Double Minors: Sabres Get Win in Anaheim

It was a night of firsts for the Buffalo Sabres Sunday night in Anaheim. The Sabres finally scored a five on five goal without Jack Eichel on the ice, and it helped them to their first win of the season. The 3-1 victory over

the Ducts also marked the first win as a head coach for Phil Housley.
Buffalo started quickly, as they were able to establish themselves in the Anaheim zone on the opening shift. The Sabres were able to begin executing an offensive zone line change as they continued to cycle the puck, and they were rewarded for their efforts when Johan Larsson’s shot from the left boards was not handled well by John Gibson and Justin Bailey was able to deposit the rebound after a scramble in front. The goal came less than 90 seconds into the game and was Bailey’s first of the season after a call up from Rochester; the assist registered by Nathan Beaulieu was his first point as a Sabre.

The Sabres closed out another impressive first period on the road with the 1-0 lead, and did a nice job limiting Anaheim’s opportunities to the perimeter. Chad Johnson, making his first start since the loss to New Jersey, had a relatively uneventful period despite facing two Anaheim power plays.

The second period did not begin quite as well as the first. Despite starting the period on the power play it was Anaheim who had the first good chance, with Johnson having to make a nice glove save on Josh Manson on a shorthanded three on two rush.

The Sabres’ one goal advantage nearly lasted until the second intermission, but another lapse on the power play led to the Ducks tying it up shorthanded. This time Rasmus Ristolainen and Ryan O’Reilly combined to misplay a puck at the Anaheim blue line, and Chris Wagner was able to take advantage and beat Johnson on a partial breakaway. The shorthanded goal was the fifth the Sabres have given up in just six games.

The Sabres were able rebound from their special teams issues before the period was out. The Anaheim defense had difficulty dealing with an odd carom off the boards, and Benoit Pouliot was able to get the puck to Sam Reinhart who tipped the puck in. The goal was Reinhart’s first of the season, and first in 12 games dating back to last season.

Buffalo was able to keep the Ducks at bay during the third period, and Johan Larsson was able to add some insurance in the final minute with an empty netter thanks to some terrific work by Jack Eichel and Ryan O’Reilly on the forecheck.

• Jacob Josefson left the game and did not return after suffering a lower body injury.

• Evander Kane took three more minor penalties, and none of them were particularly smart. Kane has not committing six minor penalties in six games.

• Buffalo wraps up their four game road trip with the first meeting in history between the Sabres and Vegas Golden Knights. It will also mark the first game Will Carrier plays against the Sabres after being selected in the expansion draft in June.

The Instigator Podcast 6.8 – 2017-18 NHL Season Preview

We’re back for another season preview, laying out how we see the league shaping up for the 2017-18 season. We have a couple of playoff teams missing out and a couple of new playoff squads compared to last year in our final predictions.

The NBA Model Should Lead the NHL towards more Jersey Choices

There are more than a few areas in which the NHL could stand to follow the NBA’s lead. Marketing their stars, targeting growing and untapped markets, and simply being forward thinking in the presentation of the game.

It’s unlikely that the NHL will ever surpass the NBA in terms of popularity and revenue, but taking basketball’s lead in an attempt to grow hockey’s footprint – and ultimately the league’s revenue – is a method which could pay dividends for the NHL. The only remaining hurdle seems to be the NHL’s inability to get out of their own way.

More often than not it appears that the NHL is more than happy to stay in their lane and keep their head down when it comes to presenting the sport. It’s not that the product is bad, per se, but that the league doesn’t seem to be willing to explore new opportunities or look at things in a different manner.

The tweet above regarding the new NBA uniform policy is a great example, albeit a small one,  of the NBA opening up to new ideas. The root of this new development is to create a new revenue stream across the entire league by giving all 30 teams a fourth uniform to wear as they see fit. But it’s being done in a manner that is very fan-centric which adds a great deal of appeal. Continue reading

Plenty to be Desired with USA Hockey’s Outdoor Jerseys

USA Hockey unveiled the jerseys the US will be wearing at New Era Field for the World Junior Championships outdoor game. The reception wasn’t quite as warm as they may have expected.

The jerseys, just a long sleeved Bills jersey, are not easy on the eye. The sleeves and high numbers on the shoulders look terrific. As does the back of the jersey and the collar. It’s the front where everything falls apart. Numbers on the front of a hockey jersey don’t always look out of place, but it’s easy for things to get out of hand.

Donning a special jersey for the game is a great decision, one that would have seemed silly to avoid from both USA Hockey and Hockey Canada’s perspective. So the impetus for the Bills mashup jersey is obvious. What isn’t obvious is why the powers that be decided to go in such a drastic direction. Continue reading

The Instigator Podcast Interview – Featuring NFL Cleat Customizer Polo Kerber

This week’s Instigator Interview features Buffalo’s own Polo Kerber of Sole High. Sole High’s popularity has skyrocketed as Polo and his team have become the go-to for custom cleats throughout the NFL. We chat about the customization process, some of Sole High’s more notable NFL clients and an upcoming project they’ve worked on with Alex Ovechkin.

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The Instigator Podcast Interview – Featuring Mike Salerno of Topps NHL Skate

This edition of The Instigator Interview features Mike Salerno of Topps NHL Skate. Mike oversees the free, digital NHL trading card app that is part of the Topps trading card family. He joins Chris to discuss the unique features of the app, the future of trading cards and what might be on the horizon for the Topps app. We thank Mike for taking the time to chat about such an enjoyable app.

The Instigator Podcast 5.24 – NHL Jersey Talk with Matt Hills of hockeyreviews.ca

In addition to our discussion on Buffalo snapping their losing streak – and offensive impotency – Chris and Tyler spent some time with Matt Hills of hockeyreviews.ca. Matt is a jersey aficionado who spent some time talking counterfeit jerseys with us along with the noticeable drop in quality of retail NHL jerseys in recent years.

We had some data issues with this week’s podcast so some editing was required to make sure the file was set up right. A few pieces wound up being left on the cutting room floor but hopefully the final product isn’t too choppy.