The Instigator Podcast 8.30 – NHL Return to Play Schedule Reported as CBA Extension Looms

With new news being reported about the schedule the NHL will be following for completing the 2019-20 season, we run through the key dates for the coming months on this week’s show. This includes the schedule for the qualifying round and playoffs, when the offseason will begin and when the 2020-21 season is set to start. We run through the entire schedule and how it could affect not just the end of the 2020 season, but how the coming year could look due to fatigue, rust and other extenuating circumstances. Also on the show are segments on Lindy Ruff’s hiring in New Jersey, Judd Brackett being hired by the Wild and the report that Rick Dudley won’t be coming to Buffalo.

The Instigator Podcast 8.26 – NHL Return to Play & The Sabres Enter the Offseason

We’re back with a new episode after a long layoff but it feels like we never left. The Sabres have missed the playoffs once again, the GM (and owner!) put his foot in his mouth and a player insinuated that he’d like to be traded. In addition to touching on the Sabres post mortem, we run through the NHL’s return to play plan. While we generally favor the playoff format, we cook up a couple of different takes for the draft lottery.

An Unusual Season Calls for an Unusual NHL Draft Lottery Twist

There are still a lot of questions hanging in the air regarding the NHL and a potential return to complete the 2019-20 season. It feels like we’re a long way off from getting any clarity on regular season games being played or jumping right into the playoffs. Whether or not regular season games are restarted or if the league jumps right to the postseason there will be plenty of action available for ice hockey betting on NHL games.

No need for flash cards in this format.

Last week I floated a few different ways the NHL could tackle their postseason, should they be forced to take a new approach with the playoffs. Assuming the league expands the playoff format, there would only be a handful of teams left in the dark on clawing back some of their lost revenue. So what if the NHL took a different approach with those teams in awarding spots in the draft lottery?

This is an unusual season which almost certainly requires the league to utilize a different playoff format. Why not do the same with the draft lottery and plug the non-playoff teams into a tournament of their own to win the top picks? Continue reading

Tackling a Coronavirus Affected NHL Playoff Format

The utterly unprecedented response to COVID-19 has ground practically everything to a halt around the world. Hockey hasn’t been immune to that as leagues throughout North America and Europe have paused or canceled their seasons while the NHL is on indefinite hiatus.

The stoppage has left everyone wondering if or when the Stanley Cup Playoffs will be played. And if they’re played, what format will the league utilize? A lot of rumors have been floated thus far. One rumored format would see the playoffs expanded to account for a 24-team field. A plan formulated by some players would even see regular season games played. But just Wednesday, Pierre LeBrun quoted Bill Daly as saying anything they pursue would not impact the ability to play a full year in 2020-21.

There are so many balls up in the air at the moment. Some days it seems as if leagues, especially the NHL, are anticipating a quick return to play. Other days it seems as if we may not see any action again until the fall. With the CDC’s latest recommendations, it seems like the earliest we’d see any sports return would be June. Possibly late May.

I find it very hard to believe the NHL would be able to return with any sort of a regular season slate. The proposal reported by TSN would see preparations and play extend all the way into October, which seems preposterous to me. Given the current state of affairs, it seems that the most logical solution is for the league to adopt a modified playoff format and salvage what they can of the 2019-20 season. Continue reading

The Instigator Podcast 8.24 – Featuring Goalie Gear Nerd

Goalie Gear Nerd, one of my favorite follows on social media, joined the show for the second time so we could run through some of the latest news and innovations in goal equipment. We speak about his new website http://www.goaliegearnerd.com and also spoke about David Ayres and the NHL’s emergency backup goalie system and what changes, if any, would need to be made to it.

The Instigator Podcast 7.33 – Draft Week Dealing

The busiest week of the NHL season is here and there’s been a ton of trade chatter ahead of Friday’s draft. We break down the contract extension signed by Erik Karlsson, the Jacob Trouba trade and the moves made by Philadelphia. We also run down potential draft targets for the Sabres at pick seven and 31. We close the show with a brief conversation over Rasmus Ristolainen surfacing in trade chatter in the wake of Karlsson and Trouba’s deals.

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Over-Thought: Lament the Loss of Trouba, Celebrate the Deals

Silly season is upon us and that means a pile of juicy trade rumors in Elliotte Friedman’s 31 Thoughts. Catch up on the most recent edition here and keep your fingers crossed that the Sabres are able to make some waves over the course of the next few day and weeks.  Continue reading

Two in the Mailbox: Anniversary Jerseys in the Spotlight

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.

One of my very favorite parts of the hockey schedule is upon us. In addition to the start of the season and the opening of the first round, the time surrounding the draft and start of free agency is an exciting few weeks. You typically have a spate of trades and, of course, the drafting, signing or acquisition of new players. For a team like the Sabres, that’s been dragging through the league’s basement, those new bodies are an opportunity to see things finally get turned around.

This draft week may be particularly exciting as the Sabres 50th anniversary is to officially begin. Kim Pegula noted this at the NFL owner’s meetings and many are expecting to see the team’s third jersey unveiled at the draft. The jerseys have been a point of contention among fans since the team doesn’t appear to be switching to royal blue as so many have clamored for. This week’s first question is regarding the jerseys and the one thing I’ll add regarding the uniforms is that even if they’re terrific, there’s going to be a built-in level of disappointment with the fans since they won’t be royal blue. While I’m happy to wait and see the final product, the team could have avoided at least a little bit of contention by listening to the fans and introducing a royal blue jersey. Although I’m still looking forward to see what they have to offer.

Michael/@michaelparthum – What should #Sabres fans prepare themselves for as far as 50th Anniversary jerseys go?

I’ve gone through a few cycles on the Sabres anniversary jersey. A few people I’m friends with who are in the know on this provided me some preliminary information on the jersey that had me pretty nervous. The reports of a mostly white uniform, Vegas gold and a few odd tidbits on the logo left me preparing for some significant fallout. But I’ve really softened on that stance over the last few days.

Feels like a good spot for the Larry David unsure gif

I’m a big fan of Vegas gold (think metallic gold) and navy blue. Those were my school’s colors and it seems to work pretty well for Notre Dame. Ironically enough, one of the main sets of redesigned jerseys from the Sabres Not Slugs website from back in the day utilized Vegas gold instead of sport gold. So from that perspective, I’m keeping an open mind. Confident even in the potential results. Continue reading

Tyler’s 2019 NHL Mock Draft

The 2019 draft is just a few days away, and with that comes my 2019 Mock Draft. The mock is done with the help of pre-draft rankings and scouting reports from The Athletic (most notably Corey Pronman), ISS Hockey, and the draft team at TSN led by Craig Button and Bob McKenzie, and. The mock was done with no draft floor trades being made, as it’s tough to zero in on what picks are truly in play and what is just hearsay.

  1. New Jersey Devils- Jack Hughes, Center, USNTDP, USHL

While Kaapo Kakko has made discussions about who should go first overall a bit less one sided with his recent play at the World Championships, the Devils still opt for Hughes. The addition of Hughes gives New Jersey a solid 1-2 punch down the middle, as Hughes can team up with 20 year old Nico Hischier to anchor the top two lines in Newark for the foreseeable future; having Travis Zajac for a few more years is an added bonus as it allows Hughes to play some sheltered minutes and see better matchups in his rookie season

  1. New York Rangers- Kaapo Kakko, Left Wing, TPS, Liiga

The Rangers have the easiest decision in the first round as they will gladly scoop up one of Kakko or Hughes at 2nd overall. Kakko was the consensus number two pick behind Hughes for the duration of the ranking process leading up to the draft and his displays in Slovakia at the worlds only reinforced that sentiment. Kakko accelerates the Rangers rebuild with his dynamic scoring ability and allows New York to possibly get creative with their surplus of picks in 2019 and 2020 in an effort to further improve their roster for this season. Continue reading

Playing Catch Up on the Last Few Weeks

It’s gotten a little too easy to procrastinate on blog ideas lately. Between the Sabres acting hopeless, new kiddos and other responsibilities, tossing musings up on this site just hasn’t taken precedent. In an effort to remedy that, I wanted to take some time to play catch up on everything that’s gone down over the last month or two.

Jeff Skinner’s contract negotiations have fans running constant vigils on Twitter, the Sabres have a new coach and Ryan O’Reilly remains a talking point for people who don’t have anything better to bring up. In order to play catch up on most of this, I offer you this (hardly) brief rundown of thoughts and reaction to what’s been happening in the world of hockey over the last few weeks. Continue reading