalo surrendered a lead for the first time in more than two weeks and rarely looked threatening in a 3-1 loss to the team they renamed the Jets.
Ryan Miller, who was sublime for the first three games of the trip, looked solid, but his 28 saves on 31 shots was not enough to steal any points.
Corey Tropp scored for Buffalo.
The Sabres looked lifeless for most of the game, showing signs of wear after three hard-fought wins before getting sent to play in poor conditions against a rested team.
Buffalo now sits four points out of a playoff spot, while still maintaining a game in hand. Winnipeg, clearly a better team in their AHL-sized home rink, plays just six games there for the remainder of the season. They have the 25th best road record in the NHL. Needless to say, the 8th spot is there for the taking.
- Pretty shocked Lindy Ruff didn’t juggle lines a bit to find something other than the fourth line that might’ve shown something. The top line of Derek Roy, Thomas Vanek and Jason Pominville looked atrocious. They were each -2 and played under 17 minutes. Your top line is supposed to step up. They didn’t.
- Seriously, when you’re down two in the final minutes and Matt Ellis is on the ice, your team has problems. Read the rest of this entry
Ryan Miller didn’t seem too happy yesterday. When pressed about his departed BFF Paul Gaustad, he seemed unsettled by not having the big guy around anymore. Never knowing how Miller will react mentally to things like this, it’d have been easy to have tenuous confidence about Wednesday night’s game in Anaheim.
Miller stepped up. Big time.
A sensational outing from the man in the crease propelled the Sabres to a scrappy 2-0 win over the Ducks at Honda Center. Miller made 43 saves for his fourth shutout of the season.
The first 40 minutes were a solid effort from the Sabres, jumping out to a two goal lead on a powerplay goal by Derek Roy in the first and a tip-in from Brad Boyes in the second.
For the Ducks, the roosters were crowing and cows were spinning circles in the pasture, as they came out flying in the third period. Anaheim outshot Buffalo 20-4 in the final frame, but couldn’t crack Miller.
Things got chippy at the end, as the Ducks’ frustration boiled over. Three scraps in the final minute, featuring Anaheim stars such as Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry marred the end of a solid night for the Sabres.
New acquisition Cody Hodgson looked sharp in his debut in blue and gold, earning a +1 in 16:04 of ice time while ripping four shots and winning 5-of-8 at the faceoff dot. Hodgson was centering Tyler Ennis and Drew Stafford, and the line looked dangerous for most of the night.
The Sabres now fly directly to San Jose for the second half of the back-to-back against the Sharks.
- Hodgson was as-advertised, despite not picking up a point. He was buzzing all over the ice and didn’t hesitate shooting. He had a nice opportunity on a 2-on-1 with Tyler Ennis, but couldn’t beat Jonas Hiller. A nice effort to settle into the lineup.
- On Ennis, he had a good look at an empty net, but made what looked like an unselfish play to try to find Drew Stafford in the middle. One with a killer instinct would look for him to shoot. One looking for team play would be cool with that decision. One named Al Iafrate would think Tyler’s a good egg.
- Corey Tropp’s name shows up here a lot. Tonight was another good effort. He drew a boarding penalty that led to the Boyes goal. He threw down with Matt Beleskey. Can’t hate on the kid, dude just brings it. Read the rest of this entry
After being named to the list of rookies participating in the skills competition at NHL All-Star Weekend, Adam was amongst the game’s best for a few days in Ottawa. Adam was selected to participate in the hardest shot contest for Team Chara, and acquitted himself quite well.
The odd part of the whole thing was seen Luke out on the ice along side the game’s best in the showcase weekend for the league is quite atypical of his experiences in Buffalo of late.
Riding a strong start to the season, centering a line between All-Star Jason Pominville and superstar Thomas Vanek, Adam appeared to be filling that top line pivot spot well.
Obviously, Jochen Hecht’s injury woes to start the season certainly helped Adam earn his spot on the team. Many (including myself) had Adam pegged to start the season in Rochester. Without a healthy body down the middle and an expanded roster to go off to Europe, Luke got his chance to start the season with the Sabres and took advantage. With four points in the first two games, he looked the part. Soon after the Sabres’ hot start dissipated, Adam began a slide down the depth chart.
His surprising October led to a solid November, and after a couple good performances early on December, dropped off the radar completely.
As Buffalo slipped further and further away from the playoffs, and dropped to the basement of the Eastern Conference, Luke disappeared from the boxscores. His last goal was December 17 in Pittsburgh, a span of 17 games. He doesn’t even have an assist since December 7th, a span of 22 games. He’s been sequestered to the fourth line, surely a move that can rejuvenate his offense, spending time alongside snipers Matt Ellis and Cody McCormick.
In the team’s last game, a shootout win in New Jersey, Luke Adam played 4:39.
This begs the question: What purpose does it serve to have Adam on the roster? Read the rest of this entry
Alright, it’s not even worth trying at this point.
In a game where few objective fans could convince themselves that the end result would be in doubt, it proved to be another nail in the coffin for the Sabres’ 2011-2012 season. Chicago, battling for the top spot in the West coming in, now sits atop the heap after handing the floundering Sabres a 6-2 defeat.
All-star captain Jason Pominville scored both goals for Buffalo, who have lost ten straight road games.
“We’re not dealing well with adversity,” Buffalo coach Lindy Ruff said. “Until we learn to win again, you won’t win on the road.
“We’ve got some players that are way away from their game, and we’ve got some guys that I thought were good tonight, but we didn’t have enough of them.”
Pominville’s second goal tied the game at 2-2 minutes into the second period, but the Blackhawks scored four unanswered goals to coast away with two points.
Jhonas Enroth, who has been strong lately despite not finding wins, allowed six goals and stopped 29 of 35 shots. Enroth hasn’t picked up a winning decision since November 26.
The team flies to Winnipeg to face the Thrashers on Thursday night.
- With the need for some roster changes obvious, it’s a common topic of discussion to consider what players should be considered untouchable. Obviously, Thomas Vanek is the top name on the list. Many would throw in Tyler Myers as well. (I wouldn’t.) But Jason Pominville has been everything we could’ve hoped for when he was given the “C”. He’s having a phenomonal year, contributes in all areas. He’s part of the solution, not part of the problem.
- The NBC Sports crew calling the game were quite critical of the Sabres throughout the broadcast. Some on twitter seemed taken aback by it. It’s nice to get an objective opinion once in a while, isn’t it?
- Jochen Hecht’s pass to Pominville on the opening goal was absolutely sublime. Read the rest of this entry
With Buffalo buzzing around the Carolina net early, it looked like the Sabres came to play. Ryan Miller was even stopping the puck. The results didn’t follow.
At the end of the night, it was the Sabres, after going unbeaten in regulation in their last eight visits to RBC Center, that walked away empty-handed, losing 4-2 to the Hurricanes.
“They’re only really good opportunities if you bury them,” Ruff said. “We work to get position offensively. It was good. Not converting isn’t any good.”
As usual, it was the leading scorers showing up without help, as Buffalo got goals from Thomas Vanek and Jason Pominville.
Miller looked like he was going to play the type of game that could get the team a win. Stopping all 15 Carolina shots in the first, he limited Carolina to Justin Faulk’s powerplay goal in the second through two periods and 23 shots.
In the end, it was Buffalo’s futile attempts at offense than led to the team’s demise, as a pressing pinch on a four-on-four led to a two-on-one and Chad LaRose’s game winner in the third. Miller finished with 31 saves.
The team’s center situation also got even more dire, as Derek Roy went down with an injury early in the first and did not return. Ruff indicated that he will miss some time with the damage.
- Paul Gaustad is an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season. He is currently counting $2.3 million against the cap. He has three goals in 37 games this season. If this team doesn’t turn the ship around soon, take the draft pick at the deadline and run.
- Again, the lack of secondary scoring is the team’s biggest issue. The team’s top line (Jochen Hecht, Jason Pominville, Thomas Vanek) have scored the team’s only goals in nine of 40 games this season. The team is 2-7-0 in those nine. The two wins were shutouts. If the rest of the team doesn’t chip in, the team dosn’t win. End of story.
- Lots of jokesters on twitter seemed pretty happy about Roy being hurt. First, being pleased about the guy who’s supposed to be the team’s best center is pretty lame. Second, you can’t trade someone who’s hurt. Everyone that wants him gone is stuck with him unless he’s healthy. Think, McFly. Read the rest of this entry