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Goaltending controversy (or not) November 7, 2011

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Before I go muckraking some more like the conventional press has been with the apparent conflict within the Sabres regarding who the starting goalies should be, I would like to apologize for being MIA in between games 4-13 on this blog. In that period, Sabres fans have gone from humming “ooh ahh Sabres on the warpath” to screaming “it’s the same old story, same old song n’ dance my friend” from the rooftops. After the European road trip the bonhomie was flowing over and any apparent faults on the team were being overlooked by fans wearing Stanley Cup-shaped glasses. Nothing like some adversity to ground everyone back in reality and remind us all that the playoffs are still a whole 69 games away. Hehe, yes, I said 69 (Beavis and Butthead is back on TV, you can see I missed them).

So, to the question of goalies. It has been so long since we have had a capable backup for Ryan Miller that this is an unfamiliar situation for younger (and bandwagon) fans of the Sabres. By using the adjective ‘capable’ I am automatically eliminating any ‘tenders who answer to the first names of Ty (Conklin), Jocelyn (Thibault), Mikael (Tellqvist) and Patrick (Lalime). In all fairness though Conklin is the only one who has gone on to have any sort of success post-Sabres. Anyways, that takes us all the way back to the trade deadline of the ’06-’07 season when a certain Marty Biron last played second fiddle in goal here. That same season was the last time when Miller missed back-to-back games while healthy, until this last Saturday.

My take on this is that I insist we do not have a goaltending controversy here in Buffalo. We are in a situation where the lead goalie is playing like crap (and he knows it), and the backup has a hot hand and is therefore starting, and winning to boot. If Miller is pouting about it and showing pressmen some attitude.. good! I for one do not want any players on this team to be riding the pine and shrugging their shoulders going “Woe is me, I’m not playing”. I’d like them to be bleeding mad that they are not on the ice doing what they are being paid to do.

Jhonas Enroth is doing what he is being paid for, which is step in whenever required and win some games. Last season when Miller had his concussion problems, Enroth came in and kept the playoffs charge alive. Not only did he contribute to us making the playoffs, he was a key element. He is 4-0-0 so far this season, 1.41 GAA and .952 SV%. Ruff knew what he was talking about when he said he wanted to give Enroth more than 20 games this season. In fact, last season Enroth was 9-2-2,  2.73 GAA & .907 SV% – quite respectable don’t you think? In his last thirteen starts the shortest goalie in the league (at 5’10”) has gone 12-0-1!

This is not a controversy people, we are playing the better goalie at the moment now so that we can win games. What’s happening in our blue ice here is a distinctive reminder of what has been happening in the Boston Bruins net. In ’09-’10 Tim Thomas was having a rough go of it and the new kid on the block Tuuka Rask took over the reins, going 22-12-10 and going on to stymie the Sabres in the first round of the playoffs. The next season Thomas came back with a vengeance and went on to win the Vezina last year. Remember a certain member of the Sabres goaltending unit who not so long ago was the winner of that piece of silverware? Don’t write off Ryan Miller, the man is tougher and better than a lot of us give him credit for.

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10 reasons Buffalo is “Hockey Heaven” April 7, 2011

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Ted Black, on the day that Terry Pegula took over the team, said that he wanted to make it clear to players around the NHL that Buffalo is “Hockey Heaven”. I’ve long felt that Buffalo is one of the greatest towns ever to be a hockey fan in, even when the team wasn’t playing as well. So, in honor of the extravaganza known as “Fan Appreciation Night” tomorrow night, here are 10 reasons Buffalo is, in fact, “Hockey Heaven”:

  1. Terry Pegula is the owner of the team, and appears to be willing to spend eleventy billion dollars to make things great for the players and fans.
  2. Sabres fans, for the most part, are knowledgeable fans who go to the games because they want to watch the team play, unlike some other markets *coughNewYorkRangersTorontoMapleLeafscough*
  3. Ryan Miller is our starting goaltender, but Jhonas Enroth has looked pretty darn spiffy lately.
  4. Buffaloians are pretty respectful of the players and their personal time.
  5. Ticket prices, comparatively speaking, are reasonable, and yet the players make as much as other teams’ players do.
  6. Buffalo is close to the hometowns of a lot of players, thus enabling family and friends to come and watch them play.
  7. The housing prices in Western New York are ridiculously cheap compared to many other areas of the US and Canada.
  8. Even when the team isn’t playing as well the fans still pack the stands. And even if the team is losing the game the fans will still cheer loudly – as long as the team is trying.
  9. The travel is way easier than what some other teams – notably the Western Conference teams – face.
  10. The media isn’t as “in your face” or as critical as in other cities.

You’re welcome, Terry Pegula and Ted Black. Feel free to make this into a brochure that you mail to your “wish list” of players. All I ask in return is a box for the next ten years and the opportunity to have all the ice cream I want during games.

Sabres vs. Lightning 4/5/11 Postmortem Guest Blog April 5, 2011

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Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea culpa. I just have NOT had time or opportunity to blog lately. Luckily my mother is on the ball, and so, I bring you her guest commentary on tonight’s game.

 

After tonight, two more games and then it’s the play-offs! Let’s see if we can win these last three and go into the play-offs in high gear!

Liked:

  • Enroth in goal again– Miller is starting to skate but it might still be a while. Maybe, too, Lindy is giving him more time to rest for the playoffs since Enroth is wiping the ice with opponents.
  • Sabres are all over the Lightning the first five minutes.  By halfway mark, the Lightning are starting to wake up so careful guys!
  • Congrats to Sabres sled hockey team who won the sled hockey championship this weekend.
  • Fantastic save by Enroth! Great move by Weber. He’s improving every game!
  • Two penalties by Tampa Bay—5 on 3. Let’s go boys. Yes! Goal by Pommer, there you go Amanda! Do you approve? (ED Note: I do approve!) Oops! Vanek tipped it.  1-1. Oh well…
  • Second goal by Vanek for tonight! He’s hot! Just in time for the playoffs I hope. Now Timmy scores and it’s clear the whole line is hot tonight! 3-1. Timmy alone has a goal and two assists.
  • Sabres handily neutralized the Lightning usually potent second period.
  • The second intermission Whip guys gave their opinions as to best surprises of season: Gerbe, Weber, and Enroth. Don’t know if I agree with that completely. I think I’d put Ennis in there too. He made a great play sliding on his stomach to clear the puck. Nice play by Gerbe too.
  • Vanek scores a hat trick on an open net to seal the victory! And the big-money players come through for the team tonight!
  • EXTRA Bonus! Sabres win eliminates Toronto from playoffs. Wahoo!

Didn’t like:

  • McCormick whiffed badly on a point-blank shot. Booo!
  • Lightning score first—Malone tipped it in. Sabres just stood there. 0-1.
  • In first period, Sabres have NO hits! TB has seven, Sabres moving and passing well though.
  • Second period—yawn……  until Weber and Malone decide to liven things up with a marathon fight. Fifty seconds long, a draw methinks. Last half second livened up. Thank goodness.
  • Sabres start the third period by giving up a goal by TB seconds into third period—Lecavalier. 3-2.
  • Sabres laying back too much in third period. When they do that, they get burned! Already charred by early third period goal.

And there you have it, folks: my mother’s impressions of the game.

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!

Sabres vs. Canadiens 2/15/11 Postmortem February 15, 2011

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Enroth is in goal. Ryan Miller is taking a nap. Patrick Lalime is, well, apparently completely superfluous.

Liked:

  • A hit happened along the wall and hubs and I both said, “Who was THAT?” Turns out it was Nathan Gerbe. Alrighty then!
  • I have to give Connolly credit for hangin’ out behind the Sabres’ net trying to let time run out in the first period before the whistle was blown to start the PP.
  • Heh. And guess who scores? Staffy! By the way, when I saw that through-the-legs maneuver by Vanek I rolled my eyes. I’m not too proud to admit it. Nice job, Vanek!
  • Somebody needs to buy Jhonas Enroth a steak dinner after this…
  • Nice feed by Hecht to Pominville and he bangs one home.
  • Good try on a give n go by Paul Byron. It didn’t work, ultimately, but it was a quality play.
  • Wow. Smart play by Mike Grier to chip the puck out of the d-zone in the waning seconds of regulation.
  • And JOCHEN is SMOKIN!

Didn’t like:

  • Bad Tyler Myers! Bad!
  • Memo to the Sabres: having a shooting gallery in front of your AHL goaltender is a bad idea.
  • Pominville takes a penalty. Wow.
  • Shots are 154 Montreal with seven minutes left in the first period. This is… poor, fellas.
  • Cripey. The Sabres just can’t sustain any pressure at ALL.
  • How ’bout some defense, guys?
  • Sabres cannot buy a goal. Eesh.
  • Weber gets a penalty with about a minute and a half left and Lindy Ruff has kittens.
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