Archive for November, 2011:
The Sabres have continued to pick away at the Rochester Americans roster, and have called up defenseman Joe Finley. The call up comes merely two days after the 24 year old was signed to a three year, two way contract by the Sabres.
Though Finley, who will be playing in his first NHL game Friday against the Detroit Red Wings, is likely to be replacing an injured Jordan Leopold, he’s going to look an awful lot like Tyler Myers- physically, at least.
Both young defensemen stand at 6’8”, though at about 250 pounds, Finley has about almost thirty pounds on Myers.
Originally a first round pick for the Washington Capitals (27th overall), Finely never played with the parent team, and instead has been bouncing around the AHL and ECHL for the past three years. He also spent four years on the University of North Dakota’s roster, at the same time as Drew Stafford for his freshman year.
The Minnesota native accepted an invitation to tryout without he Sabres during camp this year before being assigned to the Amerks.
Earlier this month, I attended an Amerks home game, and was easily impressed by Finley’s playing style. It’s easy to look for Brennan, Foligno, Kassian, and all the others that you’re expecting to do something. I had never heard of the guy, and was quickly looking through my game night program (Mike Ryan was on the poster that night, woo!) to see what else I could find out about the guy.
He certainly proved he knows what to do with his size, and if he is getting this kind of attention from the Sabres this week, he seems to be a perfect fit for the situation at hand. From the second row, he didn’t seem to big at first glance, but maybe a few years Tyler Myers’s encounters does that to you.
I probably would have taken more mental notes, but it was the same night as the really bad Bruins game, so I was too busy yelling to Jay McKee that we were willing to take Drew MacIntyre back to Buffalo with us.
You think I’m kidding.
I am really excited to see this guy play up here, not to get too personal. I’ve got the performance of the other young ones for support, not to mention Twitter trends
Finely has one goal in eighteen games with the Amerks, that which would have been his first AHL career goal. With the track record of his teammates that have been called up, perhaps the first NHL goal is a mere few days away.
At the least, he’ll show off Washington’s second boo boo of the week.
Finley's Career at a Glance
This week added more woes to the country’s unemployment numbers, with both Paul Maurice and Bruce Boudreau being fired from their head coaching positions. Within minutes they were both replaced, and on Tuesday night, both new coaches let their first games in the new positions.
Washington and Carolina have had rough starts to the almost two-month old season, which is more so shocking for for Washington. When teams take a turn for the worse, the easiest answer seems to be to get rid of the coach (takes less work than anything else).
When a team goes sour, we all wait for the headline. And when one coach goes down, at least one more will follow.
The idea of the Sabres ridding themselves of Lindy Ruff has never populated enough to actually cause a panic. With the longtime support of Darcy Regier, who we tend to hate more, and now Terry Pegula, there’s barely a poorly written statement regarding the matter in a Bucky article.
Ruff, 51, has been head coach since the 1997-98 season, making him the longest tenured coach in the NHL, and the third in all professional sports. That’s a long time even outside sports standards. When Ruff was hired, Princess Diana was still alive, gas cost $1.22 a gallon, OJ Simpson was a free man and Tyler Myers was a really tall seven year old.
The past fifteen years have also brought a trip to the Stanley Cup finals in his first year as coach (fun fact, he was the assistant coach for the Panthers when they made it to the cup finals in 1996), a conference championship, two Jack Adams nominations, and a win.
Earlier this year, Ruff became the coach to win the most games while coaching the same team after reaching 500 games won in the same month.
An honorable mention to the infamous
Lindy ain't got time for your speculations
2007 Sabres vs. Sens brawl that Ruff initiated after taking justice into his own hands, which landed him with a ten thousand dollar fine in addition to Marty Biron’s first- and currently only- career fight.
Other major events that have taken place since Lindy took over the Sabres include:
- the scandal and impeachment of Bill Clinton
- Festivus was introduced to popular culture (years later, Ruff would disapprove of it)
- the Euro was introduced as a currency
- the Y2K panic (that turned out to be nothing)
- the war on terror began (and is still on going)
- the Boston Red Sox win their first World Series since 1918
- the first African American president was elected
- the outbreak of swine flu (also not a big deal)
- SARS broke out there somewhere in there, too
So while other teams may be quick to act on firing a coach, and then sit there scratching their heads as to why that hasn’t changed anything, it isn’t likely that Buffalo will follow in that path. As long as Ken Hitchcock is allowed to coach, Lindy won’t be joining the unemployment line anytime soon- and Hitchcock has been fired three times in his coaching career.
Surely, this is another blog post on the topic that will go in the archives of all the times Sabres fans found something new to complain about, but it’s what we do. Tomorrow, we’ll be mad about something else, and Lindy will still be around. After all, Pegula assured us that Lindy isn’t going anywhere, and why would he lie to us?
The way things are going, this season’s “Top 10 GIFs” is going to be pretty darn sweet.
Today’s edition comes off the heels of the Sabres 5-1 drubbing/coach-killing of the Washington Capitals. With Buffalo forced to put 9 rookies on the ice, one of them was bound to do something to grab our attention. In this case, Brayden McNabb got Jason Chimera’s full attention.
Let’s zoom in on the aftermath:
"What the hell?!?"
To turn a phrase upside-down: welcome to the NHL, Chimera.
Gotta’ love it – and you also gotta’ love the way Buffalo’s defense is shaping up for the future. With Tyler Myers at 6-8, McNabb at 6-5, and the newly-signed shutdown man Joe Finley at 6-8, the Buffalo Blueline is going to become the stuff of nightmares for opposing forwards. Oh, and the Sabres still have the otherwise diminutive hitting machines Robyn Regehr (6-3) and Mike Weber (6-2).
The guy who picks the Carubba Collision is going to be pretty dang busy in the near future.
The Sabres’ defense has seen it’s share of troubles this year.
Tyler Myers was just recovering from a troubling slump when he was injured. Christian Ehrhoff has provided some points from the point, but hasn’t produced the efficiency that saw him earn the award for Best Defenseman on the Canucks the last two seasons. Marc-Andre Gragnani simply refuses to hit. Mike Weber hasn’t been able to get his skates on the ice, and when he did, he was hurt. The rock-sterady presence of Robyn Regehr is now a presence in the infirmary, as well.
All the while, Andrej Sekera has quietly been putting together one of the better seasons of the defense corps. It’s time to show him some due respect.
Last season, I tried to call attention to Mike Weber’s stellar play on “buffalo74,” and called it the “Mike Weber Watch.” This year, it’s Andrej’s turn.
I'm watching you, Sekera. It's an honor to be picked, so don't screw this up.
The Sabres faithful came in droves to Nationwide Arena, as is usual when the teams meet there. It seemed to be at least 1/3 Sabres fans. For the most part, Sabres fans appeared to be quieter than previous meetings, but optimistic of a win or at the very least a spirited contest.
Sadly, from the get-go the Bluejackets took it to the Sabres in every facet of the game. Even Curtis Sanford looked like Marty Brodeur in net, not that the Sabres were doing anything particularly imaginative offensively. The Sabres did just miss on a few chances, but more importantly they got outworked, outsmarted, outhit, outshot, out…shined? Sorry, not sure how a Soundgarden reference got in there, but you could say the Sabres have fallen on dark days. (I’ll stop now.)
Throw two more injuries into the mix, to Regehr and a yet unspecified forward, and we are one hurting team.
The house of pain for the Sabres. I can't blame fans for never, ever wanting to go there again.
You could argue that the Bluejackets are much better than their record. Their first month they didn’t have Jeff Carter or James Wisniewski, now they’ve come together as a team and found a hot goalie. They’re 4-4-2 in their last 10 games, 4-1-2 in their last 7 games.
Somehow rationalizing it doesn’t make me feel any better after watching that game. We all know that in hockey some nights one team just has that step and another comes out flat. But this was total domination. Defensively, the Bluejackets quickly closed on Sabres fowards in the offensive zone and we could put nothing sustained together. Meanwhile the Jackets forwards looked like the Redwings out there. Don’t even get me started about our power play and giving up shorthanded chances.
Even if the Bluejackets ended up playing like this the rest of the season and perhaps sneaking into the playoffs by year’s end, and even though the Sabres were riddled with injuries, this is a tough one to swallow. Especially for us, as we had the loudest, raunchiest and most annoying Bluejackets fans ever sitting directly behind us. (Don’t get me wrong – most Jackets fans are the salt of the earth, but these guys talked loudly through the whole game, had only the most casual understanding of hockey, and were complete jerks to Sabres fans. They did not represent their team or city very well.)
Let me turn my hat around ala Sylvester Stallone in Over The Top and give you the positives. (Kids, ask your parents, it’s only the best arm wrestling movie ever made. Well, ok, the ONLY arm wrestling movie ever made, but that makes it the best by default.)
Nothing related to the story here, just a reason why you should Netflix Over The Top. Did you know you can break a guys arm if you're good enough at arm wrestling? Yeah.
It’s a young season still and the Sabres are hanging in the East in points. Despite all the injuries racking up they still find ways to win some games. The AHLers are going to get seasoned and when we need them in the playoffs the experience they get now will be crucial. And if you believe in a sort of injury karma, well, we’re getting it all out of the way now – not during the playoff run. Hopefully that’s the case at least.
I think it’s important to remember that perhaps unrealistic expectations have been set for this team. The Pegula era has been fantastic and I love it, but everything has been about excellence, about winning the cup. Even without the injuries, this is a fairly young team. To expect them to immediately be world beaters is insane. Just because Terry Pegula mandates something doesn’t mean it’s going to happen overnight. There are going to be growing pains. Pressure is a bitch and perhaps the team has been forcing it rather than just playing.
As fans we’ve got to roll with it and take the bad with the good. The optimist in me says that we get a chance to see what the young AHLers can do. Pegula and his deep pockets aren’t going anywhere and there’s no rush to win the Cup this year either. This isn’t a sprint, this is a marathon and we want to have a dynasty. This is year one of it. We may feel that it’s been so long and been so close, that we need to do it NOW – but let’s take the long view here. We’re going to have good, exciting, competitive hockey for a good long while. That’s more than many franchises can say.
Now we get to see the AHLers take on the Capitals. *Gulp* Good luck, kids.