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Overreactions, Amerks in Buffalo Edition 2: Electric Boogaloo

Cody Hodgson

Hey look… there’s hockey in Buffalo! What a concept!

Before a record crowd of 19,070 at First Niagara Center, the Rochester Americans defeated the Lake Erie Monsters by a score of 4-1.

Thanks to two goals from Cody Hodgson and tallies by Mark Mancari and Nick Tarnasky, the Amerks never trailed and controlled most of the play. Brayden McNabb had two assists and Mancari, T.J. Brennan, and Max Legault also added helpers.

Despite the two meetings between the teams leading to a combined 13 goals in each matchup, David Leggio was solid in net for Rochester, stopping 36 of 37 Lake Erie shots, and as my man Marshawn Lynch said, “It don’t get no better than solid.”

Rochester moves to 15-11-2-1 on the season, good for 9th in the AHL’s Western Conference. They are a mere three points behind 4th place Abbotsford.

The Amerks head back to Rochester for another game tomorrow night against Binghamton. As for First Niagara Center, it goes back to darkness. For now.

  • Excellent to be back in the building. There’s snow on the ground, and the five block walk from my car to the arena in bone-chilling cold was refreshing. Wouldn’t be mad at all if they could figure shit out and get a season going.
  • Brayden McNabb picked up two assists, but for the majority of the game looked really shaky. Passes were off, just sloppy in general. He cleaned it up near the end, and made a nice play going to the net on Tarnasky’s goal. He was on the verge of a roster spot if there would’ve been a season, but I’m wondering how fast he’s slipping with Pysyk looking good and Brennan playing lights-out. Read the rest of this entry

Overreactions, Amerks in Buffalo Edition

(I can’t find any acceptable shots in Americans gear)

First Niagara Center has been noticeably empty this October, but for at least one night, there was some hockey at the foot of Washington Street.

Buffalo’s AHL affiliate, the Rochester Americans (the team also known as the Amerks) hosted the Hamilton Bulldogs in front of a content crowd announced of almost 11,000 at the Sabres’ home rink. Featuring young bucks who’d have likely been in blue and gold like Cody Hodgson and Marcus Foligno, the Amerks defeated the Bulldogs 3-1.

Hopping out to a first period lead on a bouncing shot from the point off the stick of the mighty Joe Finley, the Amerks surrendered the lead with about eight minutes left in the second on a goal by Hamilton’s Michael Bournival. Cody Hodgson answered right back to retake the lead at 2-1.

T.J. Brennan added an insurance goal with Rochester on a two-man advantage late in the third to secure the victory.

Williamsville native David Leggio had 36 saves in his hometown for the Americans.

While no other Amerks games are scheduled for First Niagara Center, pending the current labor situation with the big leagues, that can change.

  • Cody Hodgson looked like the most polished player on the ice. Makes sense, but still. Hard to judge what the offseason training did for him because you don’t know what the talent disparity between leagues is, but he’s putting up numbers. Which is nice.
  • Really impressed with Mark Pysyk, he seemed very mature for it being his sixth professional game. Smart with the puck.
  • They announced the crowd at 10,896 or something like that, but from experience in minor league ticketing, good luck finding anywhere near that many in the building, staff included. Couldn’t have been more than 9,000 fans here. Read the rest of this entry

Overreactions, Edition 80: The perfect storm

In hindsight, the result isn’t that surprising.

Factor in what we knew heading into the game, and you’d almost expect it to go the way it did, right? Things like the fact that Thomas Vanek always seems to score against the Lightning. That Tampa Bay’s Dwayne Roloson has never beaten Buffalo. That Matt Ellis would be in the lineup.

So, if I would’ve told you before the game that Vanek would have a hat trick in a 4-2 Sabres win, you’d have to think I was on to something. And that’s how it ended.

“He played a very good game for us,” Ruff said. “Van was big again tonight. Our big players are making a difference, and that’s important.”

Vanek reached the 30-goal mark for the fourth time in his career and pushed his season total to 31. Tim Connolly also scored and added two assists as well. Jhonas Enroth made 23 saves for his third win in four games since Ryan Miller’s injury. And Matt Ellis played.

So Buffalo moved another two points closer to clinching a playoff spot, and more importantly, eliminated the Toronto Maple Leafs from playoff contention. The team does not play again until they close out their home slate Friday against Philadelphia.

  • Sabres are 9-1-2 with Matt Ellis in the lineup this season.
  • Pretty much a guarantee Jhonas Enroth will get one more game this season. No way they use Miller more than once this weekend. I’d expect Ryan on Friday and Jhonas on Saturday in Columbus. Read the rest of this entry

Overreactions, Edition 71/72: Getting the point

The sky is not falling.

Yes, the last few minutes of yesterday’s 4-3 overtime loss to Nashville were not the work of a great team. But the Sabres are an average team. That’s why they’re in 8th place in a 15 team conference.

But average teams can be successful when they perform above-average, which is what they did Saturday night, blowing out Atlanta 8-2. But that outstanding effort got overshadowed by Sunday night’s collapse.

“It’s stunning,” coach Lindy Ruff said. “When you get up by two, and you’ve got a couple minutes left and you give up a point, that one really hurts. It was a quiet room walking in there.”

I’d say the team needs to look at that result and use it as motivation, but it’s the seventh, yes, seventh time they’ve blown a two-goal lead this season. But flashes of brilliance Saturday night, and solid play for the majority of the weekend should be a point of emphasis.

Again, the sky is not falling. The Sabres are still in a great position to make the postseason, holding a three point edge on Carolina, with one matchup remaining between the teams and ten games to play. If they can win in Raleigh on April 3rd, chances are very good that they’ll do enough to get in.

  • Defending a one goal lead late, with the opponent pressing, why the hell are Rob Niedermayer, Mike Grier and Cody McCormick on the ice with under two minutes to go?
  • It appeared the Sabres coaching staff did a good job of keeping Nashville’s Shea Weber away from the Vanek-Connolly-Pominville line. That line was incredibly effective Sunday, and had some great pressure.
  • I’m not sure I agree with Lindy Ruff deciding to play Ryan Miller again on less than 24 hours rest Sunday. After letting in a couple shaky goals Saturday, and playing a Western Conference team, it would’ve been a great opportunity to get Jhonas Enroth back in. Instead, Miller, who has been good but not great of late, will likely play his third in four nights on Tuesday.
  • If the Sabres were a better team, I’d love to have a line like Gerbe-Gaustad-Mancari as a fourth unit. They had a solid weekend. Unfortunately, they’re the third line, and until they can fill out the roster a little better, it’ll have to do.
  • Tyler Ennis just continues to get his touch, and if he can remain a consistent scoring threat, it’ll make the Sabres’ offense so much more formidable.
  • Atlanta’s Evander Kane is on the short-list of guys in the NHL I wish were on the Sabres’ roster. Kid’s dynamite.
  • Predators rookie Blake Geoffrion, who scored the hat trick in Sunday’s game, is the first NHL player from the Nashville area, growing up in suburban Brentwood, Tennessee. Southern expansion is working, whether the hosers like it or not.
  • Mark Mancari is definitely making a case to keep his roster spot. I don’t know if Grier’s penalty killing is enough to keep Mancari in the press box over him with a healthy roster.
  • Tim Connolly had a very good weekend. His snipe on Sunday was gorgeous.

My thoughts on my trip back to Buffalo will come later… and believe me, I’ve got stuff to say.

Overreactions, Edition 66: Something’s missing, alright.

Despite the absence of several key Penguins, I’m not sure anyone could’ve seen what happened to the Sabres’ lineup between the end of Sunday’s win in Minnesota and the puck drop in Pittsburgh and said, “Oh yeah, they’re winning this one.”

Without flu-stricken leading scorer Thomas Vanek, the Buffalo offense was, in kind terms, anemic in Tuesday’s 3-1 loss to Pittsburgh.

Seriously, the odds of a team winning when Rob Niedermayer is the only goal scorer is similiar to the odds of seeing everyone in the crowd with a shirt on at a NASCAR race. Pittsburgh got all the offense they needed and completed the season sweep of the Sabres.

Ryan Miller made 28 saves in the loss.

It was the end of a good run for the Sabres, who had gone 5-0-2 in their last seven games. The loss was the first regulation defeat under the ownership of Terry Pegula.

With Vanek out, NHL veteran Mark Parrish made his Sabres debut, who played over ten minutes on the fourth line.

  • Buffalo didn’t do a very good job staying out of the box, taking eight minor penalties. The Pens didn’t score any powerplay goals, but the penalties often killed any momentum the Sabres had built up.
  • The first period was one of the most exciting periods of hockey we’ve seen all season. The second period? Well, let’s just say Dan Bylsma made the proper adjustments and toned it down a bit. Read the rest of this entry

Mancari and Gerbe recalled from Portland

As first reported by the fine folks at Maine Hockey Journal, the Buffalo Sabres have brought up a couple more bodies from the Portland Pirates.

Forwards Mark Mancari and Nathan Gerbe have been recalled and will be in the lineup when the Sabres visit the Boston Bruins on Monday night.

With Thomas Vanek going down to injury in Saturday night’s playoff clinching rout of Tampa, it was necessary to bring the two up for another tour of duty in Buffalo.

Mancari had been up earlier this month, scoring a goal and and adding in assist (both coming against Dallas on March 12) in three games. He also played one game in December, missing the scoresheet against the Rangers before being returned to Portland.

Gerbe had an extended stay with the Sabres, but only appeared in two games in mid-December before being felled by a groin injury. He was able to tally his first NHL goal before the injury in a 3-0 win over Washington at HSBC Arena. The Boston College-grad will be making his first visit to Boston as an NHL player, so it should be a memorable recall for the diminuitive dynamo.

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Interestingly enough, with Tyler Ennis being called up Saturday afternoon, Portland’s top three scorers are now with the Sabres. Despite missing all three, the Pirates pulled out a 3-2 win over Hartford this afternoon.

A few musings from the Sabres’ first preseason game

Since the game wasn’t on in the Buffalo area, I, along with a couple guys from my school, headed across the border to Fort Erie to catch the Sabres/Leafs game on TV. Here’s what I need to say:

  • If there’s one thing I hate more than anything else I hate, it’s losing to the damn Leafs. Even in the preseason. To hell with them.
  • Marek Zagrapan was clearly the best Sabre on the ice tonight.
  • Jhonas Enroth’s quasi-NHL debut definitely could’ve gone smoother, but other than a few mistakes (like completely forgetting about stopping the puck on Moore’s shorthanded goal) he was pretty solid.
  • The veterans in the game tonight didn’t seem to set themselves apart from the rookies. I don’t blame them for not being up for the game, considering they just reported on Friday, but I don’t know if that should be considered disheartening or not.
  • Ryan Miller looked average.
  • I officially believe that Dylan Hunter has no business ever playing the NHL, and I hope somebody in Sabres management starts to agree with me. He’s a hard worker, but he lacks what we call “talent.” Read the rest of this entry

Paille’s new multi-year deal among Sabres news today

Sabres fans, you can rest easy now. Daniel Paille is finally under contract.

The Sabres announced today they have inked the 24 year old to a multi-year deal.

“Danny is a talented young player that can make a difference at both ends of the ice,” Regier said. “Danny has been a key component to our penalty killing unit and we look forward to helping him continue to develop with our club for years to come.”

It’s a welcomed turn of events for those of us that were worried that he might get an offer sheet.

Terms haven’t been disclosed… YET, but those details should come soon.

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The Sabres also announced that forwards Clarke MacArthur and Mark Mancari have accepted their qualifying offers.

Mancari will probably play in Portland this season, but Mac’s situation is a bit stickier. Clarke is no longer waiver-exempt, so should he not make the team, he must be waived to return to the AHL.

While he could, and probably should, make the team (he’s better than Peters), the Sabres do have 14 forwards on their roster.

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On the eve of the release of the Sabres’ 2008-09 schedule, the team released a few details, including the date for the start of the team’s run to the 2009 Stanley Cup*.

The Buffalo Sabres have announced that the team’s 39th season of operation will begin on Friday, October 10 when the Montreal Canadiens visit HSBC Arena….

Two of the Sabres home “at large” games will be against the past two Stanley Cup Champions. The Sabres will battle the defending champion Detroit Red Wings on Monday, April 6. The 2006-07 champion Anaheim Ducks will head into HSBC Arena on Tuesday, February 24. The remaining “at large” game will see the return of Head Coach Wayne Gretzky and the Phoenix Coyotes in Buffalo on Friday March 6.

The remainder of the schedule will be released tomorrow.

(* If you don’t look at it this way, why are you here?)
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