Sabres Pipe Dream: A New Web Series

Given the on-ice struggles of the Sabres, the Beyond Blue and Gold series may just be the best thing to come out of First Niagara Center in the past few years. The web series has done a brilliant job in highlighting the players away from the rink while also showcasing the phenomenal video production team the Sabres and Pegula Sports boasts.

Can I touch your face? Just for a second.
Can I touch your face? Just for a second.

The lone complaint I’ve ever had about the show is how short the episodes are. I’m typically left wanting more out of each episode and while I appreciate and understand the shooting schedule and production that goes into each episode, I still feel like I want each episode to run a little longer. With that in mind, I started thinking about how the team could expand their web video offerings and came up with an idea for a new web series the team could run.

What I eventually cooked up via text with fellow 2ITB contributor Tyler Roeder was an idea for a studio show that focuses solely on analysis of the team. Unlike Beyond Blue and Gold, this show wouldn’t be feature based but almost like an expanded version of the postgame show with video breakdown, opponent previews and the like. No call ins, a weekly web series going through what the Sabres have been up to on the ice.

Ideally the show, let’s call it Sabres Review for now, would last somewhere in the 15-minute neighborhood. While it goes against the basic rule of thumb when it comes to video length online, a longer show would allow for more core features to be built in. That would not only satiate those of us who wish for longer versions of Beyond Blue and Gold but it would also provide ample opportunity to review the previous week’s games while also looking forward to the week to come. That length could also provide time for prospect updates, a look at the farm and even player-specific segments.

Sabres Review would be a proper studio show with Brian Duff serving as host with, ideally, Martin Biron and Mike Peca as the primary pair of analysts. Duff would obviously anchor, as he does on the broadcast, with Biron and Peca serving as the two primary analysts. Obviously conflicts may arise and if need be, Rob Ray, Brad May or Andrew Peters could certainly fill in more than adequately.

It’s worth noting that including Duff may force him off the broadcast crew for road games. That’s a somewhat unintended consequence that isn’t going to win much, if any, fan support. It could be cool to have him run the postgame from the Sabres Review studio although taking the postgame team off the road may be less than ideal in some respects. Still, if the studio was built as part of an upcoming 100 Level renovation – hello unused patio off the atrium – or elsewhere in the arena, it would make for a solid space for the postgame and this web feature.

The reason I put Biron and Peca’s names in here are because they’re both still local and have analyst chops thanks to the work they do with TSN. Plus, this is my pipe dream idea, so I get to pick whoever I please for the panel. Plus, by not borrowing from the broadcast or Hockey Hotline, you limit the potential for overlapping viewpoints.

Personally, I’m a big fan of the perspective Biron I’m a big fan of the perspective Biron brings as a goaltender as he’s shown to be very analytical when breaking down any play. Peca also would lend a new voice that fans aren’t used to hearing from the broadcast or Hockey Hotline. Obviously May, Ray or Andrew Peters could serve as stand-ins without issue. It just seems to make the most sense to allow this to live separate from the broadcast and even Hockey Hotline.

How the organization chooses to breakdown each show is obviously up to them. They’re the professionals and this would be their product. The pair of features I’d die to see would be in-depth video breakdowns of goals for or against (other highlight worthy plays obviously qualify too) and deep dives on specific players and prospects. Overall I’d say there are a half-dozen bullet points I’d hope to see in a show along these lines:

  • Film Review: Taking a closer look from goals for and against, saves or other key plays from the previous week’s games.
  • Player Focus: A deep dive on specific players that highlights their strengths and weaknesses. Use plays from throughout the year to pinpoint the little things they do that fans may not notice otherwise.
  • Prospect Focus: The same feature as the player focus but with Kris Baker joining the conversation. There may not be strong enough video to use for some prospects, which would turn it into more of a conversation than a film review. Either way, a deep dive on players below the main roster would be phenomenal.
  • Roundtable discussion: Let Duff, Biron and Peca debate over what’s working and not working for the team at that point in the year. An open conversation that maybe opens or closes the show.
  • Previews: Opponent previews or even analysis of specific players who are on the schedule for the coming week.
  • Goalie Focus: Use Biron’s expertise to give a breakdown on something one of the goalies excels at. Or perhaps put together a collection of highlights that hones in on that strength.

The biggest challenge here would likely be allocating the resources to actually shoot this thing. It’s easy to draw up the plans on a cocktail napkin but executing is another story. As strong as the organization is on the video side, it’s understandable to think that it may be difficult for them to find the time and resources into a production like this. While it would be an incredible asset to add to the strong web offerings the Sabres already have, it would be foolish to assume the team should just drop everything and make this happen. Hopefully this, or some version of it, becomes reality sometime soon.

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