Gameday poster for Sabres vs. Maple Leafs

Gameday poster number two features the Sabres and Leafs in an Eastern Conference basement showdown. I went with a comic book cover theme for this one (although I’m not good enough to put a solid effect on Phaneuf and Gionta. Feel free to share thoughts, criticism or contact information if you’d like to get in on the act. Sabres4-1alt

 

Looking ahead to Buffalo’s goaltending options for 2015-16

At long last, time is winding down on the Sabres season. The marathon trek to the league basement is all but complete at this point as the Sabres hold a six-point advantage over the Arizona Coyotes for the right to the 20% odds at the NHL Draft Lottery.

While the Sabres aren’t yet guaranteed one of the top two picks in the draft, it’s looking more and more likely that they’ll wind up picking in the top two in June’s draft reports Sports Betting Dime. Even with the final results not yet determined, knowing the talent waiting at the top of the NHL Draft should give Sabres fans solace that the roster turnaround will be nearly completed once Murray announces Buffalo’s pick this summer.

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Fans plunge FNC into bizarro world in Coyotes OT win

Someone had to win this game. Someone had to come out of the ridiculous atmosphere in First Niagara Center with a pair of points in the standings. Arizona came away with an OT victory and moved one point further away from the Sabres in the league basement.

But the result is hardly the most interesting part of tonight’s game. In fact, Buffalo getting another point in their cushion in the race for McDavid and Eichel isn’t even the most interesting thing to come out of tonight. Buffalo, on home ice, were actively cheered against for the better part of 30 minutes as they tried to battle back against the Coyotes.

Things didn’t get really bizarre until well into the second period. Even after Jordan Szwarz gave Arizona an early lead, most of the building seemed torn on how they should act. But after Oliver Ekman-Larsson and David Moss scored to give the Coyotes the lead, everyone seemed to know what was at stake.

From there, fans gave overwhelming support to Mike Smith and the Coyotes. The fans would boo Arizona penalties and even booed when Brian Gionta scored to tie the game late in the third. When Smith made a desperation stop on Zach Bogosian in the dying minutes, you would have thought it was Dominik Hasek turning aside Trent Klatt. Continue reading

Game Night Poster for Sabres vs. Coyotes

In what I hope becomes a regular practice for home Sabres games, I’ve developed a game night poster for tomorrow’s Tank Battle. It’s my hope to have a handful of designers from around Sabres Nation contribute to home dates next season so we have commemorative posters for each home contest.

 

The curious case of Matt Hackett

Matt Hackett was very much seen as a serious candidate as the goalie of the future for the Sabres when he was acquired at the 2013 trade deadline. He’s since slid down the depth chart and sits in a precarious position as the 2014-15 season dwindles away.

Entering the year, Hackett needed to get in eight appearances of at least 30 minutes to remain a restricted free agent heading into the offseason. His status is a unique one that isn’t encountered too often, but put both himself and Tim Murray in an odd situation even before the season started.

Hackett’s up-and-down play, late-season knee injury, the emergence of Nathan Lieuwen and the presence of both Jhonas Enroth and Michal Neuvirth made things that much cloudier.

Of course, things have cleared up a bit as Enroth and Neuvirth were both traded and Chad Johnson was injured before appearing in a game, leaving just Hackett and Anders Lindback to man the crease for the remainder of the year. Lindback’s hot play has kept Hackett from seeing the lion’s share of the work and time is running out with only nine games to go in the season. Continue reading

The best of the Sabres tank narrative

We’ve reached new levels of stupid when it comes to the Sabres 2014-15 regular season. The Sabres have inched closer to 29th place over the last few weeks despite holding the last spot in the NHL while continuing their largely inept play on the ice.

As we approach the two biggest games of the year as it pertains to the hopes of securing the best chance to draft Connor McDavid or Jack Eichel, those who are both pro- and anti-tank continue to make some very curious points or arguments related to their cause.

Honestly.

I wrote something last night in an attempt to ease some of the tension related to the Sabres run of points over the past week and the inexplicable play of Anders Lindback. I thought I’d add to my thoughts on the tank and all of the ridiculous arguments and opinions related to it today with a slightly more easy-going post that highlights the most ridiculous statements I’ve heard or read as it relates to the Sabres rebuild, the tank and the potential to maybe finish 29th instead of 30th. Continue reading

Time to relax for the tank stretch run

Perhaps you’ve heard that the Sabres are in a position to be drafting at the top of one of the richest draft classes since 2003.

Of all the tired Buffalo sports narratives in recent memory, the argument over the tank is making a strong run for the worst of them all. There’s been mudslinging from various members of the media, the fanbase is at odds over whether the team should be trying to win or pushing for the basement – how there are people who are against getting Connor McDavid is beyond me – and every night brings a new round of hand wringing from some contingent of fans.

The Sabres recent run of “good” play has seen them grab four points in their last four games despite being outshot and outplayed badly. This “surge” in the standing has brought them within three points of the Arizona Coyotes and four points of the Edmonton Oilers. It should be noted that the Sabres remain in 30th in the NHL standings heading into this weekend’s back-to-back games.

Perhaps the most stunning aspect of this entire twisted journey called the 2014-15 Buffalo Sabres season is that there are so many people freaking out over things that are out of their control. Of course, all of this is out of all of our control, but for the sake of argument, consider anything related to the Sabres as something the fans and media controls.

The Sabres are bad. Historically bad. In fact, they’re worse in nearly every facet of the game compared to last year’s 30th place, historically bad team. Here’s a chart from Travis Yost from February 4th, the date the Sabres officially became the most outshot team in the analytics era.

Take a long look at that chart, even if you hate analytics. The green and red lines are last year’s Sabres and Leafs teams, both horrendously bad in terms of puck possession. That ugly black line is this year’s Sabres team. That’s how terrible the Sabres are. Continue reading