The Instigator Podcast 5.22 – Talking Sabres Penalty Kill Pros and Cons

Our Election Night Special features no politics and plenty of Sabres talk. We go deep on what seems to be the biggest shortcomings for the Sabres otherwise consistent penalty kill. Chris and Tyler analyze portions of the system which appear to be weak points with how the Sabres rotate in-zone when on the kill. Also on the list, Jacob Trouba’s new contract and a pair of trade rumors which could benefit the Sabres.

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Crease Crash Course: Lehner Steals A Pair in Ottawa

Just two days after watching Frederik Andersen steal two points on the road, Robin Lehner pulled the same stunt at Scotiabank Place, making 32 saves as the Sabres snuck out of Ottawa with a win.

In what is becoming something of a tired refrain, Lehner played another spectacular game for the Sabres on Saturday. Lehner’s 32-save effort secured the fourth-straight game with a save percentage of .930 or better. In fact, five of Lehner’s seven starts this year have seen the netminder turn in a save percentage above .930. The other three starts resulted in .900 or below performances, although one of those three came against Vancouver where Lehner still allowed only two goals.

Saturday was easily his best game of the year, as Buffalo struggled to score yet again and Lehner put the team on his back, to keep the one-goal game in Buffalo’s favor. He had at least four truly highlight reel saves, including a desperation paddle save and a terrific left-pad stop on a two-on-one. Continue reading

Crease Crash Course: Lehner Lags Ever So Slightly Behind Andersen’s Gem

Thursday’s loss to the Maple Leafs was really more bad fortune than poor play for the Sabres. Robin Lehner played a strong game in goal only to see his performance eclipsed by Frederik Andersen’s 42-save gem.

Buffalo poured scoring chances on the Leafs goal only to see Andersen make a number of highlight reel saves – none better than his left pad robbery of Zemgus Girgensons. The two goaltenders combined for 70 saves in total as Lehner kept his team in the game for the full 60 minutes while Andersen basically took two points from the Sabres all on his own. It wasn’t all that much different than Buffalo’s 2-1 loss to Vancouver in October when the Sabres simply couldn’t solve Jacob Markstrom.

It may be more beneficial to break down one of Andersen’s numerous dazzling saves as he turned in a truly impressive technical performance. Early in the year, Andersen appeared to be playing well outside of his comfort zone but he was in peak form on Thursday. Lehner’s play was without merit either. In a game where his team dominated, Buffalo’s goaltender didn’t let his squad down. It would have been very easy for Lehner to allow a goal or two more, leaving the game well out of reach for the Sabres.

The one play I chose to take a closer look at was the first Leafs goal where Mitch Marner beat Dmitri Kulikov and Lehner to the far post to open the scoring. It was a goal where Lehner had very little chance to make the save, although it seems to me that he didn’t make the best possible choice either. Continue reading

Crease Crash Course: Far Pad Shots and Rebound Control Myths

Rebound control has been a hot topic this year when it comes to Buffalo’s goaltenders. Robin Lehner has been at the forefront of these complaints as it seems many a fan are of the opinion that he’s incapable of controlling the pucks that strike him throughout the game.

While it’s a fair assessment to say that Lehner has allowed more rebounds than Anders Nilsson, who has swallowed up most of the pucks fired in his direction, he’s hardly been costing the Sabres points with his play. As yet another goal was scored off a rebound against Minnesota, I thought I’d dive a little deeper into this argument.

If you’re looking for a good breakdown on quality rebound control, InGoal Magazine has a nice breakdown of Louis Domingue that’s a nice read. You’ll notice that the two highlighted saves in that post feature rebounds coming off the goalie. They’re a way of life, especially when players are shooting to score. Continue reading

Come Cover the Amerks with Us

In our quest to provide insightful coverage of the Sabres, we’re looking to add a Rochester Station Chief to the Two in the Box team. At times, it feels as if there’s a lack of coverage for the Amerks for Sabres fans to pull upon. With Kevin Oklobzija no longer covering the team for the D&C – a true shame as his work was second to none – there’s an even larger gap when it comes to available coverage on the Amerks.

So, if you’re a hockey fan in Rochester who has the interest in offering up your hot or luke warm takes on the Americans, let us know. Interested parties can email 2intheboxbuffalo@gmail.com.

The Instigator Podcast 5.21 – Reflecting on the Sabres First Month

With the first month of the season in the books, Chris and Tyler look back on what worked – and what didn’t – for the Sabres in October. We touch on a handful of NHL news subjects including a pair of trade rumors which could interest Tim Murray. Listen here or download to your device using the following links:

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Crease Crash Course: Back-to-Back Gems from Nilsson and Lehner

The Sabres righted the ship in a big way this weekend, shutting out the Florida Panthers at home and following with a stellar 3-1 win the following day in Winnipeg.

The wins put the Sabres at 3-3-2 on the season and squarely at .500 in points percentage. The latter fact being of particular importance given the absence of Jack Eichel and Evander Kane. Getting out of October at or near .500 was a goal I was personally hoping to see the Sabres achieve. It was looking grim after the third period collapse against Philadelphia that was followed by a lifeless home loss to Minnesota. It’s a shame to think that the team simply needed to stay afloat, especially in a season where the goal prior to training camp was to become a playoff contender, but the timing and impact of those injuries really couldn’t have been much worse.

As November begins the Sabres are yet another week closer to filling out their top six once again and have managed to keep from floating to the bottom of the league standings where making up ground would be nearly impossible.

The play of Anders Nilsson and Robin Lehner had a lot to do with this weekend’s pair of victories. Nilsson’s 33-save performance on Saturday looked much more like the strong performance in Philly than it did the bumpy start against Minnesota. Nilsson again played to his size and controlled the game beautifully. He hasn’t gotten himself in trouble with rebounds this season – a common complaint of his partner, as it would be – as he’s shown an impressive ability to swallow up pucks from nearly any location.

Lehner followed Nilsson with an equally impressive outing that would have been a shutout as well had Buffalo not been victimized by a fortunate bounce off the end boards. Lehner’s play on Sunday was hardly his first strong game of the season. He was steady in Buffalo’s win against Edmonton and he carried that on to Vancouver later in that same road trip. A couple of ugly goals against Calgary and the entire team’s lack of effort against Montreal have skewed his play so far, but I feel confident in saying Lehner has been better than many would have you believe in this young season. Continue reading