Archive for the ‘Buffalo Sabres’ Category

Looking around the league with…. no colored glasses:

– A very scary moment in the Detroit Red Wings game against The Nashville Predators last night, when a hard shot by Roman Josi caught Patrick Eaves in the side of the head. Eaves was stretchered out of the arena and taken to Detroit Medical Center where he is being treated for a fractured jaw. Hopefully he can have a quick recovery from this very scary incident. The Red Wings won the game 4-1, their 5th straight.

– 2 controversial moments in the game between Pittsbugh and Montreal when Max Pacioretty of the Canadiens hit Kris Letang in OT. This appears to be a head shot. In this guy’s opinion, it appears the head is the principal point of contact, now if it is intentionally aiming for the head, I cannot tell. I believe the hit was going to be shoulder to shoulder before Letang dropped his head for the shot. I do think Brendan Shanahan will definitely be looking at this one, as for a suspension…. I think he might, keyword “might” get a 1 game suspension, if not just a fine. Pittsburgh won 4-3 in OT, easily another controversial moment in the eyes of Habs fans, the referees seemed to fall asleep on that one, but alas, you do not stop playing until the whistle is blown.

– The New York Islanders continued their flip flopping fight with The Columbus Blue Jackets for bottom spot and 29th in the NHL, crawling back out of the basement with a 3-2 win over New Jersey (Thanks to Ilya Kovalchuk)

-The New York Rangers are having a great November so far, going 8-2, including last night’s shutout win against Philadelphia thanks to Henrik Lundqvist, who made 29 saves in the effort.

– Colorado busted their losing streak in a big way, scoring 5 against Edmonton, including a first goal of the season for Shane O’Brien and a first goal in the NHL for newcomer Stefan Elliot.

– Bye Bye Boudreau? The Capitals got slaughtered for the 2nd game in a row, this time 5-1 at the hands of the slumping Buffalo Sabres. The losses are starting to mount, you can bet the rumors are going to start to swirl (if your name starts with an E, and end with a D, computer generated rumors do not count)

– Lightning strikes twice, Tampa won their 2nd straight game against the red hot Florida Panthers last night thanks to brilliant goaltending by Mathieu Garon, and the scoring abilities of one Steven Stamkos. In 2 games, Garon had 47 saves, and Stamkos had 3 goals, and 1 assist.

– The Phoenix Coyotes continued strong play, as did Mike Smith, making 26 saves in a 3-0 shutout of the falling Dallas Stars. Mikkel Boedker scored career goal number 20 in the 1st period, Ray Whitney and Taylor Pyatt also added tallies.

– The Los Angeles Kings are 1-2-1 their last 4 after losing to The Chicago Blackhawks yesterday. Corey Crawford and Jonathan Quick both faced 27 shots, but a Jonathan Toews goal (his 13th this year)  in the 2nd period broke the tie.

-Sit down Luongo! Corey Schneider made his mark last night against San Jose, stopping 43 shots in a 3-2 victory, his 4th straight, only allowing 3 goals in those 4 games. Just think, the goalie making $900,000 is winning games while the guy making $10,000,000 is riding the pine. Silly…isnt it? For Vancouver also, Manny Malhotra, playing in game number 800, scored his 2nd of the year. For San Jose, Patrick Marleau scored his 10th goal, his 20th point on the season, and Joe Pavelski earned his 150th career assist in the game.

Here are some random news and notes from around The NHL :

– The Boston Bruins ran over Ryan Miller and The Sabres (Literally) for their 5th straight win in a so far perfect November.

-Max Pacioretty of The Montreal Canadiens, talk about a comeback! 3 goals in 4 games, leading the team in Goals (7) and Shots On Goal (61)

-The Columbus Blue Jackets welcomed Nikita Nikitin to the team with 24:57 of ice time, he had 1 assist, Steve Mason had 35 saves, and rookie Ryan Johansen had 2 goals in a 2-1 win over Winnipeg.

– The St.Louis Blues welcomed Kris Russell, who scored the gamewinner in a 3-0 shutout over Tampa Bay. Brian Elliot made 19 saves in the effort.

-The Detroit Red Wings are back on track, winning 4 straight games with last night’s grilling of Dallas 5-2, Jimmy Howard is on fire, making at least 22 saves each game in that 4 game span that included 2 shutouts.

– The Pittsburgh Penguins are still on top of the world in the east (tied for best in NHL) even after last night’s  loss at the hands of Carolina. “Crosby? Crosby!? We don’t need no stinkin’ Crosby!”

– The Blackhawks are tops in the west (also tied for best in NHL) with the usual suspects (Kane,Hossa,Sharp,Toews) leading the way.

-Martin Brodeur became the leader in most regular season losses with 353 (surpassing Curtis Joseph and Gump Worsley). Hey, if you are going to have the most wins, why not have the most losses as well?

–Holy smokes was the Bruins Cup Lowering…er….Raising Ceremony epic in it’s length. Oh well If I got a problem with it, my team should win instead.

–I know that playing games in Europe has a rather mixed bag of opinions, but I really do like the Stockholm locale for these games. If the NHL must go to Europe, maybe they can ONLY go there.

–Despite my feelings that the league left Atlanta too soon, it was a nice sight to see in Winnipeg for their grand return. While the Jets are still the Trashers on the ice, the enjoyment should continue the whole season. Welcome back but dont say we didn’t warn you.

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Last season: 43-29-10, 96 points. 7th in the East, lost in the first round to Philadelphia (4-3).

Key Additions: D Christian Ehrhoff, RW Ales Kotalik, F Ville Leino, D Robyn Regehr

Key Losses: D Chris Butler, C Paul Byron, C Tim Connolly, RW Mike Grier, G Patrick Lalime, RW Mark Mancari, D Steve Montador

Offense: The Sabres offense is led by former 40 goal scorer Thomas Vanek. The Austrian only had 32 goals last year, but tied a career high with 41 assists. Derek Roy missed more than half of 2011-12 with a torn quad, but still picked up 35 points in 35 games. He’ll be ready for the start of this season. Newcomer Leino (14 goals, 53 points with Philadelphia) should fill the void of Tim Connolly nicely. Drew Stafford missed 20 games and still was able to register 31 goals. The population continues to increase in Pominville, as Jason was able to notch 20 goals for the fifth straight year. Tyler Ennis (5’9) and Nathan Gerbe (5’5) may be short, but both can play. They should both score 20 while playing with the Sabres’ top 9. Brad Boyes, acquired at the trade deadline from St. Louis, had 14 points in 21 games with the team. Versatile veteran Jochen Hecht can play any forward spot and is trusted on the penalty kill. Paul Gaustad was among the league leaders in faceoff percentage (59.6%). Pat Kaleta is the team’s main agitator and Cody McCormick is the enforcer (16 fights, 142 PIM).

Defense: (more…)

Here are some thoughts on some of the potential rule changes being looked at in the NHL Research And Development Camp:

NHL Research And Development Camp (Photo:THN)

 Hybrid Icing: Safety is the main issue that gets addressed here (Remember Kurtis Foster’s injury?), without taking away from the game. Easily something I think that should be implemented in the game.  Although some would argue about the officiating on certain calls, which is the only real argument against it.

No Icing While Shorthanded: If the NHL can find a way to boost scoring, they’ll test it out (Remember the idea of round nets?) Now, I understand the want to score more often, but I don’t really like this idea. You should be able to ice the puck while shorthanded, make the other team actually have to work on the powerplay. The other guy has two or five minutes in the box, that should eb enough of a penalty on his team.

Overtime Changes ( 4 minutes 4 on 4, then 3 minutes of 3 on 3): If this gets rid of the shootout (unless the shootout goes to 5 shooters), im all for it. However, I really do not like the idea of 3 on 3 hockey, it should be 4 on 4 minimum.  Would be interesting to do on a test run basis in the NHL.

No Line Change For Team That Is Offsides: Honestly, I like this idea, if a line can’t come into the zone onsides, they shouldn’t be able to change. Honestly, unless the players on the line have been on the ice a while, but, going offsides is their own fault, is it not? But,like the next rule, it could have an impact on the game negatively.

Faceoff In Own Zone After Offsides Is Called: Now this, I do not like, at all. This would encourage dump and chase hockey, which, just isn’t that good  to watch from a fan standpoint. I don’t see this rule making it very far at all, it will not see the light of day in the NHL.

Eliminate The Trapezoid: Yes, yes, and yes. Getting rid of the trapezoid behind the net has my approval. Goalies should be aloud to play the puck, there is no good reason this rule was ever implemented. Goalies doing a bit more work, I don’t see any defensemen who would have to chase the puck otherwise, that would argue against that. Let the goalies be free from the evil trapezoid!

Goal Line Camera: A brilliant idea I can’t believe they didn’t think of sooner! So many close calls, some right , some wrong . Now, if we can work on defining “kicking motions”, that would be another huge step forward. I would really like to see this implemented in the NHL. But I feel it might not be 100% fool proof depending on the camera’s position if say, the goalie was on top of the puck.

Some quick hits from the first two days of free agency:

-The Brad Richards saga is finally over, as he chose to sign with the New York Rangers for 9 years (and $60 million).  According to reports, he turned down more money from other teams (Calgary, Los Angeles and Toronto).  The Rangers have themselves a big money center to play with Marian Gaborik now.  They also added tough guy Mike Rupp from the rival Penguins.

-Speaking of the Maple Leafs, they added Tim Connolly for two years.  Connolly has averaged .83 points per game since the lockout, but has only played in 302 games in that time.  When healthy, he can form a nice duo with Phil Kessel, but how many games he plays is the question.

-Not going to go into much about the Flyers, who were very active on Day 1, as this post sums it up pretty well.

-The Panthers were also very active, adding over $31 million in salary for 2011-12 in the since the draft.  This includes over $21 million to 6 players in free agency the last two days.  They aren’t done yet, as the team is still $1 million under the salary cap floor. (more…)

In 2006, Ryan Kesler signed a 1 year, $1.9 million offer from the Flyers.  Then-GM Bob Clarke was crushed by the hockey world for violating a “gentleman’s agreement”, in which teams wouldn’t sign other team’s restricted free agents.  Fans were calling for their team to try and poach a young player from the Flyers.  People were wondering if the Canucks would match $1.9 million for a kid who only had 23 points in 82 games in a new, unknown, salary cap era.  (Hindsight would show it was a good move by Vancouver.)  It was the first offer sheet to an RFA in almost eight years (Carolina’s offer to Sergei Fedorov in 1998).  In 1997, Clarke also signed Tampa’s Chris Gratton to a 5 year, $16.5 million offer, with a $9 million signing bonus, fully knowing that Tampa did not have the finances to match that type of offer.

As years passed, more players have been tendered offer sheets.   There have been six players to sign offer sheets since the lockout, with only one (Dustin Penner) changing teams.  Yet, people still believe signing Restricted Free Agents is an unwritten no-no.  The rule has been in place for over 25 years (with changing compensation), and if it is so unpopular, it would have been repealed by now.

So why is this relevant today?   (more…)