Archive for February, 2012:

And then there were 5. Thanks, Mike Weber! (And Lindy Ruff!)

18-5-3.

The Sabres can now afford to lose only 5 more times in their remaining 26 games if they want 93 points.

I think it’s time to remove the “#” from the whole “ #SeedsOfGreatness” thing. Time to get back to #DoSomethingDarcy.

The Sabres have been on a fun run lately, and I hope they keep things fun for Sabres fans, but the mathematical reaper is coming for our boys in Blue and Gold. Well, not all of them. Some of them will likely be sold off to playoff contenders, something that the Sabres were before a couple things happened.

You know:

  1. Lucic
  2. That 12 game home losing streak. (I said it before, but it bears repeating – just 5 wins in those 12 games and we’d be skating in the top 8.)

The Sabres were close last night. The second period came to a close before the game winner was up on the scoreboard. Then, before Buffalo could head into the locker room for an inspirational “ribbing” by Lindy Ruff, Mike Weber was being assessed a cross checking penalty.

At the 20:00 mark.

While the Sabres were already short handed.

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DAMMIT, WEBER.

Sure enough, the Sabres heroically survived the ensuing :47 of the 5 on 3, before giving up a goal on a deflection during the remaining 5 on 4. Weber was excused from the box, and for all intents and purposes, the Sabres were excused from the playoff race.

We talked on BSN about how adding experience to the blue line would be a huge step for the Sabres as they plot their course towards a Stanley Cup – and I’m sticking steadfast to that. It’s not the defense’s fault that the offense decided to stop scoring goals, and it’s not anyone’s fault that injuries hit the team as hard as they did this year.

But for Weber, I can’t say enough how disappointed I am in him this season. After a 2010-11 campaign where he lead the team in hits, was 3rd in blocked shots, and was 2nd in +/-, I expected big things from the gritty young defender this year. Especially with the arrival of Robyn Regehr, who he models his game after.

Then again, at least for me, one of the greater mysteries of this season happened: Lindy Ruff put him in the pressbox for the start of the season. And there he sat, and stayed, while fellow youngsters Marc-Andre Gragnani and Andrej Sekera were kept on the ice along with the other 3 offensive-minded defenders (Leopold, Ehrhoff, Myers). Weber didn’t get out onto the ice until November 2nd, and his play was terrible. He’s currently on pace to have his statistically worst career season in points per game and +/- (he’s last on the team in that latter category now – quite the reversal from last season).

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DAMMIT, LINDY.

He’s certainly regressed. Whatever happened up in that pressbox for the first month of the season wasn’t good. Lindy had chance to play Weber before November, to give him some ice time with Regehr, or anyone for that matter. For whatever reason, he never did.

Weber’s pro development has stalled. His play hasn’t been the same since last season, when he had found consistency and tenacity at the NHL level.

Well then, maybe it was fitting that Weber took that cross checking penalty that sunk the Sabres last night. For better or worse, it was the perfect statement play by a player who was passed over by his coach and who is now overdoing it to try to get his team and his own inconsistent self going again.

As a result, the Sabres remain mired in 14th place. The win would have put them within 6 points of 8th. Now, one bad hockey decision later, they are just 5 games away from oblivion.

He screwed up.

That last sentence applies to Weber and Ruff.

Go Sabres.

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Sabres to Trade Robyn Regehr?!? Deadline Day Insanity Begins

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This is going to be brief as possible.

I’ve been at odds with Bruce Garrioch (of the Ottawa Sun) before. Not with his quality of writing, but with the odds that any of his trade rumors are based on any reality. Last year, he had the Sabres in on Brad Richards and Paul Stastny at the trade deadline. The logic, well, was seriously wanting. From the above link:

I don’t think Garrioch paid much attention to the Pegula Presser, wherein Pegula was adamant that there is no panic in his plans with the Sabres.  He is not looking to make a trade just to “shake the Sabres’ foundation.”  Goodness, that is a dramatic assumption.  Both Pegula and Darcy Regier have stated that if any trades are made, they will be carefully made decisions, and they will be made for the long-term benefit of the team.

Aside from that dramatic leap of faith by Garrioch, his rumor synopsis can be further broken apart like this: the words “could,” “if,” “might,” and “pretty much” provide the shaky foundation of this work of art.  Then, his argument sprawls out into a series of “if, then” assumptions, without any actual evidence to validate the information he is putting into print.  An “if, then” argument sort of goes like this:

“If there is a hedgehog in my gas tank, then my car will not start.
My car will not start.
Hence, there must be a hedgehog in my gas tank.”

In other words: if Regier has been given the green light, then he will be in on Richards and Stastny.  If Derek Roy is injured, then the Sabres are looking for a replacement.  If Richards and Stastny might possibly be moved, then Regier is going to be in on it.

Heck, throw in Brian Burke and Dean Lombardi, to add some punch.  Sneak in a “would” in the last sentence.  Day’s work done.

I think it’s safe to say that Garrioch has a hedgehog in his gas tank.

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Silly Garrioch. We're trying to build this thing up, not burn it down.

This year, he’s launched Robyn Regehr into the trade market. I’m not sure where he came to that one, thankfully he elided any real explanation. He simply offered Regehr up for sale in his “Rumors Du Jour:”

Don’t be surprised if the Sabres start unloading some contracts. Sources say GM Darcy Regier has been trying to move D Robin Regehr and C Paul Gaustad. While Gaustad won’t be a problem as a potential unrestricted free agent, Regehr has a year left on his contract at $4 million, making it doubtful he’ll moved.

Psst Bruce, it’s “Robyn.”

Doubtful because of the contract? No, this one wouldn’t be about a contract. Pegula, Regier, and Ruff did everything humanly possible to convince Regehr to dramatically alter his hockey career – a career in which he really wanted to retire as a Flame, and keep his family comfortable and happy where they had planted their roots. They lured him over with the all the promises that the Hockey Heaven they were building could get him a Cup, and had mutual acquaintances assure him that WNY was, after all, a great place to move a family to.

It was a huge splash. It was a move that told NHL players that the Sabres were a destination, and that they will do anything and everything to ensure their boys are treated right.

All that work would certainly go up “in Flames” if the Sabres traded away that same guy and re-up-rooted his family to another NHL town after just over half a season.

Mike Harrington of the Buffalo News touched on the subject, and briefly and professionally debunked Garrioch’s stance:

2. One year left: The Sabres have four veterans with only next year’s money to go on their deals. Center Derek Roy ($4 million) seems to have run his course with Lindy Ruff and there’s been plenty of talk the Sabres have been shopping him much of the season.

Defensemen Robyn Regehr ($4.02 million) and Jordan Leopold ($3 million) might draw interest as well, although Regehr waived a no-trade clause last summer to come here from Calgary and it’s hard to think he would agree to another move. Mike Weber ($950,000) is a restricted free agent after the 2012-13 season who’s having an up-and-down year but is liked for his physical play.

Hard to think that the Sabres would even ask.

Then again, stranger things have happened in the NHL.

February 27th is Deadline Day, but the insanity has already begun. In a season likely lost, that day should be a lot of fun and drama for Sabres fans. Don’t set your hopes too high, though. The prices for players on D-Day are exorbitantly higher than they should be, so sadly, the Sabres would be better off as sellers than buyers.

Yes, we all want a miracle, and for this #SeedsOfGreatness thing to actually happen – but by 3pm on February 27th, if you can get a 2nd round pick for a 4th line faceoff specialist like Paul Gaustad, you gotta’ pull the trigger.

It’s safe to say that’s where Regier and Regehr and the rest of the Sabres will be on the 27th – using what expiring assets they have to score some big time bargains, and simply continue to build this team up to be a true contender. Pegula’s mantra hasn’t changed – decisions to better this team through the trade market will be made to make this club better in the long term.

On the 27th, the only realistic way to get better in the long term is as a seller. And of course, selling off Regehr and his family would hurt Buffalo in a big, long-term way.

Go Sabres.

 

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Us Lucky Buffalo Sabres Fans

Are we lucky as fans or what? After one of the worst slides in Sabres history, they go on a 4-0-1 tear – against good teams even. I feel sorry for anyone who left the First Niagara Center early last night, as they missed a great show.

When it went to a shootout, I felt confident in Miller. He let in a few, but he was solid overall. When Gerbe’s shootout chance came, I knew he would sink it. Hell, the whole game I wasn’t worried about their play. The team is playing tough, confident hockey, with smarts to boot. They’re making crisp, quick passes and working hard in the corners. If they lost, they lost, but they were playing hard most of the way.

I don’t do much “real” analysis about the Sabres, as that’s not really my mindset (or forte). I’m more of a fan who just loves the game and makes bad jokes – but even I can see how much better this team is than just a few short weeks ago.

Perhaps part of it is the German bump, although the Sabres were playing well before the contingent of Mannheim Eagles fans came to Western New York. For more on that go here, it’s a feel good read.  And we could take some notes from their cheering playbook. They were rambunctious, perhaps annoyingly so to some, and even tried to get the wave going.

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European hockey fan enthusiasm is a little different than our brand, but we could certainly up the energy a little bit.

Or maybe it was Lindy Ruff. Perhaps his ego overshadowed the players and now that he’s injured they can finally play their best hockey. Now, I don’t believe this, but I’m sure there are detractors out there saying that. But the Sabres started this run well before Lindy fell and busted up some ribs.

Whatever the case, the Sabres are playing tough and are now eight points back in the East. I don’t think I need to say “buckle up”, we’re all pretty aware that this will go down to the wire, much like last year. But you couldn’t write a better script: a billionaire owner takes over the team, spends gazillions picking up all-star talent. The team flounders and all hope seems lost. Then, in Act 3 they get it together and miraculously make a huge comeback.

The only question is how does the story end – do they win it all, or is it just a feel-good drama where the team takes 2nd place but that was further than they ever should have expected to get to?

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Maybe James Patrick is using his time at the helm to teach the Sabres the Flying V.

Whatever the case may be, it’ll be damn exciting to be a part of. The Sabres are eight points back now with the Tampa Bay Lightning coming into our barn. We’ve got a lot of good hockey to watch ahead of us the rest of the year.

Go Sabres.

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#Sabretunes: Bohemian Rhapsody. Muppet Version.

Regular season be damned.

We’re making a run at the playoffs, and make it or not, we’re going to have a hell of a time along the way.

Hence: this morn’s request to @BuffaloSabres#SabreTunes to include the Muppet’s version of Queen’s beyond-epic “Bohemian Rhapsody.”

It may be too late for tonight’s game. Or not. “Depends on the trend,” as they say.

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"This idea is turrible!" "What the heck is 'turrible?"

Make it happen, folks – because this run, break or bust, is fun.

Go Sabres.

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Sabres GIFs: Leino Snowplows Thomas (Also, a #SeedsOfGreatness Update!)

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Call it a “taste of defeet.”

Ouch. Sorry about that. Moving on. We’ll return to that thought, and the GIF, after a nice dose of BSN Kool Aid.

The Sabres drubbing of the hated Boston Bruins last night had many #SeedsOfGreatness moments, and has some media actually – officially  – pondering the Sabres slim playoff hopes. Welcome to my Kool-Aid stand, media!

buffalo jump Sabres GIFs: Leino Snowplows Thomas (Also, a #SeedsOfGreatness Update!)

The Sabres' streak has their free-fall frozen in time. How much of a miracle is needed to save these guys?

The Sabres run to 93 points remains on track. They now need to go 19-7-3 to get to that magic number. Can their recent momentum carry them that far? Possibly, but very unlikely. Still, it again got one game easier last night.

Here are some of our #SeedsOfGreatness from the game:

  • Kaleta continued to show that he’s back to his old self, and was an assist away from a Gordie Howe hat trick. While his fight against Lucic didn’t go too well, he took him off the ice for 5 minutes. Kaleta for Lucic? Advantage: Sabres. Beer earned, Mr. Kaleta.
  • Ennis was putting the Bruins’ heads on a swivel, and scored a dandy. It’s nothing new for Tyler, though. In 2010, he had 4 points in 6 playoff games against the B’s. He had 4 points in 6 regular season contests last season. He scored the shootout winner on 1-1-11 against them. The diminutive winger just seems to find a way to beat these big bad Bruins. Keep him on the squad, Darcy.
  • The loss was Boston’s worst showing since March 6, 2008 (a 8-2 loss to the Leafs). The Sabres had been playing the kind of games that get a coach fired. Last night they played the kind of game that turns a season around.
  • Ville Leino has finally arrived. He’s become outspoken in the news, is having fun, and claims he’s now comfortable with his teammates. His swagger is now noticeable on the ice, on the scoresheet, and all over Tim Thomas’ face. This is the guy the Sabres signed up for.

 Sabres GIFs: Leino Snowplows Thomas (Also, a #SeedsOfGreatness Update!)

 

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow.

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It's funny because it's true.

Some more Kool Aid:

  • The Sabres are currently the only team from 6th to 12th in the East with a winning streak. (They’re in 12th, 9 points out of 8th, where the Sens sit in a free-fall of their own.)
  • The Sabres improved to 8-4-3 against their tough NE Division opponents. (We’ll conveniently ignore how they’ve gone 6-7-1 against the terrible SE Division.)

Whether they’re on their way to a miracle run, or simply pausing on their way to regular season oblivion, the last few games sure have been a heckuva lot of fun. Enjoy the ride and the Kool Aid while it lasts, folks.

Oh, and the Dixie cups are free.

Go Sabres.

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