Maybe you’ve heard, but Ryan Miller will not get the first start for Team USA in Sochi. Jonathan Quick will go against Slovakia in the first round robin game and it would appear that many a fan is up in arms over the decision.
There shouldn’t be too much cause for concern that Miller either a, won’t wind up being the go-to guy for the US; or b, won’t see any ice at all during the Olympics. While Quick is getting the nod against Slovakia that doesn’t rule Miller out of either of the following round robin games, nor does it mean that he isn’t in line to see significant time in the tournament.
What is known is that Quick was the prohibitive favorite to not only make the US team but carry the squad based on the USA Hockey meetings that began this summer. This much was spelled out clearly in the behind-the-scenes coverage granted to Kevin Allen and Scott Burnside. Based on the coverage, Quick’s hold on the number one spot, in the eyes of the USA Hockey management team, maintained throughout the year and even through his injury. However, Miller’s play not only elevated him to the forefront of the goaltending conversations, but from fourth to second in the eyes of the decision makers.
Since Quick entered the year with what appears to be a large lead over his fellow countrymen, it shouldn’t be a surprise that they’re expecting to get him a game and an early one in the tournament. He certainly deserves a start and having him go against a team like Slovakia is a good choice for Bylsma. The Slovaks have an impressive roster and should make some noise in the tournament. However, you’d also expect that they’re still out matched by the US which will allow Quick to play against a formidable opponent with what should amount to strong support from the team in front of him. Read more…
The Olympic trade freeze will lift in two weeks and the ten days to follow will be filled with a flurry of rumor mongering and transactions as the NHL trade deadline nears.
Tim Murray is going to be more than a little busy both during and after the Olympics as he maneuvers to swap some of the talent on his roster as he continues to steer the Sabres rebuild. It’s no secret that his primary focus will be on his trio of pending UFAs with Ryan Miller’s status being of the utmost interest to observers.
The end game with those three is all but decided. They’ll be sold off to the highest bidder with Murray attempting to net at least two assets in return for each. In the case of Miller, the asking price will likely begin with four pieces and could end up at three or two depending on what the market bears.
I feel that the Sabres are nearing a stage in which picks will not benefit them as much as prospects or players who are nearly NHL regulars. While first round picks are obviously valuable currency, the stockpile the Sabres have been going through should allow Murray to be creative with some of his non-first round picks.
Additionally, I’d be in full support of Murray extending some of Buffalo’s younger talents to the trade market in order to make a hockey trade or two in the coming months. This particular strategy being available as an option to him both between now and the deadline and leading up to the draft and summertime.
I was able to jump on and join Demick of Break the Ice on one of his podcast that covered a whole range of topics that include the glory that is Wegmans, the upcoming Olympic hockey tournament and where the Buffalo Sabres will be headed in their rebuild.
While I had to cut things a bit short, I’m sure I’ll be speaking with him again soon and will likely have him join Eric and I on an upcoming Instigator Podcast once we get back to recording.
Give Demick a follow on Twitter at @breaktheicepod
It’s official. All three goaltenders that will be wearing the Red, White and Blue in Sochi have received their masks for the 2014 Olympic Games. Jimmy Howard was the third and final recipient as Ray Bishop delivered his freshly painted mask to him today.
Howard’s mask is a very basic USA design that’s somewhat reminiscent of Ray LeBlanc’s helmet from the 1992 games. While I followed Howard’s mask through the painting process I had high hopes based on the partially painted pictures Bishop Designs was providing on their Facebook page. The sharp, angled lines had the potential to really pop with the rest of the design based on what was being teased.
Ultimately I think it only falls short with the placement of the bald eagle on the top. I’m a proponent of profile views or nothing when it comes to eagles on masks. Blame Ed Belfour if you must, but the straight-on shot of the bird’s head doesn’t really do it much justice. In fact, it gives it sort of a funky chicken look.
Otherwise, the helmet looks awesome. As basic as most of the design may be it plays perfectly. I’m nitpicking when it comes to the eagle on the top because I think the simplicity of this mask ends up winning me over elsewhere. It’s clear that Bishop and Howard were both well aware of the hurdles that need to be cleared when it comes to the IOC’s standards.
I’d have to slot Howard’s mask in as second to Ryan Miller’s on the team this season. Miller’s 2014 mask is nearly identical to that of the one he wore in 2010 but with a few specific changes. He first went with a navy blue base as opposed to the ice blue on his mask from 2010. The change to a navy base triggered a change from blue and red stars to just red stars on the mask. He also went with the Team USA jersey shield on the chin as opposed to any logos associated with Sochi along with a change to the backplate. Read more…
At some point in the near future the Sabres will reach a critical mass when it comes to their rebuild. Eventually Tim Murray and the front office will be at a point where picks and prospects are trumped for the need of talent with NHL experience.
That point won’t likely come this summer nor is it likely to occur immediately after the 2014-15 regular season. But with the way Buffalo’s pipeline is expected to balloon in the coming months, Murray and company will soon need to find a different type of asset to add to the puzzle that is the Buffalo Sabres roster.
It was something that had come to mind somewhat recently with the hubbub surrounding Ryan Miller, Matt Moulson and Steve Ott along with the reported return each player will bring. Add to that the comments from an unnamed Western Conference GM in Pierre LeBrun’s article on Murray and it’s clear that the next step of Buffalo’s rebuild will need to come soon.
… I have always believed that you need some good veteran players to help [the young] ones along. You don’t need tons more draft picks when you have as many as they already do. There comes a point when you could have too many young players [and] picks… I would personally not just get more picks and prospects back since they have lot of those already. I would look for players that can play so you don’t rely on rookies so much.
It’s a take I agree with wholeheartedly. At some point your roster can’t just be comprised of 18-22 year old rookies. There will need to be a veteran presence on the roster and it needs to come from various directions. Read more…
It was long understood that the Sabres weren’t going to be a very good hockey team this season. However the nosedive they went on to start the season was surprising to even the most pessimistic amongst the Buffalo fan base.
Things have begun to turn around slowly under the new regime of Pat LaFontaine, Tim Murray and Ted Nolan. Buffalo has proven to be more competitive as of late and that has led to more wins along the way. In fact, they’ve scored three or more goals in four-straight games despite coming away with just two points over that span. Funny that the goaltending had been so stellar all year until the stretch where the team finally started finding the back of the net.
Buffalo’s recent run of games has highlighted a split in how fans are looking at the 2013-14 season. Amazingly there exists a legion of Sabres fans who, from the beginning of the year, expected the team to win every game and make trades to aid in winning right now. These people likely live in a world of blissful ignorance where Ryan Miller will one day be traded for Patrick Kane. It does seem that most of the fanbase has embraced the fact that the Sabres were not built to win so much as securing a high draft pick which would help to accelerate the building process.
What’s odd is that there seem to be a faction of fans who aren’t just aware and hopeful of the race for the first pick, but they’re openly rooting for the team to lose every game in order to secure said pick. While a lottery pick is the light at the end of this tortuous tunnel, it really isn’t necessary to root against your team, is it? Especially when finishing 30th doesn’t even guarantee that pick. Read more…
As HARBORcenter continues to grow, the encroachment upon the front door of First Niagara Center is becoming more and more apparent. One of the most significantly altered spaces of the 18-year old arena will be the pavilion.
The grand entrance atrium was a hallmark of the design of the arena when it was originally introduced as Crossroads Arena. Having a main front door and entryway to an arena was a design feature that wasn’t regularly utilized in pro sports. It made the new home of the Sabres unique from many of its NHL counterparts. Now, with the skybridge connecting HARBORcenter and First Niagara Center, the look and functionality of the atrium will be significantly altered.
Based on the renderings and seeing how the façade of the arena will be affected by HARBORcenter, the original design and look of the atrium will be almost entirely compromised. While it would certainly be costly, there is now an opportunity change the outward appearance of the arena’s front door while also improving the design aesthetic of the arena so it fits better with its new neighbor.
The way that HARBORcenter and First Niagara Center come together has a somewhat awkward look when you look at the height and design of the pavilion and how the skybridge works into it. Additionally, the height of HARBORcenter’s rinks serves to affect the look of the pavilion. Why not alter the façade of the pavilion in order to allow for the two buildings to join together in a less awkward manner? By extending a redesign onto the other side of the pavilion to extend down to the Alumni Plaza, the front of the arena would not only get a visual upgrade but would also create a uniform look with HARBORcenter.
A simple glass façade would not only be the easiest but would also provide a nice visual upgrade. However, the lower levels of HARBORcenter, particularly the skybridge is brick which would likely clash with an all-glass look for the arena. Read more…