The Instigator Podcast 7.6 – (Lack of) Shots Fired

The Sabres have shown their fair share of good traits early on this season but plenty of bad as well. Those bad traits were on full display in a clunker against Vegas and we hit on just what’s plagued the Sabres in their losses (and some of their wins) this season. We run through the hiccups they’ve experience on special teams while also touching on the bright spots on the roster. Other topics include a run through of some of the Amerks’ top performers and who from Rochester is likely to be the first recall this season.

You can listen to The Instigator Podcast on most podcast streaming services, including large providers such as iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher, iHeartRadio and TuneIn and most other third-party podcast streaming apps. You can find links to subscribe and rate the show below:

iTunes
Spotify
Stitcher
iHeartRadio
TuneIn
Google Play

The Instigator Podcast 7.5 – Powering Up for the West Coast

A promising start has put the Sabres in position to continue their positive momentum on a five-game west coast trip. We focus on Rasmus Dahlin’s introduction to the NHL and the steady play that’s embodied his first three contests. We also explore how Dahlin could land more power play time and what other changes may help optimize Buffalo’s extra man units.

You can listen to The Instigator Podcast on most podcast streaming services, including large providers such as iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher, iHeartRadio and TuneIn and most other third-party podcast streaming apps. You can find links to subscribe and rate the show below:

iTunes
Spotify
Stitcher
iHeartRadio
TuneIn
Google Play

Lack of Offense in Opener Feels all too Familiar

Give the Sabres credit, they’ve gotten good at stamping out any glimmer of hope.

The Sabres entered their home opener in 2017 with 10 new faces and came away from the season-opening loss with a positive outlook that things were about to change. They played a fast game and even in a losing effort, looked like they were going to be a different club than in years past. What followed was anything but. The Sabres were disjointed, more often than not they were slow and their play was accurately reflected in the standings.

Despite another summer filled with roster turnover last night’s premier was more of the same from the Sabres. They passed up far too many shots and looked downright confused in the offensive zone at times. Defensive lapses resulted in three goals and the Bruins never looked truly challenged in the 4-0 win. Continue reading

Two in the Mailbox – Nylander Expectations, Analytics and a Very Bad Trade

Two in the Mailbox, the (sometimes) weekly mailbag on the Sabres, goalie stuff, Buffalo and anything in between, is back. You can submit to the mailbag using #2ITBmailbag on Twitter or emailing 2intheboxbuffalo@gmail.com.

Praise be, hockey is back.  I wrote a really optimistic post ahead of last year’s season opener because I truly thought the Sabres had things figured out. They went on a seven-month death march to the draft lottery instead. I’m certain that this year’s roster is drastically better than the one they iced in 2017-18 but I’m not about to make the same mistake twice. Well, like 25 times.

The Skinner-Eichel-Reinhart line is going to be a ton of fun, I just hope Housley keeps them together for most of the year. I really feel like that unit is going to make some magic. Casey Mittlestadt had a quiet preseason but it seemed like he and Kyle Okposo picked up where they left off in the chemistry department. If they get favorable matchups, that pair could make some noise. Obviously Rasmus Dahlin is going to be a ton of fun to watch even if the rest of the defense corps are a little thin. The one area I’m still waiting to see more from is  in goal. I’ve never been a huge fan of Carter Hutton but he looked pretty strong in the preseason, so I’m at least hopeful that he’ll give them more than what Robin Lehner and Chad Johnson offered last year. Linus Ullmark is going to have an adjustment period so I’m not buying in on the projections that have them getting drastically better goaltending than last year. This duo will certainly be better, but I’m still in wait and see mode.

Playoffs are still a longshot in these parts but I think they’ll at least flirt with the prospect of a playoff spot with an expectation that 19-20 is the year when they really make waves. Now for some questions. Continue reading

The Instigator Podcast 7.4 – 2018-19 NHL Season Preview

It’s been a long wait but Sabres hockey is finally back and we go deep on the Sabres, their new captain Jack Eichel and whether or not they can make serious strides in the league this season. Along the way we discuss the massive 20-game suspension levied on Tom Wilson while offering up a brief preview for the rest of the NHL for the 2018-19 season.

You can listen to The Instigator Podcast on most podcast streaming services, including large providers such as iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher, iHeartRadio and TuneIn and most other third-party podcast streaming apps. You can find links to subscribe and rate the show below:

iTunes
Spotify
Stitcher
iHeartRadio
TuneIn
Google Play

Sabres Roster Not Defined by Youth Movement as Season Looms

There was a lot of excitement this summer about the potential changes that were on deck for the Sabres roster. Especially at forward. But with the season just two days away the Sabres are reminding everyone that they’re in no rush.

At the opening of training camp there were upwards of 12 players competing for two or three spots in Buffalo’s bottom six. Injuries affected that competition but when it was all said and done, the Sabres didn’t stray from the players they finished the 2017-18 season with. Opting to give their youngsters bigger minutes in Rochester. It’s a decision that won’t sit well with many fans who are tired of seeing Zemgus Girgensons and Johan Larsson night in and night out.

Given the players who were sent down, and the timing of those decisions, I’m not sure the alternative would have been all that much more appeasing. Alex Nylander was the final forward cut after being demoted Monday, but the race between the likes of Girgensons, Larsson, Scott Wilson, Justin Bailey and Nick Baptiste was wrapped up last week when the latter two were assigned to Rochester. That leads me to believe that had Larsson and Wilson not earned the extra two forward spots that Bailey and Baptiste would’ve earn that honor which still wouldn’t represent the changing of the guard the fanbase is so desperate for. Continue reading

Two in the Mailbox – Assorted Thoughts a Week from the 2018-19 Season

We’re a week away from the regular season which means it’s time to roll out the mailbag once again. This will be an abbreviated mailbag since there were limited responses (maybe I should take the hint) and because I had a handful of things I wanted to hit on in a quick hitter format which didn’t really make sense as its own post.

  • I mentioned how the Sabres finally appear to have some quality options to choose from when filling out the roster and it would appear that Tage Thompson and Alex Nylander are knocking on the door for a roster spot. Especially after Andrew Oglevie and CJ Smith were sent to Rochester. Justin Bailey, Nick Baptiste and Victor Olofsson remain in camp along with holdovers such as Johan Larsson, Zemgus Girgensons and Scott Wilson. Waiver eligibility seems to be at play here and will likely shape their final decision but Thompson and Nylander have been among the bigger standouts and offer the upside and offensive chops to help push the Sabres out of the basement. They both look to have an inside track to a roster spot even given their waiver exempt status.
  • Some good news on Conor Sheary was counterbalanced by Zach Bogosian being pulled from Tuesday’s game and Phil Housley noting him as day-to-day. The severity of his injury isn’t known at this point but if he’s already banged up it doesn’t bode too well for his long term outlook for this season given his history. Matt Hunwick is already out longterm which puts the defense corps in an interesting spot. If healthy, the Sabres looked primed to carry eight defensemen and while these injuries don’t change much in that regard, their depth may be called on sooner than expected. Casey Nelson was already going to be challenging for playing time but there’s the potential that a debate over recalling Lawrence Pilut or Brendan Guhle could be here before we know it. And right now, Pilut is the more likely of the two to be called up.
    Continue reading