Tag Archives: Buffalo

Glory and Turmoil for Derek Roy

The Ascent

Derek Roy broke onto the Sabres scene during the 2003-04 campaign with a modest 49 games and 19 points.  Then came the lockout.  Players struggled to find places to play hockey, but Roy was merely delegated back to spending the 2004-05 season with the Rochester Americans.  He put up another good season with the Amerks scoring 61 points in 67 games. With the return from the lockout and the start of the 05-06 season Derek Roy was fortunate to not have any pressure placed squarely on his shoulders.  He was a young player on a team full of veterans that included Mike Grier, JP Dumont, Chris Drury and Danny Briere who were expected to do most of the heavy lifting.  Roy played a significant amount of that season with Chris Drury and Mike Grier on what became a line that consistently matched up against the opposing team’s top line.  They were not expected to do the bulk of the scoring but Roy managed 46 points in 70 games for his first full season.

With the departure of JP Dumont, Mike Grier and others after that season there was an expectation that some of the Sabres younger talent would emerge, including Jason Pominville, Thomas Vanek and Roy.  Roy has a fantastic year during the 2006-07 season, during which he saw a return back to the middle and registered 63 points in 75 games and an astounding +37 rating.  Roy was the benefactor of still being on the team’s third line nestled behind Chris Drury and Danny Briere.  He was able to out skate most team’s third lines which in many instances are a checking line used to raise energy. Often they didn’t match Roy’s skill level.  By the end of the 2007 NHL playoffs there was an overwhelming optimism about the Sabres.   Fans were pretty certain that Chris Drury OR Danny Briere would exit, but that Roy would then make his move up to one of the top two lines to complement the returning player.

The Moment

It seems to go without reason that any blog post about the Sabres recently can’t go without mentioning 7/1/07, however when the Sabres failed to re-sign both Danny Briere and Chris Drury the immediate backlash of expectations fell squarely on Roy’s shoulders.  Roy was the newly anointed #1 center on a team that had come over back-to-back conference finals runs and seen essentially every veteran leader from those two seasons leave town.  Darcy Reiger anointed both Roy and Tim Connolly as two of the top 20 centers in the league and that the Sabres were on solid ground with the center position.

Much like Thomas Vanek, the contract Derek Roy became inflated by the pressure the front office felt after letting their two captains walk out the door.  Roy received a six year contract for$24m and the heightened expectations had arrived.

The Aftermath

The Sabres struggled during the 07-08 and 08-09 seasons and missed the playoffs both times.  Roy however, did not struggle as much registering 81 points in 78 games in 07-08. His total would fall in the following season but still marked his second best season.  The 2009-10 season saw his point total dip a single point, but the Sabres returned to the playoffs.  During the playoffs however, Roy only registered 2 assists in the six game series against the Bruins and rumblings began.  In the ensuing offseason fans began to question whether Roy and Tim Connolly were good enough to carry this team like their predecessors.

At the beginning of the 2010-11 season Derek Roy proved he belonged.  He proved the worth of his contract and was the Sabres best player.  He averaged 1 point per game while registering 10 goals and 25 assists before being injured.  The problem for Roy was he was the best player on the worst team in the league.  He had no help.  Tyler Myers had entered the season on a sophomore slump and Thomas Vanek and Drew Stafford were non-existent through those opening months of the season.  After Roy’s injury the sentiment was that the season was a wash and that the front office needed to oversee wholesale changes to the lineup and position themselves for 7/1/2011.  It was then that the team went on a remarkable post January 1st run that saw them post the 2nd best record in the league and make the playoffs as a six seed.  The series battled for six games and the Sabres became decimated by injuries.  The prevailing thought was that if the Sabres had advanced to the 2nd round that Roy would be in a position to return.  Instead his hard work and determination to return was bumped up 1 game.  Roy returned, but was not in game shape nor in position to carry the team offensively and defensively with the absences of Jason Pominville and Tim Connolly.  The season was over, but the questions lingered.

Here and Now

Due to the remarkable second half run, fans began to question Roy’s value to the team and what he was actually contributing.  People questioned whether he was a team player or merely looking to fill his stat sheet at the expense of the team.  Fans wondered if his $4m cap hit was justified and whether he should be part of the team going forward.  As we approach July 1st, those questions are going to weigh heavily on the minds of fans while waiting on news of what prized free agents Darcy Regier can attain or what trades he can swindle.  The fact remains though that Derek Roy has incredible value to this team going forward in a multitude of ways.  First, he’s a player that has averaged 0.82 points per game for his career (Danny Briere’s is 0.80) and that at $4m per year is a relative bargain as a potential top two center.  Secondly, if the Sabres decide to pursue a center through the trade market, Derek Roy may need to be a key ingredient to achieve that.  Teams are most likely going to be reluctant if not, unwilling to part with a top center or top center prospect without receiving someone to fill that spot in the roster.

The Sabres would be best served by keeping Roy if possible and preserving his spot on the team and still trying to land a top tier center.  Depth down the middle is paramount in this league and if Derek Roy and say Brad Richards/Paul Stastny/whoever are the Sabres first and second line centers, I think it makes them a much more formidable opponent not only in the regular season, but also in the playoffs.  The talent pool of younger NHLers and AHLers is extremely deep for the Sabres organization and its time that Darcy starts playing some of his poker chips for the here and now of the organization rather than hedging his bets.

 Brian Bund is a Buffalo Sabres and Buffalo Bills fan currently residing with his family in Syracuse, New York. He is a contributing writer at Hockey Heaven, Buffalo Wins and the author of the The Buffalo Sports Fan blog. You can reach him on Twitter at: @brianbund


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We’re all tied up

The series between the Philadelphia Flyers and Buffalo
Sabres has become a best of three heading back to Philadelphia.  The 1-0 victory on Wednesday night once again
was evidence of how closely matched these teams are.  The sellout HSBC Arena crowd was treated to a
spectacular performance given by Ryan Miller, who posted his second shutout of
the series.  The roller coaster that is
the NHL playoffs seems poised for at least a couple more turns.  Let’s take a look at the game.

Ryan Miller may not have had to be great in his Game 1
shutout, but he earned every accolade and piece of praise given to him after
his game 4 performance.  Despite a
relatively shaky opening period he kept Philadelphia off the score board and
elevated his game from there.  Miller
played with an edge to his game all night that included a jab to the face of
the Flyers Daniel Carcillo.  This is the
Ryan Miller that fans have asked to see on a regular basis.  Someone that is capable of bailing the team
out for their mistakes as he did on the third period stop of Danny Briere.  Briere received the puck in front of the net
all alone and despite his patient moves Miller stonewalled him with his glove
hand in a moment that should live on in Sabres playoff history.  The crowd erupted in its appreciation of the
play and Miller continued to carry the team to the victory.

What might be lost in the Miller-Briere save is how much of
a defensive lapse there was that allowed Briere to be that open.  The Flyers capitalized on a turnover by
Buffalo and as Miller pointed out in his post-game comments that Danny likes to
cheat a little bit and received an excellent opportunity to tie the game.  The play felt similar to the turnover in Game
3 that left Steve Montador to play a 2-on-1 against the Flyers.

The Flyers forecheck still seems to give the Sabres a lot of
trouble especially when you look at the last five minutes of the opening period
and almost the entire third period.  The
Sabres ended the game with 9 total giveaways.
The defensemen have to be stronger with the puck heading out of their
own zone to avoid setting the Flyers up for the easy opportunities they have
enjoyed this series.   The Flyers played
an excellent game and sustained a lot of pressure.  If not for Miller’s performance they would be
heading back to Philadelphia up 3-1.

It is tough to argue that Lindy Ruff wasn’t at least trying
to do something different against the Flyers.
He juggled the Sabres lines to an almost unrecognizable
combination.  However, what Ruff said after
the game made a lot of sense.  His intent
was to take his top scorers, notably Thomas Vanek and Drew Stafford were paired
with players Lindy felt were working hard like Nathan Gerbe, Paul Gaustad and Patrick
Kaleta.  Opening lines were:





Lost in Ryan Miller’s performance is how well Brian Boucher
played for the Flyers stopping 28 out of 29 shots including one on Tyler Ennis
that allowed Philadelphia to stay in the game. The one goal that Boucher did
give up was an excellent play by Ennis to get the puck out front to Rob
Niedermayer who then passed it to a wide open Jason Pominville.  If he is able to continue to play like he did
in games 3 & 4 Flyers fans should feel much more comfortable with their

Tyler Myers is starting to play with an edge that you
wouldn’t expect a young player to display.
He had a tendency in game 4 to walk a fine line while at times cross it,
but when Myers plays with this type of mean streak you can see the potential he
has to reach the likes of Zdeno Chara, Scott Stevens, and Chris Pronger.  His continued development is going to prove
to be a catalyst for this team moving well beyond this year.

Tim Connolly did not have a very good game for the Sabres
and at times hurt both special teams units.
On the penalty kill he intercepted a pass on a nice defensive play only
to not get the puck out of the zone and create a scoring opportunity for
Philadelphia.  Until the potential return
of Derek Roy, the Sabres are going to need more out of Tim Connolly although he
did lead all forwards in ice time with 19:57.

Chris Butler led all players with 27:45 of ice time.  His development along with Myers should
provide Buffalo with a formidable blue line pairing.

The Sabres power play is now 3 for 19 in the season and
included a prolonged 5 minute power play that remained stagnant
throughout.  The Sabres got the 5 minute
power play on an elbow delivered by Mike Richards near the end of the second
period on Kaleta.  The NHL will surely
take a closer look at the hit and it could affect game 5.

At this point there appears to be a growing disdain from
each team as evidenced by the end of the game scrums.  Kimmo Timmonen’s ‘tap’ on Nathan Gerbe as well
as the numerous other shots back and forth in this series seem to be escalating
as the series heads back to Philadelphia.
The Sabres are in a position to take game 5 and head back home to close
the series out Easter Sunday in front of what should be a raucous home
crowd.  If the Sabres are going to take
game 5 they will need another good performance from Ryan Miller as well as some
offensive production.  At this point in
the series, it seems hard to believe that any team is going to run away with a
game so the Sabres are going to need to execute their game plan and take
advantage of the situations as they present themselves.  At the very least this Friday should be an
exciting game.

Twitter: @brianbund

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Flyers vs. Sabres primer

Sabres vs. Flyers Breakdown

Goalie:  Miller vs. Bobrovsky.  For the sake of this comparison we will leave Enroth and Boucher out of the conversation although it’s not crazy to think that either may see some time in net at some point.  Looking at the season stats comparing the two it would appear to be pretty close:

  Miller Bobrovsky
Goals Against Avg 2.59 2.59
Save % 91.6% 91.5%
Shutouts 5 0
Wins 34 28
Games played 66 54


All things consider when looking at these stats I think you need to take into consideration how these two have played down the stretch.  Miller had a fantastic March and finally seemed to help re-elevate his game back to 2010 form.  Meanwhile Bobrovsky and the entire Flyers’ goalie situation will be under a microscope for the first couple of games.  While the pressure is not square on the rookie’s shoulders, Buffalo would be wise to try and attack early and often to potentially rattle his confidence.  Nonetheless, even with the above mentioned stats you have to give Miller the advantage. Miller has played in 40 career playoff games compared to Bobrovsky’s zero.  In those 40 games Miller has a career 2.39 GAA and 91.7% save percentage and a 22-18 record.  I’ll take his experience and hope the late season Ryan Miller shows up.

Advantage: Sabres

Defense: If Pronger comes back healthy that negates any hope the Sabres may have hoped in having the best defensemen on the ice.  Pronger’s health and effectiveness need to be near 100% in order to get the most out of the Flyers defense.

Buffalo Sabres Philadelphia Flyers
Tyler Myers Chris Pronger
Andrej Sekera Kimmo Timonen
Steve Montador Matt Carle
Chris Butler Andrej Meszaros
Mike Weber Braydon Coburn
Andre-Gragnari/Morrisonn/Leopold Sean O’Donnell


The Flyers defense has outscored the Sabres 168-153 (using the top six scoring defense) and are a combined +101 compared to the Sabres +37.  This is the area of the Sabres game that they need to remain sound in game in and game out and not turn the puck over in their own zone and match Philly’s toughness.  If Sekera can come back to be healthy where the top 4 defense can be Myers, Sekera, Butler and (hopefully solid playing) Montador the Sabres can compete.  Myers needs to be a force in every game and will be looked to play a Pronger-esque series.  Needless to say this group has their work cut out for them.

Advantage: Flyers although not nearly as big if Pronger isn’t healthy

Forwards: I break this down looking mostly at quantity vs. quality.  I think many experts around the country will speak to the quality of talent that the Flyers possess and for those of us that have watched this Sabres team play all year know at least to some extent they will rely on at least 3 lines to give them production.  Each team has two 30 goal scorers (Briere and Carter vs. Stafford and Vanek).  Neither team has a player with more than 80 points, but both have 10 players with 30 or more points. The Flyers have four players with 60 or more points, including Briere.  There has to be some belief that Briere is going to enjoy going against the Sabres and there’s reason to believe from our past that he’ll deliver.

Much like on defense where Myers needs to match or exceed Pronger, I believe that Vanek needs to be near the best player on the ice nightly.  If he can continue with his play as he did down the stretch that will be the difference that the Sabres will need.  I personally like how this group of forwards are playing right now for the Sabres although in order for them to have an advantage at these positions in this series they are going to need to get continue production from Gerbe, Ennis and most specifically, number 19 Mr. Connolly.

In all, I think that the Flyers will maintain a slight advantage heading into the series, but production from the Sabres third and fourth lines can help take control of this series.

Advantage: Flyers, Slightly

Special Teams:  The Sabres have the 9th (19.4%) ranked power play compared to the Flyers 19th (16.6%) favors the Sabres significantly, but the greatest concern for fans should be that the Sabres have given up 13 shorthanded goals this year while scoring just two.  Conversely, the Flyers have only allowed 5 shorthanded goals while scoring 13 (Richards and Giroux both have 3).  The Sabres still maintain a slight edge on the man-advantage, but it needs to be astutely away of the Flyers in these situations and Miller is going to need to be a huge part of nullifying these opportunities.

While with the man down the Sabres and Flyers are near equals (13th and 15th) at 83% and 82.7% respectively.  The Sabres have been extremely efficient in killing off their penalties down the stretch and that needs to continue.  I think this is where Tim Connolly will need to make his presence felt on both the PK and PP.  If he can be a difference maker at some point, the Sabres will have the advantage.  Meanwhile, the Flyers will want Giroux and Carter to do the lion’s share of the work scoring while letting Briere and Mike Richards creating.  The Sabres need to not have a repeat of their special teams performance from last year’s series with Boston.  I like the Sabres performance down the stretch, especially on the kill to give them a slight advantage.

Advantage: Sabres

Coaching: Laviolette vs. Ruff.  319 career wins vs. 526 career wins. 34-26 playoff record vs. 54-40 playoff record.  For the sake of brevity, this is a push and as much as it may begrudge me to say if forced to pick I may pick Laviolette on paper, but Ruff is the coach I want.  He’s won 1 Stanley Cup and rode a hot spring to take the Flyers back to the Finals last year. Ruff has 1 Finals lost and 3 other conference finalist appearances.  I still think Ruff is a terrific game to game manager and knows how to push his team, but unlike many where Buffalo would enjoy this as an advantage, this is just too close to call.

Advantage: Push


Sabres: Tim Connolly is the guy that the Sabres going to need to help elevate them to a team capable of winning multiple playoff series.  He’s on the top line for the Sabres and on both first units of special teams.  The Sabres first line has to at least match their level of play going forward and he needs to be at the top of his game on special teams.  The Sabres need to maximize their PP unlike last year, but I think other players can help there and Connolly’s presence really needs to be on the PK to not let the Flyers PP unit get hot.  Connolly staying healthy and playing well will bode well for the Sabres.

Flyers: Chris Pronger can be everything a Sabres fan dreams of Tyler Myers developing into.  He’ll log 30 minutes in a game if needed and play on both special teams units.  If he can be healthy and produce valuable close to 20 minutes a game for the Flyers it’ll be a tremendous upgrade. 

What it all means: The Sabres are one of the hot upset picks.  Based on their play since the turn of the calendar and the Flyers late season slump it is easy to see why many people like them to win.  It becomes a whole new animal in NHL Playoff hockey and I think most importantly for the Sabres is that players like Gerbe, Ennis and Myers got a taste of it last season, and a taste for losing.  If the Sabres are going to win this series it is going to need its best players to be their best players.  Unsung heroes help you through stretches in the regular season, but in the playoffs it is your best players that need to carry you. That means Ryan Miller, Thomas Vanek and Tyler Myers specifically are going to need to help carry the Sabres past the Flyers. It would be nice to see Stafford, Gerbe and Ennis continue their play, but the playoffs are a time where legends manifest themselves and it is the three aforementioned players that are going to drive the Sabres success this spring.  If Pronger’s health remains questionable I like the Sabres in this series because of the Flyers goaltending concerns and the way that the Sabres lines are rolling.  I also think Miller has heard the rumblings and will be at his best in the series.

This postseason feels like it has the potential to be the start of something special for the Sabres based on the youth this team has and the new ownership.  It should be a good one.

Prediction:  Sabres in six

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Worst Sabres playoff memories….

Least favorite playoff moments….Sorry folks

5. 2007 Eastern conference finals – in its entirety

In the aftermath of the Rangers/Sabres series, it just never felt right to me heading into this series.  Ottawa seemed to have a huge ball of momentum that they rode into game 1 with a 5-2 victory.  Game 2 was the Sabres chance at saving grace to take back some the series to help alleviate my concerns and Briere’s last minute heroics here made me believe they would. Then Joe ‘Freaking’ Corvo hit the OT winner and it really felt like it was spiraling downhill there.  Sabres jumped out in game 4 and took it to the Senators to finally get on the board.  A friend of mine was getting married on game 5 and made one of the groomsmen shave his playoff beard and honestly within minutes of taking the last chin hair off Alfredson hit the game winner in OT.  Now I’m with Jeremy White of WGR550 that cave man or not when you start the beard you ride it out in its entirety.

4. 2000, Eastern Conference Quarterfinals, Game 2: Flyers vs. Sabres

No goal 2.  Honestly, that’s all it is, but when you watched Hasek and his reaction to the goal it was irresponsible to at least not consider what he was saying.  It would not have taken much to fix the problem and because of it the league at least began more and more discussion about the expanded use of replay.  Needless to say, it didn’t matter to us at that point.

3. 1998, Eastern Conference Finals, Game 6: Washington Capitals vs. Buffalo Sabres

This top three is like a series of daggers to my heart. Joe Juneau’s slapper from the blue line was like Bon Jovi’s “Shot through the heart”.  I remember sitting in my living room and just feeling empty.  That Sabres team was a feel good team that was an upstart and watching Hasek in his prime. It felt like that team was on the upswing and really building something.  Although it ended abruptly in ’98 you had reason to be optimistic.

1b. 2006, Eastern Conference Finals, Game 7: Carolina Hurricanes vs. Buffalo Sabres

I’m going 1a and b because in a way this was as bad if not worse that ‘No goal’ because I definitively felt like the Sabres were the best team.  Defensemen getting hurt leading up and Jay McKee’s injury added to the pile.  A late 2nd period goal gave the Sabres the lead and Carolina came out early in third to tie the game back up. Then on top of all the injuries was Brian Campbell’s penalty in the first year of the delay of game for shooting it off the ice.  At that point there basically was 1 original top six defenseman on the ice.  On the ensuing power player a rebound dropped in front of the net and Rory Fitzpatrick decided to stand over the puck and let Rod ‘look at my nose’ Brind’Amour slammed home the eventual game winner. 

This game stung because you knew that if they got to the Finals that they would get some players back and be the favorite.  And now the everlasting hatred of Carolina remains prominent.

1a. 1999, Stanley Cup Finals, Game 6: Dallas Stars vs. Buffalo Sabres

My thought heading into this game was that if the Sabres could get back to Dallas for Game 7 where we would have the greatest goaltender in the world I would love our chances.  The game is well known and most of remember, but when the game got to overtime it just felt like the Sabres were going to win.  I really felt like they would.  Brett Hull put the puck in the net and my friend and I were on the phone (after putting a hole in my wall) screaming that he was in the crease.  It seemed surreal that again they didn’t at least check it.  They let the celebration take over and Lindy and all of Buffalo tried to get answers.  In Buffalo sports history this is way worse than Wide Right and Music City Miracle for me.  Wide Right was a miss and Music City Miracle is an enigma that I won’t get into, but this was robbery.  Whether the rule was stupid and changed AFTER the season or not the rule was the rule and his foot is blatantly in the crease.   So yes, a dozen years after the fact I still feel cheated and still feel like the Sabres were wronged.  The Sabres would have still needed to score a goal and still needed to win game 7, but they just weren’t ever given the chance.  Wrongly, and it still feels like crap.

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Why this season feels different as a Sabres fan

What a great time of year to be a Sabres fan and in particular what a great time of THIS year to be a Sabres fan.  A couple weeks ago WGR’s Bulldog had a good comparison of the feel Sabres’ fans lived with in the ’06 and ’07 playoffs.  ’06 was a fresh start for Buffalo fans with little to no expectations so with every win it seemed to gain steam and build this notion that the Sabres could and WOULD continue to win.  Suffice to say, we all know what happened, but in my lifetime what a time to be a Sabres fan and it goes along with winning to say that was a great time.  However, in ’07 the Sabres reached the same level of the playoffs (conference finals), but had a much, much different feel to it.  The feeling started against the Islanders and ballooned against the Rangers for me.  If not for the Drury dramatics in Game 5 who would know how that played out.  That whole ’07 playoff run felt like a train on a path for disaster.  Maybe it’s the Buffalo fan in my but the pit of my stomach was nervousness and excitement in ’06 and fear and anxiety in ’07.  It didn’t have the right feel.

That brings us to last year compared to this year.  I realize that the Sabres have yet to clinch a playoff spot and I’m going to tailor my comments to how this year feels compared to last. Last year was the first time that this group of young players (Vanek, Roy, etc.) led a run of their own and ran through the regular season in extremely respectable fashion.  Everyone questioned their wherewithal heading into the playoffs though.  Could Vanek be the star player needed to carry the team?  How would Myers hold up in his first playoffs?  Could Miller build off his Olympic performance to take this team on a run or would he run out of gas?  On and on the questions of whether or not this team would fail surfaced.  This year, the main question seems to be: Why not? 

I’m not sitting here saying the Sabres should be expected to make a deep Stanley Cup playoff run, but why couldn’t they?  It’s a rhetorical question because we could dissect each and every aspect of their game and use it as a reason as to why they won’t.  The fact of the matter is that this team has the feel of the ’06 run.  No, I’m not comparing the teams even the slightest.  What I am saying is that as a fan this is by far and away the most I have enjoyed watching the Sabres since that team. Why?  Expectations.

Lately, I have started to believe more and more that life is all about having and setting realistic expectations.  This goes out the window with my sports alter ego though.  As a sports fan you are destined to believe ‘this is our year’.  That’s why every training camp the Bills are going to turn the corner and make the playoffs or that sitting here right now I think Syracuse is going to win the 2012 National Championship or come July 1st after a couple of Sabres moves they’ll become a dynasty.  As sports fans we don’t like to temper our enthusiasm.  We don’t like the Jerry Sullivans and Bucky Gleasons and Sal Maioranas of the world poo-pooing every positive aspect a fan can take in a team’s performance.  However, this year at Christmas we all had sufficient reason to sacrifice the season with Roy’s injury and the team’s place in the standings.  So even though they’ve played great since the start of 2011 and Terry Pegula’s entrance as the new team owner has revitalized the fan base all while being on the cusp of the playoffs is great, it still all feels surreal.  This is why sports are great and why being a fan of sports is even better. 

Regardless of how the rest of the 2010-2011 season plays out, since the trade deadline has epitomized why I love being a fan.  And as a fan I’m starting to ask the question, why not this year?

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Testing 1, 2, 3

With everything that is going on in Buffalo and sports I’ve been having a burning desire to start writing about all of these issues and finally thinking it may be time.  I just had my second child so the timing is probably about as bad as it could but I’ll write when time permits.

These changes going on with the Sabres are something out of a dream more in the fact that this leadership appreciates the details that will hopefully have an positive impact on the fans and the players.  Ted Black and TPegs seem to be building a culture within the organization that does make a meaningful impact on employees (players).

Where this goes none of us know and for this season getting to the playoffs is and should be the goal. Get there and see what happens and then lets see what the summer can bring. Like everyone I know it is an exciting time to be a Sabres fan but the Buffalonian in me knows this is the honeymoon stage (see Lawyer Milloy’s first game). Being a sustainable contender and winning a cup is the aspiration. I can’t wait to take the ride.

I’ll hopefully try to share many more thoughts on a wide variety of sports topics but the main focus will be Buffalo sports. Tell your friends and let me know your blogs and I’ll be sure to check them out.

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Devils @ Sabres Reaction

Here we go again.  That wasn’t the prettiest of hockey games and the Sabres really seemed to labor through the whole game.  Not sure if it was the couple days off or what but they didn’t have the energy and it showed throughout. 


That first goal by the Devils was the epitome of the goals I hate by Ryan Miller.  Yes I’m blaming him for the huge rebound right into the slot that led to the goal.  The 5-on-3 rebound goal was definitely not Miller’s fault and the D should’ve dropped down on the play, but they seemed out of position throughout a lot of that kill.


The first goal by Stafford I loved.  He made a great break out pass to Roy at center and then skated his ass off to get in front of the net and knock it in.  Sometimes Stafford seems to have Vanek type (stress type) skills about him and it’s nice to see that he’s gotten his game much more simple and attacking the net. 


Also good to see that Kaleta was back skating around and drew multiple penalties and scored a goal extremely similar to Stafford’s.


But seriously, the biggest problem is defensive zone turnovers.  It led directly led to what 3 of the goals last night.  I’m lumping not getting the puck out of the zone effectively with a turnover.  It’s ridiculous how often they do that and it wasn’t just Sekera this time.  It’s annoying and frustrating. 


Kings are coming in on Friday night and I’m hoping that they can give me a Christmas present of a little bit of a run.  Although December, last nights loss will hurt, they had a chance to go 3-0 against the Devils and pass them in the standings.  It’s unbelievable how bad they play at home.  If I were Lindy I would be doing something to their game day routine to try and find something that works because obviously they aren’t getting in the right mindset to play and they were sluggish for all 3 periods last night and New Jersey had played an overtime game the night before.  


Side Note:  Nice little plug last night on the SU/Canisus game for high school basketball in Buffalo.  I seem to remember Buffalo getting much better when I was in early high school and Turner Carroll had those back to back great teams and Page and Stokes went and played well at good D1 schools.  Now with Harris, Flynn and Haywood they have some more and teams like Niagara and UB (with Buffalo kids) are making a name for themselves.

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