The Instigator Podcast 10.39 – Can McDavid Snag Conn Smythe Votes

Despite their Western Conference ouster, Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl put on one of the most memorable playoff performances of recent memory. We discuss whether or not their play would be strong enough to garner attention for the Connn Smythe despite not reaching the Cup Finals.

We also touch on the waves rocking the boat in Boston as Bruce Cassidy was fired earlier this week, three key veterans will miss the start of the season and now rumors are swirling that David Pastrnak may be dealt in the summer. We analyze Boston’s outlook in the wake of this news and even find time to talk about Chris Osgood in the Hall of Fame as part of Chris’ 11 Day Powerplay fundraiser.

The Instigator Podcast 10.38 – Ramping Up to the Conference Finals

We run down both the Eastern Conference Finals and Western Conference Finals now that the NHL’s second round is complete. We touch on the no speed limit Western Conference Final and the goaltending battle that looms in the east.

We also discuss the signing of Isak Rosen and how the Sabres might manage his development in Rochester or Sweden during the 2022-23 season.

The Instigator Podcast 10.19 – Sabres Goaltending in Crisis

The Sabres goaltending woes have continued for a second-straight season as the injury bug has bitten the team hard. We discuss the most recent injuries to Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen and Malcolm Subban and what it means for Buffalo’s outlook. We also discuss Jack Quinn’s NHL debut and the promise he showed in his first game for the Sabres. The show opens with a discussion of Evander Kane’s latest exploits and whether or not the Oilers should be pursuing him as hard as they appear to be.

The Instigator Podcast 9.30 – Expansion Considerations

It’s only Tuesday and it’s been a big week in the NHL as Duncan Keith was traded to the Edmonton Oilers and the Minnesota Wild bought out the contracts of Zach Parise and Ryan Suter. We break down each of those moves and what it means for the respective teams involved. We also tackle Buffalo’s expansion outlook and offer up our thoughts on who we expect the Sabres to protect and who we hope the Sabres will protect for next week’s expansion draft.

Ranking the Potential NHL Lottery Winners

The NHL’s second draft lottery drops tonight with the eight eliminated Stanley Cup Qualifier teams holding equal 12.5% odds to land the first overall selection.

Maybe it was just me, but the minute the league announced that they’d be using placeholder spots for teams in the qualifying round, I knew one would wind up winning a top three pick. That feeling of inevitability wasn’t due to suspicion of foul play or some sort of fixed lottery but simply from knowing this league has perfected over complicating practically everything.

In and of itself, awarding lottery odds to eliminated teams wasn’t a poor choice. Given the gift on hindsight, the league probably would’ve been smarter to do a single drawing with the original odds once the qualifying round was done. Splitting the lottery was an odd choice which really only opened the door for complaints from fanbases (and probably some GMs) around the league. It will only become more unpopular if one of the stronger teams in tonight’s drawing wins the first pick.

The drawing itself if rife with potential controversy. You can expect a wave of negative reactions if Toronto, Pittsburgh or Edmonton win this evening. Even the Rangers, fresh off picking second last year after some lottery luck, would be a fairly unpopular result. There are also some very obvious Sabres-related pitfalls that could come out of tonight. A Leafs win would be, let’s say, inconvenient. As would a Panthers win. Really any Eastern Conference win would create challenges for the Sabres. With that in mind, let’s rank the potential lottery winners based on how it could affect the Sabres and though the additional lens of my personal preferences. Continue reading

The Instigator Podcast 7.10 – Cardiac Kids

The Sabres have made a living off thrilling, come-from-behind victories over their six-game winning streak, earning the moniker of the cardiac kids. Buffalo’s climb up the standings hasn’t come with a large uptick in goal differential and we discuss just how meaningful (or not meaningful) Buffalo’s goal differential is. We also discuss the offensive turnaround the Sabres blueline has enjoyed along with the two most recent coaching changes that came down this week.

You can listen to The Instigator Podcast on most podcast streaming services, including large providers such as iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher, iHeartRadio and TuneIn and most other third-party podcast streaming apps. You can find links to subscribe and rate the show below:

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Two in the Mailbox: Ho-Sang and Potential Sabres Departures

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

Scott/@scottymcss – Get you some Ho-Sang? Continue reading

The Instigator Podcast 6.19 – Reviewing our Season Preview at the All Star Break

Although the Sabres have enjoyed a nice stretch of play, we decided to revisit our season preview podcast and see how well we did prognosticating the NHL. As it turns out we chose…poorly. As we review our picks, and how the current standing have shaken out, we dig in on a few of the teams around the league. We take a closer look at Vegas, Chicago, Carolina and Edmonton and what’s led them to their spot in the standings.

Thoughts on changing the NHL Draft Lottery

As the talent at the top of the NHL Draft continues to rise each year the topic of tanking to ensure higher odds at the first overall pick is becoming a hot topic. While the current system is designed to give the 30th place finisher the best opportunity to pick first, there is a better chance that team picks second given the odds.

With next year’s draft featuring a pair of generational talents at the top of the prospect pool, rumors and chatter have abounded regarding change to the lottery system in hopes of curbing the practice of tanking.

There doesn’t seem to be a good system that is strictly based off the order of finish in the standings. The system floated by Elliotte Friedman a few weeks back included a few nuances that wouldn’t only decrease the 30th place finisher’s chances but take into account a number of seasons as opposed to the one that had just passed.

However, it’s a fairly nuanced system that points towards even more complicated and convoluted systems for determining the first overall pick while preventing teams from taking nosedives to the bottom of the standings.

One idea I’m particularly fond of is a version of something similar I heard on NHL Network Radio a while back. If I’m not mistaken the original thought came from Mike Brophy, so direct the appropriate praise to him for the genesis of this idea.

The plan would be to still reward the worst teams with the highest picks in each year’s draft. You can’t have parity and turnover within the league unless you follow such a pattern. It also ensures that bad teams will improve – or should improve if you’re the Oilers – by picking high. In a league driven by revenues, perennial basement dwellers will eventually see lots of red ink if they can’t bring in players to overhaul their roster.

My plan would include the league’s five worst teams – although this could be expanded if necessary – in a competition to determine who wins the first overall pick. I stress the term win because this would be a standings-based competition that would be evaluated on each team’s performance after a certain point in the year. This way you can’t simply hit the brakes on your year, sell off your assets and wait to see what the lottery balls do for you once the season wraps. Meanwhile, if you finish 30th you’re still assured to draft high enough to get some help. Continue reading

Double Minors: 2012 starts with the right foot forward

Yesterday’s victory over Edmonton wasn’t exactly the most riveting but it was certainly necessary. The Sabres got decent goaltending from Ryan Miller, scored four goals and gutted out their first win of 2012.

Miller was credited with 23 saves on the night, a few of them were solid saves that needed to be made. However, he gave up three goals yet again. Certainly Taylor Hall’s first tally should have been stopped. He could certainly get a pass on the other two.Nikolai Khabibulin gave up a real softie after the first Edmonton goal, so Miller is all but absolved in that situation.

The Sabres have another shot at their first win streak since November on Friday night in Raleigh.

Considering how the season has gone, that may have been the closest to a complete effort the Sabres have put forth in quite some time. Maybe even all season. Buffalo managed to overcome an early deficit – and horrible play – to tie the game. They faced down another challenge after relinquishing their lead and managed to build a cushion late in the third. While it was no better than a 40-minute effort, the Sabres pieced together a respectable win. The key will now be to build on it.

  • Jhonas Enroth would be a good choice to start on Friday. He has all but owned the Hurricanes in his short time in the NHL and Miller would likely fare better against the Jets. Yes, the same team that pumped him for five goals earlier in the season.
  • Zack Kassian will likely be packing his bags for Rochester in the coming days. With Ville Leino inching closer to a return and Tyler Ennis also coming close, Kassian will certainly be shipped back to the AHL. It is obvious Kassian needs a little more prodding to play his game on a consistent basis. It would be ideal to get a veteran next to him in the room to provide the guidance that will be necessary for him to truly blossom. Look at the effect Mike Grier had on Thomas Vanek. Now equate the same results to Kassian.
  • The Sabres are still in need of help on the blueline. Obviously injuries to three of their top five rear guards hurts matters. Still, with all of the offensive talent on defense in Buffalo and Rochester, it wouldn’t kill the Sabres to bring in a little more grit in the form of a stay-at-home type defender.
  • Bucky Gleason pointed to the potential for some trades in the near future. From the out of left field department: would Tyler Ennis fetch a quality return on the trade market? He is a dynamic winger with a lethal scoring touch. If a team out West was interested, would it be worth including him in a package? Remember, you need to send skill to receive skill.
  • Anyone still harping about Christian Ehrhoff being a waste can probably stop now. Despite lacking flashy goal stats, Ehrhoff clearly had a strong influence on the power play. Without Myers and Ehrhoff, that unit looks quite lost.
  • Yet again Jordan Leopold proves how valuable he is to this team. He may be one of the best signings Darcy Regier has made in a long time. To think, he was brought in when the team was still budget conscious.

Three Stars

1. Drew Stafford

2. Nathan Gerbe

3. Brayden McNabb

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