Over-Thought: Offseason Coming into Shape

As the Stanley Cup Finals creep closer, as does the draft and offseason. That means teams who missed the playoffs or those eliminated early are gearing up for roster changes. The most recent edition of 31 Thoughts had plenty of tidbits on those potential moves and in the newest OT, I take a look at a few that stood out.

If you haven’t read last week’s 31 Thoughts you can catch it here. Continue reading

The Instigator Podcast 7.30 – Tippett Emerges in Sabres Coaching Search

Dave Tippett’s name was thrown into the Sabres coaching search ring this week after being mentioned in Elliotte Freidman’s 31 Thoughts. We run through the pros and cons of potentially hiring Tippett, discussing his background, his use of analytics and his accomplishments with Dallas and Arizona. We also spend some time trying to bust the myths surrounding collegiate prospects and free agency after Adam Fox’s trade from Carolina to New York. And despite our best efforts we do offer a quick opinion on the Brad Marchand incident as well.

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: 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 2intheboxbuffalo@gmail.com.

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

The Instigator Podcast 7.29 – Round One Reax and Sabres Coaching Search Updates

With round one of the playoffs in the rear view, we offer up some thoughts on what transpired in the first round, specifically the questionable officiating which seemed to underscore almost every series. We also touch on some of the talking points coming out of Toronto and what’s next for the Sabres coaching search. More names have surfaced as targets for the Sabres and we run down some of the key candidates as we wrap up the show.

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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The Instigator Podcast 7.27 – Sabres Back on the Coaching Search Post-Housley

Phil Housley has been relieved of his duties as the Buffalo Sabres head coach, putting the Sabres back on the hunt for a head coach. Things moved quickly, with Todd McLellan linked as the leading candidate to land the Sabres job, with some saying the two sides were moving quickly towards an agreement. We talk about what ultimately cost Housley his job and whether or not McLellan strikes us as the right answer for what the Sabres are looking for. We touch on some of the other potential head coaching candidates in the league today and pay tribute to the careers of Jason Pominville and Bob Cole.

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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The Instigator Podcast 6.1 – Giorgio, Cal, Sami and Sabres Coaches, Oh My

Back for another season of takes, Chris and Tyler kick off season six with much of the same from the end of season five. The defenseman market has shifted since the end of the Conference Finals and due to potential moves out of Vegas. Meanwhile the Sabres have signed Jonas Johnasson, have fewer than 24 hours to ink Giorgio Estephan and now know Cal Petersen will play professionally next season. All the while Jason Botterill is hammering out his list of candidates for the head coaching job.

The Instigator Podcast 5.45 – Botterill’s Gameplan on the Season Five Finale

Chris and Tyler wrap up season five by laying out what we see as early moves for new Sabres general manager Jason Botterill. In addition to running down the pros and cons of Rick Tocchet and Phil Housley, we hit on early roster moves and what the plan of attack on the blueline should be.

Bylsma’s Shortcomings Aren’t Exactly New

Since climbing within a point of a playoff position in the Eastern Conference the Sabres have hit one of their worst runs of play in the entire 2016-17 season, dropping seven of their last eight games and falling well out of reach of serious playoff contention.

The skid has been defined by blown third period leads, losses to teams below Buffalo in the standings and sub-par goaltending. However, the third period collapses are by far the most concerning aspect of this recent run. It’s something that’s highlighted many of Buffalo’s other shortcomings this year.

In some ways this run was probably inevitable. The Sabres have been allowing absurd numbers of shots and shot attempts on a game-to-game basis and had been winning the odd one thanks, in part, to the play of Anders Nilsson and Robin Lehner. Both have given the Sabres strong play throughout the year but recently only share one game with two goals against or fewer (shootout loss to Tampa Bay). Both have still played well through the course of these games despite the ugly results. Look no further than Nilsson’s play in Pittsburgh or the handful of sterling saves Lehner made against Philly in an otherwise forgettable performance.

Simple logic would indicate that Buffalo’s poor defensive play finally caught up to them and despite otherwise strong play from their goaltenders, the team just isn’t good enough to cover all of their shortcomings. It’s a combination of poor personnel (hello defensemen) and poor usage that’s undermined what could have been an exciting season for the Sabres and now it appears the focus has shifted firmly to Dan Bylsma.

Even prior to this slump, postgame comments had indicated that all wasn’t well in the Sabres locker room. There were warning signs that the players were ignoring their coach’s wishes and going off script at key points in each game. Now that they’ve only accrued one win since the bye week, those whispers are growing louder.

As the season slips away from the Sabres it seems more likely that Bylsma’s future sits on rocky ground. Even with the obvious shortcomings on Buffalo’s roster, many of his tactics and systems seem to work against the strengths the Sabres do boast. In many ways it seems as if he’s being haunted by many of the ghosts which pushed him out of Pittsburgh. Continue reading

Thoughts on Dan Bylsma as Sabres Coach

The Buffalo Sabres officially moved on from the disappointment of missing out on the Mike Babcock sweepstakes when Tim Murray introduced Dan Bylsma as the 17th head coach in franchise history. For those that missed last night’s special edition of The Instigator Podcast, here are a few thoughts on the beginning of the Bylsma Era.

By inking Bylsma to a five year deal in the neighborhood of $3 million per year, Murray was able to snag the best available coach, and one of the few with a winning pedigree. While some fans may have had other candidates at the top of their lists, no one can disagree that getting a coach of Bylsma’s caliber to commit his future to the Sabres is a nice get for an organization that has taken its lumps around the hockey world over the last couple of seasons.

Hockey pundits view the hiring of Dan Bylsma as good business by Tim Murray

The Bylsma hire has been greeted by near unanimous approval from both local and national publications, and can be seen as the first bit of good press for the organization since Pat LaFontaine’s introductory press conference in November of 2014. That is not to say that what’s said in The Hockey News or TSN should be taken as gospel, but at the very least seeing some good things written about the team for a change is a bit of a morale booster. Continue reading

The Instigator Podcast 4.3 – Bylsma on Board

Dan Bylsma was officially introduced as the 17th head coach in Sabres history. We offer our thoughts and reaction to the Sabres new head coach along with providing our thoughts on how Bylsma’s hiring impacts the organization.