RJ and Hawerchuk called to the Hall

There are a host of reasons I grew up to be a hockey nut. Primarily my father is to thank for putting me on the ice early and letting me stay in the game throughout my formative years. The Sabres have a lot to do with that development as well, but there are numerous factors in the larger Sabres cloud which contributed to my upbringing in hockey.

Rick Jeanneret is easily in the top five reasons why I fell in love with hockey from an early age. I wasn’t really old enough to remember May Day, but I caught my fair share of La-La-La-La-LaFontaine’s and saw just about every robbery committed by Dominik Hasek. RJ called them all.

As I grew up RJ provided the play-by-play for plenty of memories, most of them create their fair share of goosebumps. I was lucky enough to spend a year working for the Sabres organization and RJ was as friendly as they come. Even last year I had the privilege to work stats for he and Harry Neale late last season. It may have been one of the easiest nights I had working stats, but it was still memorable. Continue reading

Double Minors: Sabres 6 – Jets 5 OT

The Sabres special teams bailed them out after a rough opening on a special night for the organization. Buffalo killed off three of four penalties and converted four power play goals to come back on Winnipeg for a 6-5 overtime win.

We had some great power play puck movement. Lately the puck hasn’t been going in the net for us. Tonight we moved the puck well. For me, it was nice to fight back and win the game. Especially with RJ and Dale being here.

The game certainly didn’t start well for the Sabres, or Ryan Miller, as Winnipeg scored twice in the first six minutes and the contest had the looks of last week’s Philadelphia game. Buffalo answered back with two goals in 11 seconds, one on the power play. Winnipeg found the net again shortly after but Jason Pominville tied the game again with a short handed tally.

After a stirring tribute to the two newest Sabres Hall of Fame members, Corey Tropp made the night more memorable by potting his first career NHL goal. The youngster has at least one more game with the big club as Pat Kaleta continues to serve his suspension.

The Sabres managed to stay close with the Jets for the entire evening, thanks in large part to the poorly disciplined play of Winnipeg and a suddenly potent power play. Buffalo fought off slow starts to all three periods before tying the game and eventually winning it on Thomas Vanek’s 10th of the season.

  • It certainly wasn’t the start Ryan Miller would have wanted. Most of the fans seemed to think it was the same old song and dance after the Jets first two goals and even their third later in the period. However, the Sabres big money goaltender battled back. After making nine saves on 12 shots in the first, Miller turned aside 17 of 19 shots he faced in the second and third period. He was especially good in the third period when he buckled down and shut the Jets out for the final 23:00 of the contest. The win was what Miller needed, now he needs to take the next step and have a truly effective outing. “We all know that Ryan needs to be better. He was fighting it, but you don’t know what to expect after last game. He may be fighting it for a while,” Ruff said.
  • The Tyler Myers/Andrej Sekera pairing was just plain awful tonight. Myers had a few strong plays but was generally average for most of the night. Sekera made two horrendous decisions and vacated his portion of the zone twice on the evening. On both occasions the Jets capitalized with goals.
  • Ville Leino needs to find the score sheet. He is making heady plays with the puck but simply isn’t getting the points to show he is making progress. For the money Buffalo is paying him, it would be nice to seem some tangible results.
  • It was awesome to see Corey Tropp score his first NHL goal. He has given a great effort in his first three games and was rewarded for his efforts. Lindy Ruff gave the rookie a great compliment on his play thus far. “He has supplied real good energy for us,” Ruff said.
  • Paul Gaustad had a whale of a game. He made a brilliant pass on Pominville’s shorthanded goal and made heady plays throughout the night. To that end, Cody McCormick turned the momentum with a hell of a fight in the second period. Despite seeing limited minutes, McCormick filled his role nicely tonight.
  • The Subway Line got back on the board tonight. Vanek potted a pair and Pominville accounted for three points. In addition to the 4/12 power play, the Sabres got contributions from everywhere they needed to get them from.
  • Lindy Ruff may need to make some sort of change to his defensive pairs for Friday. The Myers and Sekera pair have shown flashes before tonight’s tire fire and it seems as if Leopold and Regehr are clicking quite well. Still, it seems like a few games from Mike Weber could offer some serious stability on the back-end.

Three Stars

1. Jason Pominville

2. Derek Roy

3. Bryan Little

NHL Links

Game Summary

Event Summary

The Morning Skate: Reincarnated Jets make return to Buffalo

Tonight’s game is going to be no different from either of the two visits the Atlanta Thrashers made to Buffalo last season. The only difference will be the color of their jerseys and the name on the scoreboard.

Still, tonight will be monumental for a reason other than the Winnipeg Jets flying back to Buffalo for the first time since the mid-1990s. This evening, Rick Jeanneret and Dale Hawerchuk will be enshrined in the Buffalo Sabres Hall of Fame. It should be a great ceremony as the last HOF induction I was present for (Andreychuk and Ellis) was quite stirring.

It is somewhat ironic that Hawerchuk will be inducted on the night Winnipeg returns to Buffalo. After all, it was with the Jets that Hawerchuk became a star. Of course, this is quite a different Jets team that will roll into First Niagara Center.

The Jets, who have struggled to find much consistency this season, will wrap up a seven-game road trip this evening. Winnipeg has taken seven of twelve points on the roadie despite dropping two of their last three (one in a shootout).

Buffalo is fresh off a back-to-back wins over Calgary and Ottawa over the weekend, two wins that put the Sabres back into the top eight in the Eastern Conference. Of course, the two-day lay off has brought a few teams back up to the Sabres in terms of points.

Jhonas Enroth played a big role in both wins, particularly Friday’s win over Calgary and has been quite good in relief of Ryan Miller as the team’s usual starter finds his way through a tough patch. Perhaps the best part of the two wins is that the rest of the Sabres roster has managed to pick up some slack from the Subway Line. While Thomas Vanek, Luke Adam and Jason Pominville have been held scoreless in the last two contests, the rest of Buffalo’s roster has managed to start finding the net.

Buffalo will certainly lean on their entire roster to find the net this evening. The Jets have had a few barn burners already this season (-10 goal differential on the season) but have tightened up the ship recently.

Highlighted Matchup

Tyler Myers and Andrej Sekera vs. Nik Antropov and Alex Burmistrov. Like Saturday in Ottawa, Lindy Ruff will certainly use more than one defensive pairing and one forward line to match Winnipeg’s two big scorers. The pair of Russians have 21 points (7+14) already this season and have been the most consistent offensive players for the Jets. Burmistrov’s agility plays off Antropov’s size nicely and the two seem to be establishing some chemistry. Obviously a sound defensive approach will be necessary to keep the pair quiet.

Projected Goaltenders

BUF: Ryan Miller 9GP, 4-5-0, 2.48 GAA, .922 SV%

WPG: Chris Mason 4GP, 1-2-0, 2.68 GAA, .893 SV%

Last Meeting

3/19/2011, HSBC Arena, Sabres 8 – Jets (Thrashers) 2