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Ch-ch-changes.. May 6, 2011

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First of all, thank you to Amanda for all the hard work you’ve put into this blog. We are going to do our best to ensure that your legacy continues in the same vein, and we look forward to you coming back and posting whenever you get the itch!

As we all know, the season is over for Sabres fans. This offseason however, brings much more promise for us than in the past when we have waited with bated breath for the beginning of free agency on July 1st. Before, we worried more about which players we would lose and which retreads would be brought in to replace them. Since Terry Pegula has taken over there’s a lot of hope that we will be major players in the free agent market.

Over the next few weeks we’ll be doing a Sabres’ season recap, looking at the highlights and the low points, identifying needs and what can be done about them, and where players stand with injuries and surgeries. Meanwhile the playoffs go on without us, and we’ll keep an eye out on players who could become important pieces of the puzzle, resplendent in blue and gold come July.


Oh! The jubiliation! Oh! The sadness! April 23, 2011

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I was at Pearl St Grill & Brewery for the game last night with some of my most favorite-ist Tweeps. We had an awesome time, and, as we all know by now, our beloved Sabres beat the sucky Flyers in overtime. That’s the jubilant part of me this morning.

Then there’s the sad part of me: my beloved Pommerdoodle, Jason Pominville, is likely done for the season after suffering a deep cut to his ankle. I am also sad that tomorrow’s game starts at three pm and I have to be go to dinner at five pm. There’s little chance of being able to see more than half of the game tomorrow.

So, let’s recap: Sabres won in overtime – Yay! Sabres lost Jason Pominville – Booooooo!

What went wrong? April 29, 2010

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We’re all disappointed about how the season ended for the Sabres. And many journalists and bloggers are asking the same question I am: what went wrong? Some of my ideas:

  • The will to compete simply wasn’t there. Boston wanted it more than the Sabres did. This is a disturbing trend which has reared its ugly head for the past three seasons. Let’s look at the constants over those seasons – some player personnel, including Vanek, Connolly, Roy, Pominville, Gaustad, Hecht, Mair, Stafford, Tallinder, and Lydman; coaching and management – Ruff, Regier, Quinn, and Golisano; and playing style, which could be a part of coaching/management, but I’m making it a separate piece. Because I can. (By the way, I’m not lumping Miller in with the player personnel. I think that boy would compete with an old lady to cross the street, and might strongly consider taking her out at the knees to win if he had to.)
  • Injuries. I’m not comparing our injuries to Boston’s injuries – both teams had players out. But no matter what Tim Connolly says, there’s no way his foot was 100%, Craig Rivet was apparently hindered by a straightjacket (insert your own joke here), and Thomas Vanek was limping like the Hunchback of Notre Dame. Jochen Hecht was totally out of the series, and Patrick Kaleta played with only four fingers able to hold his stick in his injured hand. Then there are the players who are injured who we’ll never hear about – Stafford? Roy? My point is this – injuries to key players didn’t help matters.
  • “The System”. Lindy, I hate to break it to you, but “the system” doesn’t seem to be working. How ’bout you spend the summer figuring out a new “the system”?
  • Players tuning out the coaches. Let’s face it – Derek Roy says he has no problem with Lindy, but I was surprised when his nose didn’t actually grow as he was talking. He can’t be the only one. Derek Roy and several other players have been playing for Ruff & Co for their entire professional hockey careers. Even when you work for a boss you love, after a while you start to get comfortable and do your own thing, and there’s no evidence to support the assertion all the players love the coaching staff.
  • Ownership/management not doing what it takes. Raise your hand if you have begged Golisano, Quinn, and Regier to get Thomas Vanek a center who can get him the puck or another winger to complement him. Raise your hand if you watch Patrick Kaleta barrel his way around the ice and a proud tear forms in the corner of your eye, then you watch Drew Stafford lollygag through his shift and you want to put your fist through a wall. Just me? Didn’t think so. The team needs more guys who consistently TRY. It goes back to that whole “compete” concept, but only part of the “compete” factor is the players’ fault. Owners and management have to take some of the blame too.

I may come up with other reasons why they didn’t make it further. Until then, if you have your own reason, let me know in the comments section. I’m starting to think you people don’t love me anymore. *sniff, sniff*

Playoffs and injuries and Ottawa, oh my! April 11, 2010

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Well, I don’t know about you, but I’m feeling inordinately better about the Sabres after watching Thomas Vanek them beat Ottawa last night. And by watching I mean seeing the highlights, since I forgot to set my DVR while I was out at a concert.

By the way, if you like a capella singing – and who doesn’t? – check out the following two groups: Straight No Chaser and The Buffalo Chips. You won’t be sorry. There’s also a nice female a capella group from Tufts University called The Jackson Jills, and The Buffalo Chips have a sister group called The Royal Pitches. Truthfully, and it’s going to sound mean of me to say, but the guys are better. All four are worth checking out though.

Back to hockey…

So the playoffs start this week, and who the Sabres play will be determined by whether or not they win tonight against New Jersey. A Sabres win in regulation locks up second place in the conference and most likely the Canadiens as a first round playoff opponent. If the Sabres lose in regulation or overtime/shootout, they will stay in third place and face the Bruins, who, incidentally, scored THREE, count ’em THREE, short-handed goals in ONE POWER PLAY last night. Here’s the video.

Injuries. Well. What do we think about the injuries? Am I the only one worried about Tim Connolly’s health going into the grind that is the NHL playoffs? And what’s with Jochen Hecht? He was apparently spotted eating at PF Chang’s earlier in the week, so by all accounts at least one of his hands still works. After all, no one mentioned him gripping his chopsticks with his undoubtedly gnarly toes. (Wouldn’t you guess most hockey players have gnarly toes? They stuff those things into skates that are too small for many of them. Why? I have no idea, but they do it for a reason. Moving on…)

I’m ok with playing either Montreal or Boston. The Sabres can prevail in a seven-game series against either opponent.

I’ll actually be able to watch the entire game live tonight! Woo-hoo!

Demystifying NHL Rules, Part, um, three? March 28, 2010

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I’m not sure where we are in our continuing saga of trying to figure out what the heck is going on with the NHL rule books. Today I thought I’d take a look at the special rules that come into play after the trade deadline.

“The 23-man roster limit is in place from the conclusion of the preseason until 12:01 am on the day of the NHL’s Trade Deadline. After that teams are allowed to have an unlimited active roster at the NHL level, provided players are signed to one of their 50 contract slots. NHL teams are only allowed to dress a maximum of 20 players – 18 skaters and two goaltenders – for any given game, but those 20 must come from the 23-player active roster.” Source: NHL Rulebook

However, there are only a certain number of roster MOVES a team can make between the trade deadline and the end of the season. I don’t know what that number is, but that’s why Tyler Ennis was classified as an “emergency call-up”. He has to be returned to the Pirates in a certain length of time or his call-up is considered a roster move. Again, I don’t know what this timeframe is.

You’re probably saying to yourself, “Well, that’s helpful… not.” I tried to find out how many roster moves can be made and how long it was before an emergency call-up is classified as a roster move, but I couldn’t find the information. If you know where to find it, let me know in the comments section and I’ll update the blog post.

So, in conclusion, the Sabres could conceivably have 50 players on the current roster from now on, but 1 – that would leave no one in Portland, and 2 – that’s an awful lot of guys using a folding chair as their locker. This lack of a roster limit does explain why minor-league players hang out with their NHL big brothers during the playoffs. If you’ve got the cap space and the roster space, why not have a few extra players sitting around just in case Pat Kaleta decides to break his hand on a guy’s face again or Paul Gaustad… well… breathes.

Well, that didn’t really demystify that rule, did it? Oh well, I tried.

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