The Instigator Podcast Bonus Cut – What to Make of the Reinhart and Kane Rumors

We recorded a special bonus Instigator Podcast this week in order to talk about the recent rumors involving Evander Kane and Sam Reinhart. Specifically we try to determine what the overall strategy would be from the Sabres perspective in any such deal.

 

The Instigator Podcast 6.11 – This One Thing Doesn’t Have to Go Away

This week’s podcast is slightly different. We wanted to honor Gord Downie’s passing by opening and closing the episode with The Hip, so the intro is longer than usual. On the Sabres front, we talk about the west coast road swing and the holes in Buffalo’s lineup that continue to hinder the team’s ability to progress.

The Instigator Podcast 6.10 – Looking for Answers in an Ugly Start

It was a brutal weekend for the Sabres, dropping games to the Islanders and Devils in brutal fashion. We take a look at what’s gone wrong over the first three games and what the Sabres can do to right the ship.

 

The Instigator Podcast Interview – Featuring Greg Balloch of In Goal Mag

It’s been three games and there are plenty of questions about Buffalo’s goaltenders. So I reached out to Greg Balloch of In Goal Magazine to talk about Robin Lehner’s shootout struggles and more. Greg gives incredible insight to the strong and weak points of Lehner’s game, where he sees Lehner taking the Sabres and even offers up some thoughts on Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen. Greg also went deep into effective and ineffective goaltending statistics, providing a better way to look at goaltenders at the NHL level.

Sabres Feature Sharp Masks for 2017-18

The Sabres are back and with a new hockey season comes new hope, new expectations and, most importantly, new goalie equipment.

Every goalie in the Sabres system has a new-ish look for the season and while this lineup certainly isn’t the most impressive collection of masks and gear the team has ever seen, there are still a few solid set ups throughout the pipeline.

None is better than Robin Lehner’s phenomenal Brian’s OPT1K set. Known for unparalleled customization, Brian’s and Lehner cooked up a terrific blend of stock and custom team-logo graphics. I’m not always a fan of the fully custom team logo sets Brian’s creates, but the Sabre on each piece of Lehner’s set is understated enough that you have to look hard to find it.

Chad Johnson is really the only other worthwhile set up to speak of. He is sporting a clean Ventus set that is a little less colorful than the Ventus gear Lehner wore last season. The Ventus graphics are attractive and work nicely with the Sabres colors.

Other than the two goalies with the big club, Buffalo’s other netminders all sport very basic blue and white sets which won’t clash with the Amerks uniforms but don’t stand out much either. Where there is plenty of variety is in the mask department. Continue reading

Here We Go Now

Looking back, last year was something of a false start for the Sabres. Jack Eichel’s injury dampened the first half of the season and Tim Murray wasn’t willing or able to move enough pieces to shore up the blueline.

What was originally thought of as a coming out party became a regression and a practice in further patience with the rebuilding process.

This season feels different.

Maybe it’s the shine of a new coach and general manager combo. Phil Housley is pushing an uptempo style of play and Jason Botterill hasn’t been shy about reshaping the roster – especially on the blueline. But what has really stoked excitement for the start of the season was locking up Jack Eichel for eight more years.

Getting Eichel’s contract done will erase every take about potential distractions and his desire to play in Boston. More importantly, it ensures that Eichel’s prime years will be spent in the Nickel City.

Maybe it’s the Buffalo inferiority complex at play, but sometimes it seems like Eichel isn’t appreciated as the talisman that he is for this franchise. Not so much from a national perspective, but locally. Nevermind the process that it took to get him, but simply his impact on the ice; his ability to drive play even with two wet paper bags as linemates is something Sabres fans haven’t seen since Gilbert Perreault played. Yet, sometimes I feel like fans see him as just another piece of the puzzle and not the cornerstone that he is.

Eichel is an electrifying talent. He’s played little more than a season-and-a-half and his highlight reel is already astounding. He’s everything we’ve hoped the Sabres would find while also being the antitheses of what’s defined this team for so long. He’s the most exciting player to don a Sabres sweater in a decade (two decades? Three?) and should things go as expected, he may just go down as the most exciting player in franchise history.

The desire for gritty, hard-working, blue-collar players has grown to mythical proportions with the Buffalo fan base. Our greatest stars have almost always occupied the crease and despite being blessed by the greatest player to ever play the position, the Sabres never had the skaters to fully compliment the limitless talent Dominik Hasek offered.

In a way, it’s refreshing just to know that the Sabres aren’t simply building from the net out. This team is going to be led from the front and it’s going to be done by a dynamic talent well worth the trouble it took to get him. The pieces around him continue to fall into place and it truly feels like the Sabres are ready to stop the suffering and start winning.

Here we go.

The Instigator Podcast 6.9 – 2017-18 Buffalo Sabres Season Preview

We are back again to offer up some more detailed thoughts on where we see the Sabres finishing this season. Along the way we celebrate Jack Eichel’s new contract and all that means for the future of the franchise.