Sabres on their way after two wins

Well that was a fun couple of days, no? A 5-2 beat down of the Flyers followed by a near textbook road win against the Leafs and the Sabres have gotten off on the right foot for this shortened 2013 season.

Sunday’s opener was about as sloppy as expected, as the Sabres and Flyers plodded through forty minutes of fairly average hockey before the Sabres third period explosion put the game away. The one takeaway from that opener was seeing the rust on both teams. Even with a game under their belt from the day before, the Flyers still looked sluggish in many ways along with their hosts who were playing their first game of the season.

The Sabres did do plenty of things right, however. They engaged physically from the opening faceoff, scored the game’s first goal and maintained composure after falling behind in the second period. Drew Stafford’s unexpected fight was pointed to as the spark that drove the Sabres into the third period and their scoring surge in the final frame got the job done.

Defensively there was plenty to improve upon in front of a strong outing from Ryan Miller – who benefitted from two disallowed goals. Special teams was a bright spot as the powerplay was clicking and the penalty kill did great work outside of allowing Claude Giroux to wire a one-time home for Philly’s second goal of the game. Continue reading

Sabres get tough with Scott

The Buffalo Sabres got big and nasty with their only signing on July 1. The Sabres agreed to terms with John Scott on a one-year contract reportedly worth $600K.

With the rest of the Northeast Division investing in tough, gritty players, the Sabres were looking awfully thin in the pugnacity department as the day wore on. After another year in which people questioned Buffalo’s grit, Scott should help fill the void.

Buffalo was silent for nearly the entire day and it seemed as if they were falling further behind in the toughness department as compared to their biggest rivals. Montreal re-signed Travis Moen last week and then threw a wheelbarrow of money at Brandon Prust. The Maple Leafs added Jay McClement and every just seems to be keeping up with the big, bad Bruins.

Scott is capable of playing wing or defense, although his contributions at each position will be severely limited. He will be better suited as a fourth line winger who sees a maximum of eight minutes each night that he dresses.

The decision to sign Scott is wise, don’t think that this is a waste. First, he isn’t impacting the cap one bit. Secondly, he is a player that is difficult to play against and that is precisely what Darcy Regier has been looking to add.

Don’t expect Scott to be an every night player. He will mix well with Cody McCormick, Pat Kaleta and Corey Tropp. Buffalo would still be wise to find one more capable fourth line player so that Matt Ellis doesn’t need to be counted on each night. Since Ellis’ contract switches to a two-way deal this year, he is an affordable choice for Rochester.

It would seem as if Scott has been brought in to add a massive dose of toughness and that every shift grit that the Sabres sorely lacked on a near nightly basis last season. He will most certainly dress against Boston, Montreal and at least half of the games against Ottawa and Toronto. The Rangers (his former team) boast plenty of goons, so he will likely see a few games there. I’d count on him for 40 games, more depending on injuries.

Don’t count on Scott to be Darcy Regier’s only move for the rest of the summer. Understand his patience with an ultra-thin market and the fact that he did get a player who can fill two roles if absolutely necessary.

Like it or not, the rest of free agency will be a wait and see operation for the Sabres and their fans.

The Sabres expected response against the Bruins

The time for retribution has passed. As sad as it is to say, the Sabres opportunity to truly get payback for the hit Milan Lucic put on Ryan Miller was two Saturdays ago. Unfortunately the Sabres cowered at the thought of putting up a fight. They turtled and are now a laughing-stock for their soft play.

I can circle for $50 if you want.

Many Sabres fans are expecting a bloodbath tomorrow night. Fans have been calling to Joe Finley to be called up from Rochester in order to fight the big bad Bruins. I wouldn’t be surprised if some were expecting Dr. Hook McCracken, Screaming Buffalo Swamptown and Ogie Olglethorpe to take the morning skate. However, I doubt there will be anything close to a bloodbath tomorrow night.

Yes, the Sabres truly dropped the ball when Miller was run over. There needed to be some sort of toll for Lucic to pay after taking a run at Miller. Sadly, nothing was done. While it will be too late to truly may Lucic answer for his actions, a fight probably won’t be out of the question tomorrow. However, it is doubtful that multiple scraps will be in the cards. That doesn’t mean the Sabres are still a bunch of pansies. If they come out and play a physical game, they will prove there is more to this bunch than the soft shoves Lucic was handed last time around.

The one thing I have taken away from this situation is the overall resolve of this group of players. Sure, they can’t seem to figure out how to win at home and they often have slow starts which doom the outcome of some games. Still, Miller has let his voice be heard. As have Paul Gaustad and Robyn Regehr.

It seems as if the resounding message is, “we want to win and we want to win often.” Continue reading