Archive for November, 2011:

It’s Beginning to Look a lot like 2007


The weather hasn’t even gotten cold enough for the annual flu bug to strike the Sabres, but the injury bug has certainly gone past its quotas. The Sabres are dropping like the little kids on the Tim Hortons teams at intermission.


The current ” mystery forward” being injured in the Sabres loss to Columbus on Friday night, in addition to Robyn Regehr also being injured in the game, makes for the ninth Sabre crowding the press box.


It is safe to say that we are more Amerks than man…or Sabres.


Jochen Hecht recently returned from a concussion that had kept him out from the beginning of the year. Ryan Miller is also suffering from a concussion, though it hasn’t created the panic it would have if this was two seasons ago. Tyler Myers, Mike Weber, Tyler Ennis, Robyn Regehr, Brad Boyes, Cody McCormick and Patty Kaleta are all also suffering from various bodily injuries.


The injury plagued team now made up of mostly of the farm team has a warm fuzzy feeling to the 2006-2007 season, in which practically every game brought a new injury. It also brought that time that the Sabres and the Senators had a minor disagreement back in February 2007 that brought on one of the biggest brawl in the history of the NHL.


Not to mention the playoffs in 2006, in which defensemen were as hard to find on a Sabres roster as they are to see in a Sabres game.


A lesser team would probably be in panic right now, but our responses seem to be somewhere between ‘ oh, it’s November’ and ‘ it can’t really get worse.’ While the parent team seems to have some stomach aches to work out, none of them- or at least the top of the list- appear to be the called up Amerks.


In fact, the future Sabres are probably lining up to see who comes up next, as it is appearing to be a bit of good luck- both Corey Tropp and TJ Brennan have both recently scored their first NHL goals. Zack Kassian, whose call up after Wednesday’s Bruins game now seems a thing of the past, recorded an assist on Buffalo’s only goal in the Columbus game.


Goaltender Drew MacIntyre (that guy in the beanie who has been sitting at the end of the bench, in case you didn’t know) has had little time with the Sabres, but hasn’t upraised any panic just yet. He played more than half the Columbus game after Enroth was pulled, only letting in one goal on sixteen shots.


That’s good, for Buffalo terms at least. Though MacIntyre’s previous NHL experience (he’s twenty-eight, its okay, I was shocked, too) has much credit to both NHL and AHL skills.  Perhaps it would be a nice breath of fresh air if Mac took over for Enroth tonight.


Before getting concerned with how many points we leave a game with, lets work on ending a game with the amount of players we started with.  But hey, it’s hockey, if you’re not bleeding, you’re not trying.

If you want good injury stories, talk to this guys skin infection

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Sabres Recall Brayden McNabb: What to Expect (and a Fun Draft Backstory)

Man down.

The latest injury to hit the Sabres is to top defenseman Robyn Regehr. Buffalo has recalled the entire Amerks roster tough defenseman Brayden McNabb to try and fill his skates.

McNabb joins Zack Kassian, TJ Brennan, Corey Tropp, and Drew MacIntyre (and one could argue Matt Ellis) as Amerks currently suiting up in Blue and Gold sweaters. 338w" sizes="(max-width: 300px) 100vw, 300px" />

Don't forget to check out the architecture in Buffalo during your stay, Brayden.

What can fans expect from McNabb during his first call-up? Much like Kassian, he’s going to play a tough, in your face game. Like Kassian, he’s not going to scream off the bench and hit everything not wearing team colors. He’s going to do what the Sabres demand of him in his first call-up: to play mistake free, hard-nosed, blueline hockey.

(Keeping away from a pairing with Marc-Andre Gragnani can help him in that “mistake free”  department.)

Before getting the call, McNabb was 4th in Rochester in points (1 goal, 9 assists). The huge 6’5″ 212 pound defender has the size and reach to be very effective in his first duties as a Sabre – but there’s a back story to his coming to Buffalo. From buffalo74‘s draft review of McNabb:

Darcy Regier does his homework.

Brayden McNabb is looking to add reasons to believe that the 2009 draft class could potentially be just as special (as the 2008 class) – with a bit of a twist.

First, let’s get more familiar with Mcnabb.  Checking in at 6-4, 200 lbs, Brayden patrols the blue line as team captain for the WHL’s Kootenay Ice.  This season, he set a franchise record for goals scored by a defenseman with 21, good enough for 72 points in the regular season, and was aptly named a 1st team all star for his efforts.

His point total was also good enough for third best among WHL defenseman, behind only Brenden Kichton (Spokane Chiefs) and Stefan Elliot (Saskatoon Blades).  To put those rankings in perspective, Elliot earned his points in 71 games playes, Kichton in 64 – and McNabb in only 59.

As for that twist:

Regier was aware of McNabb’s pre-draft credentials – in the 2008-09 season, he played in the CHL Top Prospects Game for Team Orr, adding three assists for the squad and earning a +3.  He was a member of Team Canada in the 2008 Ivan Hlinka Memorial, in which he and his team received a gold medal, and was also a member of Team Canada for the 2009 IIHF World U18 Championships (bronze medal).

Beyond the awards and credentials though, was one very interesting fact that slipped under the radar of Sabres fans and draftniks: McNabb attended Athol Murray College of Notre Dame, a prep school in Wilcox, Saskatchewan, where he played alongside Tyler Myers.

Well played, Darcy.

McNabb also has a friend in the Sabres 1st round pick of that same 2009 draft in Zack Kassian.  The two played together in that 2009 IIHF World U-18 Championships.

Well played, indeed.

McNabb was Buffalo’s 2nd selection (3rd round) in the ’09 draft. The next name to come our way from that class should be Marcus Foligno, who was taken in the 4th.

With Luke Adam and Tyler Myers from the 2008 draft, and now Zack Kassian, (and possibly Marcus Foligno) from ’09, the culture of Sabres hockey is finally getting a dose of big, hard hitting bodies. They all may have arrived (or be arriving) a little earlier than planned, but it’s good to see this depth paying off now.

Good luck tonight, Brayden.

Go Sabres.

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Zack Kassian Recalled: What to Expect

Kassian has finally arrived in the B-lo.

Buffalo’s 13th selection of the 2009 draft, the Sabres picked up Zack Kassian in an effort to bulk up their team. It’s convenient now to mention the comparisons to Milan Lucic that he was receiving then. Sabres fans might have preferred him brought up a couple days ago – but he’s here – and now it’s time to see what he can do. 600w" sizes="(max-width: 300px) 100vw, 300px" />

A pic from the draft, taken moments before Kassian chewed up the puck, spat it out in a hundred pieces and called it a wuss.

I think my initial thoughts on Kassian during the draft were pretty spot on.

Kassian has been compared to every power forward from Cam Neeley to Milan Lucic to Brad May.

With the 13th pick, the Sabres weren’t looking for Cam Neeley, but did score a second or first or second line power forward who will bring a balance of size back into the Sabres smallish lineup.

The best comparison right now is Steve Bernier, a player that Buffalo fans know well. Kassian will hit and fight more than Bernier, but the offensive output should be about the same.

In other words, we can expect the toughness and grit of Lucic, but maybe not to much the talent. Still, he’s tied for the team lead in goals with the Amerks (at 7, with fellow ’09 draftee Marcus Foligno). Kassian also leads the Amerks with 14 points. Those numbers have made for a fine pro debut for the big guy, but what about that featured toughness? From Keith Wozniak of “Let’s Go Amerks:”

Plus: Zack Kassian and Marcus Foligno are so far having great rookie seasons each having scored seven goals already.  Kassian also has seven assists compared to one for Foligno.

Minus: The lack of a physical play from players like  Zack Kassian and Brayden McNabb who were known for that at the junior level.  This doesn’t mean going out there and fighting but besides a hit here and their they aren’t having a real presence on the ice.  They’re strong and use their bodies but playing a more physical game could help change the pace of some games.  It’s likely how Buffalo has asked them to play which is understandable but it’s an element of the game that could be a difference maker at times.

(Follow Keith on the Twitter at @LetsGoAmerks.)

Indeed, that’s the style of play we saw from Kassian during the pre-season, and it’s the style we should expect from him tonight. He’s going to fight along the boards, he’s going to go to the net, and he is going to hit. Just don’t expect him to explode onto the ice and immediately hit every player not wearing a Blue and Gold sweater.

The Sabres have been stern with Kassian, ensuring that his game wouldn’t be as reckless as it was when he was a junior. If you recall, Buffalo even postponed negotiating a contract with him after he slugged a guy in a bar in Canada.

If his play at the AHL level tells us anything, it’s that the Sabres efforts and patience are paying off. Again, he’s going to work the boards, get to the net, and hit some bodies, but he’s not going to do anything reckless.

He is certainly not going to do anything to get him demoted. This is Kassian’s chance, folks. He needs to prove to the Sabres’ brass that he is going to play things their way. That’s how it works for guys who make it to the NHL. For the Sabres, they’ll get a first taste of the promise of the size and toughness that they picked up in the ’09 draft, something they sorely need before going into the playoffs again.

Good luck tonight, Zack.

Go Sabres.

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I’m Thankful For Sabres Nation

I am thankful for a great many things, not just today, but every day. Of course today is the traditional day to really take the time to think about what we’re thankful for. Health, relative wealth (or at least not impoverishment), great family and friends – these are the things we truly have to be thankful for.

But sometimes it’s about the “little things”, the things that help get us through a hard day. The Buffalo Sabres are a source of entertainment and inspiration for a great many of us.

For instance, last night, a battle royale with the Boston Bruins. We didn’t get the full two points, but it was an amazing contest to kick off the holiday weekend.  A spirited game by the Sabres, Gaustad taking on Lucic, Regeher versus Chara, tons of heart and entertaining hockey throughout most of the game. Not to mention some bonus four on four hockey and a shootout that went into extra innings.

In the end, it’s just a game and shouldn’t really change any of our lives, but it does. We cheer, we applaud, we cringe, we scream … and many of of cuss up a storm. We may startle our pets when a goal is scored or a Carruba Collision candidate happens. 600w" sizes="(max-width: 300px) 100vw, 300px" />

I'm thankful for hockey games breaking out at fights.

I still feel lucky that the team is around after the Rigas bankruptcy. It’s hard to believe it’s been almost ten years since we came close to losing the Sabres, but I never take them for granted. Perhaps I’m just scarred by the potential loss of the team.

I’m thankful for the new Terry Pegula era and what his ownership has brought to the team and the city. It’s been truly an amazing story that’s still unfolding and perhaps the greatest reason for this site’s existence.

I’m thankful for Rick Jeanneret’s calls, the way his voice cracks a bit  sometimes when he says, “SHO-TTTT”, and continually amusing me with his homer wisecracks. A bit of love for Harry Neale and Roby Ray as well, but mostly for their comedic antics, intended or otherwise.

I’m thankful for my partner @slackin who will watch any and every hockey game with me. I’m thankful she’s a Sabres fan as well and for one of the best gifts I ever got many moons ago – a Sabres goathead jersey. (I forgive the fact that she didn’t know who Don Cherry was until last night. After all, she grew up here in the cornfields of Ohio where hockey has been unknown until recently.) 425w" sizes="(max-width: 300px) 100vw, 300px" />

I'd be remiss not to point out being thankful for chicken wings and other Buffalo cuisine.

I’m thankful for other Sabres fans, because it wouldn’t be much fun if it was just two people rooting for the team in their living room. It’s the shared experience that makes it really special. The chatter on Twitter is always a blast, perhaps even moreso than going to a game for me. And of course there’s the most awesome @scottyMCSS, without whose witty and insightful prose this site wouldn’t exist.

I’m thankful that the Sabres goal is to win the Stanley Cup, that they have a spot reserved for it and are doing everything they can to attain it.

I could go on and on about individual Sabres, the Sabres management or a number of other things, but I think that’s enough from me. What about you? What are you most thankful for as a Sabres fan?

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Vintage Perreault

If nothing else, watch this for the music.

Perreault and his Sabres appears around the 15 minute mark for the “biggest game in Buffalo’s three year history.”

Thank you, internet. 459w" sizes="(max-width: 300px) 100vw, 300px" />

This could finally be the year.

Go Sabres.

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