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Sabres deal T.J. Brennan to Florida

brennanThere 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

Instigator Podcast #22: Back In Business (Jan 8, 2013)

You know, you figure since they decided to end the lockout, I figured it was time Chris Ostrander of Two In the Box and myself did another podcast.

In a brand new season premiere of the Instigator (new intro and everything!) we talk about the end of the lockout, where we go from here, the superpower that is USA Hockey, Canada being Canada, and we play Plus/Minus.

We take suggestions. Leave us a note here or on twitter, @3rdManIn or @2ITB_Buffalo.

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

3MI Roadtrip Recap: Toronto

(In place of a traditional “Overreactions” post, which would be extremely tardy, this is 3MI Roadtrip Recap. A mix of what the postgame blogs usually look like and a look into the trip. Hope you like it. If you don’t, well, go lay down on train tracks.)

Preamble

It’s about as close to being at the center of the hockey universe as you can get. Saturday night in Toronto. Hockey Night in Canada. Nationwide up north and on NHL Network in the United States.

The aura of the Air Canada Centre is something that has to be experienced. And it’s something that I’ve been fortunate enough to have the opportunity to experience. Multiple times. Many, many times.

So when you look at the calendar and see Sabres at Leafs on a Saturday night at the end of March, two thoughts come to mind:

  1. Going to games in Toronto is awesome.
  2. The Leafs will be eliminated from playoff contention by then.

Which brought us to Saturday, which was as big as big games could get after losing Friday night to Pittsburgh.

So me and my buddy headed up north for the day. A nice afternoon of watching hockey at Real Sports Bar & Grill across the street from the ACC and some Saturday night hockey. Got standing room only tickets off StubHub at box office price. Can’t beat it.

Sabres @ Maple Leafs
Viewed at: Air Canada Centre, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

If you want to write the book called “How to fuck up your playoff chances in a game you should win,” I’ve got a suggestion for what you can include.

Making the short trip north for a showdown with a free-falling Toronto Maple Leafs, who came into Saturday riding an 11-game winless streak at home, who happened to be starting their fourth-string goalie because their third-string goalie got shelled the game before, Buffalo proceeded to back away from any decent shot at a playoff spot.

Unable to beat Ben Scrivens or shut down a struggling offense, the Buffalo Sabres dropped a 4-3 defeat at the hands of the golf-course-bound Leafs in Toronto.

Ryan Miller was unable to rebound from a rough outing the night before, giving up four goals for the second straight night. He made 25 saves in the loss.

“We scored some goals tonight, so I didn’t need to be perfect,” Miller said. “But I needed to make another save or two.”

Tyler Ennis, Ville Leino, and Drew Stafford scored for Buffalo, who never led at any point. Read the rest of this entry

Overreactions, 45th Edition: Detroit Rock Bottom

Things didn’t look too promising coming in to Monday’s game at Joe Louis Arena.

Riding an eight-game losing streak on the road, Buffalo was about to run into a buzzsaw. Detroit was ready to extend their home winning streak to a franchise record 15. The numbers indicated it could be trouble for the Sabres.

Surprise, surprise.

While they held them off the board for just over five minutes, there wasn’t much reason to think the Sabres had any chance to get out of there with points, and they dropped a 5-0 loss to the Detroit Red Wings presented by Amway.

“We’ve got to wake up,” Buffalo forward Jason Pominville said.

Ryan Miller got chased after allowing five goals on 14 shots in the first 24:32 of action. He expressed his frustration after the game, and, just like many of us have been saying, there’s no magical cure in his eyes.

“If you want to just destroy a team and go out and be reckless and do something, yeah. Then there’s going to be new guys in here. But other than that, this locker room is going to be pretty much the same, if not completely the same and we gotta find it from in here [points to chest]. You can’t sit and wait for somebody else to fucking do it.”

The nine game losing streak shows no signs of stopping, with the team unable to put together a good road game and visits to Chicago, Winnipeg and St. Louis, all arenas where the home team has dominated, awaiting them.

This is what a season slipping away looks like.

  • Lindy Ruff decided to mix up the defense pairings and forward lines after seeing the team fail to beat the last place Islanders on Saturday. With Andrej Sekera returning in place of Robyn Regehr and T.J. Brennan replacing Joe Finley, there wasn’t going to be much continuity on the blueline anyways. It turned out to be a disaster. Jordan Leopold and Mike Weber looked lost playing together, both being on the ice for four of the five Detroit goals.
  • One of the changes Ruff made was putting Derek Roy between Jason Pominville and Thomas Vanek. Defensively not withstanding, that line looked alright in the offensive zone, especially Roy, who I thought looked good in the attacking zone. The trio had 10 of the Sabres’ 27 shots on Detroit’s Jimmy Howard.
  • Oddly enough, Marc-Andre Gragnani was even on the night. He’s been one of the team’s shakiest defenseman. Somehow his plus-minus doesn’t reflect that. Read the rest of this entry

Delayed Overreactions, 21st Edition: Sabres make their point against Bruins

The goal in each game is to win. Those two points are what the teams play for.

On Wednesday night, the Buffalo Sabres got one point, but still walked away with somewhat of a victory.

With the hockey world watching to see how the Sabres would respond in their first matchup with the Boston Bruins after the Milan Lucic hit on the still-sidelined Ryan Miller, the team succeeded in showing their mettle, albeit losing in a shootout by a score of 4-3.

Paul Gaustad got the business out of the way early, challenging Lucic in an early scrap, despite it happening 11 days after many argue it should have. Buffalo used the energy to jump out to a 2-0 lead on goals by Christian Ehrhoff and Thomas Vanek.

“It was an unfortunate incident in Boston, and I give credit to Milan for fighting,” Gaustad said. “It’s something where guys don’t have to, and he did. I wanted to step up after I thought I could have done more in the (earlier) Boston game.”

Boston climbed back within one early in the second, only to be answered by T.J. Brennan’s first NHL goal in his first NHL game. The Bruins continued to press, and tied the game at three early in the third on a powerplay goal by Zdeno Chara.

It went to a shootout, where Tim Thomas stopped all five Sabres shooters and Benoit Pouliot ended it after Jhonas Enroth had stopped the four previous Bruins to shoot.

Enroth finished with 36 saves on the night.

Sure, they didn’t win the game, but arguably, they won some respect.

  • A very nice debut for T.J. Brennan. He didn’t get a regular shift early on, as Lindy surely wanted to ease him into such an intense atmosphere. He converted the chance he got, and played a very simple game. A great step forward for a kid who is likely gonna stick around a while.
  • By the way, kudos to the game presentation for stepping up and doing a new intro. The environment was much better, and the crowd responded. Unfortunately, they still don’t have it quite right, as the heavy start faded after the first period and the crowd was pretty lifeless in the second and thirds. The music is so crucial, and you can tell what an effect playing more appropriate music. It’s a marathon, not a sprint. You don’t have to beat people over the head with “go run through that brick wall” music the whole night.
  • Not having Brad Boyes available for the shootout may have been the difference. Jhonas Enroth made the saves he needed to, but the skaters need to score. Unfortunate that they failed to take advantage of the situation.
  • I’ve never seen a player jump into hits more than Brad Marchand did Wednesday night. Even when trying to lay out Nathan Gerbe, who’s even smaller than he is, Marchand feels the need to leave his feet. Total scumbag. Read the rest of this entry

Overreactions, Preseason Edition #3: Beating Toronto is fun

Doesn’t matter if the game counts in the standings or not, it’s always nice to beat the Leafs.

That’s what the Sabres did Friday night at the Air Canada Centre, getting a 2-1 win over Toronto thanks to a late Jason Pominville powerplay goal.

The star of the night was Ryan Miller, who continued his habitual domination of the Leafs. Miller made 33 saves, some of them spectacular, including a larceny by glove hand on a shot by Leafs forward Joffrey Lupul which earned him a spot on SportsCenter.

Buffalo also got a goal from Corey Tropp in the first period, his first of the preseason.

It wasn’t all good news for the Sabres either, as the team lost Derek Roy to a shoulder injury late in the first period. He will miss a few games, but coach Lindy Ruff said it’s “nothing serious.

The game got scrappy at the end, setting up tonight’s rematch at the First Niagara Center.

Some things I saw:

  • Great for Corey Tropp to get rewarded with a goal. He was good all night, and has been throughout the preseason. He’s been physical and made some good plays in the offensive zone. He may be earning himself a recall during the season with his play this week.
  • Kudos to the offiicials for properly calling a penalty on Leafs defenseman Dion Phaneuf for his blindside hit on Michael Ryan. It was the right call, and it’ll be a tough call to make for officials with as fast as the game is.
  • Keeping an eye on faceoffs, this was the first time this preseason that the Sabres lost the majority of the faceoffs. Losing Roy didn’t help, but the two guys who will likely play center, Paul Gaustad and Cody McCormick, won more than 50%.
  • Not sure what’s funnier: Leafs fans being frustrated at their inability to beat Ryan Miller or their hatred of Patrick Kaleta.
  • Thomas Vanek had a few glorious chances but failed to convert. It’d be nice if one of these games he can just pour a few in and get hot before the season starts. He’s got a few more chances to make that happen.
  • Another game for Matt Ellis, another win. Nothing to see here.
  • I thought T.J. Brennan was very good. Looked like he handled himself very well and was solid in the 19 minutes he played.
  • On the Leafs, that Joffrey Lupul-Tim Connolly-Phil Kessel line could get pretty scary. They had some excellent shifts. Also for Toronto, I was very impressed with John-Michael Liles. He was outstanding. It’s a little worrisome that the Leafs may actually be good at some point if they keep heading in this direction.
  • One last time, I’ve got to give the Sabres my full approval for finding a way to get this on television in Buffalo. I was disappointed it took so long for it to be arranged, but it was on, and that’s what matters. They’re doing a good job down at the foot of Washington, aren’t they?

Overreactions, Preseason Edition #1: Success isn’t always perfection

Well, it’s good to be back, isn’t it?

Hitting the ice for the first time in the newly-named and remodeled First Niagara Center, the Buffalo Sabres opened the 2011 exhibition slate with a 3-1 win over the Carolina Hurricanes.

Earning goals from Paul Gaustad, Nathan Gerbe and an empty netter from Patrick Kaleta, the team came back to get the win on the strength of 11 saves from Jhonas Enroth.

Sure, the game presentation still sucks ass, but who cares when the buildings full and the team wins, right? I’ll save that for another post. I won’t let that ruin the insight on the game.

Points to make after a meaningless win:

  • It seemed to me like a lot of the rookies played very tentative. The Zack Kassian-Luke Adam-Marcus Foligno line was ineffective for most of the night. It took a while for Alex Biega and T.J. Brennan to settle in. They seemed afraid of making mistakes.
  • Yes, the Sabres failed to crack the scoresheet with Brian Boucher in net for Carolina, but they really didn’t generate any offense whatsoever anyways. Opportunities were limited until the third period.
  • Zack Kassian is going to need at least a year in the AHL. I’ve been fully unimpressed with him in this game, at camp and in the one game I saw from Traverse City. The tools are clearly there. But he’s not ready. Read the rest of this entry

Defensive logjam becomes defensive logjam

Everyone saw it coming and here we are.

The Sabres are ready for it.

Barring a trade, which seems unlikely, coach Lindy Ruff confirmed this afternoon that the Sabres will start the season with eight defensemen on their roster. Mike Weber, Andrej Sekera and Chris Butler would all have to go through waivers and the Sabres aren’t likely to take that risk to get one of them back to Portland.

Based on the fact Sekera and Butler struggled to get in the lineup at the end of last season, the road is clear for Weber to be the No. 6 defenseman to join Tyler Myers, Craig Rivet, Steve Montador and newcomers Jordan Leopold and Shoane Morrisonn. Provided, of course, Weber doesn’t stub his toe in the exhibition season.

“You always look at it that you can never have enough defensemen,” Ruff said. “It’s always tough when you have extra around but you get one or two hurt and that makes it tough on the team.”

Well, if you’ve got a surplus, why don’t you move one? Not that easy.

Darcy Regier isn’t the type to make a move for the sake of making it, especially not unless he’s getting at least what he feels is fair value in exchange. And to give up on a player he drafted? Fat chance. Read the rest of this entry

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