Two in the Mailbox: Coaching Candidates, Blue Collar Built and the Battle of Winterfell

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

Shawn/@iammasheen – Who would you like to see as Sabres coach?

The short answer here is Rikard Gronborg. His quotes that have come out over the last couple of weeks certainly instill confidence that he’d bring some new ideas to the Sabres. Ideas that would hopefully translate to wins.

The longer answer here is more complex. Even before Todd McLellan was officially hired by the Kings there weren’t too many obvious candidates who really jumped off the page. Even with McLellan possibly in the mix, the field wasn’t flush with good options. To me, McLellan felt like a “meh” hire. There were plenty of reasons to question it, his shortcomings in Edmonton chief among them. But his resume wasn’t weak, either. It just didn’t feel like an inspired choice. Doesn’t mean it would’ve been the wrong one, it was just hard to fully get behind. Continue reading

Sabres Rewind: More Fun in the Defensive Zone

Buffalo’s most recent attempt to string together back-to-back wins fell short with a road home loss to Toronto on Wednesday night. The Sabres allowed three-straight to the Leafs after taking a first period lead and the first two goals were both messy in their own regard.

John Tavares’ tap-in was the product of an effective cycle driven by William Nylander and Buffalo’s continued struggles picking up coverage in the defensive zone. Far too often this season, the Sabres have gotten loose in their coverage, leading to uncontested shots and tap-ins for their opponents. Their coverage has been so poor at times that opponents managed to not only find a free lane to the net but have teammates sitting open on the back door as well. It’s a problem that’s plagued the Sabres all season and I’m not quite sure if they’ll ever solve the problem unless the coaching staff makes some fundamental changes to their system.

Like with most plays, everything is harmless enough as Nylander picks up the puck behind the net. Sam Reinhart is low in the zone filling the typical center duties, Jack Eichel and Jeff Skinner are higher, covering the points, and Rasmus Ristolainen and Marco Scandella each have a man.






Continue reading

Sabres Rewind: The Very Bad, No Good Second Period

Things started pretty well for the Sabres in Toronto on Monday night. They carried play throughout the first period and were eventually rewarded with the game’s first goal.

Quick note for this edition. For portions of the play that aren’t ass backwards or super goofy I will keep using comic sans for max comedy. For general highlights or more serious aspects I won’t act like the owner of the Cleveland Cavaliers and use a normal font.

They didn’t carry that positive momentum into the second period, however. The Leafs scored three goals in just over two minutes and four total in the period to take a lead they wouldn’t surrender. A couple of the goals were fairly straightforward. John Tavares got a good tip on Jake Muzzin’s point shot – Matt Hunwick could’ve done a better job tying up Tavares on that one – and Auston Matthews cashed in an unfortunate bounce off Evan Rodrigues. The other two goals were tougher to watch.

The first was Freddie Gauthier’s backhand that chased Carter Hutton. This goal wasn’t so much a lapse by any one player on the ice. At the core, it was simply a bigger player utilizing good body position against a smaller one, but it highlights some of the oddities about Buffalo’s defensive zone coverage. Continue reading

Two in the Mailbox: Top-Six Wing Targets and Risto’s Return

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

I was WAY overdue for this edition of the mailbox but my procrastinating is done. Hopefully it’s up long enough before any of the information gets dated by the trade deadline. If I was better at this I would’ve posted this at least a day or two ago.

With that said, here are the questions for this edition.

Tim Goodier – Rest of his tenure aside, how big of a misstep is a lack of moves from Botterill this season? Especially when you consider his wants (guys with term) are and have been available and even a deadline move may be too late after dropping six points to NYR, NJD, FLA and being six back? Continue reading

What’s Left from the Sabres at the Deadline

After Jason Botterill’s comments on Wednesday it seemed fair to assume he’d have a relatively quiet trade deadline. The holes in his team’s roster were showing and the playoffs were looking bleak as other Eastern Conference contenders added help while Botterill stayed patient.

It was hard to stomach for some, watching the Sabres slide from the literal league lead to a six-point deficit from the final wild card spot. For others it was just fine. Botterill was going to build through the draft and stockpile prospects. That got turned on its ear on Sunday when Botterill sent a first round pick and Brendan Guhle to Anaheim for Brandon Montour.

The deal was exactly what Botterill had said he was attempting to make all year. A deal for a young player who would offer help to the team now and in the future. I don’t expect him to take another big swing by Monday’s deadline, but I don’t think the Sabres are done. Continue reading

Sabres Blueline Turnaround is Coming into Focus

It was no secret that Jason Botterill was facing a tough road in putting together a well-rounded blueline when he took over the Sabres. Turns out that the unit needed more of an overhaul than reshaping that stretched into this past summer.

Winning the Ramsus Dahlin lottery would make any rebuild a much easier task and a lucky bounce of the lottery balls has helped the Sabres take a major step forward.

Dahlin was really the only true addition the Sabres made to their backs blueline but he’s already meeting expectations, if not exceeding them. His confidence is growing by the day and combined with his vision and skating ability has led to a number of plays along these lines:

GIF via Ben Mathewson @

There’s a noticeable difference in Buffalo’s breakout and flow when Dahlin is on the ice, something that was lacking at almost every point of the 2017-18 season. Some of his underlying numbers took a hit recently after a few lopsided showings, which tipped him below 50% Corsi, though Dahlin remains a positive influence relative to his teammates. Zach Bogosian’s Corsi jumps ten percentage points when paired with Dahlin as opposed to without him. So he’s not just passing the eye-test, though his current trend is creating at least one eye-popping play per game. 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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