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Farewell Miserable November December 2, 2011

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With the month of November in the rear-view mirror, the Sabres will be hoping Santa doesn’t have lumps of coal waiting for them in the bottoms of their stockings. Between the calamitous injury situation, the collective turtling in the face of the big bad Bruins and the simultaneous initiation of half-a-dozen rookies into the senior ranks, the Sabres actually didn’t do too badly, finishing 7-6-1 (15 out of a possible 28 points). Yes I know, my glass of Blue Light is half-full, but I do have a six-pack of PBR tallboys chilling in the fridge if things had been more miserable. Player A could have been out for the season, Player B could have broken more bones, Player C could have missed more games, etc etc (I am not naming names lest even more Sabres find their way onto the injury report). In fact, we could have gone 0-14-0 and where would we be then?!

So with that in mind, here are some things to look forward to in this festive month –

  • Ryan Miller will be back very soon. Hopefully refreshed from an early season break. And hopefully in a better frame of mind than the time he got injured when he was quite dreadful at times, no thanks to the vanishing act by the supporting cast in front of him.
  • Tyler Ennis gets to try again. ‘Enzo’ needs to be better during Take Two. In the first go-around of seven games prior to his injury, he looked nothing like his 2010-11 avatar that scored 49 points. It might help that Leino is settling in and has been playing better, but all signs point to Ennis getting first dibs on the line with Roy and Stafford as soon as he is back.
  • Tyler Myers continues his comeback. After a pretty rough start culminated in his benching for a game, Myers had a couple of solid efforts and it looked like he was back to form again. However, an innocuous-looking collision resulted in a broken bone and he has been sidelined until the middle of this month.
  • Thomas Vanek and team captain Jason Pominville have both been playing like elite wingers, and have combined to drag the Sabres out of their proclivity to slump to long losing streaks. We would love to see this pair keep scoring and lead from the front.
  • Zack Kassian is here. The fan-proclaimed future of the Sabres finally made his way up to the senior team, and promptly went about earning his keep as a physical forward with an eye for goal. If he can continue to combine his feisty approach with some timely scoring, the Sabres will be vindicated in spending the 13th overall pick on him in the 2009 Entry Draft.
  • Big Joe Finley getting a stint with the Sabres. I propose that the moniker ‘Big’ be permanently prefixed to Finley’s name – the 6’8″, 260lb behemoth is not only big, he plays big too, laying crushing hits and gleefully dropping the gloves. And in his spare time he tosses around lawnmowers and kitchen tables, and slashes team mascots too. Read all about him here.
  • The rise of Brayden McNabb. Another one of the big-bodies that is expected to form the new Sabres core, he has settled in very well, fighting for the puck in the corners, clearing the blue ice of foreign matter (and players) and distributing the puck effectively up the ice too.
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Sabres vs. Flyers Game 4 4/20/11 Postmortem April 20, 2011

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Do or die? I’d say so. Let’s get this thing started!

Liked:

  • Kaleta makes his presence felt in his first shift.
  • The crowd sounds alive tonight.
  • The Sabres are really buzzing in the first three minutes. Make that five minutes…
  • I approve of Drew Stafford on the penalty kill.
  • Butler saves his goaltender’s bacon. Miller owes him a steak.
  • Pommer gets his first of the playoffs off a gorgeous pass from Niedermayer.
  • The Sabres are on the power play because Carcillo is a stupid hockey player.
  • Gerbe goes through three guys and still gets a shot off. Heh.
  • Tyler Myers makes an all-star play to prevent a goal. Miller’s going to be doling out steaks to the D with the way things are going.
  • Myers can’t BELIEVE he hit the post on that one, but Timonen takes a penalty hauling Grier down.
  • Apparently Myers is okay from his collision in the first period. Thanks, hockey gods!
  • Miller makes a big stop on Richards.
  • The Sabres are on the Flyers like white on rice here in the first 10 minutes of the second period. The line of Gaustad, Kaleta, and Boyes is the Flyers’ worst nightmare right now.
  • Vanek strips the puck quite neatly. hee hee hee
  • Kaleta out-muscled a guy behind the Flyers net like he was an annoying little gnat.
  • The Flyers take a too-many-men penalty in the waning moments of the second period. In obvious news, now would be a good time to take a two-goal lead.
  • Richards gets five minutes for elbowing. Amanda approves.

Didn’t like:

  • Weber gets called with a silly penalty. Borderline, but what can you do?
  • Stafford negates the power play with a holding penalty. Again, dubious.
  • Connolly lets his man go on the power play and the Flyers nearly score short-handed.
  • Ennis doesn’t look right. Neither does Leopold.
  • Boyes hits the second post of the period.
  • Myers takes a knee-on-knee hit from Carter and goes down like the giant he is. The building shook.
  • Wow. That was one of the worst five-minute power plays I’ve seen in my entire life.

On to game five!

The Epic Collapse: my thoughts March 21, 2011

Posted by calvin in Uncategorized.
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I was at the game on Sunday night against Nashville and got to watch my team blow a two-goal lead in the final four minutes before ultimately losing the game in overtime. I’m not sure how I feel about this. I’m not terribly pleased that I spent money to go to a game where the team fell apart like three-hundred year-old lace. And looked just about as fragile as lace at times.

However, I’m happy they salvaged a point out of that mess. I’m happy certain players had good games, including the much-maligned Tim Connolly (yes I’ll admit he had a good game).

So how do I feel overall? I feel like they need to stop blowing two-goal leads. I feel like Drew Stafford needn’t have bothered putting on his jersey. I feel like they still have an excellent chance at making the playoffs. And I’m pleased that they’re not pleased.

Clear as mud, eh? On to Montreal on Tuesday…

Sabres vs. Wild 3/6/11 Postmortem March 6, 2011

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Sorry I haven’t been posting more. Real life is getting in the way. But today I’m here, and I’m ready to roll!

Liked:

  • WHAT a play between Vanek, Montador, and Pominville. When I saw all those passes I started to groan, but they converted.
  • Early in the game Enroth is coming up with some big saves.
  • Montador seems to make his defense partner better, no matter who the partner is.
  • Niedermayer scores! Niedermayer scores! *checking outside for pigs flying*
  • I like Lindy using some different guys on the penalty kill. There’s no reason guys like McCormick can’t kill penalties.
  • Sabres with some good offensive zone pressure here in the third period.
  • Enroth makes some timely saves to keep the Sabres in the game in the third period.
  • Montador showing good desperation, diving at the blue line to get the puck out of the defensive zone.
  • I like that they’re shooting from EVERYWHERE.
  • I’m going to give that fight to McCormick by unanimous decision…
  • WOW – what a save by Enroth! If they lose this game you won’t be able to blame it on goaltending.
  • DREW Stafford!

Didn’t like:

  • Poor Vanek. He’s got, what, fifty people there watching him and he misses a gimme.
  • Not a real impressive power play, guys.
  • Enroth had no chance on either goal so far.
  • Punching people is a penalty, Tyler Myers.
  • Ouch! I hope Kaleta is okay. That looked super-painful.

Sabres WIN in OT 3-2. On to Pittsburgh!

Does this team WANT to make the playoffs? February 19, 2011

Posted by calvin in Uncategorized.
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After watching the last two games, this is a question which bears some consideration. However, upon further review, you have to wonder about a few things?

  1. Are significant members of the team playing hurt? (Probably.)
  2. Is Ryan Miller tired? (I’d have to think so.)
  3. Can the team win without Ryan Miller? (Not in its current make-up.)
  4. Will new owner Terry Pegula try to make a run this year or write it off and build with an eye toward the future? (Where’s my Magic 8 Ball?)
  5. Even if they make the playoffs, will it matter or will it be another colossal disappointment? (My money is on the latter.)

Hate to be a downer, here, folks, but Pegula’s best option may be to get rid of as much dead weight as he can, decide if he’s going after Steve Montador and Drew Stafford, possibly get a couple of quality players through free agency if he’s willing to spend the money, and then see what next year brings.

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