Sabres delay tank celebration for at least one more day with win over Canes

The merciful end to the nosedive to 30th will have to wait at least one more day as the Sabres edged the Hurricanes 4-3 in the season’s penultimate game at First Niagara Center.

Those who may be tied a little too much into the tank likely lost some hair as the Sabres jumped to a two-goal advantage after the first period and extended their lead to four after the second. Patrick Dwyer woke up the Hurricanes with a tally with just under 2:00 remaining in the middle frame and Carolina would carry that momentum into the third.

Alex Semin scored a beautiful goal just 2:31 into the third and Eric Staal made it mighty interesting with just over five to play. Buffalo managed to buckle down and preserved the one-goal win despite allowing 52 shots and 85 attempts.

Buffalo heads to Columbus on Friday with the magic number for 30th place locked in at two. The Coyotes could do us all a solid and win one more, but I hardly think that’s a realistic possibility. Continue reading

The Instigator Podcasts 3.5 – Sabres vs. Hurricanes pregame

The Sabres and Hurricanes play a game with tank implications as Buffalo slips away from their chance at the best lottery odds at the end of the year and the hope to draft Connor McDavid.

http://mixlr.com/instigator-podcast/showreel/instigator-podcasts-mixlr-18/

Between the Pipes: Sabres shutout Canes in preseason home debut

It seems safe to assume that Sam Reinhart will be seeing significant minutes in each of the Sabres’ preseason contests. The second overall selection saw action in a second-straight game and had the opportunity to skate in a second line role for the third period.

After opening the game on the “third” line with Chris Stewart and Nicolas Deslauriers, Reinhart was moved between Zac Dalpe and Brian Gionta for the final stanza. He didn’t produce any points but was adept with the puck and played a sound game. While he may not necessarily be ready for the NHL, Reinhart has been displaying the skills that set him apart in the eyes of Tim Murray and the Sabres scouts.

His most impressive play came in the third period when he warded off a forechecker and exhibited enough patience to create time and space and make an outlet pass to Andrej Meszaros behind the Sabres goal. It was a small play that may have gone unnoticed but it was an impressive one. Continue reading

The Instigator Podcast 3.3 – Preseason Intermission Live

Eric and I load up for an intermission edition of The Instigator during Buffalo’s preseason contest with the Hurricanes.

http://mixlr.com/instigator-podcast/showreel/preseason-intermission-sabres-vs-hurricanes/

Third loss sets Sabres back below .500

A few familiar flaws cropped up in the last three losses for the Sabres as they dropped to 2-3-0 on the season after opening the year with a pair of victories.

Today’s loss to the Capitals came despite opening the scoring and controlling much of the play in the first period. Yet, the Capitals battled back and the Sabres were unable to discover the necessary depth scoring to get over the hump.

It is likely that many fans are panicking over the fact that many of the same issues have yet again hampered the Sabres in a string of losses. Naturally these losses are that much more prevalent with the fact that the shortened season has many focused on getting a quick start and finding security for the playoffs. Depending on how you break things down, this is just five games out of 48. Or you may see this as 10% of the season already behind a team that is looking to return to the playoffs.

Coupling today’s loss with the back-to-back losses at the hands of the Hurricanes paints a picture of a team who not only has struggled to find goal scorers beyond their first line and some up-and-down play from the blue line. Continue reading

Sabres first five will come quickly

With five games over the next seven games, the Sabres will know exactly what they can come to expect from the condensed 2013 NHL schedule. Rather than scrambling to provide specific previews for each and every game this season, it is more likely that you will see a look at each week of the season as it begins.

The Sabres open at home today against the Flyers and follow with games against the Leafs, Hurricanes (twice) and Capitals. Here are a few things to keep an eye on as the Sabres and NHL hockey returns. Continue reading

Double Minors: Special teams powers overtime victory

Buffalo’s power play hasn’t been pretty as of late. But it got the job done last night against Carolina. A late 5-on-3 penalty kill kept the Sabres floating long enough to seal the game in overtime.

Realistically, it should have never gotten to that point. Cam Ward made a number of big saves in the second period to keep the Hurricanes alive. Buffalo exploded for a pair in the opening 1:02 of the period and almost had a third, but Ward was up to the task. He made 15 of his 39 saves in the second period alone, keeping the Buffalo onslaught at bay until Chad LaRose could tie the score.

Ryan Miller was stout, turning away 22 of 24 and rebounding nicely after yielding two goals on his first 17 shots. He has certainly earned a rest and should most definitely take that reprieve tomorrow night in Boston.

While it took seven attempts for the Sabres power play to tally twice, there was some good and bad to take away from the unit. Both units continued to looks disjointed with the puck and committed a number of turnovers as a result. However, if they were able to settle the possession, there was some strong puck movement high on the umbrella. Both goals came from high puck movement and point shots.

The penalty kill stayed strong and will need to remain stout as this playoff run continues. Tomorrow’s game in Boston along with Saturday and Monday carry a lot of weight for the Sabres if they hope to gain more ground.

  • For all the hooting and holler that has been done (me included) about the top line, they answered the bell last night. Thomas Vanek and Jason Pominville each had a goal and an assist in the victory. This just add fuel to my argument that Roy brings them down. Their success came as Roy went pointless, obviously they cannot coexist. Obviously I’m not serious, this line needs to extend that success in the next five days.
  • Still waiting on Cody Hodgson’s first point. No matter, I haven’t hated his game and I’m still happy with the dynamic he brings to the roster.
  • I bemoaned the thought of giving $5.5m to a player who essentially plays a strong two-way, defensive game and chips in offensively. Then I realized that is precisely what Ville Leino is currently being paid to do. Yes, he lost that faceoff clean. But his puck possession is the best on the roster and he drew a pair of late penalties due to it. His play has turned a corner these last few months, I think it is time to stop hating on him and his contract.
  • Alex Sulzer is making me a believer. He has slightly better puck skills than Mike Weber – though he seems due one bad fumble per night – and plays a fairly similar style. Depending on defensive depth next season, I could see him getting a contract over the summer. I’ve liked his game thus far.
  • As I said above, it is time to give Ryan Miller a rest. His play over the past few games has been showing some signs of fatigue. That isn’t to say I haven’t been pleased with the last three games, it is just time to give him a little more time to recuperate.

Game Summary/Event Summary