A New Team.

7 Mar

A couple entries ago, in early January (I know I’ve been slacking a lot), I wrote “Let’s face it, I do not think we are making the playoffs this year.”

The Buffalo Sabres are currently sitting in 8th place.

I just sat here for 3 minutes reading that last sentence over and over, trying to let in sink in. You can’t tell me one person in Buffalo would have predicted this in November. They went 3-7-2 in October. They didn’t win a game at home until November 13th. Home games were as pathetic as they could be, on the ice and in the crowd. The building had no energy in it. They might as well have been road games. You can’t blame the crowd. The team was frustrating as hell to watch. At times it looked as if they didn’t care, and were lazy.  Quite fitting for the team that sat last in the NHL.

Fast forward to today. Since Terry Pegula has taken over on Feb 22, the Sabres have not lost in regulation, going 5-0-2 in the last 7 games.  They went out the following night to a rocking arena with a special feeling in the air, and took down Atlanta in another huge game standings-wise. The team doesn’t quit. They don’t want to lose. And it shows. The Sabres of October would have laid down and gave up on Saturday after going down 2-0 to Philly.  Not this team. They came back and scored 3 unanswered goals.

As I watched Stafford circle around the defenseman in OT tonight I said two words out loud. “Holy shit.” I knew he was going to score that goal. I almost didn’t even celebrate the goal. My mind immediately went back to 05-06 with Pominville’s OT winner over Ottawa. Then I started to think about it more afterwards. I already said it on twitter, but I’ll say it on here too. There is a certain feeling around this team nowadays. I don’t know how to explain it. Believe me, I’ve been sitting here for over a half hour trying to think of a way to.

This team right now is motivated. It shows on the ice.  Yes, they do have their 2nd period breakdowns still, but they have found a way to overcome them.  I don’t want to get ahead of myself and predict some ridiculous ending to this season, because I still don’t believe it will happen. But that being said, it almost feels like this team can do anything right now.

And when Rob Niedermayer scores, you know it’s true.

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JHONAS ENROTH.

16 Feb

That’s the name of my new favorite Swede. I’ve wanted him up here since his last stint in November, and this is why. He was stellar tonight in goal for the Sabres. There’s no way we win that game with Lalime in net. And you know it.  He has a little knack for the shootout too. The first two goals scored on him were lucky little tricklers that somehow just found their way in. But he was great for the rest, making the HUGE saves when he needed to. I’m praying that Lalime gets sent to Portland and Enroth backs up Miller. The team seems to trust Enroth more, and it shows the way they play in front of him.  Since the schedule gets a little ridiculous from now until the end, play him once every three games. That way everyone stays fresh and we don’t need to worry about fatigue setting in.

Enroth singlehandedly saved the game from being a blow out in the first period. He was peppered with 17 shots, and only one went in (on the PP). The team started off looking as disinterested  as I’ve seen them and it was torture to watch. On the 2nd Habs goal Desharnais blew by Sekera and sent off a pass to Pouliot that Myers couldn’t stop. Enroth had no chance on it. Buffalo cut the lead to one with who other than Drew Stafford after Vanek gave him a nifty pass between the legs. Pominville jammed home the tying goal in the 3rd. Now I’m not one to address the reffing a lot, but good god was it atrocious tonight. The last weak call on Weber with time dwindling in the 3rd sent me into a blackout rage. Luckily, the Sabres killed it off, and the game went into OT. Both goalies were great in the OT period, with Price making a GREAT save near the end.

Then came the shootout.  With Stafford missing the first attempt, Vanek and Ennis had to score to keep it going. And they delivered. Gerbe was the next Sabres to score, Habs did the same, and we had to wait until the nail-biting 10th round to see Jochen Hecht score the game winner.

After my heart stopped beating out of my chest I finally breathed for the first time in about 20 minutes.  Great game Sabres, way to not give up like you have in the past.

On to the Leafs tomorrow night, with Miller back in goal most likely.

A new year, with the same results.

5 Jan

It’s been a long time since I’ve written a post. Mostly because I felt I had nothing to write about. Everything pretty much stayed the same with the Sabres, and not in a good way. So I stepped away for a while, because watching them was so frustrating that I didn’t want to sit here after the game and go over it in my head again. After last night’s frustrating loss, I did nothing at work today but make notes about the team the entire day. So I’m going to play a little game called “What Needs To Happen To The Sabres in My Eyes.”

First off, what in the hell is wrong with Miller? He is letting in soft goal after soft goal. Now, I’m used to him letting in one per game or so, but these past few games have been out of control. I almost threw my remote through the tv screen during the Boston game alone. He has been caught out of position one more than one occasion lately, and it’s costing us games I don’t want to say that he is the only reason we win games, but come on. We all know that he’s the backbone of this team. You are silly if you think otherwise. This is no longer 2006. I don’t know if his whole engagement has him unfocused or something, but come on Ryan, we don’t pay you the big bucks to play like that. GET UNENGAGED!

Watching the game last night made it all too clear that this team isn’t the lightning fast team it used to be. Colorado was skating circles around us.  Now, I’m all for veteran leadership, but having TOO MANY vets is also a problem.  Players like Niedermayer, Rivet, and Grier… they just can’t catch up to some of the younger players such as Duchene. They are simply too slow in today’s NHL.  It is time to get some younger blood out on the ice. Players such as Vanek, Pominville, Montador should be held in the veteran status now. They should be able to help the younger kids and show them what needs to be done on the ice to help the team and themselves.

I wouldn’t mind seeing Lalime get waived and Enroth brought up. Let’s face it, I do not think we are making the playoffs this year. And if by some miracle we do, we aren’t getting anywhere in them. Why not give Miller some rest and time to get his head screwed on straight? It would be good for Enroth to get some playing time at the NHL level. He did a fantastic job the last stint he had up here, and while he does need to work on some of his positioning and such, now is the time to do it. Not next year when they are competing for a top spot in the conference. (Which I do believe will happen once we shed some dead weight.)

I wish that they would buyout Hecht and Goose. Both are having horrible seasons. Hecht has hands of stone, and the only goals he can score are when he’s practically on the goal line and shoots at the awkwardest angle possible. Goose might as well be invisible. The only thing he has been good at is face-offs. Buy them both out and you have 5.5 million to spend.

Next year I would love to see some fresh new faces. Kassian and Foligno have both impressed the hell out of me from what I have seen during the World Juniors. I’d personally love to see them both up next year. Gragnani too.  Give him a chance with the big club for a few games.

The guys that are safe with me are:

  • Adam- He’s got a big body. I really like what I’ve seen from him so far.
  • Ennis- Aside from last nights debacle he looks good. He can stick handle extremely well. I see flashes of Briere in him. He does need to learn how to handle it a bit better in some situations and get the turnovers down.
  • Leopold- It is sooo nice to have a defenseman who can score goals. He and Montador took some time to get adjusted to each other, but have turned out to be a nice pairing.
  • McCormick- He is one hell of a teammate. Will stand up for anyone, and is a very hard worker. I’d like to see an extension.
  • Miller- As rough of a season as he is having is he still the face of this franchise. He just needs to get focused and get back on his game.
  • Myers- He needs to let the pressure not get to him. He is going to be a great, great defenseman in the future, perhaps one of the best in the history of the franchise. He is still young, so don’t be so quick to jump on him. He still needs to learn.
  • Pominville- He had a rough start to the season, so I let him slide a bit while coming back from his concussion. He is back on his game now with a nice point streak.
  • Roy- His injury was a huge blow to this team. He was the leading scorer and was really coming into his own this year. He was usually the choice by the fans to give the “C” to.
  • Sekera- He is having a nice comeback season. He and Myers make a fine 1st pairing. He has one hell of a shot, and needs to use it more.
  • Stafford- Wow. Talk about a nice surprise. Has two hat tricks in two weeks, all against the Bruins. Has been a nice addition to the offense.
  • Weber- He is fun to watch. Isn’t scared to hit someone, or go after them. Has had some defensive lapses, but he will learn.
  • Vanek- Who else is gonna score goals?

The guys that are not safe:

  • Butler- He has had so many chances to prove himself, and he has yet to do it. He’ll get another shot somewhere else.
  • Connolly- The glass body just does not impress me.  Has only 17 points in 27 games. Not exactly one of the top 20 center in the league.
  • Gaustad- Like I said earlier, he might as well be invisible. He just doesn’t really possess hockey skills.
  • Gerbe- I don’t know if he is NHL caliber. If he is, I don’t think he fits on the Sabres.
  • Hecht- I think we’ve seen enough of “zee german!” Time for a change of scenery.
  • Kaleta- This is a hard one. And he is only here pretty much based on how much time he spends injured. He only played 55 games last year, and 51 the previous one. He is definitely one of the leagues top agitators, especially with his borderline hits. (Stop leaving your feet!)
  • Lalime- He just does not have it anymore. And if he does we see it once every two months or so. It’s pretty clear Ruff has no confidence in him, and with a record like 9-25-5 in the past 3 years, who can blame him? He has no wins this year. Miller is the only reason he’s still here.
  • Morrisonn- I had high hopes for this guy when he was signed. Those hopes are fading. He is a good hitter, but a pretty slow skater.  I had hoped to see him paired with Myers after he was with Green in Washington, but that was nothing short of a disaster.
  • Niedermayer- Good god. Why is he still playing hockey? Has no goals in 30 games and is pretty much as useless as you can be. Moving on!
  • Rivet- Ha. I left a good one for last.  As the captain of these misfits he has been scratched more times than I can count.  I really wish he would just relinquish the “C” and let one of the forwards run with it. He has pretty much close to no business being on the ice anymore.  He has horrible decision making, is slow to the puck, and I’ve seen him give up on the play more than one. It’s a pretty safe bet he will be retiring at the end of this season.
  • We’ll just go ahead and throw this one in here too- Brian McCutcheon. SOMEONE has to be able to make the power play better. Because it sure as hell isn’t him. I’ve never seen 5 on 3’s look as bad as when we are on one. It’s straight up laughable.

Alright, I think that makes up for my two month absence.  It definitely helped me blow some steam off. What are your thoughts are to what should happen to this team?

Breathing easier.

19 Nov

The past 2 weeks have been a drastic change from the beginning of the season.  The team started winning, FINALLY. And with a back-up back-up goalie in goal.  I know Enroth has his haters, but he’s had a total of 5 NHL games.  Two of those came against strong Boston teams, while the Sabres played lack-luster games.  Give him a little time to work on his game.  He’s only 22.  He played extremely well his last three games here, making some spectacular saves.  He also held his own in the shootout.  He helped get 5 out of 6 points. Not bad for a rookie.  He will definitely be up withe the big club next year.

The Ennis-Roy-Vanek line has been nothing short of amazing. I still don’t know why it took Ruff this long to put them together. Sorry Stafford, but when you come back you are off the top line.  They have been creating so many scoring chances. It’s been exciting to watch for a change. Now all is fine and dandy with that line… now let’s talk about the other three.  Or the fact that there hasn’t been much to talk about.  I find myself completely forgetting that Connolly and Hecht are even on the ice most of the game. Pominville has been near there too.  Every shot he takes is either going wide or smack dab in the goalie’s chest. We hear so much about his shot, it would be great if he would actually score using it. I still say that Matt Ellis is the key to our success. When he’s down in Portland we play abysmal. When he gets called up, we win.

JORDAN LEOPOLD.  On pace for 20 goals and over 50 points. Tied for 2nd on the team with Vanek in points with 14. (Who saw THAT coming!?) I gain more and more confidence in him every game. Sometimes it seems as if him and Monty are off in lala land defensively, but thats another story for another time. Our entire defense has been great scoring-wise.  Both Leo and Myers have 5 goals, and Monty has 3. Now if only those other 3 forward lines could chip in we’d be in great shape!

 

All in all I’ve been a very happy Sabres fan lately. Even with the way they started out so sluggishly against Washington, I was beyond happy to see the fight the put up in the 2nd and 3rd periods. There was no quit in that team. That is something we had desperately missed.I feel a thousand times better than I did a month ago.

 

Enough is enough.

4 Nov

From the Buffalo News…  (bear with me bucky haters),

Regier still believes he has the right players on his roster. He showed no signs he was ready to fire Ruff.

“It’s essentially the same group we had last year,” Regier said. “It just isn’t that different.”

“It got us 100 points last year,” Regier said. “That’s not a bad problem to have in that regard. We’re going to work together to try and fix this.”

The problems with this statement: This is NOT “essentially the same group.”  Last year we were 2nd in the NHL on the PK. This year, at the bottom. There is no offense. The defense is beyond horrible. Every time they score on the PP I’m pretty sure it’s some kind of miracle.

Oh and that team that got us 100 points? What happened after that? Oh that’s right, we lost, because we couldn’t keep up with the big bad Bruins. And now we can’t keep up with ANY of the teams.  But yeah, everything is just fine the way it is.

If that’s what he truly believes, then we’re in for one long season.

And please trade Connolly for the sake of Buffalo’s sanity.

Alright, where’s that damn button?

2 Nov

Three wins in twelve games. Now I’m getting worried. Andrew ****ing RAYCROFT shut us out.  We made him look like an actual NHL goalie.  There is nothing right about that.  That was easily one of the most pathetic games I’ve watched recently.  Where is the heart? Passion? Fire?  I honestly can say that with every game I watch I get more and more lost as to what is going on.  Once again Lalime was hung out to dry.  I feel bad for the guy.  It absolutely sucks to not get any offensive support.

Next I’m going to quickly talk about Craig Rivet.  Did he need to be scratched? Absolutely. Does it look really bad because he is the captain? Absolutely.  There were about 20 times last season where I was wondering how the hell Lindy was keeping him in the line-up. I was optimistic at the start of this year, thinking “oh, he had surgery, maybe he’ll finally be at 100%.”  Instead it was like a continuation of last year.  I won’t lie, I was ecstatic when I heard he was finally scratched.  Two reasons for that.  One, he had been playing horribly. Two, I thought it would maybe light a fire under this teams’ ass.  Wrong.   I kind of hope they take the “C’ away from him and give it to Pominville.

Speaking of Pominville, he has finally been cleared to play, and will be in the line-up on Wednesday against the Bruins. It will be interesting to see who the Bruins start against us. Rask has been the favorite against Buffalo the last couple of years, but Thomas has been out of this world good so far.  Either way, it’s not a favorable match-up for us, considering the way we’ve been playing lately. It wouldn’t surprise me if Thomas got his 4th shutout.  I’m hoping that doesn’t happen though. Maybe Pomers coming back will provide a little spark to this dull, lifeless team.

I certainly hope so, because it’s getting hard to watch, and my hand is hovering over that panic button.

Soooo about that previous post…..

15 Oct

…just kidding. It’s too early in the season to freak out.  (Although I’d be lying if I said there weren’t a few choice words flying out of my mouth the last 3 games.)

I am very happy with the way Roy is producing. Ennis as well.  As for everyone else… ehhh.  I’m really hoping they kick it into gear for Friday’s game, since they have the special 40th year anniversary ceremony before the game. Plus, I’m sick of losing at home.  The power play needs to be addressed asap. You’d think after the playoffs last year it would be the #1 thing they work on. Apparently not.  Vanek is not impressing me. Ruff said it best when he said Vanek isn’t one of the younger players now, and can’t let his frustration get the best of him. For some reason he seems to be lazier than usual.

With Morrisonn hurt, I’m really hoping they give Weber a shot.  (I hate Butler with a passion, and I don’t see that changing any time soon). Weber is a hard hitting defensive D-man, and he could really help.  He really needs a shot. Butler looked completely AWFUL in the last pre-season game I went to.  Then again, who knows. Ruff could take Sekera out and put both of them in.  Aside from that stupid play in OT, Sekera had actually been impressing me. I wouldn’t mind keeping him in.

Miller was awesome in the game last night. He HAD to be. It was the only reason the score wasn’t 50-0. How the hell do you only get one shot on goal in the first period? ONE?! Geez.

I’m really looking forward to the Chicago game on Saturday aka Slaughterday.  Is  it so bad that I want to see some old school hockey every once in a while? Seeing as how Kaleta doesn’t exactly like Kane maybe he’ll go after him?  Then again knowing them, they won’t do anything since Hjalmarsson got a (bullshit) 2 game suspension.  Miller also said if we go and do something to them, we’re no better than they are. Dammit Ryan, why must you be the voice of reason!?  Either way, I do think something is going to happen.

 

Happy 40th year anniversary, Buffalo Sabres. Thank you for all the great memories, and for all the ones that are sure to come.

Let’s Go Buffalo!!