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Overreactions, Preseason Edition: Kids help Sabres beat Hurricanes

It’s good to be back.

In the Buffalo Sabres’ return to their home rink for their first home game of the preseason slate, a squad littered with young talent overcame a sloppy first 30 minutes to storm away with a 5-2 win over visiting Metropolitan Division rival, the Carolina Hurricanes.

Johan Larsson, acquired at last year’s trade deadline in the Jason Pominville deal, scored twice for Buffalo, who moved to 3-0-0 on the preseason campaign.

Trailing 1-0 after one period of play, Joel Armia scored his first of the preseason to tie the game. After surrendering another goal just minutes later, Larsson scored his first of the game, tipping in a Brayden McNabb point shot to deadlock the score after two periods.

Buffalo would go on to score three unanswered goals in the third, led by Cody Hodgson’s redirection of a Thomas Vanek pass with just under six minutes to go. Larsson and McNabb (who finished with a goal and two assists) would score insurance goals before the clock ran out.

The Sabres also got a very strong performance out of Ryan Miller, who played his first full game after splitting duties with Matt Hackett in Wednesday’s win over NHLBettingTips.com Metropolitan Division underdog Columbus. Miller stopped 34 of 36 shots to get the win.

While an undefeated record in preseason only means so much, the Sabres now face a home-and-home with Toronto. The Leafs will visit First Niagara Center on Saturday night for a Hockey Night in Canada broadcast.

  • Really like Johan Larsson’s game tonight. The guy does everything you’d want him to do. He goes to the net, wins draws (71% on 17 draws) and shows a lot of hustle. He could force his way into a roster spot, but if he doesn’t, he won’t be in Rochester long.
  • Best guy on the ice for Carolina tonight? You guessed it: Andrej Sekera. Led Carolina with 23:03 of ice time, showed a lot of possession of the puck, and save for the two third period goals he was on the ice for, was really, really good. The Canes are gonna love him. Compher better pan out.
  • Brayden McNabb’s game has been hit-or-miss for a little while, but tonight his work in the offensive zone is evident in the boxscore. That shot can generate a lot of opportunities, whether it’s going straight in, or he’s putting it in places that guys can tip it. He needs to show that if he wants to stick. Read the rest of this entry

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, 35/48 Edition: Sabres lose again, should trade everyone

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The day started with a blueliner leaving the building, and it ended with the defense nowhere to be found.

In another episode of “This Team Is Not Good This Year,” the Buffalo Sabres blew leads of 2-0 and 3-1 en route to a 4-3 shootout loss to a Washington team they never trailed for a minute of the 65 played on the night.

Buffalo jumped out to an early lead on Christian Ehrhoff’s fourth of the season just three minutes into the game. Ville Leino would register his first of the season just 1:19 into the second to stretch the margin to two, before Washington star Alexander Ovechkin cut it in half just over a minute later.

Leino would add another midway through the second. And it was all down hill from there, starting with Troy Brouwer’s shorthanded goal early in the third period with American hero John Carlson in the box for the Caps.

“It’s disappointing,” said Leino. “That is a big goal to give up and after that they were fired up and wanted to win the game and that’s just things that shouldn’t happen.”

Mike Green would tie the game in the final minute with the extra attacker, and took the game in the shootout on goals by Matt Hendricks and the aforementioned Ovechkin.

Jhonas Enroth, despite stopping no shots in the shootout, was sensational for much of the 65 minutes before that, stopping 35 shots.

“No excuses for it,” said Ehrhoff. “We’re up 3-1 and put this game away and… we didn’t.”

  • Drew Stafford, without being on the scoresheet, played a hell of a game. One of his best efforts in recent memory. Showed a lot of hustle and created some good opportunities. Maybe he knew the scouts were watching, but I had to get him a vote for three stars. He deserved it.
  • You guys in game presentation can be done with the drumline anytime. You’re missing the point.
  • Enroth has been stringing together some nice starts. While the wins aren’t piling up, it’s usually not due to poor goaltending. With a baker’s dozen of games left in the season, he should be getting a fair share, at least four or five of them. But that’s not considering what might happen by Wednesday. Read the rest of this entry

Overreactions, 28/48 Edition: Sabres lose in Sabres fashion to Sens

163808165_slideThe Buffalo Sabres played one of their best first periods of the season on Saturday.

Their opponent had limited quality scoring opportunities and good work in the offensive zone gave them a solid 2-0 lead after 20 minutes. But this is the 2012-2013 Buffalo Sabres.

Ottawa stormed back in the second period with three goals, and scored the winner in overtime as they defeated Buffalo by a score of 4-3. Kyle Turris won it with the Senators enjoying the extra man thanks to a Christian Ehrhoff penalty halfway through the extra period.

The Sabres salvaged a point thanks to a third period equalizer by Drew Stafford, who scored his second of the game with approximately eight minutes left. It was his second of the game, doubling his season goal total.

“We gave them a point tonight,” said defenseman Mike Weber, who tallied his first goal of the season. “It’s extremely upsetting. I don’t know what else to say.”

Goals by Patrick Wiercioch, Chris Phillips and Kyle Turris turned the game around for Ottawa, who outshot the Sabres 15-9 in the second. Buffalo, by virtue of the point earned in overtime, temporarily moved into 12th place in the East.

Ryan Miller stopped 30 shots in the loss.

“We’ve got to put together a hell of a stretch here just to have a chance to get in the playoffs. To go to sleep there for 20, it’s extremely disappointing,” said Weber.

  • Ville Leino looked really good in his season debut. He picked up an assist on the Weber goal, and was in position to get a piece of it on its way through. It’s hard to gauge how his absence has effected the team. As much as he draws the ire of many, the team is better with him than without him.
  • Not sure I’d have called it “interference,” but Christian Ehrhoff definitely earned that penalty in overtime.
  • Hopefully, Drew Stafford gained some confidence with his two goals. He earned them how he should be earning them regularly: going to the front of the net and getting pucks on goal. If anyone could use a little hot streak, it’s him. Read the rest of this entry

Overreactions, 26/48 Edition: Sabres’ ship remains on course

163486250_slide(Holy shit, I really did one for a road game!)

The loss to New Jersey Thursday night was a lost opportunity among few remaining to reinsert their playoff hopes into discussion. After a couple days off, there was another, with the chance to vault two teams with a win over struggling 11th place Philadelphia.

It turned out well.

Facing a team that was such a mess as recently as the day before that they needed a closed-door, players only meeting after a pathetic performance in a loss, the Sabres came out flat and never really put themselves in position to win. They lost, falling to the Flyers in a 3-2 loss on national television.

Buffalo fell behind 2-0 before the game was even halfway through the first period. Sabres rookie Brian Flynn scored his second in as many games to cut the lead in half before the end of the opening frame.

Claude Giroux scored 17 seconds into the second period to give Philadelphia the margin they would need. Jochen Hecht scored a shorthanded goal in the third period, but Buffalo couldn’t tie it.

Ryan Miller stopped 25 of 28 shots in the loss for the Sabres.

  • The Foligno-Porter-Flynn line was really good throughout the game. Flynn notched a goal, Porter added an assist and was named third star of the game. That can be one hell of a fourth line if this team is any good.
  • Speaking of Flynn, his goal was possible because of a subtly-brilliant play just prior to it in the shift. With Philadelphia collapsing around the net, Flynn collected the puck above the faceoff dot. Instead of throwing it towards the net into traffic, he spotted Foligno on the far post and threw it into the far corner boards. Foligno easily won the race to the puck and the Sabres continued to work the puck around, eventually scoring. Possession likely doesn’t continue if not for that heads up play.
  • Hopefully Jochen Hecht keeps scoring so someone might look at the scoreline and think he’d be a useful pickup at the deadline. Read the rest of this entry

Overreactions, 19/48 Edition: Sabres get shutout in yet another loss

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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

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

The day of reckoning is upon us

As soon as the schedule came out, you looked for it. You looked for the opener, and it was home. Then you looked to see when the first game against Boston was.

Tonight, the demons await.

Ever since Milan Lucic brazenly ran over Ryan Miller in TD Garden, the cloud hanging over the franchise still has yet to dissipate. It’s not just they haven’t won there since that 6-2 loss, including two late season losses by scores of 3-1 and 4-3 that surely could’ve improved the Sabres’ playoff chances. It’s not just that they’re in the midst of a four game losing skid in a shortened season right now.

It’s that this franchise had all their faults exposed in one night and have yet to prove that they’re past it.

That game showed a lack of strength amongst the Sabres, not only to stand up for each other, but to avoid being rattled by it. Ryan Miller wasn’t the same for months. The skid the team went on was a major factor towards another year outside the top eight in the East.

And most notably, the changes to the roster since have all been with that game in mind.

It wasn’t long until they decided it was time for alleged-Lucic-in-waiting prospect Zack Kassian to fill that role in the NHL. They brought him up and saw what few had been trying to point out all along, that he wasn’t that guy. And then Marcus Foligno came up and filled the role better, so Kassian was dealt while his stock was still high.

And they traded Paul Gaustad, who was supposed to be the leader on the ice that night, but stood by idly by. He was gone at the deadline. It was clear that whatever toughness the Sabres thought they had, wasn’t enough. Or at least wasn’t the kind they needed.

It continued over the summer, with Steve Ott being acquired for talented center Derek Roy, and the “enforcer” John Scott being signed as a UFA.

There was no skirting around what this was supposed to be. This was supposed to make the team a group that didn’t allow things like the Lucic hit from ever happening.

So far, that hasn’t worked out well. Read the rest of this entry

Overreactions, 80th Edition: Good thing the Leafs are awful, or this could’ve sucked.

It can’t ever be easy, can it?

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…

…Wow.

  • 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

Overreactions, 71st Edition: Um… It’s not over yet.

With the Sabres just a few points out of a playoff spot, with more than ten games remaining, the season isn’t over yet. It’d be foolish to think otherwise.

Conversely, with your opponent trailing by a mere one goal with time running out, it’s not over yet. It’d be foolish to leave your head firmly planted inside your ass and let them tie the game before the clock expires. That just happened.

Again.

For the second game in a row, the Buffalo Sabres surrendered a tying goal in the waning seconds of regulation, this time off the stick of Colorado’s Jamie McGinn with just 1.6 seconds on the clock. Unlike Monday night, they failed to rebound, falling 5-4 in a shootout.

Buffalo held three separate one goal leads that disappeared. Marcus Foligno opened the scoring just 1:39 into the game. After Colorado tied it seven minutes later, Drew Stafford scored shorthanded to take a 2-1 lead. Colorado would answer with a David Jones goal in the final minute of the opening period.

The Avalanche grabbed their only lead of the night early in the second on a Gabriel Landeskog goal. They led until Marcus Foligno tied it at 3-3 with just under nine minutes remaining in the second.

Alexander Sulzer’s first goal as a Sabre appeared to give Buffalo the lead that would get them to the win, but McGinn’s goal spoiled the night.

Peter Mueller of the Avs scored the only goal in the shootout, as Semyon Varlamov stopped Brad Boyes, Jason Pominville and Tyler Ennis to get the win.

Ryan Miller was strong, but not strong enough, stopping 38 of 42 shots for the Sabres, who earn one point but sit three points behind 8th place Washington with 11 games left on the schedule.

  • Nice moment for Marcus Foligno, scoring that early goal. It ignited the crowd, and his first jump has been highly anticipated from the time they drafted him. He had a phenomenal game. Scored twice, added three hits and finished +3 in 14:41.
  • Speaking of rooks, Brayden McNabb quietly made his return to the lineup after being recalled from Rochester. Needless to say, he looked shaky. Played just 13:17 and looked uneasy. With Myers out for at least the next two games, lets get Andrej Sekera an extra IV or something.
  • The Foligno-Ennis-Stafford line was superb tonight. Stafford and Foligno both scored and provided a physical presence. Ennis was Ennis, dancing around the ice and picking up three assists. They looked really good. Unfortunately, their line was the only line that showed up. Read the rest of this entry
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