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What should we expect? September 21, 2010

Posted by calvin in Uncategorized.
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I’ve been reading a lot of preseason predictions, both from other bloggers and from the mainstream media. Some prognosticators, particularly amongst the bloggers, are angry the Sabres didn’t make more moves to improve the team (and they have every right to be), and don’t think the Sabres will be much better than they were last year. Much of the mainstream media is picking the Sabres to finish around sixth in the Eastern Conference.

Where does that leave us? Here are my thoughts:

  • If the Sabres are “no better” than last year, that’s not such a bad thing. They finished third in the conference, and were – what – one point out of second? Yes, some other teams in the conference have gotten stronger in terms of personnel, but others have gotten weaker – that’s the nature of the game. So if the Sabres aren’t better – and I don’t think they’re worse – that doesn’t seem like a tragedy to me.
  • Finishing sixth in the conference is pretty respectable. It’s not home ice advantage, but did that help us last year? Did not having it hinder the teams who finished in seventh and eighth last year? No.
  • Preseason predictions are just that – preseason predictions. Before everyone gets all upset and throws Darcy and Co under the bus, let’s see what the team can do. There’s a fair amount of new personnel on this team, and you have to admit a few things:
    • They appear to have addressed the softness issue. People have been bitching for years about how the Sabres could get pushed around. With the addition of guys like McCormick and Morrisonn that hopefully shouldn’t be a problem.
    • They did go out and get some guys in free agency. That’s been another sore spot for fans. No, they didn’t run out and sign Ilya Kovalchuk, but we all knew that wasn’t going to happen. What they did do is sign three very capable veteran players. All three should help the team. None are flashy, and yes, none are 50-goal scorers, but the team finished eighth in scoring last season. Scoring wasn’t the problem.

So if I say scoring wasn’t the problem and that the Sabres didn’t pick up a scoring winger and I think that’s ok, what do I think the problem was? Competitive spirit – IN THE PLAYOFFS (in the regular season I think it was fine, otherwise they would’ve lost more 2-1 games). And no, I don’t think it’s something that left with Drury and Briere. Truth be told, I don’t think it was there even with those guy in their last year. Before that, yes, but in the last year, especially during the playoffs, no.

Can that problem be fixed? I don’t know. Will these three new guys help? I don’t know. But having three more veterans in the locker room can’t hurt. These guys have all gone through playoff runs and played for successful teams – they all know what it takes to win. Maybe their attitude will rub off on the other guys who’ve been here for longer, maybe it won’t, but again, it can’t hurt.

My conclusion? I’m willing to see what the team can do. I haven’t seen even a minute of camp. I’ve read a few articles and listened to a few interviews, so I can’t say that the attitude has changed. Besides that, talk is cheap. But let’s give them a chance.

Katebits and I (and Jess) are soulmates September 26, 2009

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So a couple of us female Sabres fans/blogger types (you know you want to, Jess) got together for some drinks last night. Kate, of Willful Caboose, and Jess, of BLOG TO BE INSERTED LATER, and I had a fun little debate at Cecelia’s over martinis and Restaurant Week fare.

Here are the results: (ladies, feel free to correct me if I got any of the following wrong)

  • We like Goose. We think he’s a righteous dude and we hope he didn’t see Kate in the Co-op.
  • We like Pominville. We think he’s a good hockey and adorable to boot.
  • We like Lindy’s yellow hair. We’re not sure Lindy is still an effective coach.
  • We LOVE Marty Biron.
  • We think Derek Roy is a good hockey player and a great whiner. We also think his suits are hilarious.
  • We think Drew Stafford is hot. (Hey, we ARE female and not dead)
  • We find Tyler Myers to be very tall, very young, and a good hockey player who needs a LOT of seasoning.
  • We think Tim Connolly is going to tear his groin getting out of his car to pump gas within the next week.
  • We’re pretty much done with Tallinder, but we think Bucky is crazy to suggest the Sabres waive Lydman.
  • We see Ryan Miller as very skinny and a little bit frightening.
  • We think Ty Conklin is cute.
  • We disagree about Alex Ovechkin. We also disagree about Sidney Crosby, but not about Evgeni Malkin.
  • We’re not sure the Sabres are good at hockey.
  • We think the concept of the penalty box is a hoot.
  • We love the organ.
  • We like the curmudgeony Mike Robitaille. We want to know if the elevator story is about Jess.
  • We think it should still be called Hockey Hotline.
  • We do not like it when people talk inane drivel during play. That’s what whistles and TV timeouts are for, kids.
  • We all have to do play-for-play for someone we go to games with.
  • We like the concept of “hockey husbands”.
  • We think the prospects look like babies, and that makes us sad.
  • We like musical hockey players.
  • We hope Jochen Hecht does not suck this year.
  • We’re not sure Gerbe OR Kennedy is going to make the team out of training camp.
  • We have no idea why Nathan Paetsch is still a Sabre.
  • We think the Sabres signed Mike Grier so Craig Rivet wasn’t the only grown-up.
  • We’ve nearly run players over with our cars, but we weren’t anywhere near the arena when these incidents happened.

I think that’s all I recall. I did have three martinis, you know.

Preseason game #1 – 9/17/09 September 17, 2009

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God, I missed Rick. Didn’t miss Harry.

The Sabres dressed an awful lot of their regulars. I’m a little confused about why, since they still have 48 players in training camp after sending a few of the kids back to their junior teams, including Zack Kassian. They also sent back Luke Adam, Marcus Foligno, Jacob Lagace, Nick Crawford, and Brayden McNabb.

I see two primary missions for the preseason – to evaluate the bubble players and to get your regular roster players ready for the season. The Sabres play several preseason games, so why are they playing Vanek, Pominville, Stafford, Roy, Hecht, etc? Is it because the delineation is more clear between Buffalo and Portland-bound players?

I guess we shall see…

Hey Daniel Paille just realized he’s a big guy!

This game is boring after two periods. I hope it gets better. I can’t handle another year of too-cute passes, no intensity. Let’s go, Sabres!

Training camp reflections: Lindy yells loudly September 13, 2009

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This post is reeeeaaalllyyy long. I apologize in advance, but I have a lot of opinions.

Well, I went to training camp today. I was there from 10:30-2:30 or so, and I saw the entire pre-scrimmage practice AND the whole scrimmage. Basically, they divided the guys into three teams – it was actually a draft that took place w/the coaches, the hockey department, and the business department. The guys in the practice group this morning (Stafford, Roy, Hecht, MacArthur, Tallinder, Lydman etc) were chosen by the coaches.

So, my impressions:

  • True to reports, the guys are all in shape and skating well. I only saw a rook or two who was sucking wind – the veterans were fine.
  • Lalime and Enroth, who were the goalies in the practice group, started out pretty shaky and I was getting worried. When they started the real drills, though, both of them rose to the occasion and played pretty well.
  • Miller looks great. I think the Olympic camp did him some good. Yes, it’s more work on his stick-thin body but he looks like he’s in mid-season form.
  • Tallinder, so far, doesn’t appear to suck. Let’s hope that continues. He and Lydman played together and looked pretty comfortable. Gerbe did smoke Tallinder once, but that little dude is FAST.
  • The nickname being bandied around for Gerbe is Mighty Mouse.
  • Roy, Stafford, and Hecht looked good together.
  • One guy, who I’m pretty sure was Cody McCormick, was very attentive whenever Lindy drew up plays on the white boards. For the most part the veterans hung back and let the rooks get in close but he was right there, staring at the board like it held the meaning of life. I like it.
  • When Lindy was drawing up plays the veterans didn’t bat an eyelash but I’m sorry to say some of the rooks looked positively baffled during some of the whiteboard sessions.
  • Tim Connolly looked really fast – he scored two out of five of his team’s goals, I think. He played with Vanek and some other dude.
  • Vanek yells at himself and slams his stick even during scrimmage. Kid could use a Valium or three.
  • Lindy can yell really loudly.
  • Myers is very tall. He got smoked a time or two, but it was by veterans, so I’ll forgive him.
  • Tim Kennedy could fit in my pocket, with room for my cell phone.
  • Paul Byron is even smaller than Tim Kennedy and Nathan Gerbe. I thought he was a coach’s kid or something. Not so.
  • Craig Rivet was yelling at his team. Again, I like it.
  • Steve Montador wasn’t someone I noticed, and that’s fine with me.
  • Chris Butler, Andrej Sekera (who broke two sticks during a 90-minute practice) and Mike Weber all look pretty confident.
  • Nathan Paetsch needs to find a new zip code, stat. There ain’t room in this town for the both of us (or the other eight guys he’s battling for a spot). On a related note, Marc-Andre Gragnani is coming along nicely in his development.
  • One reason Tyler Myers may not make the Sabres is because from what I can see he plays on the same side as Rivet, Montador, and Lydman. Who would he play with? I don’t want him with one of the other youngins. *shudder*
  • If Lindy goes with seven defensemen like usual I wouldn’t want to be the person who has to make the decision about who stays and goes. I would assume only Rivet and Lydman are locks for positions, based on what Lindy said about Tallinder recently. Probably Montador too, since he hasn’t been around long enough to piss anyone off.
  • I also do not envy the staff the decision about which snot-nosed brats stay with the team as forwards.

However, given all that, after the extensive analysis I did in one day at training camp, here’s my 23-man roster.

Vanek-Connolly-Pominville
Hecht-Roy-Stafford
Kaleta-Gaustad-Grier
Mair-Paille-Kennedy
MacArthur

Butler-Rivet
Sekera-Montador
Tallinder-Lydman
Myers

Miller
Lalime

I’m taking a flyer on Myers. Weber is more ready but leaving Myers in juniors doesn’t seem good for his development, while Weber hanging in Portland until the inevitable injury on defense doesn’t seem like a bad idea.

Sent to Portland (no roster limit): Gerbe, Ellis, Adam, Byron, McCormick, Cowan, Rank, Lagace, Legault, McCutcheon, Gogulla (or back to Europe), Ennis, Schutz, Turnbull, Whitmore, Gragnani, Weber, Persson, DiPenta, Kostka, Schiestel, Generous, Enroth, Lamoureaux
Total forwards in Portland: 14
Total defensemen in Portland: 8
Total goaltenders in Portland: 2

Sent to juniors: Crawford, Kassian, Brennan, McNabb
Waived: Paetsch, Larsen, Stokes

My job here is done. Your thoughts?

Sabres Training Camp/Preseason Schedule September 12, 2009

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Thanks to the Double-Edged Swords blog for actually being able to find this information on Sabres.com. I couldn’t, and I did market research on the Internet for eight years.

Buffalo Sabres Training Camp Schedule

  • Saturday, September 12
    – Veterans report @ HSBC Arena,
    – On-ice testing 9:30 a.m.;
    – Rookies, 1 p.m.
  • Sunday, September 13
    – Practice Group, 10:30 a.m.;
    – Scrimmage, 12:30 p.m.
  • Monday, September 14
    – Practice Group, 7:30 a.m.;
    – Scrimmage, 9:30 a.m.
  • Tuesday, September 15
    – Practice Group, 10:30 a.m.;
    – Scrimmage, 12:30 p.m.
  • Wednesday, September 16
    – Practice Group, 10:30 a.m.;
    – Scrimmage, 12:30 p.m.
  • Thursday, September 17
    – Game group, 10 a.m.;
    – Scrimmage, 11:30 a.m.
    – Washington at Buffalo, 7 p.m.
  • Friday, September 18
    – Practice Group, 10:30 a.m.;
    – Scrimmage, 12:30 p.m.
  • Saturday, September 19
    – Buffalo at Detroit, 7 p.m.
  • Monday, September 21
    – Buffalo at Washington, 7 p.m.
  • Wednesday, September 23
    – Toronto at Buffalo, 7 p.m.
  • Saturday, September 26
    – Buffalo at Montreal, 7 p.m.
  • Sunday, September 27
    – Buffalo at Toronto, 7 p.m.

Allow me one fangirl minute. -squee- Hockey’s back!

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