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 8.29 – Who Should the Sabres Pick at 8?

The NHL Draft Lottery yielded a surprising yet utterly predictable result for the first overall pick. On this week’s episode we discuss the fallout from a placeholder team winning the top pick and Buffalo’s outlook at eighth overall. We also touch on Rick Dudley surfacing as a potential hire for Kevyn Adams’ front office and a new wrinkle in an interesting summer for the Pegulas.

 

The Instigator Podcast 8.28 – Draft Lottery and the Hockey Hall of Fame Class of 2020

A quick episode this week highlighting the looming draft lottery, what the Sabres have in store in the top 10 of this year’s draft and a brief conversation on Alexander Mogilny missing out on the Hockey Hall of Fame yet again.

The Instigator Podcast 8.27 – The Fallout of Jason Botterill’s Firing

It isn’t controversial to say Jason Botterill’s job should have been in jeopardy given the Sabres results during his tenure. But just weeks after giving him a vote of confidence, the Pegulas abruptly fired him and replaced him with Kevyn Adams, a decision that left many scratching their heads. What followed was an unprecedented house cleaning that saw scouts, development coaches and Rochester’s staff let go. We discuss all of this and look ahead at Adams’ difficult task on this week’s podcast.

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.

Two in the Mailbox: Quarantine Partner, Center Targets and Ryan Miller’s Gear

Quarantine life has us all a little wacky, so it felt like a good time to roll out another mailbag post. Below are questions about who I’d want to be quarantined with, GM candidates and my personal favorite, goalie equipment.

Mike/@mike_mckinnon22 – What was your favorite Ryan Miller setup?

Tough call on this one. Miller wore a really unique set of pads for a number of years that you couldn’t get at retail. They were a combination of a handful of different products that included the old Koho 580s, Vaughn Vision and Heaton 10s (among others). The pads got updated with different graphics over the years so that CCM and Reebok could advertise new retail models, but the pad itself was a unicorn. They were fairly old fashioned, featuring not just knee rolls but shin rolls as well but there was a level of nostalgia that they offered.

Picking my favorite set up of Miller’s is tough since my favorite mask of his debuted in 2011-12 when he added the Buffalo script to the chin of his iconic bison head mask. He had an awesome set of Vaughn V6 pads in 2014 (when he finally abandoned the Frankenpads) and his Koho 580 set from early in his career was elite. However, my favorite is pictured here. The Vector graphic he picked up towards the end of 2005-06 looked awesome in Buffalo’s red and black and remains a cool pad graphic to this day. It wasn’t the greatest retail pad and the graphic looked better on Miller’s pads than at retail, but the arrow graphics played well in the Sabres color scheme. It also looked pretty close to the mismatched RBK Premier blocker he started to wear after breaking his thumb. So that’s my choice. Continue reading

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

Two in the Mailbox: Olofsson Contract, Coronavirus Playoffs and Goalie Options

It’s been quite a while since I rolled out a mailbag and as this is a pretty long one, we might as well jump right in. Thanks to everyone for submitting your questions.

@strikeforcetim How would you format the postseason/award the Cup this year?

I’m going to steal the plan Elliotte Friedman floated on this week’s 31 Thoughts podcast because I think it makes the most sense on just about every level. His theory would be to give every non-wildcard team a first-round bye and then set up two play-in series between the next two teams in each division to determine the fourth team through to the next round.

Based on his approach, the play-in match ups in the East would be between the Panthers and Canadiens and the Hurricanes and Blue Jackets. In the west it would be the Jets, Predators, Canucks and Coyotes. His idea called for a two-game set, played in one arena and determined by total goals. Later in the podcast he detailed an idea floated by some around the league that would actually incorporate more teams (as many as 24) in play-in scenarios. That seemed a little far-fetched to me, although it might not be so bad if it meant the Sabres were a “playoff” team.

There are only two things I’d change about Friedman’s initial plan. The first would be changing the play-in teams from the next two in each division to the next four in the wild card race. Pitting the next two teams from each division would eliminate teams higher in the standings and closer to the wild card race that was suspended. Simply picking the top four teams in the wild card race would reward the teams who would have been most harmed by the current shutdown. The other change I’d make would be to the two-game play in. Friedman suggested total goals and allowing ties with the only sudden death coming in the second game. I’d prefer both games to be played to a conclusion as opposed to aggregate goals since it’s almost certain there would be some sort of controversy born from that decision. Continue reading

The Instigator Podcast 8.25 – NHL Beginning to see Coronavirus Impact

As coronavirus causes cancellations throughout the global sports scene, we spend some time this week discussing just how things are going in North America and what impact the NHL will eventually see as governments and health organizations around the world attempt to curb the spread of the virus. We discuss the short term impacts already in place such as limiting locker room access and the potential for the Sharks to play in an empty building. We also explore the larger impacts should things get worse and the league is forced to see multiple games (or even playoffs) played without fans. This week’s show had to get cut a bit short so I tried to make up for it by running through a few thoughts on potential college free agent targets at the tail end of the episode.

Seeking a Better Standard

There’s been a heck of a lot more bad than good coming out of One Seymour H. Knox III Plaza over the past few years.

Yet another NHL season is dragging to a close with more eyes on lottery odds than the playoff race and aside from the bankruptcy era’s rumors of relocation, it’s hard to think of a worse time in franchise history for the Sabres and their fans.

While the on-ice results may not have been overly surprising to some, the combination of more losing and a generally underwhelming 50th anniversary season and it isn’t hard to see where the fans’ frustration has come from.

Between radio rants, empty seats, legions of away fans and a return to lottery status, this year’s optics are just as bad, if not worse than last year’s eerily similar campaign. All of this has led observers to begin wondering what comes next for the Sabres. Does Jason Botterill survive another slide? Will we see a new Peace Bridge before the arena is renovated? Is fan experience something the organization actually takes seriously? Is there any hope that an acquisition will be made that can make the team competitive?

All of this has brought about something I had thought about earlier this year on The Instigator Podcast when discussing the standards and expectations of teams that had fired their coach or GM. What exactly are the standards that the organization operates under? More specifically, what standards and expectations have the owners set for the organization? Continue reading