Blog Archives

Overreactions with 68 to go: Neuvirth shines in shootout loss to Habs

458483678_slideFor 60 minutes, fans were treated to some of the most monotonous, unremarkable hockey that has been played in First Niagara Center, which is saying a lot.

But five thrilling minutes of four-on-four hockey weren’t enough to decide the game, and thanks to a skills competition, Montreal walked out of Buffalo with two points after handing them a 2-1 shootout loss.

Drew Stafford scored the only goal for Buffalo, but goaltender Michal Neuvirth was sensational all night. While the Habs struggled to get shots on goal early, Neuvirth was sharp all night, stopping 31 of 32 shots, including 16 of 17 over the final 25 minutes.

Montreal’s Pierre-Alexandre Parenteau scored both in regulation and in the shootout to propel the Canadiens to the win.

Buffalo now faces a weekend back-to-back where they host Edmonton and Pittsburgh on Friday and Saturday.

  • This might’ve been Brian Gionta’s best game as a Sabre. Facing his former team, he didn’t tally a point but did manage to score in the shootout. He was noticeable, much more noticeable than he has been.
  • Good for Nic Deslauriers stepping up to scrap and try to make an impression. He got fed some fists to the face, but you appreciate the effort.
  • Tyler Myers was credited with the primary assist on the Stafford goal. Great work by him taking the puck himself, trying to deke through his own teammate Tyler Ennis, and losing control of the puck in such a way that it coasted right through a defenseman to Stafford on the doorstep. They all look the same in the boxscore. 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

First Ever Un-officially Official Basement Brigade Sabres Watch Party on Saturday

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More details are on the Facebook event page.

Please note, strictly 21 and up allowed to attend. It’s a bar. They’re going to enforce this.

Overreactions, 70th Edition: Tyler, Tyler, Tyler

This wasn’t just a game the Sabres need to win, it was a game they had to win. A simply dominating effort couldn’t go to waste. It almost did. But almost doesn’t matter.

Even after allowing a tying goal with just seconds left in regulation, the Buffalo Sabres rebounded quickly and thanks to a Tyler Myers goal 2:01 into the fourth period, defeated Montreal 3-2 in overtime.

Tyler Ennis was the star of the night, scoring both Sabres goals in regulation, including a dazzling marker to tie the game at 1-1 in the second period. Ennis would get credit for another in the third thanks to Montreal’s Alexei Emelin deflecting it past Peter Budaj.

Montreal would tie the game in the dying moments on a goal by David Desharnais, sending it to extra time. Two minutes in, it was Derek Roy finding a trailing Myers in the slot for the finish.

“I think it shows we’ve got good character,” Ennis said. “It can be deflating when you let in a goal with a few seconds left. And we bounce back and score right away in overtime.”

The win moved Buffalo past Winnipeg for 9th place in the East, and trail 8th place Washington by just two points.

Ryan Miller was solid in goal for the Sabres, stopping 26 shots.

  • Why was Marcus Foligno on the ice for the final shift that led to the tying goal? Great, the kid played well, reward him, but not right there. Don’t believe those three forwards (Foligno, Roy and Jason Pominville) played a shift together the whole game until then. It bit them.
  • Obligatory “Tyler Ennis is a superstar in the making whether you think so or not” bullet point. Gotta keep him at center.
  • After missing time with injury, Thomas Vanek had a good game and showed a lot of tenacity. Didn’t seem to me that he was laboring much at all. Came extremely close to getting himself on the scoresheet. Read the rest of this entry

Overreactions, 58th Edition: Where’s the dynamite?

Here we are.

With only ten days until the NHL trade deadline, the Buffalo Sabres aren’t in the position they expected to be. No one expected this.

Buffalo now sits 15th in the Eastern Conference with 24 games remaining as they dropped a 4-3 shootout loss to Montreal at First Niagara Center on Friday night.

“I’m obviously very disappointed,” said coach Lindy Ruff after the game. “Embarassed.”

Twice in the first period, the Sabres grabbed leads on goals by Robyn Regehr and Tyler Myers. Both were cancelled by the Canadiens, who tied the game 2-2 with under 14 seconds remaining in the opening frame.

A second period goal by Montreal’s Chris Campoli gave the visitors what seemed like the deciding lead, but Tyler Ennis’ goal with just over eight minutes left in regulation was enough to get it to overtime.

Failing to capitalize on a truncated powerplay in overtime, Brad Boyes and Jason Pominville were both stopped by Carey Price in the shootout as Montreal’s Max Pacioretty and David Desharnais sealed the win.

“This is a game we should’ve put away but didn’t,” Ruff said.

Ryan Miller made 16 saves on 19 shots for the Sabres. With Carolina defeating San Jose, Buffalo is tied with the Hurricanes at 55 points, but sits last thanks to tiebreakers.

  • Andrej Sekera had a phenomenal game. He was strong and responsible defensively and was a beast in the offensive zone. He made a great play to set up Robyn Regehr in the second period that Regehr couldn’t put away. Sekera was great early in the season, but hasn’t been as good the last couple months. Tonight was a step forward.
  • Zack Kassian’s fumbling of that 3-on-1 rush in the second period that preceded the Campoli goal is a sign of a kid who isn’t confident enough to make a play himself or a passive guy being indecisive. The fact he’s a part of this awful team should be worrisome. He’s got a bright future if he develops right.
  • The Sabres would have the third pick in the NHL Draft if the season ended today, and a 14.2% chance of winning the lottery to move up to #1 overall. Read the rest of this entry

Overreactions, 50th Edition: Gaustad’s interesting night leads Sabres past whining Habs

The Sabres haven’t lost a game in ten days.

Yes, the maligned, basement-dwelling Buffalo Sabres have won two games in a row for the first time since early November.

Returning from the All-Star break with fleeting opportunities to get back into playoff contention, the Buffalo Sabres came out flying and grabbed their third win of the season at the Bell Centre, earning a 3-1 victory over the Canadiens.

Paul Gaustad got the game winner 6:17 into the third period that was the difference, as the Sabres also got a goal from Ville Leino and an empty-netter from Patrick Kaleta.

“It’s always good to get a win on the road and we just have to turn it around quickly and quit patting ourselves on the back and go out and get the next one,” said Gaustad, who set up Ville Leino’s fourth goal 4:01 into the second period to tie it at 1.

Ryan Miller was stellar for Buffalo, making 27 saves to earn his 234th career win, tying him for the most all-time in Sabres history with the legendary Dominik Hasek.

Even with the win, the team suffered another loss, as Thomas Vanek left with an upper body injury and did not return. After the game, Ruff indicated that he will at least be out in the short term and will be reevaluated.

Despite the loss of the team’s leading goal scorer, the postgame chatter was centered around some trash talking between Paul Gaustad and Max Pacioretty. Multiple Canadiens players complained to the media that Gaustad crossed a line by referencing the hit by Boston’s Zdeno Chara that almost ended Pacioretty’s career last season. Gaustad explained that Montreal had initiated the exchanges by bringing up the Lucic-Miller incident.

The most cutting remark was made by Carey Price, who said “We can’t worry about what he’s got to say because he doesn’t do much out there.”

Paul Gaustad had a goal and two assists, and was a +3 on the night.

It is unknown whether the Montreal Police have begun an investigation into the incident.

  • The win is nice, but if Thomas Vanek is out for an extended period, this effort to get back into playoff contention is as futile as they come.
  • Tyler Ennis was phenomenal in his return from injury. Injuries aren’t a great excuse, but if there’s one guy whose absence has hurt the most, he’s got to be near the top of the list. He adds a different dimension to the offense.
  • Funny that Luke Adam got scratched after what I wrote yesterday, but it just accentuates the point. With Vanek out now, he’ll get back in. If Vanek’s injury is short-term, they need to get him to Rochester as soon as Vanek’s back. Read the rest of this entry

Overreactions, 17th Edition: After slow start, Sabres answer at the Bell

Until Derek Roy‘s season-ending injury last year, Thomas Vanek spent much of his Sabres career flanking Roy on a line. After a seeming rejuvenation without Roy through the end of the 2010-11 campaign, Vanek has spent all of this season separated from Roy.

Tonight, they were reunited, and found a way to steal a couple points in Montreal.

Thanks to strong third period play from a line featuring Vanek, Roy and captain Jason Pominville, as well as another stellar effort from Jhonas Enroth, Buffalo beat Montreal 3-2 in a shootout.

Trailing 2-0 after two periods, Lindy Ruff put the trio together and watched Pominville and Roy find the back of the net to tie the game. Vanek, along with shootout stud Brad Boyes, scored in the shootout.

Enroth made 25 saves to improve to 6-0-0 on the season.

  • Worth noting: Andrej Sekera, who had been stuck with Tyler Myers of late, was +2 on the night with Myers in the press box.
  • Paul Gaustad, who had drawn the most ire over the inaction in the wake of the hit on Miller Saturday, was pretty awful. Took three fairly dumb penalties. Not a good rebound for him.
  • Tonight was an extremely rare occasion: Pierre McGuire pointed out something worth pointing out during the broadcast. With Nathan Gerbe racing to beat an icing call with Montreal’s P.K. Subban, Gerbe, instead of planting Subban into the end boards, grabbed him and held him from hitting the glass after Subban touched the puck. Extremely classy play. Easy to point out scumbags, but guys who do the right thing deserve some attention too. Read the rest of this entry

Ryan Miller out indefinitely with concussion

The injury that knocked Ryan Miller out of Saturday night’s loss to Boston seems to be more than a sore neck.

As the Buffalo News reports, Miller is out for the forseeable future with a concussion.

The illegal hit by Boston’s Milan Lucic that caused the injury will be reviewed by the league, as Lucic has a hearing scheduled with Brendan Shanahan at 1 pm on Monday afternoon.

“If this hit and other types of hits like this are not suspended, we are opening up the possibility of losing goaltenders to injury. And not just injury, but concussion,” Regier said. “… When I look at the position of goaltending, in a lot of ways it’s not unlike quarterback in football. I feel very strongly the protection has to be provided and players committing these types of action should be punished.”

The Sabres have recalled Drew MacIntyre from Rochester to backup Jhonas Enroth. MacIntyre is 3-4-1 on the season with the Amerks, and he will surely look to take advantage of the opportunity.

As the goaltending debate has raged over the last few weeks, unfortunately we’re going to get an extended look at Enroth. The undefeated rookie will start against Montreal on Monday night, and will be the horse for the time being. With four games in the next six days, it’s entirely possible MacIntyre may get a start Friday night in Carolina.

The story now will be how Enroth responds. The young Swede who is 12-0-1 in his last 13 decisions will get another chance to be the guy. His stellar play at the end of last season earned Buffalo a playoff spot, and has done nothing but perform at the highest level this season. Another extended stretch of good play with Miller on the sidelines may start pushing the team to reevaluate the future plans the team has in goal.

The Sabres as a group were unhappy with the way they responded to the hit Saturday night, so it’s a good bet that they’re going to come out and play with passion in Montreal. A loss on the heels of the massacre in Boston could be devastating to the team’s self-confidence.

Faceoff is at 7:00 Monday night.

Overreactions, 5th Edition: Sabres find two points in Montreal

At times they were atrocious. At times they were decent. Here and there, they were good.

In the end, the Sabres found two points at the Bell Centre and walked out with them.

In what can only be described as a lackluster effort, the Buffalo Sabres somehow pulled out a 3-1 win over Montreal on Tuesday night. Well, lackluster at least for everyone in uniform not wearing #30.

Ryan Miller was sensational for Buffalo, stopping 40 of 41 shots for his third win of the season.

Buffalo was manhandled for most of the opening half of this game. Not by Montreal simply being a better team, but by simply being terrible themselves. Defenseman Tyler Myers was credited with four giveaways on his own… in the first period.

“As a team we didn’t play well. We played ugly,” Vanek said. “You’ve got to give Montreal credit. They worked hard, they beat us to a lot of battles, a lot of pucks, and I think Ryan stole those two points. That’s the only way of putting it.”

After Montreal finally beat Miller on a goal by rookie Raphael Diaz, the Sabres remained near lifeless until Cody McCormick scrapped with Travis Moen of the Canadiens. Less than three minutes and a couple line shuffles later, Jordan Leopold buried a rebound in the slot to tie the game.

The difference was Buffalo capitalizing on mistakes made by Les Habitants. After Montreal iced the puck with less than six seconds remaining in the second period with the game knotted at 1-1, the Sabres made them pay. Paul Gaustad won the faceoff to Marc-Andre Gragnani, who knocked the puck back to Jason Pominville in time for him to make a quick pass to a wide open Thomas Vanek. With 2.8 seconds left in the period, Vanek sniped the top corner on Carey Price to give the Sabres an unexpected lead heading into the third.

Christian Ehrhoff added an empty netter in the final minute, his first goal as a Buffalo Sabre.

  • I can’t believe they won that game. And I say that in the way Bob Barker says “I can’t believe you’re a professional golfer” to Happy Gilmore. Incredible.
  • Props to Cody McCormick for donating his face to Travis Moen’s fist in an effort to turn the tide. It worked. Read the rest of this entry

Overreactions, Preseason Edition #2: Que?

This Christian Ehrhoff acquisition may turn out alright.

On the strength of a two-point night from one of Buffalo’s new defenseman, the Sabres moved to 2-0 in the exhibition season with a 3-1 victory over Montreal at the Bell Centre.

Ehrhoff tallied the game-winner with 13:53 remaining in the third period, wristing a shot from along the boards past Canadiens goalie Robert Mayer.

“He’s got a really good shot,” Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said. “I thought probably again tonight there were some opportunities we passed up, we passed some plays around, but you don’t usually have to tell him to shoot. He’s a shooter and he can sling it with a wrist shot and he can hit it pretty hard with a slap shot.”

Jason Pominville scored in the first on a beautiful Ehrhoff play. After Derek Roy won the offensive zone draw back to the point, Ehrhoff skated the puck down the boards to the corner and threaded a beautiful backhand pass to a wide open Jason Pominville camped in front of the Canadiens net. An excellent play from start to finish.

Tyler Ennis added the empty netter to get Buffalo the win. Ennis’ tally was assisted by newcomer Ville Leino, his first point as a Sabre in his second appearance.

Ryan Miller made 11 saves shutting out Montreal before he gave way for Jhonas Enroth, who allowed one goal but made 12 stops for the win.

Important observations:

  • Apparently, I don’t understand French. One day we’ll look back and laugh that back in the day not every preseason game was broadcast. We’re not there yet. But a stream of RDS coverage on a Wednesday night is going to be enough for now.
  • Luke Adam took a couple bad penalties, including the one that led to Montreal’s goal. He hasn’t been doing much to force his way onto the roster like some hoped he would. He’s still got about a week to make something happen, but looks like he better find a place in Rochester.
  • Speaking of that powerplay goal, I’m not a fan of Nathan Gerbe killing penalties. He’s got the sense and tenacious spirit to do it, but he simply doesn’t cover enough ground. P.K. Subban walked right around Gerbe’s stick check and ripped a shot past Enroth. Anyone with more of a reach might’ve been able to poke that off his stick or get Subban to make a different play.
  • The leader in hits for the game, both teams: Sabres defenseman Robyn Regehr.
  • The top line of Thomas Vanek-Derek Roy-Jason Pominville looked quite good. They were all +2 on the night and each tallied a point. Read the rest of this entry
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