Real hockey was finally back at First Niagara Center for the first time since April on Tuesday night. Well, if you count preseason as real hockey. It kind of is. But it doesn’t count.
The scoreboard said 2-0 in favor of the Buffalo Sabres, who used a strong 35-save performance out of goaltender Jhonas Enroth to earn the victory over the visiting Carolina Hurricanes.
Drew Stafford and Tyler Ennis scored for Buffalo, as their line with Matt Moulson combined for both goals. All three were on the score sheet on each tally, with Ennis and Stafford finishing with a goal and assist each and Moulson assisting on both.
“We’ve got great chemistry, there’s not really much else to say,” said Stafford. “I think we can be an extremely effective line, from here on.”
Neither team made it through the game without incident (surprisingly not involving Patrick Kaleta) as Buffalo defenseman Mark Pysyk was injured on his first shift of the game, and Carolina lost forward Jordan Staal in the third period. Coach Ted Nolan said after the game that Pysyk would be “out a little while,” which could mean anything. The news seemed more dire for Carolina, as Staal was seen on crutches after the game, and if the play was any indication, could be out for months.
Buffalo returns to action Friday night as the Toronto Maple Leafs visit for the first of a home-and-home set.
- Patrick Kaleta made his return to the NHL lineup (if you think preseason counts) and made it through the game without any remarkable issues. He did try to run a Hurricanes player through the Zamboni doors in the corner during the third, but otherwise behaved himself. You’d have to assume Nolan wants him around, and it’s on him not to screw up.
- Kaleta’s linemate, Mikhail Grigorenko did an admirable job making it look like he wasn’t annoyed having to play with him and rookie Brendan Lemieux. Grigorenko’s strong play could help make the decision to send Reinhart back to junior. Just throwing that out there now.
- Sam Reinhart didn’t shine, but later in the game, you began to notice some solid play. He made a very patient play with the puck in the defensive zone, the kind of confident move you’d expect of a savvy veteran, not a recent draft pick. He might end up playing every preseason game to help get him up to speed, but I’m still not sure he needs to be in the NHL quite yet.
One of the storylines through the Sabres’ 0-3 start was the ineffective powerplay, which came in at sparkling 0-for-13 after three outings. They fixed it. But the win column… that remains uninhabited.
Twice jumping out to one-goal leads thanks to the man-advantage, the Buffalo Sabres couldn’t close the deal thanks to a dubious tying goal in the third period and an overtime winner to Tampa’s Alex Killorn as the Lightning handed the home team a 3-2 defeat in extra time.
Cody Hodgson and Jamie McBain both scored their first of the season for Buffalo, who drops to 0-3-1 on the young season. Both assisted on each other’s goals, while Thomas Vanek got helpers on both as well.
What ended up being the turning point in the game was a confusing play in the third period. As Buffalo controlled the puck in the Tampa end, one of the officials raised their hand for a delayed penalty. Seconds later, McBain ripped a shot on goal that Vanek deflected past Tampa goalie Ben Bishop, but a whistle blew before the puck entered the net. Confusion reigned before Vanek was sent to the box for high-sticking, not only which should’ve stopped the play much earlier, but that replays indicated was an awful call.
“I thought he was a little bit off today,” said Vanek, when asked about the officiating. “It happens. Too bad.”
22 seconds later, Lightning forward Teddy Purcell tied the game at 2-2, and the overtime result followed.
Jhonas Enroth was solid in goal for the Sabres, stopping 31 shots as Ryan Miller remained sidelined with an injury.
- Our goal song is “Song 2″ by Blur. Uninspired but solid. I’m ok with it. Signature goal songs come when teams go on deep playoff runs. This team isn’t making one of those. Better than “Lonely Boy” at least.
- At some point we should really start getting concerned about Mikhail Grigorenko and his ability to develop in Buffalo. Playing him with John Scott and Patrick Kaleta isn’t helping anyone.
- In his season debut, I really liked what I saw out of Marcus Foligno. Threw some big hits early, including one on Valtteri Filppula that incited a fight between Foligno and the inexplicably named Radko Gudas. Disappointing to see him pass up the golden opportunity he had in the third period as he walked down the slot only to attempt to feed Drew Stafford at the goal mouth. Sometimes it’s better to be selfish. Read the rest of this entry
No matter the circumstances, preseason or regular season, it’s hard to know what to expect after Sunday’s shitshow in Toronto. The circus of the last couple days really had nothing to do with tonight’s game, and it showed.
Not a fight, scrum or scrap to be seen, as the Buffalo Sabres rode the solid goaltending of Jhonas Enroth and steady defense in front of him to a 3-0 win over the visiting Columbus Blue Jackets.
Buffalo jumped out to a lead early in the second period as Ville Leino finished a rebound from a Cody Hodgson shot as the team skated 6-on-5 on a delayed penalty. With Enroth on the bench for the extra attacker, the team generated multiple chances before Leino scored his first of the preseason.
That was all the offense they’d need, as Enroth stopped 26 shots to earn his first win.
“I don’t think it was that tough of a game on me, actually,” said Enroth. “Overall it was a pretty easy game.”
Third period goals by Mikhail Grigorenko and Zemgus Girgensons provided the insurance for the Sabres, who moved to 4-1-1 on the exhibition season. Defenseman Mike Weber added assists on all three Buffalo goals.
Buffalo has one more game before they play for keeps, Friday night in Carolina.
- Joel Armia played his last shift late in the second period and would leave the game with a hand injury. His line with Grigorenko and Girgensons looked really good, so it was disappointing that he disappeared. Sabres coach Ron Rolston was unsure of his status after the game.
- Weber’s three secondary assists look better in the box score than they did on the ice. He honestly had a pretty good game. Funny how he’s turned from a fringe defenseman to a solid veteran in the matter of a year or two.
- Hey Sabres, maybe don’t have your PR arm brag about the fact you didn’t bother to televise 6 of the team’s 7 preseason games. That needs to change next year, because things like Sunday should convince you that it’s worth the effort. Read the rest of this entry
There had been
discussion arguments on twitter about the roster moves the Sabres would have to make before Saturday afternoon’s game against Ottawa. Forwards Ville Leino and Tyler Ennis were ready to come back from injury, and the Sabres needed to make room for them in the 23.
First thing they did was send Mikhail Grigorenko back to Quebec, his junior team in the QMJHL. Then, Darcy Regier got his trade shoes on.
Defenseman T.J. Brennan, who’s struggled to get in the lineup all season, was dealt to the Florida Panthers in exchange for New Jersey’s 5th round pick in the 2013 NHL Draft.
Brennan, 23, had played in just 10 games with the Sabres this season, registering a goal in a loss to Carolina on March 5. He registered just one goal in 11 NHL games last season well, when he scored his first NHL goal in his first NHL game against Boston on Thanksgiving Eve 2011.
The offensive production expected of him never consistently materialized at the NHL level. He had been tearing it up in the AHL, with 14 goals and 35 points in 36 games this season before the lockout ended and he was forced to be recalled to the NHL due to his contract. While other players were safely waived and reassigned, Brennan, who was the Amerks’ leading scorer and one of the top scoring defenseman in the AHL, had no chance of clearing despite not being able to crack the top six in Buffalo.
In the end, Regier decided it was time to cut the cord and either waive or trade him, and they got a draft pick in return instead of letting him go for free. Read the rest of this entry
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
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
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
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.”
“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
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.