Best Value Games for the 2018 World Junior Championships

Things are going to be quite a bit different in Buffalo when you compare things to the last time the World Junior Championships came to town.

Downtown is far more vibrant, Canalside is slightly more developed and HarborCenter will serve as the second home for the tournament. No more jaunts to Dwyer Arena to catch the secondary matchups, which not only means that the corner of Perry and Washington will be home to more action throughout the tournament, some of the intriguing non-marquee matchups will be easier to access.

You can get an up close look at Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen for single digit prices at this year’s World Juniors.

The WJC will always have a handful of can’t miss preliminary matchups and this year will be no different. The outdoor game between the US and Canada, which is reported to have a surprisingly low attendance number (paywall) at the moment, is the obvious headliner, but Russia-Sweden, USA-Finland and Canada-Finland will be well worth the cost of attendance as well. What fans in Buffalo should be aware of are the slate of games lacking headliners which will be both affordable and appealing from a Sabres-fan perspective. Continue reading

First Road to the Winter Classic Episode Shows it Needs Cable to Thrive

Expectations for this year’s version of Road to the Winter Classic needed to be tempered right from the get-go. The transition from Epix to NBC Sports was going to dull the product a bit as you’d expect when switching to basic cable from a premium network.

Even with the understanding that the NBCSN version of what Epix inherited from HBO is going to be diluted, the first episode failed to deliver many thought provoking insights from either the Sabres or the Rangers.

The first episode wades through the typical introductions and scene setting you’d expect. We get bite sized tidbits on Michael Grabner, Henrik Lundqvist while hearing from Alain Vigneault and Jimmy Vesey. Not Liev Schrieber then touches on Sabres veterans Ryan O’Reilly and Evander Kane before circling back with Buffalo mainstays Jason Pominville and Kyle Okposo. That’s right, second-year Sabre, Kyle Okposo is a mainstay.

Most of the Sabres off-ice action is focused on the team’s Bowl-A-Rama event where Zach Bogosian and Okposo are able to show some personality. The highlight of the segment being when Okposo has his bowling ball slip out of his hands. You can save your “he’s as bad at bowling as he is at hockey” jokes, I’m certain I’ve heard/seen them all. Continue reading

Do the Sabres Miss Marcus Foligno (They Don’t) – An FJM Story

Jason Botterill’s first year as general manager isn’t going as planned. The Sabres have regressed once again despite the rookie GM making over the blueline and pulling a trick rarely seen in the NHL; turning trash into treasure.

Botterill’s swap of Tyler Ennis and Marcus Foligno for Marco Scandella and Jason Pominville was no common trade. He managed to acquire a proven defenseman capable of filling the big minutes that Buffalo lacked in recent years while also bringing back a fan favorite who still had some tread left on his tires. The swap not only gave the Sabres the ability to take Josh Gorges off their top pair, it only cost them a pair of easily replaceable players.

That is unless you contribute to The Hockey Writers, the last bastion of very good hockey coverage on the internet®. On Sunday afternoon, we were graced with a wonderful piece on how badly Marcus Foligno is missed by the Sabres. After perusing the post I was left with only one conclusion: FJM.

What follows is the original post from THW on how badly the Sabres miss Marcus Foligno’s three goals along with my comments. My comments will be in bold.

*** Continue reading

The Instigator Podcast 5.16 – Moulson Island and Talking Trade

Jason Botterill made a big statement this week, waiving Matt Moulson and assigning him to Ontario of the AHL. He also made his first in-season trade in an effort to improve a struggling club. Buffalo wasn’t the only hot spot in the hockey world this week as the Devils and Ducks made a big trade and Seattle set the groundwork to land an expansion franchise. We discuss all of that and which deals Botterill could make in order to set the Sabres up for improvement now and in the future.

The Instigator Podcast 6.15 – (Delayed) Winter Classic Jersey Reaction

The Sabres stunning Winter Classic jerseys were released last week and while we didn’t get a chance to offer up our thoughts right away, we’re here now to talk about how much we love them.

The Instigator Podcast 6.14 – Should the Sabres Tap their Pipeline this Season?

The Sabres are seeing success in Rochester this season as the prospects Buffalo has in the Flower City have lifted the Amerks to second in the AHL’s North Division. Led by the likes of CJ Smith and Brendan Guhle, the Amerks are proving to be a development dream for the Sabres. In what’s looking like a lost season, does it make sense for Jason Botterill to pull up his growing youngsters, or should he stay the course and allow those players to develop away from the struggles of the NHL club?

We discuss this, the looming return of Zach Bogosian and George Parros’ first serious foray into suspensions on this week’s episode.

 

The Instigator Podcast 6.12 – Do the Sabres Have a Leadership Issue? Does it Matter?

There have been some whispers that the Sabres may be lacking in the leadership department. Or at the very least, aren’t made of the type of players who don’t carry themselves – on and off the ice – the way players in winning organizations do. We break down whether or not that might be a plausible explanation for the Sabres struggles or if there are other factors at hand.

We also take a close look at the Matt Duchene trade and how the first big blockbuster of the season will affect the teams involved.