The Instigator Podcast 9.23 – Assessing the Sabres Coaching Search

It’s about time that we give Don Granato his own episode and even our best efforts to discuss his merits as the next Sabres head coach were partially interrupted by our NHL playoff preview. But we do spend a lot of time on the Sabres coaching search and on whether or not Granato is the best candidate for the job in Buffalo. We do offer up a few alternatives along the way as we do differ on whether Granato is the best hire the Sabres can make.

Firing Krueger is Only Starts to Solve the Sabres Problems

What’s left to say at this point?

I started this blog in the summer of 2010 as a way to keep writing and it quickly became another outlet for staying connected to hockey. It’s always been an enjoyable endeavor, but I guess I underestimated the Sabres’ ability to ruin a good thing.

I’ve never had all that much trouble finding a reason to write about the Sabres, but here we are. There’s only so many ways you can look at this car wreck and form a different opinion. Last year I wrote a post questioning what sort of standard the organization is run with. When you see teams around the league fire their coaches while in a playoff position, it’s hard to see how the Sabres operate on the same level of their peers.

Another season has been flushed, the players have very clearly quit on their coach and there’s no sign that anything will make things better. Ralph Krueger has been a dead man walking for weeks, probably going as far back as February 25 when Jeff Skinner was scratched for the third-straight game. Despite the 11-game losing streak and the horrific display the team has put out each night, it’s hard to see Krueger being fired any time soon. Continue reading

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.

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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