We’re back after another break to take a look at just what Phil Housley has done well and what he’s done poorly. We run through the questionable lineup decisions he’s been part of and some of the odd on-ice deployment he continues to favor. Along the way we also touch on the women’s game, as they’ve captured quite few headlines in recent weeks between the exploits of Kendall Coyne Schofield at the NHL Skills Competition and setting a new attendance record with the NWHL All Star Game in Nashville.
The search for secondary scoring has been arduous for the Sabres. While there have been glimpses of effective goal support from players not named Eichel or Skinner, it’s hardly come on a consistent basis.
Splitting up the Skinner-Eichel-Reinhart line had been floated for some time given the incredible lack of scoring from any other portion of the lineup. Heading into Friday in Carolina, it looks like Phil Housley will separate the trio in an attempt to get a few more lines going against the Canes.
They might be catching Carolina at the wrong time says the guys at Mytopsportsbooks.com. The ‘Canes have won five straight heading into their tilt with Tampa Bay on Thursday night and have scored at least four goals in four straight games. Even with Jack Eichel set to come back, facing a team that’s been filling the net doesn’t make for an ideal matchup for a team whose secondary scoring has come and gone. The one silver lining is Carolina’s goaltending has been about as streaky as Buffalo’s secondary scoring, which could favor Buffalo’s chances to string together back-to-back wins since December 11 and 13. Continue reading
After a successful west coast road trip, the Sabres return home with the opportunity to make headway in the standings. We talk about the positive signs they showed out west and how they can translate that into their next stretch of games which are fairly favorable. We also touch on the goaltending rotation and how Linus Ullmark’s hot start might alter the approach Phil Housley takes in naming a starting goalie over the next handful of games.
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:
It wasn’t long ago that the conversation centered on Sabres training camp involved more questions about which players could take an unexpected leap to in order to fill a much-needed spot in the lineup.
Thanks to a flurry of summer trades and a bit of lottery luck, the Sabres roster features more locked positions than gaping holes. The acquisitions of Conor Sheary and Jeff Skinner filled out a thin left side while Patrik Berglund and Vladimir Sobotka may not be offensive dynamos, offer much-needed stability deeper down the lineup.
Who Fills Out the Bottom Six
Buffalo top-six is all but settled at this point. Jack Eichel, Casey Mittelstadt Sam Reinhart, Sheary and Skinner are written in pen. Kyle Okposo might as well be too, though I suppose there’s room for him to bump to the third line if Phil Housely feels they can ice a third scoring line. Where the real battles will occur are in the bottom six, where there are probably three spots truly up for grabs.
Berglund is going to be Buffalo’s “third” center. He’ll likely be tasked with handling more difficult matchups, defensive zone draws and some (keyword: some) of the other duties that were previously filled by Ryan O’Reilly. Berglund won’t come close to covering all of those responsibilities, but he’s the one center in Buffalo’s camp best suited to take on a chunk of them. He’s another player whose spot was never going to be in question, though one factor that could be at play is whether or not Housley wants to inject more offense into the lineup.
Our two week, sickness-induced layoff has come to an end and Chris and Tyler are back to full health to discuss Jack Eichel’s apparent return from injury and to offer up some progress reports on Phil Housley and Jason Botterill. The rookie GM and coach haven’t yet completed their first season on the job but it felt like a good time to evaluate what’s gone right and wrong for the duo during their first season at the helm.
Phil Housley sits at the center of one of Buffalo’s more interesting trade trees. A memorable player in his own right, the tree includes three, maybe four, of the most iconic players to ever suit up for the Sabres.
Housley’s tenure in Buffalo was somewhat rocky, with complaints about his lack of physicality and grit overshadowing his prowess as a play driver.
After being selected with the pick acquired for the 1975 Cup team’s favorite players, Jerry Korab, Housley was included in a blockbuster that brought the Sabres one of the league’s best scorers. Housley had blossomed into one of the game’s most dynamic offensive defensemen and Dale Hawerchuk was a bona fide superstar. He had scored 35 or more goals in eight of his first nine NHL seasons – seven with 40-plus goals – and had six 100-point seasons. The pair came with a swap of first round picks in 1990, moving the Sabres up five spots. This is where the Jets wind up winning the trade, as they say.
The Sabres selected Brady May with the 14th selection and he’d become a fan favorite and score the most famous goal in franchise history. The Jets wound up picking 500-goal and 1,000-point club member Keith Tkachuk at 19. From there the rest is history. Tkachuck would twice score 50 goals for the Jets/Coyotes before moving on to St. Louis. May was turned into a key member of the 1999 Cup team, Geoff Sanderson.
This one doesn’t have the legs of something like the Martin tree or even the (spoiler alert) Dominik Hasek trade tree. But it stretches over three decades of team history, an impressive span considering the low number of players involved.
Note: I made one slight alteration to this tree compared to the others: splitting Scott Arniel off separately. While he was a simple throw in to the Housley/Hawerchuk deal, I chose to include his branch to make the tree more robust.
With the rookie tournament and start of training camp checked off the list, the only thing standing between the Sabres and opening night is the preseason. The team’s six game preseason slate kicked off yesterday with a visit from the Carolina Hurricanes, and there are a handful of questions that we should see answered between now and the opening faceoff on October 5. Continue reading