florida panthers:

Sabres Lose in a Slushy Excuse Fest, Remain Rightfully Mired in 10th Place

We must all be a bunch of suckers.

In his post game interview, Derek Roy was quick to point out a couple big reasons for the Sabres’ shootout loss to the Florida Panthers last night:

  1. The ice was “chippy”
  2. Brad Boyes hit some posts in the shootout



The ice might have been a bit slushy in Sunrise, Florida, at this time of the year. And I am not sure anyone can calculate the odds of Boyes hitting the post and the crossbar in the shootout, on a shot that would have won the game. I’m pretty sure those odds are double-infinitesimal.

Still, neither of these things accounts for taking only 5 shots in the 3rd period. Make that 4 shots for Buffalo, and 1 for Florida. It also doesn’t account for 0 shots in overtime. Make that 0 shots for Buffalo, and 0 shots for Florida.

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The Sabres' effort was there. In the stands.

Both teams seemed content to play it safe and earn the gimme point for this one. Instead of a playoff dogfight, fans were treated to hockey played as if it were out in the open air Everglades. The game was mush. The ice was a swamp.

Maybe Roy did have a point about the ice after all. But in hindsight, it wasn’t the ice that made this game what it was. The Sabres joined the Panthers in a contest featuring two teams playing too careful for fear of a loss in a tightly wound playoff race. Fear, or just playing too damn careful, turned the playing surface into a woeful retreat from the front of the net, from the offensive zone, and turned the neutral zone into slush (go figure if the neutral zone was sloppy, since that’s where most of this game was played).

The Sabres skated out like it would seem with what they wanted. They played not to win, but not to lose, and moved on to Tampa Bay after drawing the 50/50 loser point. Lindy Ruff wasn’t happy over the game shootout either in his post game interview:

“Any point you lose right now is a lot. If it was a half a point it would be a lot. It’s disappointing. The points in the shootout are big points. I picked one good shooter and six bad ones tonight.”

Yea. It was those six bad shooters in the shootout. We’ll just forget about the 18+ guys who couldn’t even put a shot on net during the actual game itself.


We must all be a bunch of suckers.

Epilogue: Of course, it’s not all bad news. The Sabres are now just 2 points out of 8th, tied with Winnipeg at 76 points. The Caps sit in eighth, with both the Caps and Jets having one game in hand over the Sabres. Ten games left.

May the best team not lose.

Go Sabres.

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Octopush: Pond Hockey in Miami will Leave You… Breathless?

It turns out you don’t need ice for hockey.

Or pads.

Pretty much just your underwear, and a snorkel.

If you haven’t heard of “Octopush” before, (and if you live in the “frozen wasteland of Buffalo” where it “snows ten months out of the year,”) you’re not alone. It’s not exactly grabbing headlines on ESPN.

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Then again, the NHL isn't exactly grabbing headlines on ESPN, either.

Well, in honor of tonight’s matchup between the Sabres and Miami Florida Panthers, we’re going to educate you on what the British Octopush Association calls a “supreme aerobic game.” Who knows, maybe this is a secret conditioning regiment for the resurgent Panthers squad.

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What a save! I think. Actually, I have no idea what is happening here.

Yea, it’s basically mini-stick hockey under water.

Still, it seems to be fun and has a world wide following. If you’ve read this far, I suppose I should let you know a few facts about this game. From the aforementioned Association:

Octopush is underwater hockey and is a supreme aerobic game. It was invented in the early 1950s by sub-aqua divers in Southsea who got bored just swimming up and down pool lanes to get fit. The game is now played worldwide. Underwater hockey is fast, furious, and fun … and you can join in.

Players wear the basic equipment of a mask, snorkel, fins, and water polo hat. They hold a small stick, about the size of a spatula, in a gloved hand. The idea of the game is to use the stick to push the 1.2 kilogramme puck into the opposing team’s goal, which consists of a three metre tray at the opposing end of a 25 metre pool.

All other sports allow the participants to breathe as they play. But in underwater hockey, players breathe through their snorkels on the top of the water before diving down to do battle with their opponents. Some players can stay down for a long time indeed, but the real skill of the game is judging when to dive. It can take just a few seconds to tackle an opponent and pass the puck to a colleague, and then return to the surface for a well-earned breath!

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Not the best spectator sport.

I’m sure you’ve already leapt out of your seat to try out your swings with a spatula. In any event, that’s Octopush. Maybe the Sabres can use this to help motivate the team instead of bag skating them. Lindy, if you’re reading this, you’re welcome – and here’s the hours for the ECC pool.

While you gear up for tonight’s game, here’s a video of the fastest game under where ice should be. Cue the public domain rock and roll:

I can’t believe no one has thought to introduce the cannonball into this. That would be a real game changer.

If you’ve now read this far, my apologies. Enjoy tonight’s game.

Go Sabres.


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The Amerks 12 Days of Christmas

It’s Halloween season!

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Which means we all get at least one day to dress up like this guy between buying Christmas decorations, which have been on sale since October 1st.

So, in that Halloween spirit of giving, I present to you the 2009 version of the “12 Days of Christmas,” as performed by the Rochester Americans. Then affiliated only with the Florida Panthers, it nonetheless remains a chilling touching reminder of why hockey players should never, ever sing.

(Unless, of course, they are in the band “Red Seal Peach.”)

Take it away, Florida Amerks 0f 2009!

Lyrics are provided below… out of utter necessity.

Alexander Salak: “On the twelth day of christmas the amerks gave to me, 12 amazing glove saves.”
Jason Garrison: “On the eleventh day of christmas the amerks gave to me, 11 scorching slapshopts.”
Michal Repik: “On the tenth day of christmas the amerks gave to me, 10 goals by Repik.”
Evgeny Dadanov: “On the ninth day of christmas the amerks gave to me, 9 points by Dadanov.”
Luke Beaverson: “On the eighth day of christmas the amerks gave to me,eight crunch a weeping.”
Brady Calla: “On the seventh day of christmas the amerks gave to me, seven cups of winning.”
David Brine: “On the sixth day of christmas the amerks gave to me, six lamps a lighting”
Shawn Matthias: “On the fifth day of christmas the amerks gave to me, FIVE POWER PLAY GOALS!”
Jimmy Bonneau: “On the fourth day of christmas the amerks gave to me, four gloves dropped.”
Andrew Sweetland: “On the third day of christmas the amerks gave to me, three breakaways.”
Mike Duco: “On the second day of christmas the amerks gave to me, two sprit dancers.”
Tyler Plante: “On the first day of christmas the amerks gave to me a the best fans in all of hockey!!”

I expect the Pegula Era version of this carol to be overwhelmingly superb (and to utilize heavy dose of Auto-Tune).

Go Amerks.

Go Sabres.

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Gaustad Unleashes his Thundersticks for the Sabres

Thundersticks, Thundersticks, Thundersticks – ho!

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Tell me this guy doesn't look a little like Gaustad.

If you don’t get the “Thundercats” reference, I apologize, but Gaustad really snarfed Matt Bradley last night:

Here’s a nice close-up still of the action:

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Fittingly, the Panthers' slogan is "We see red."

After the fight, Gaustad went to the dressing room for attention, but it seemed to be only to see how much Panther blood could be dabbed off his jersey before he quickly returned to action.

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Rest, or reload them.

Besides the fight which helped cement the determination of the Sabres in front of Ryan Miller and his shutout, Goose finished with a +1, 5 PIM’s and helped lead the team with 2 blocked shots. Goose knows his role, and last night may just have been the most dangerous player that the Panthers had to face (with their faces).

Well done, Goose.

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I say there's room for a Goose on this team.

I’ll cap this post off with Gaustad’s season stats so far: 1 goal, plus 2, 14 PIM’s (leads team), 6 hits (t-6th), 7 blocked shots (t-4th), and he’s doing this within the limited ice time of a 4th line center. The defense has been clearing  Miller’s crease quite effectively this season, but Goose has been a key component on offense that’s been guarding the Sabres’ blue paint. Right now the Sabres are riding high alongside their 20 goals for/10 goals against stat, and toughness has been a big part of that.

Up next: Tampa Bay – where they tell the fans to “bring the Thunder” – another slogan that is asking for some facial rearrangement from the Goose.

Keep unleashing the thundersticks, Paul.

Go Sabres.

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The Resurrection of Tim Kennedy


It’s a saga of redemption.

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Tim Kennedy's been searching for a break since August of 2010. That break has finally arrived.

The sorry tale of Tim Kennedy began on September 30, 2009, when the Sabres announced that Kennedy would start the 2009–10 season in Buffalo.  Kennedy scored 10 goals and 16 assists, for a total of 26 points in 78 games in the regular season.  He scored 1 goal and 2 assists in 6 playoff games.  Things were looking up for the kid from South Buffalo.

A RFA, Tim was unable to come to terms on a new contract through his agent and Darcy Regier. On August 3, 2010,  he was awarded a $1million contract through arbitration.  The Sabres felt the price tag was too high for their hometown darling, and immediately placed him on waivers.

Not a single team claimed him.  It wasn’t a pleasant situation for Tim.

“It hurts. This is not what I envisioned for the last month of the summer before the season started. It’s tough. I hope this isn’t the end, but it doesn’t look too good right now. You grow up watching this team your whole life. I don’t even know what to say right now because I’m so shocked.”

He eventually found a home with the New York Rangers, but found himself shackled in the AHL – the Rangers didn’t want to risk losing him through re-entry waivers by calling him up, and by burying his contract with the farm team, the Blue Shirts’ were able to ease up on their dwindling cap space.  Tim never played a game in a Rangers uniform.

On October 5th of 2010, he was waived again.  And again, not a single team claimed him.

Kennedy remained a Ranger by default, but was clear that they really didn’t want him.  In February of 2011, he was dealt (along with a 3rd round pick) to the Florida Panthers for Bryan McCabe.  On March 8 of the 2010-11 season, he finally saw action in the NHL again, and would skate on to record 1 assist in 6 games with the Panthers.

Fast forward to the 2010-11 offseason.

Kennedy is on the ice for the Panthers’ last game of the season.  It’s a 1-0 victory over the Washington Capitals, wherein TK records an assist and a +1 marker, helping the team finish on a high note by breaking a 10 game losing skid.

That high note doesn’t last long for Kennedy, though.  On April 11, locker clean out day, he is a RFA all over again.  You know that his head has got to be swimming with how this whole dreadful story started when he was a RFA back in 2009.  It sure didn’t help that Florida just fired their coach, Peter DeBoer, who at least had the faith to keep Kennedy in the lineup for that final game.

With an unstable world spinning under his skates again, deliverance must have seemed like a long, long way away.

Then, on May 31st, the Panthers announced the hiring of Kevin Dineen to fill their head coaching vacancy – and for Kennedy, that news must have felt like a godsend.  Finally, it looks like he will get the break he’s been hoping for.

There is simply not a single person on the planet better equipped to save TK’s career than Dineen.  After all, Dineen was the coach in Portland during the 2008-09 season, when Kennedy blossomed with 18 goals and 67 points in 73 games before his promotion to Buffalo.  Kennedy was quick to praise the hiring:

“I can’t thank him (Dineen) enough. He was a great coach down there (in the AHL) and he’d be a great coach (in the NHL) too. He really helped me transform from playing in college [Michigan State] to the pro game. I owe him a lot of credit.”

Those are some smart words from TK – he must know that this is his make-it-or-break-it chance to stick to the NHL.  Dineen knows who Tim is, what kind of player he is, what to expect from him on the ice, and how to utilize him to get the best performance possible.

Suddenly, the future is looking bright again – but there is still that nagging RFA issue.  With Dineen on board, and part of the decision making process, the most damning twist to this saga yet would be if the Panthers decide not to keep Kennedy on the team.  Such a move, by perhaps the person who knows Kennedy’s talents the best, would pretty much sound a death knell over Kennedy’s NHL career.

But I don’t think that Dineen is gonna’ ring that bell.

It would be a shock if the Panthers didn’t bring Kennedy back – a player that they traded for, a player that they used on the ice to help bring a tumultuous season to an end on a high note, and now a player who is reunited with the coach that made him NHL material in the first place.

South Buffalo, rejoice: the resurrection of Tim Kennedy has begun.

Screw the whole saga, and forget all those dates.

Instead, focus on plays like this.

And this.

And this OT gem, (where he “beats his old team” at the 3:45 mark).

Under Dineen, there will be more highlights from Kennedy to come – and from here on in, they will all come at the NHL level.

Good luck, Tim.

Go Sabres.

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