Guest Post from Pro Stock Hockey
Forget about six years without a trip to the playoffs — suddenly, things are looking good for Buffalo Sabres fans.
Yes, a good chunk of that optimism might stem from hiring a general manager who helped build three champions in 10 years at Pittsburgh. Or the fact that the new GM plundered the staff of the other Stanley Cup finalist for his new coach — who just happens to be maybe the greatest blue-liner in Sabres history.
Yet a rebuild spearheaded by Jason Botterill and Phil Housley might take years before it pays off with as big a win as the Sabres posted June 20, when the NHL debuted new jerseys for its 31 teams with new supplier adidas. Continue reading
By John Barrett
It’s a very interesting time to be a Buffalo Sabres fan. With the NHL Draft in spitting distance, and perhaps the most interesting free agency period in two decades, the Sabres have positioned themselves well for both regards eleven picks and loads of cap space.
The biggest hole on the Sabres roster is, as Tim Murray puts it “a power play quarterback,” defenseman that can be paired with budding star Rasmus Ristolainen and be a big-time point producer with the man advantage. There have been a few defensemen around the NHL whose names have been linked to the Sabres, via restricted free agency, unrestricted free agency and cap motivated trades.
I examined the stats of a handful of these potential targets, that focus on two major areas; puck possession and power play production. I focused on these two areas because they were two key focus points that came right from the horses mouth when Murray discussed his blueline. I plotted the two year averages for players on a matrix of 5v5 Corsi For % Relative to the team and points per 60 minutes on the power play. Continue reading
Guest Post by Kevin French
Many years have come and gone since the days when the Buffalo Bills had the national spotlight. After four straight Super Bowl losses and the retirement of a hall of fame quarterback, running back, wide receiver, and defensive end, all dominant and transcendent players in their own right, the Buffalo Bills fell completely off the map. There were days when the likes of Doug Flutie and Terrell Owens stole a headline or two, but the past 20 years have been a quiet one for one of the NFL’s oldest and storied franchises.
The last hall of fame member to leave the Bills was the one that was there first, Ralph Wilson Jr. With a city in turmoil, unsure of the future of its football team after the longtime owner passed, a man with a familiar face stepped in to save the Bills. Terry Pegula, owner of the other top professional sports team in Buffalo, the NHL’s Sabres, saved not only the Bills, but the city itself, when he bought the team for a staggering $1.1 billion and swore to keep the team in Buffalo. Continue reading
In the last four years, the New York Rangers could very well making case that they are the most consistent NHL team to not have at least one Stanley Cup title during that time period. They have made in the Eastern conference finals in three of those four years, and in 2014, they made it to the Stanley Cup finals. Being consistently good is definitely exciting, but fans really want to see them win their first Stanley Cup since 1994. Even though it is the summer, how does the team stack up against some of the other challengers heading into next year?
It was a bit of an unexpected run in 2013 to get all the way to the Stanley cup finals. They were a bit overmatched once they were there, but they put up the good fight against Los Angeles. This past season, everyone expected them to get back to the Stanley Cup finals, but the Tampa Bay Lightning were able to knock them off. It was still a very successfully year, but they didn’t take care of business in the most crucial parts of the series. Continue reading
Guest Post by Matt Kopnak
Ed Note: The NHL Draft is fast approaching and we all know Jack Eichel will be officially named a Buffalo Sabre on June 26. The rest of the first round has a fair share of intrigue surrounding it and Matt Kopnak (follow him @mattkopnak) took some time to hammer out a mock draft for 2ITB. He has a few interesting picks sprinkled in and this will serve as a great precursor to the Mock Draft Instigator Podcast that will be coming in the very near future.
Enjoy Matt’s mock draft and stay tuned for the upcoming Instigator Mock Draft Podcast Spectacular. Continue reading
The other day, we posted a somewhat funny, somewhat sad mock game day poster making fun of the Sabres and Maple Leafs for their battle for “Least In The East.” It’s a sad state of affairs for Buffalo fans, but at this stage of the season it’s not as if such things are surprising anyone. At this point, the best hope is a strong draft and a quick regrouping in a sport that allows for faster turnarounds than the other three major U.S. sports. Continue reading
By Matt Scully
Tampa Bay certainly did not wait long in the 2014-2015 regular season to call up top prospect Jonathan Drouin. Just a couple of weeks into the regular season, the 19-year old is set to make an impact at the NHL level right away. While the hype is real surrounding the forward, just how good can he be from a fantasy hockey perspective in year one?
During the preseason, some thought that Drouin would be ready to play on opening night of the regular season. However, a fractured right thumb held him out of some important training opportunities, so Tampa Bay sent him to Syracuse to begin the season.
At the beginning of his NHL career, Tampa Bay expects to play him regularly. After all, it would be silly for them to call up a promising youngster and place him on the bench instead of allowing him to get reps. He will most likely be on the third line at first, and his playmaking at center or left wing should allow him to contribute in fantasy hockey right away. He is worth taking a risk on, especially if a person is in a keeper league.
Tampa Bay is off to a decent start so far this season, as they stand at 3-1-1 on the year. They feel like they have a chance to be pretty competitive in the Eastern Conference if they are able to stay healthy. Drouin is going to have a chance to make this team a serious threat for the Stanley Cup if he is as good as advertised. The Lightning will not be putting huge expectations on him just yet, but they do think he has a chance to be a franchise type of guy down the road once he gets familiar with this level of play.