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Overreactions: There actually was a hockey game tonight

475668991_slideIt’s hard to sum up this game tonight. There was a game. It was an NHL regular season hockey game. It counted in the standings, but no one who has a twitter or was around people likely got invested in this game. It was a sideshow.

The impending trade of Ryan Miller finally happened. The impending trade of Steve Ott finally happened. And in one instant, the sense of dread on the horizon became a reality. And the Sabres played on.

While the team out on the ice walked away with a 4-2 win over the visiting San Jose Sharks, there’s not much to take from it. Jhonas Enroth was sensational. Brian Flynn scored again. Tyler Myers actually had a really good game.

And now, two points later, everything is different. The fact the team is currently riding a three game win streak out of the Olympic break is completely irrelevant. The soul of the team is forever changed. And even while Cody Hodgson, Matt Moulson, Flynn and Myers scored in a Sabres win at home on a Friday night, it doesn’t seem quite right. You don’t normally spend the third period’s television timeouts applauding for guys who aren’t on your team.

But the game’s a final, and Sunday, the team will take off out west for a roadtrip, and some of the guys on the plane may not be coming back to Buffalo on the same plane. They may have played their last game here. Matt Moulson, who scored the game winner tonight in maybe his last game as a Sabre (god, we can do this for everybody) wasn’t a story tonight.

There was a game. And I don’t think it matters too much right now.

  • Picked a hell of a game to show up late. Team was already out for warmups by the time I got to the press box.
  • Funny that you naturally didn’t want to put two and two together when Tim Murray missed his WGR spot at 5:30. It’d be too easy to assume there’d be a trade. Turns out, there was.
  • Good to see Enroth step up and have a game like that when he needed to grab the reins and earn a shot at being the #1 guy for the rest of the way. He will be. He’ll get his shot. Read the rest of this entry

Overreactions: Penguins (talented) beat Sabres (not so much)

467052031_slideMaybe if you watched the first ten minutes of this game, you thought the result might be in doubt. If you watched the last fifty, you knew better.

Even despite jumping out to a quick 1-0 lead on the Eastern Conference leading Penguins, the Sabres couldn’t take advantage of early chances before the giant awoke. The result of that is Pittsburgh dominating Buffalo en route to a 5-1 decision in the last game at First Niagara Center before the NHL’s Olympic hiatus.

Drew Stafford scored just under six minutes into the game, but that would be the only time Penguins’ netminder Marc-Andre Fleury would be solved. Buffalo got other chances, but Matt Ellis and Zemgus Girgensons couldn’t quite get it done and the lead was nothing but tenuous.

Then the beast came to life.

A rough hit from Steve Ott on Penguins star Harry Zolnierczyk seemed to rile up the NBC darlings. Zolnierczyk would tie the game late in the first period, and it was over from there. Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin each scored highlight reel goals in the second, and Brian Gibbons and James Neal added third period insurance goals.

“That’s a good team over there that’s obviously playing extremely well,” Ott said. “We shot ourselves in the foot with a couple of turnovers in the second, but there’s no lack of passion. Every guy is out there working hard trying to compete.”

Ryan Miller, looking to impress Team USA coach Dan Bylsma on the other bench, was solid but helpless, making 29 saves and getting hung out to dry on many occasions.

  • Lots of Penguins fans in the crowd at FNC. Games against Pittsburgh are the right time to play the “Hey Penguins fan, do you know who Lasse Pirjeta or Tomas Surovy is?”
  • Speaking of those guys, we’d all love to have a guy like Malkin or Crosby right? Here is a good reminder of what it takes to get one of those guys. Embrace it, because in the end, we’ll have guys on our team scoring goals like those in the second period. And I’ll take that over hearing the word “compete” on a daily basis 11 times out of ten.
  • Mike Weber on the first Pittsburgh goal, top to bottom, was a complete mess. Sabres were possessing the puck well, moving up ice, and he gets it and fires it into the corner. Pittsburgh easily collects it, goes the other way and he chases them into the corner. By the time he gets there, the puck is headed to the front of the net and Zolnierczyk has all the time in the world to beat Miller. That shift in itself gets him cut from good teams. Read the rest of this entry

Overreactions: Panthers edge Sabres in regulation

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If anyone’s been seriously concerned about “the tank” lately, they’ve been seeing some issues. The Sabres, heading into Tuesday night, had picked up points in five of their last six (2-1-3), and more impressively in nine of their last ten (6-1-3) at First Niagara Center.

So with a strong run putting them on the brink of passing 29th place Edmonton, for at least one night, the heroic march to the 5th overall pick was stalled, this time by their historic Atlantic Division rival, the Florida Panthers. Despite two early goals by Drew Stafford that put the Sabres in front, a few deflections and an inability to finish late chances left Buffalo on the losing end of a 4-3 decision.

Ryan Miller struggled on his way to finishing with just 18 saves, getting beat three times in the first period on deflected shots. Florida scored twice in 52 seconds in the final minutes of the period, and the 3-2 lead would be a sustained advantage.

Florida’s Nick Bjugstad widened the gap with a second period snipe to make it 4-2, and Tim Thomas would weather the storm in the Panthers net over the final 20 minutes. Thomas stopped 15 of 16 Buffalo shots in the third period to hang on for the win.

Steve Ott would score his 100th career goal on the powerplay 8:36 into the final period, but the Sabres failed to tie it and took the loss in regulation.

  • Tyler Myers got a lot of love after the last game (arguably more than merited) and he followed it up with a relative dud, which the stats back up. He activated offensively a few times early, but overall, he was unimpressive in his own zone. We need to have a real conversation about this guy.
  • This space does not hesitate to rip on game presentation, but they’ve done an excellent job recognizing milestones over the PA. They even have graphics ready. It was good to see them make a big deal out of Ott’s 100th NHL goal. Now if they could only put the goal information in writing on the scoreboard, we’d be all set there.
  • By the way, the music was a mess. Absolutely way too relaxed and chill for a game as close as that. Can’t lull the crowd to sleep like that.
  • The boxscore isn’t kind to Miller, but hard to blame him much on the first period goals. Yes, as he said after the game, his positioning could’ve been better, but still, deflections. He’s the kind of guy who goes out of his way to take responsibility for things, which is incredibly admirable. But other than the Bjugstad snipe (which was gorgeous) he’s taking the heat a little more than he needs to. Read the rest of this entry

Overreactions: Tank marches on, Sabres surrender late goal to Flyers

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That was a close one.

Just when you thought the Sabres were out, there they go and pull you right back in. And before you know it, they’re right back out.

After Tyler Ennis tied the game with 3:13 remaining, it was Vincent Lecavalier’s dagger for Philadelphia with 14.8 seconds left that handed the Buffalo Sabres a 4-3 loss.

“That’s a game we could’ve won that slipped away,” said Cody Hodgson, who opened the scoring seven minutes into the game.

Philadelphia dominated the second period, tying the game early on a Jakub Voracek powerplay goal as they outshot Buffalo 12-7.

The Sabres retook the lead 6:27 into the third, as Matt D’Agostini put one past Flyers goalie Steve Mason after a dominant shift with Steve Ott and Cody Hodgson. And then the floodgates opened.

Philadelphia’s Brayden Schenn tied it up seven minutes later and then the Flyers took the lead for the first time on the night as Scott Hartnell ripped one over Jhonas Enroth’s shoulder. The Sabres would even it less than a minute later on Ennis’ goal, but in the end it was another mark in the loss column.

Enroth was sensational for most of the night, stopping 29 of 33 shots.

“It’s tough right now to think about how we lost that one, but we’ve got another game tomorrow. We can’t dwell on it,” said Hodgson.

  • Mike Weber was not good. He ended up playing the third most minutes, which if you’re trying to tank, is cool. But not a coincidence seeing the result.
  • Enroth took a little heat for saying it was “tough to win with this team” after his last loss because of lack of goal support. Now he looks like a dick for getting goal support and not winning. It’s not like he didn’t play well. He’s having a rough go lately.
  • That shift that ended in the D’Agostini goal by him, Ott and Hodgson was absolutely fantastic. Very entertaining. Read the rest of this entry

Overreactions: Sabres defeat Devils in hockey game

460610051_slideReturning home from a two-game roadtrip where they got worked in two losses, the Sabres hoped the comforts of home would put them back on track. And they did.

Facing a Devils team playing the second half of a back-to-back, Buffalo, on the strength of a powerplay that helped them generate over half their shots and both goals, walked away with a 2-1 win at a sold out First Niagara Center.

Matt Moulson and Matt D’Agostini scored for Buffalo, as they won their fifth consecutive home game.

Moulson opened the scoring late in the second period, jamming home a loose puck from the top of the crease, his 14th of the year.

For D’Agostini, he finally tallied his first goal as a Buffalo Sabre, putting home a rebound with just over eight minutes remaining in the third period. Good work by Steve Ott and Linus Omark, who tallied his first point as a Sabre on the play, created the opportunity.

“I went in there and the puck was just laying there,” said D’Agostini.

The Sabres shockingly got a solid night out of Ryan Miller, who made 21 saves and got the win. Only a Michael Ryder goal on a two-man advantage blemished his outing.

Buffalo is now off until Tuesday, when they face Carolina in the second game of a three game homestand.

  • Tyler Myers should probably get suspended for that hit on Dainius Zubrus in the third period.
  • I hate that Mike Weber or anyone else has to fight after a big hit. It’s ok to hit people. If it’s a cheap shot, knock yourself out, but a good clean hit should be respected and not punished.
  • For everyone in Buffalo that wants to see Ryan Miller start in Sochi, you better start making a bigger deal out of it or it won’t happen. Not one “U-S-A” chant in the first game since the roster was announced, even after multiple impressive saves. Gotta start getting to word out, people.
  • Zenon Konopka was not overly impressive in 11:37 making his Sabres debut. Whatever. We’ll see where it goes.
  • John Scott took a penalty, not for being John Scott, or for being targeted by officials, but for doing something against the rules. It happens. Not everything makes him a victim. Read the rest of this entry

Overreactions: Sabres beat Sens in shootout

454972815_slideThe Sabres only needed one goal to get themselves a point tonight. No one said it had to be pretty, and they ended up snagging two.

Buffalo’s Zemgus Girgensons scored once in regulation and the shootout winner as the Sabres defeated the Ottawa Senators by a 2-1 final.

After falling behind early in the first period on a Milan Michalek goal, Buffalo tied it in the second as Girgensons threw a shot from the goal line into Ottawa goalie Robin Lehner’s skates. Despite appearing to take the lead later in the period on a delayed penalty, the game would end 1-1 after 60 minutes as the go-ahead goal was disallowed.

Matt Moulson, Brian Flynn, Steve Ott and Girgensons scored for Buffalo in the shootout, which last ten rounds before Ryan Miller stopped Erik Condra to end it.

Miller made 35 saves on the night, as he won his first game against a team other than Toronto since Ted Nolan took over as interim head coach.

  • I figured there was going to be a lighter crowd, and I took some pictures early in the game and posted them on twitter, but it did fill in a bit. The secondary market was extremely soft and the weather likely scared some people off, but there were no more than 14,000 in-house tonight.
  • Got into multiple arguments on twitter, but the disallowed goal was not a bad call. The referee reserves the right to determine what constitutes possession when it comes to blowing play dead on a delayed penalty. Did it work out for the Sabres? No. But the rules are written poorly in terms of language defining possession. That’d be nice if it were clearer.
  • Here’s the official statement from the league on the disallowed goal: Read the rest of this entry

Overreactions: Sabres win in overtime, beating Leafs still super fun

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Don’t know what it is about Toronto, but I don’t think anyone cares.

The Buffalo Sabres moved to 13-1-1 in their last 15 visits from the Maple Leafs as Christian Ehrhoff scored 38 seconds into sudden death to give the home team a 3-2 overtime victory in front of throngs of visiting fans.

With a late penalty to Toronto’s Paul Ranger expiring, Ville Leino won an offensive zone faceoff and the puck was worked back to Ehrhoff at the top of the slot. Not long after, the puck was behind Leafs goalie James Reimer and Buffalo had their sixth win in 27 league games.

“I didn’t have the time to do a big wind-up there,” said Ehrhoff “I saw the opening between the legs and I put one through there.”

Matt Moulson and Luke Adam scored for Buffalo, who twice came back from one-goal deficits in the second period.

Phil Kessel and Nikolai Kulemin scored for Toronto, who got 26 saves from Reimer.

“It’s good to see the guys get rewarded for doing the right things,” said Ryan Miller, who finished with 22 saves in the win.

  • Leino, who is a frequent target of derision, was fantastic tonight. Drew the penalty late in regulation and made the key play on both the opening goal and the overtime winner. Really, really good game from him.
  • Two of Buffalo’s three regulation-and-overtime wins (ROW) have come in the two visits from the Maple Leafs.
  • Matt D’Agostini gets the nice +1 on his stat line in his Sabres debut, as he set the screen on Reimer for the game winner. He was good, made some nice plays in the offensive zone and wasn’t a liability at all. Of course, since he didn’t score in his first game, he will be marked as a massive disappointment for life. Read the rest of this entry

Overreactions: Sabres lose to Red Wings, look awful doing it

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For what really should be a momentous occasion in a club’s history, there wasn’t a lot of anticipation for this one. Rightfully, and unfortunately so.

The Buffalo Sabres unveiled their fifth third jersey in franchise history tonight at First Niagara Center, and the result of the game was a lot prettier than the result of the design process. Detroit, playing their third game in four nights, and without star center Pavel Datsyuk, handed the locally-based hockey franchise a 3-1 loss in front of 18,721.

Cody Hodgson opened the scoring, as Buffalo took a lead for the third game in a row. Those three games all ended in the same result: a loss.

Detroit tied the game on a Darren Helm goal just thirty seconds into the second period, and finally took the lead in the third period as Johan Franzen beat Ryan Miller with Tyler Myers in the penalty box. Losing the special teams battle was  the difference, as the Buffalo powerplay went 0-for-2.

“It’s just something we have to clean up, that’s for sure,” said captain Steve Ott, when asked about the team’s penchant for taking penalties. “It’s gonna cost us games like it did tonight.”

Red Wings veteran Daniel Alfredsson (of course) added the empty netter to seal it.

Miller was fantastic for the Sabres tonight, stopping 31 of 33 shots and doing all that he could to keep the game close.

Buffalo has now lost four in a row, and hosts Montreal on Wednesday night.

  • Even when the things got leaked/unveiled, there’s that “wait until you see them on the ice” crowd that withheld judgement. Well, they still looked like shit.
  • Darren Helm’s goal was pretty. Shook Tyler Ennis’ coverage in front of the net, and whipped a quick backhand past Miller. You’d like to see more goals like that and less like Franzen’s ugly one.
  • Matt Moulson is a few games like this away from showing up on a milk carton.
  • Very few people in the crowd wearing the new jersey. Shockingly, there didn’t seem to be much interest in buying it. But great job, Sabres creative team! (Editor’s note: previous statement is sarcasm. Please do not take seriously. It was meant to be taken as a facetious remark. In no way is this an honest compliment to the Buffalo Sabres organization and/or their creative services department.) Read the rest of this entry

Overreactions: Sabres score goals (plural), fall to Bolts in overtime

183664516_slideOne 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

Overreactions, Preseason Edition: Sabres fall to Maple Leafs in really, really long shootout

Losing isn’t something the Sabres had done yet. Things were going so well. Optimism was creeping in.

Then the third period of the team’s fourth preseason game started.

Blowing a two goal lead in the final ten minutes of regulation, the Buffalo Sabres couldn’t beat James Reimer in time to save the win as they fell 3-2 in a shootout to the Toronto Maple Leafs.

The game was decided by a shootout after a spirited overtime, and it took 30 (yes, 30) shooters to decide the winner. Jhonas Enroth was beaten by Jay McClement in the 15th round of the shootout, and Reimer stopped all 15 shooters he faced.

“I thought our game for 50 minutes was really, really strong,” said Sabres forward Steve Ott. “The last ten minutes, we cost ourselves.”

Enroth was solid in net for Buffalo, stopping 32 of 34 shots in addition to 14 of 15 in the shootout.

The Sabres got goals from Mark Pysyk and Marcus Foligno, while Jamie Devane (sounds fake to me) and McClement scored for Toronto. Reimer made 38 saves for the Leafs.

These teams meet again tomorrow night in Toronto, in what should be the last chance to impress for at least a few players.

  • Brian Flynn really picked up his game from the other night, and his hustle gave him a few chances to make a mark. He needs another game like this to really make his case to stick around with a guy like Zemgus Girgensons in a good spot to make the team.
  • People really hate Patrick Kaleta. Man, he was running around trying to hit anything the first few shifts of the game.
  • Jamie McBain had a pretty solid game, but I’m not sure he’s going to make the team still. It’s obvious they were really trying to give him a solid look, as he had a team high 27:02 TOI, but I think that shows more that he’s on the fence than that he’s got a spot. Read the rest of this entry
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