The Instigator Podcast 8.14 – Hall Monitors

With Taylor Hall’s name buzzing around the rumor mill, we consider whether or not the Sabres would be wise to invest the assets (and potentially cap space) into the Devils star, or if the club should consider other options. Our primary focus this week is the improved play the team has enjoyed over the last two weeks and whether or not there are moves available to Jason Botterill that would capitalize on their play and supplement their roster.

Over-Thought: Playing Catch Up Once Again

The intent of The OT is to run shortly after Elliotte Friedman’s excellent 31 Thoughts hits the web each week. That is not what happened with the most recent edition. Or the last one. So, once again this rundown of some of the juicier topics in the most recent 31 Thoughts is about a week late. Good stuff! Continue reading

Ugly Result in Brooklyn Drops Buffalo to 0-1-1

If there’s one thing the Sabres can take away from their first two games of the season, it’s that their mistakes will more than likely end up in the back of their net. Two nights after seeing two errors lead to two Canadiens goals, the Sabres again saw their mental and physical lapses lead to goals for the opposition.

Despite playing a decent road game the Sabres dropped a 6-3 decision to the Islanders in Brooklyn, and have no one to blame but themselves. The team again played well for long stretches, but a three goal outburst by the Islanders in only 1:47 blew the game open in the 2nd period. Continue reading

Pump the brakes on the Vanek to New Jersey talk

The Devils are in trouble. They’re in big trouble.

A year after Zach Parise left town the team has seen David Clarkson and now Ilya Kovalchuk bolt for greener pastures as the organization is suddenly looking like a quickly sinking ship as entrenched veterans continue to jump ship.

With Kovalchuk’s sudden departure the Devils are now left with Michael Ryder and Ryane Clowe as their top two scoring wingers on a roster that is starting to look devoid of much talent. All this shuffling has gotten Sabres fans talking about a potential trade partner for the services of Thomas Vanek. However, they’re forgetting that the Devils don’t have very much to offer in exchange for the talented sniper.

New Jersey does not have a deep prospect pool by any stretch. They have some young, budding stars in Adam Henrique and Adam Larsson in addition to a great center in Travis Zajac. However, they’re without their first round pick next year (as a penalty for Kovalchuk’s contract), spent a first on Stefan Matteau last season and shipped their first rounder for Corey Schneider at the draft this season.

While there is some significant talent on their NHL roster – and some defensive value in their pipeline – I don’t think there’s any way the Sabres are able to swing a trade with the Devils. Reason being, the Devils won’t have anything to offer. Continue reading

Trading Ryan Miller: Who will be looking to buy?

This will serve as the second portion to a post that I put up last week on the prospects of trading Ryan Miller

After exploring which teams may or may not make Ryan Miller’s no-trade list, I wanted to take things a step further and determine which teams may serve as suitors for the netminder. By doing so I wanted to determine which teams would have little interest in him as well.

As is well-known, Miller’s no-trade clause allows him to veto a trade to eight different teams. This may end up being a list that significantly handcuffs Darcy Regier but it could also serve as a list that does indeed limit options, but doesn’t prevent Regeir from effectively doing his job.

I decided to include the 11 different teams which Miller may veto a trade to on this list. I wanted to provide a comprehensive collection of the direction I’d assume each NHL club to take if approached about Ryan Miller.

Count the Rangers (Lundqvist) and Penguins (MAF) in a group of teams who would not provide themselves with a significant upgrade in acquiring Miller. Boston (Rask), Nashville (Rinne), Los Angeles (Quick), Vancouver (Schneider), Montreal (Price) and Detroit (Howard) are also on this list. Each of those seven teams have determined their goaltender of the future (and present) and wouldn’t provide their team with any sort of significant upgrade by bringing Miller into the fold.

There is another large group of teams who have a solid netminder and fall in the middle of the road when I consider potential suitors. They probably all lean closer to a no than a yes and here’s why: Continue reading

2ITB Stanley Cup Finals prediction

With the Stanley Cup Final poised to begin this weekend, I’ll take one final stab at prognosticating who may win the final series of the 2011-12 NHL season. I suffered through an up-and-down run of picking this year’s series and stand at 5-8 entering the Finals.

This year pits a pair of unexpected opponents as neither entered the playoffs as a sexy pick to be playing for the Cup. While the Kings have been an annual choice for pre-season success, they had an underwhelming regular season and nosed their way into the playoffs. The Devils were quiet for most of the year and are just now getting fully healthy. While their aging goaltender was average in the regular season, he has been stellar in the playoffs.

Somewhat ironically, the Devils enter this series as the more potent scoring team as the Kings were the team whose blanketing defense helped them through the regular season. However, Los Angeles has played David to the NHL’s Goliath this spring, knocking off the top three seeds out west thanks to terrific goaltending and a recent injection of offense.

This may serve to be a very entertaining Cup Final, and has the potential to make a major impact on the national sports scene with LA as part of the series. While the NHL and NBC didn’t get their silver platter matchup of the Rangers and Kings, the Devils seem to be slowly reminding people in the tri-state area that hockey is indeed a serious sport. Continue reading

2ITB Conference Finals predictions

With the Conference Finals poised to begin, my somewhat successful prediction rate plummeted in the second round. With Phoenix, Los Angeles, New Jersey and New York advancing, I will try my hand at picking the two teams that will face off for the Stanley Cup.

Phoenix Coyotes vs. Los Angeles Kings

This is the matchup that all of zero people penciled in for the Western Conference Final back in October. Both teams had to scratch and claw over the final weeks of the regular season just to cement their respective playoff berths and each team has received tremendous goaltending.

Mike Smith is doing a fine job backing up the argument that a franchise goaltender in un-necessary, while Jonathon Quick (and Marty Brodeur, Henrik Lundqvist, Pekka Rinne etc.) have done plenty to prove that a legitimate 1A goaltender is a key for playoff success.

Both teams play a pretty boring style of collapsing and blocking shots whenever possible. Each club has a defensive style that chokes out their opponents. They rely on their goaltenders to do the heavy lifting when necessary but typically limit as many shots and chances as possible. Continue reading