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Sabres vs Bruins 4/23/10 Postmortem April 23, 2010

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First of all, let me say this: I have not seen a second of this game. I’m in Connecticut for a writers’ conference. I got back from dinner with a few minutes left in the first, and we’ve (my mom is with me) been listening to the game online. Because of that, I’m not going to do the Liked/Didn’t like lists – frankly, I can’t pick out specific enough stuff to do so. However, I will offer up what I can…

  • Adam Mair bugs me. Why? Because sometimes it seems like he’s got talent (and obviously he does – he’s in the NHL), and he scores a goal, and you think – why doesn’t Lindy Ruff give him more ice time? Then he takes a dumb penalty in the final two minutes of the game, and you know why he rides the pine.
  • Paul Hamilton just said Tyler Ennis is the leading scorer for the Sabres in the playoffs. While I’m happy for the little guy, am I the only one who thinks there’s something very, very wrong with this?
  • Most invisible players in this series: Gaustad and Stafford. They’re both in Amanda’s dog house. Oh, and Torres, but I don’t have to put him in my dog house, Lindy put him in his.
  • Have I mentioned my disdain for Mark Recchi? Yes? Oh well, it bears mentioning again.
  • Kaleta just blocked a shot, and my first thought was “Oh no, he’s going to get hurt again!” And sure enough, Harry mentions how Kaleta is on the bench wincing in pain.
  • I totally want to go drinking with Toni Lydman. I think that would be a laugh and a half.
  • Mike Grier takes a slap shot to the head. Gives me a headache to even think about it… glad he appears to be ok.
  • I really, really, really don’t like this Boychuk fellow. He just hit Pominville. He just tried to hit Ennis. He took out Vanek AND Ellis. He needs to be… neutralized. AND THEN HE SCORES. Grrrrrr…
  • Tim Connolly: a man of many chances and few actual goals.
  • Will the real Buffalo Sabres please stand up?

And the Sabres live to fight another day…

Wish me luck selling my book! Talk to y’all Sunday night or Monday morning.

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Sabres vs Panthers 3/31/10 Postmortem March 31, 2010

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It’s the return of Raffi Torres! Let’s hope his play lives up to the exclamation point at the end of that sentence…

Liked:

  • Oh Pominville, how do I love you? Let me count the ways… (There are 24 of them!) Nice play by Tallinder to make the goal happen.
  • Meet Matt Ellis, the penalty-killing king of the world!
  • Kennedy and Roy have some nice chemistry. I just hope they don’t get the crap kicked out of them.
  • Teppo – what a foxy man. He’s even foxier sitting in the crowd and holding up a sign for his kid.
  • Nice shot from Gerbe. Then Gaustad nearly suffocated him with his hugeness. Apropos of nothing, I believe they showed Bulldog from WGR after that goal cheering in the crowd.
  • Congrats to Tyler Ennis on making the All-Rookie AHL team. Well-deserved honor.
  • The Sabres had 17 straight shots? Hee. It seems like it’s pretty easy to score in this game (if you’re in a Sabres uniform, anyway).
  • Good goal-mouth pass by Ellis to Mair. Ellis is having a great game!
  • 20 to 2 shots in the second? I like it. I like it a lot.
  • Will Vokoun get an assist on Ennis’ goal?
  • And will Bryan “I score goals into my own net” going to get one on Tallinder’s goal?
  • I can say this for Stafford: He defended Tim Kennedy when he got crosschecked. Good for him.

Didn’t like:

  • Memo to the Sabres: The game started. Please play. Thanks!
  • Wow, Montador had a pretty rough shift right after that penalty expired…
  • That didn’t look  like much of a penalty to me. Hank got robbed!
  • Uh-oh, Goose is mad! Watch out world!
  • No. Momentum. In. Game.
  • I think we need to start a picket line in front of HSBC Arena to get them to stop with the Cellino & Barnes ads, for the love o’ Pete.

Off to Toronto. The boys should have plenty of energy left after pretty much being able to coast through this game.

A very similar blog post… February 28, 2010

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I’m guessing, even though I haven’t read my fellow Sabres bloggers’ posts about tonight, that we’re all saying pretty much the same thing:

  1. Ryan Miller (aka Crunchy) is awesome and we still love him.
  2. We’re proud of Team USA.
  3. Noowwww let’s play some hockkkkeeeeeyyyyyy! H/T Jay Moran

So I won’t say those things.

Instead, here are my thoughts:

  1. Slovakia, though I didn’t pick them to place as high as they did, was both a surprise to me and not a surprise at all to me. When the Slovakian roster was announced, I said to myself, “Huh. There are a lot of good players from Slovakia, apparently.” And there were…
  2. I cannot BELIEVE the Russians rolled over and played dead like they did against Canada. They looked like they just didn’t care.
  3. This will be the last Olympics for Drury, Rafalski, Orpik, and Gleason, but you’ve got to think many of the other members of Team USA 2010 have a great shot at making the team next time around… and will have four more years of experience. That fact makes me want to rub my hands together in the villian in a cartoon. The future looks bright…
  4. Ryan Miller mentioned that Team USA and USA Hockey probably gained some respect around the world. Did they ever! And since USA Hockey just announced a multi-million initiative to upgrade their developmental program, the sky’s the limit.
  5. Don’t be late tuning in to the Sabres game on Wednesday night. Something tells me there’s going to be some sort of ceremony for the medal winners/Olympians and that Ryan Miller is going to bring down the house. Of course, if you ARE late, that will be ok since they will be cheering for Miller well into the 9-o’clock hour…
  6. The Sabres play the Penguins on Tuesday. Revenge for Miller if he plays – you can take that to the bank.
  7. I love the Olympics but I’m glad they’re over. I actually watched movies on ABC Family last night rather than watching more Olympics – how sad is that?
  8. According to Paul Hamilton’s interview last week on WGR, Paul Gaustad was on this team until the last vote, when they replaced him with Ryan Callahan. Do you think Gaustad would’ve been the better choice? I’m torn. I like Ryan Callahan, despite the fact he plays for the freeging Rangers. Could Gaustad have done better? We’ll never know, but feel free to argue one way or the other in the comments.
  9. And lastly, RIGHT before Crosby scored my hubby said, “Wow, if Crosby scored Canada would go nuts.” Seriously, the puck went in as he finished talking. Feel free to blame him entirely for the loss.

Now back to our regularly-scheduled programming! GREAT hockey! Go Sabres!

Sabres vs Bruins 2/9/10 Postmortem February 9, 2010

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Well. Another day, another opportunity to get themselves out of their slumpiness. Yes, I know slumpiness is not a word, but it still seemed appropriate to use.

As an aside, I don’t check Twitter too much or participate in the Buffalo News live chats because I sometimes get influenced by other people’s opinions. I also have a low tolerance for idiot fans (not that there are any on Twitter or even in the chats, necessarily, but it’s always a possibility – see: Whiner Line, WGR).

Liked:

  • I do enjoy these induction ceremonies. Jim Lorentz choked up, making RJ choke up…
  • Go Goosie go! A quick look at your teammates tell me the onus is on YOU for physical play. I hope you ate your Wheaties.
  • Love the physicality of Stafford’s play so far. I am really hard on Stafford, mostly because I think he’s tremendously talented but doesn’t work hard enough. If he keeps playing like this, though, I might have to blow him a kiss.
  • Rivet and Roy have been allowed to exit Amanda’s Doghouse. However, they’ve been sternly warned that I put them there once and I’ll do it again!
  • How does slow-as-molasses Toni Lydman still end up being able to negate a scoring chance on a breakaway? Might’ve had something to do with the interference, but hey, it worked and he didn’t get a penalty.
  • Oh, you little tease, Jochen Hecht. You get us all excited on a short-handed breakaway and what do you do? Throw it as Rask’s chest. Silly Jochen.
  • My God. I really adore Tyler Myers.
  • I will give credit where it’s due: Miller stood tall in that overtime.

Didn’t like:

  • So that’s how you pay us back for putting up with you all these years, Daniel Paille? Well poo on you! You too, Miro! (Though I have to admit one of the best best best signs I’ve ever seen at a Sabres game: “Jesus Saves, but Satan Scores on the Rebound”)
  • Derek Roy sucks. Anybody gonna disagree with me? Didn’t think so. I’ve given Roy the benefit of the doubt over and over and I’m becoming convinced he needs to go. Preferably far, far away. EDIT: Ok, he sucks a little less since he scored.
  • Oy, a line of MacArthur, Kennedy, and Grier. I don’t like it, I don’t like it at all. Aaaannnnddd Boston scores. Shocking.
  • Miller was screened AND it was deflected, but the fact remains: 12 minutes into the game and the Sabres are down 2-0.
  • If this is them getting back into playing “The System” I might need to have a little talk with Lindy.
  • After 15 minutes in the first period, the following players are in Amanda’s Doghouse: Rivet, Kennedy, Roy, Grier, MacArthur, Butler… damn, it’s getting crowded in there!
  • Soooo, Lucic grabs Gaustad as the third man in and Gaustad gets the only penalty? Nice job on the refereeing… oh wait, is that Kerry Fraser?
  • Note to Tim Connolly and Derek Roy: a faceoff win percentage under 30% is not good for a top-six forward. EDIT: Connolly has improved, Roy has gotten worse. Might be heading back to Amanda’s Doghouse soon.
  • I think Vanek’s biggest weakness is his skating. He just kinda seems to rumble along…
  • What’s with the lollygagging on the line changes, Sabres? Are you at all familiar with the term “too many men on the ice”?
  • Am I the only one who cringes every time Tim Connolly blocks a shot? Didn’t think so.
  • I may get roasted for this, but I think Grier is not a very good hockey player. I wasn’t impressed in the first go-round, and I’m not impressed now.
  • Ok, I just got impressed by Adam Mair. It takes some cojanes to fight Lucic.
  • What’s up with the floppity-flop style, Ryan Miller?
  • Vanek will spend quality time in Amanda’s Doghouse for that penalty in overtime.

One point. Better than none. Let’s beat Carolina.

The trade deadline: will the Sabres shock us all? January 14, 2010

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I know the trade deadline is still more than two months away, but since one of my loyal readers requested this topic, I’m going to tackle it now (and probably later too when/if the Sabres actually do something). So, how many of us think the Sabres, as presently composed, are a Stanley Cup-winning team? Yeah, me neither.

What do they have to do in order to get there? How many moves do they need to make?

My opinion: not as many as some people say they do.

Let’s break the team down by position…

Forwards

The struggles of the “Top Six” forwards are well-documented. But how much are they REALLY struggling? As of today, Wednesday, January 13, 2010, here are the stats breakdowns for each of the “Top Six” forwards:

Name                Gms             Goals           Assists          +/-        Total Pts

Tim Connolly 44                       11                      26                  9                37
Derek Roy 42                       10                      23                  1                 33
Jason Pominville 44                   11                      18                   6                29
Thomas Vanek 39                      12                      13                  -1                25
Drew Stafford 41                      11                       11                  -1                22
Jochen Hecht 44                      10                      11                   7                 21

At the current pace, no Sabre is on pace for more than approximately 25 goals, assuming they all stay relatively healthy. While I agree that’s not good, there are currently seven players on the roster with 10 or more goals. On a 23-man roster, that’s not bad, especially when you consider only 21 of those players are point-producing players. If the “Top Six” forwards continue at their current pace, their point totals will range from 42 to 74. While that’s off-pace for several players, some of their production is being made up for by players like Clarke MacArthur, Tyler Myers, and Mike Grier. While I would never call the offensive output of the Sabres outstanding, I don’t think the situation is as dire as others have said.

Defense –

The defense corps has an overabundance of players. That’s not a bad thing, considering how many injuries our defensemen seem to have. The defense is not the reason the Sabres won’t win the Cup. Between the actual defensemen and the team defense concept, in addition to the Vezina Trophy-winning season Ryan Miller is having and the solid backup goaltending by Patrick Lalime, the team goals-against is quite good. As of today, the Sabres are ranked third, behind only New Jersey and Chicago.
We all know Tyler Myers has been a revelation, but he’s not the only one carrying this defense. Henrik Tallinder is like a different player, and Steve Montador has been a pleasant surprise. You haven’t really noticed Toni Lydman, have you? That’s not a bad thing – it means he’s doing his job and not making the egregious errors he’s been famous for the past couple of seasons. Craig Rivet is slowing down, but he’s still a pretty dependable d-man, and he’s willing to stick up for his teammates and be a leader – both things this team needs.

Goaltending –

Ryan Miller has been at or near the top of the league-wide stats for Goals Against Average and Save Percentage since the beginning of the season. For a while I feared Ryan would never be the elite goaltender we’d hoped, but at least so far this season he’s shown he can be. Patrick Lalime was also a concern when the season started. Hip surgery for a goaltender is serious stuff, and I thought he’d never be the same. Fortunately, Pat has been a very capable backup to Miller and I hope Lindy continues to rest Miller when he can.

So, given all that analysis – whew – what does the team need? Here’s my list, in order of importance:

  1. A center who can either put the puck in the net himself or get it to others to score. I’m talking about an elite center, not some $1 million player. Examples of the type of player I am referring to, and that the Sabres have some hope of trading for, are: Patrick Marleau, Nathan Horton, Mikko Koivu, and Vincent Lecavalier.
  2. Someone with enough playmaking skills and experience to legitimately quarterback the power play. We all love Tyler Myers on the point, and Tim Connolly and Derek Roy are, well, serviceable on the half-wall, but it would be nice to have that one guy who could stay out there and move the puck around.
    That being said, the power play doesn’t suck. As Paul Hamilton said on WGR this morning, the Sabres power play is ranked 17th. That’s not bad. When you look at goals scored on the PP rather than PP percentage, the Sabres are fourth with 33 goals. Not too shabby considering Vanek isn’t potting them on the PP like he usually does.

That’s about all I think they need. Want to argue? I welcome it – leave me a comment.

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