thomas vanek:

New Jersey.

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It’s amazing that my rookie Drew Stafford jersey is still relevant. Then again, it might not be in a couple days.

It’s two days before the draft, and Sabres fans have no idea what their team’s roster or prospect pool will look like on Monday.

Sabres Jersey 300x197 New Jersey.

The Sabres’ current identity.

A lot can happen between now and then. We might have to say our goodbyes to Ryan Miller and Thomas Vanek. That kind of sentence might have been absolutely stunning to read not so long ago, but not so much now. The Old Core has nearly been fully dismantled.

Pominville, Roy, Connolly, Gaustad, and Hecht have all been moved or have moved on. Chances are that you’ve got one of those names on a jersey tucked into the back of the closet. Chances are you might have a Vanek or Miller jersey that might have to join the growing pile of throw-back threads back there very soon.

You might own an Ennis, Hodgson, Foligno, Stafford, Myers, or a Gerbe. These might be obsolete come Monday, too.

You might have invested in a Grigorenko jersey, or had another prospect’s name sewn onto the back of your most hopeful sweater. If so, hold onto it tightly and keep hoping. No one is truly safe in a rebuild (if that’s what the Sabres are truly doing. A little more on that in a couple paragraphs).

Big changes are coming this weekend. Players may move, whether they be important/iconic, long-standing members of our community, the up-and-coming fan favs of Rochester, or those players stuck in between. We’re also going to have a bunch of brand new Sabres draftees to wonder over, and hope about.

The good news is this: whatever Darcy Regier does, it will be for the benefit of the Sabres for the long-term. The decisions made by his draft weekend team won’t be of the kind that set the Blue and Gold back a year or three. Maybe that’s why Regier was hesitant to use the term “rebuild,” instead opting for “r-word.” The direction of this franchise isn’t really in full rebuild mode, and it’s not really in retooling mode either. It’s somewhere in between.

Coming out of this weekend, after all the changes and all the additions, we will be able to look at this franchise and assure ourselves that the future has been made brighter. The r-word process (choose your own of the two) won’t be over, but we’ll be better.

Our closets might be a little bit out-dated. But we’ll be better.

And hey, there’s a lot to talk about at happy hour today. This weekend is going to be fun.

See you guys on Monday at the Sabres’ store.

Go Sabres.

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The Interim

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We’re all in this together.

Ron Rolston is the new interim coach, and his Sabres are currently basking in the glow of their sweep of the Sunshine State.

Rolston, as it was announced by Darcy Regier, is here as an interim coach. He’s on a tryout. He’s been tweaking a few things. Tinkering. Trying to get The Most Inconsistently Working Team in Hockey working again. He’s a very knowledgeable man, and I wish him the best of luck. But this is a try-out for him.

Nothing is guaranteed for Rolston, and the same should be said for the rest of the Sabres.

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Sabres Continue on Warpath, Staal Murdered on the Score Sheet, Good Times had by All

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So much for putting CoHo between Vanek and Pommers.

Their points last night may have been solely on the powerplay, but seeing both Vanek and Pominville on the goal side of the scoresheet today will relieve many Sabres fans who have been stressed out about that top 26-9-29 line.

Welcome back, guys.

“I didn’t see it,” Pominville said. “I just blanked out.”

Yup. That’s how it feels to wake up.

PommersHugless 188x300 Sabres Continue on Warpath, Staal Murdered on the Score Sheet, Good Times had by All

Game winner in OT! Hockey hugs: on the way.

How about some random Canes hate to go with your coffee today? Eric Staal was on the ice for all three of the Sabres’ goals last night. TKO’d on the score board.

eric staal plotting 1 300x200 Sabres Continue on Warpath, Staal Murdered on the Score Sheet, Good Times had by All

Murderous Glare Staal was murdered on the ice last night. Good job, Sabres!

Meanwhile, the (suddenly injury-plagued) Maple Leafs fell to the Pens last night, 3-2 in regulation. They are falling out of the race for 8th, as the Sabres keep finding the ways and the players to keep their surge alive.

So many good things to breathe in today. Like the standings:

ECS2812 Sabres Continue on Warpath, Staal Murdered on the Score Sheet, Good Times had by AllThe Sabres are now on a 12-4-3 roll, reminiscent of the 16-4-4 streak of last season, after Pegula took over this town. Can the Sabres do it again? That question has become the storyline of many NHL reports. We’ll see what happens. So far, the Blue and Gold have answered that question 12 times.

15 games to go.

Today’s #SeedsOfGreatness nod goes to Pommers. And Vanek.

Welcome back.

Go Sabres.

PS – Hey, Sabres – thanks for getting my note to 26 and 29! Biscuits are tasty, aren’t they? Have fun against the Bruins. They are 4-5-1 in their last ten. You are 7-1-2. You can do this. You will do this.

 

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Weathering The Storm

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What in the H-E-double-hockey-sticks happened against the Pittsburgh Penguins? How can a team completely fall apart like that? We’re not going to make the playoffs with a team like this! We should trade Miller, Stafford and Roy, fire Regier and Ruff, burn the city to the ground and start over from scratch!

Ok, I’m overdoing it a bit. But it’s still pretty chaotic with all the injuries. Heck, even Thomas Vanek didn’t practice on Monday, sending tendrils of fear all through Sabres Nation. It’s been bad, and many are calling for heads to roll, for players to be traded, for Ruff to be fired… and worse. Wow.

A big part of the problem may be that we have a lot of history and buildup with the current team. Expectations were high even before Terry Pegula bought the team. Then he came in raised the bar even higher and said, “We’re going to hit this mark”.

Yeah, these Sabres are all over the map with their play, but that’s to be expected when your entire team consists of the entire roster of your minor league team, minus perhaps a goalie. When Lindy Ruff was asked about getting back to consistency he responded thusly:

“I don’t think you can talk about that until you get your team back,” coach Lindy Ruff said. “You’re looking at a line out there of [Evgeni] Malkin and [Chris] Kunitz, and I’ve got [Zack] Kassian, [Paul] Szczechura and Luke Adam on the ice. You’re asking a lot out of the kids, and they’ve played hard for us. But we need some bodies back.” (Source – Buffalo News)

On top of the injuries, another thing that really makes it hard for us fans right now is that we don’t know what we’ve got in this team. Unlike say, the Boston Bruins or Detroit Red Wings, we cannot unequivocally say we’re going to make the playoffs and be a real threat to go deep and win the Stanley Cup. And unlike the Columbus Bluejackets or New York Islanders we are not totally out of it and looking just to rebuild over the next year or two. No, the Sabres are… well, a pretty talented but young team with a lot of injuries.

And sure, there are a lot of negatives going on right now that we can point to as validation for hitting the panic button. For example, Ryan Miller’s stats are horrible. He has a GAA of 3.12, good for 37th in the NHL, with a save percentage of .902 (32nd in the league.) We also let a guy named Sneep score against us in his very first NHL game! Sneep! I’m sure he has a 1st name but I’d like to pretend otherwise. Sounds like a name from some children’s book. It is, you say?

 Weathering The Storm

The Sabres saw a Sneep. It lulled them to sleep. They barely even made a peep. They were in much too deep. (Dr. Seuss, I'm not.)

So with everything going crazy right now, some might point out the example of the Philadelphia Flyers who made some moves in the offseason that seemed insane at the time. But so far, trading Jeff Carter and Mike Richards has turned out pretty well for them. It feels good to hit the “detonate nukes” button. (It’s such a pretty, shiny, red button.) It’s easy to place the blame on one or two guys and just get rid of them.

It’s hard to not press the button.

But I don’t think we need to do that. Nor is it time to do so … yet. Now, I’m not trying to look at things through rose-colored glasses or tell you that everything is going to be just peachy (or be preachy). I’m just saying that Ted Black and crew deserve some time before we rush into destroying things that the Sabres have taken years to build. Shouldn’t Regier and Ruff get at least one full season under the new ownership to see what they can do? Haven’t they earned that? Same goes for the players.

Like Lindy Ruff teaches, perhaps we shouldn’t get too high or too low. Maybe we should just enjoy the season as it unfolds and take the long view. We’ll have some amazing hockey and some crap games as well. As the season progresses, the Sabres will hopefully gain more chemistry and consistency.

With that should come wins and a playoff spot. And if the younger guys’ streak of nastiness can mesh with the cores scoring ability? Come playoff time they could be downright dangerous. We just need to weather this storm for a while.

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Sabres Not Afraid to use the Butt Ends of their Hilts

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We said yesterday that the Sabres were in for a tough physical test against the hard banging Columbus Blue Jackets.

It was a pretty obvious challenge for the newer, tougher Sabres lineup, considering the stats.

No game in the NHL is truly a gimme, and this contest is shaping up to be a good test. The Sabres should be and are expected to outscore and skate off with a W tonight, but Buffalo’s new-found physicality and size will be pushed to the limits. Just how well the Sabres can protect the blue paint and survive a forecheck could turn this game around in just a shift or two.

Regehr’s got his mitts full tonight.

Watch for the Sabres to send a message (Thundersticks) early. When all is said and done, we should have a good idea of just how tough we are after this one.

Frankly, all we did there was point out the obvious – one of the Sabres broadcast’s “Keys of the Game” was “surviving the Columbus forecheck.”

1 1 3Forecheck 300x228 Sabres Not Afraid to use the Butt Ends of their Hilts

Here comes the 1-1-3 forecheck! Looks like a three headed stick man on paper.

Well, the Sabres outlasted and bettered Columbus at their own game. They outhit the Blue Jackets 14-10. They sent that early message. They sent it with extreme prejudice.

You might say the Sabres kicked their Bass.

The Thundersticks were brought out early and eagerly. Cody Bass was no match for the onslaught. The Jackets were able to claw back to a 2-2 tie after being down 2-0, but they weren’t able to play their game. Instead, they found themselves playing catch-up on the scoreboard, and then playing catch-up to the speedy, rolling Buffalo lines.

Kaleta put the death bullet in the heart of the would-be Jackets’ rally, scoring the game winner with six minutes left. Pominville made sure the quick and talented part of the squad had a say too, driving home an easy goal off an incredibly sweet feed from Thomas Vanek. (Vanek joined 11 other Sabres players with his 400th point with the Blue and Gold on the play. Pominville now has 371 and is closing in fast.)

Thundersticks and speed. This Sabres team is loaded at both ends of the sword, from the tip of the blade to the brunt of the hilt, and they use both very well. It’s already a tough task to beat the Blue and Gold this season, and the team hasn’t completely gelled yet. Mike Weber, leader in hits on the team last season, has yet to suit up for a game.

mikeweberwatch Sabres Not Afraid to use the Butt Ends of their Hilts

But we'll see him soon.

The Sabres stand at 6-3. Their goal differential is an excellent 27-19. The line of Vanek, Pominville, and Adam have combined for 35 points in this 9 game span. Ryan Miller is enjoying a save percentage of .930 behind a revamped defense, which is only going to get better. Enroth: .950. Key parts of the Sabres’ core offense are becoming parts of Sabres history. All these are wonderful portents for success.

But last night, the Sabres sent the Columbus Blue Jackets, and the NHL, a message.

Try and forecheck all your want. From now on, we’re coming for you.

Go Sabres.

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