Double Minors: Replay Derails Sabres Comeback Against Sens

For a few fleeting moments on Thursday night, the plan had fallen into place perfectly. Evander Kane had shoveled a puck home from beside the net, DJ Kool was blasting throughout the arena and the momentum had fully shifted as the Sabres had tied the game.

However, Ottawa successfully challenged the play as the Sabres were deemed to have been offside on the zone entry and the score reverted to 2-1. While the Sabres still had a firm control over the game, they were unable to score another tying marker.

For the record, the Senators and the referees made the right call. The play was just ever slightly offside and the review showed that. So twice in two nights the new NHL review system worked as planned. It will be a hard pill to swallow for Sabres fans but it was the right call. Continue reading

More chances, more goals and more losses

There isn’t all that much to sum up with the Buffalo Sabres at this point. Another game, another night allowing four goals and yet another loss. This is the same broken record that’s been playing for this entire 1-6-1 stretch.

Due to injuries, Adam Pardy made his Sabres debut and Lindy Ruff also chose to get Jhonas Enroth some action although the result on the scoreboard and from those in front of the goaltender didn’t differ. A few key faceoff losses hurt the team, as did continued struggles from the special teams units.

The point will be made by many that this is only 10 games worth of hockey. Others will argue that the season is almost a quarter of the way through. Regardless of which side you stand on, the glaring shortcomings on the Buffalo roster cannot be ignored. Even if it is too early to make a rash decision or trade, there needs to be some sort of remedy found for what ails this team.

There were certainly Ryan Miller detractors all over Sabres Nation claiming that he was once again letting his team down and getting paid far too much money after his last few games. He was, in fact, quite average in his last couple of starts and that shouldn’t be ignored. However, after seeing another four-goal outing with a different goaltender in net, I’d hope that the lightbulb would go on for many of those fans who only see Miller as an overpaid, overrated goaltender.

The Sabres simply cannot defend. Even when the defense corps plays a sound game – which you could technically define tonight as – the forwards are invisible defensively. Not to point the finger at one player, but Cody Hodgson was not only wandering in the corner on the penalty kill that led to Erik Karlsson’s goal but he also made a crucial error on the play that led to Daniel Alfredsson’s goal in the first period. Continue reading

Things won’t get easier against Sens tonight


Since so many people are beating the dead horse on Ryan Miller being good or not, faceoffs and secondary scoring, it seems justified to use the one game at a time cliché for the Sabres.


Buffalo’s current 1-5-1 run has them lurking at the bottom of the Eastern Conference and has stirred up #NotWinninForMacKinnon tweets. The play that has gotten the Sabres to this point has been nothing short of dismal and quite justified for a team at the bottom of the NHL.


Tonight’s game in Ottawa is the fourth of five games against the Northeast Division that the Sabres will play in the past ten days. The Senators have continued to ride the wave of solid play that took them to the playoffs last season along with strong support from Craig Anderson.


The Sabres, meanwhile are mired in a rut in which their top line has ben nothing short of dominant while the rest of the team is anything but. While Thomas Vanek, Cody Hodgson and Jason Pominville carry the team, the rest of the roster has turned in varying levels of effort over the past week or so.


Tonight’s game is more about snapping out of poor habits than simply getting back into the win column. Continue reading

2ITB Roadie: Bandits, Amerks and BBQ

The Buffalo Sabres will skate into Ottawa tonight with the chance to at least draw even with Winnipeg this evening. If the Bruins can take care of business this afternoon, the Sabres will be playing for a share of eighth.

Now, I still contend that the team has yet to reach a point of watching the schedule on a nightly basis, but that day is drawing near. The Sabres have twice had a chance to draw even with eighth and have failed. Tonight is a game in which they will be rested (sort of) and is also one of those valuable “games in hand”. Winnipeg’s loss last night in Calgary came in their 68th game, this is game 68 for the Sabres. So far Buffalo has been strong when playing on a night their opponents are idle, but this game is yet another pivotal matchup.

Ryan Miller will be back in net tonight after getting a couple well deserved days off. I expect to see Ben Bishop in net for the Senators. Bishop is a massive goalie looking to make his mark on the league. He has waited a long time for his break and this season might be it. Buffalo’s oft-anemic offense will need to start rolling early tonight.

The main thing to watch for is two-fold. First, if Thomas Vanek is playing, I expect to see some new lines. John Vogl, Kevin Snow, Paul Hamilton and the rest of the Sabres media reported the shuffled lines at yesterday’s practice. However, those combinations came without Vanek and Patrick Kaleta. I expect to see some changes made in the hope to spark some more offense. If Vanek isn’t playing, seeing what Lindy Ruff comes up with (Marcus Foligno was recalled) will be equally interesting to a fully healthy lineup.

This special edition of The Morning Skate is because I’ll be taking the day to enjoy all the city of Rochester has to offer. So I’ll have Dinosaur BBQ and watch the Bandits and Amerks play.

The Bandits enter tomorrow’s game with their season in the balance. They simply cannot afford another loss if they expect to sneak in the playoffs and who better to snap their funk than their I-90 rivals?

One of the Bandits’ two victories this season came against Rochester, but this is a whole different Bandits team we are talking about. They have unraveled defensively and are getting offensive contributions from a small, core group. Things need to change in Banditland if a playoff push is to remain in the cards.

Like the Sabres, the Amerks are in the thick of a playoff race themselves. Luke Adam has been wearing #72 since his demotion (ugh) but has seven points in 11 games. He had a couple rough games upon his arrival, but has come around as of late. David Leggio had a great night against Binghampton tonight and I hope to see him again tonight. We shall see. Here are a few things I’ll be looking for from the Sabres prospects:

  • Shaone Morrisonn: I’m interested to see the big veteran. I liked his signing last year, unfortunately he didn’t work out. He has been steady for Ron Rolston and the Amerks this year, I want to see his game now; perhaps he still has a future in the show.
  • Defensive prospects: Drew Schiestel was loaned to Texas, which has freed up some playing time for other prospects. The defensive cupboard is going to be crowed in the next few seasons; Mark Pysyk and JGL are on their way and Brayden McNabb has shown his chops. I want to watch McNabb closely along with Joe Finley, T.J. Brennan and even Matt MacKenzie (if he plays). These guys have something to prove if they expect to stick around.
  • Phil Varone: Dude has been lighting it up for the Amerks. 8+33 in 60 games from the development camp invitee. I liked him (along with Johnathan Parker and Steven Beyers) in the summer and Varone has turned out to be a worthy addition to the pipeline. He is only signed with the Amerks for now, but I could see him getting a look from the Sabres.
  • David Leggio: I hope he gets the nod in net again, I’m interested to see where he stands in terms of development. The Sabres have some tough choices regarding all of their goaltenders in the coming months. Leggio is part of that group.

There will be Double Minors posted of the Amerks game, a Bandits recap and a brief write up on the Sabres. Stay tuned.

The Morning Skate: Brotherly battle in Ottawa

More reinforcements have arrived from Rochester. Derek Whitmore and Marcus Foligno will make their NHL debut tonight in Kanata as Buffalo faces the Senators.

The two most recent recalls are in to replace Tyler Ennis and Colin Stuart as they join the other half of the Sabres roster on the injured list. The injury situation is beyond laughable at this point and the Sabres are entering a situation where they just need to maintain some semblance of consistency.

Buffalo went into Ottawa earlier this year and turned in a strong enough effort to get a shootout victory. Their most recent showdown with the Sens was a disappointing overtime loss in which the Sabres entered the first intermission on the heels of very good hockey. Unfortunately, they didn’t put their foot on the collective throat of the Senators, instead they chose to play not to lose.

Based on the potential line up for tonight, it would seem as if the Sabres will be lucky to stay in the same league as their opponent. Ryan Miller is likely to be very busy based on the sloppy play the team usually puts forth and the fact he will have an even further depleted roster.

Highlighted Matchup

Foligno vs. Foligno. Marcus is lucky enough to make his NHL debut against his brother Nick. It is probably a stretch to think the two will drop the gloves, but everyone is hoping to see Marcus’ take on his father’s trademark goal celebration. The two brothers are certain to run into each other over the course of the game, it will be interesting to see who comes out on top.

Projected Goaltenders

BUF: Ryan Miller 17GP 8-6-2, 3.12 GAA, .902 SV%

OTT: Craig Anderson 28GP 13-11-2 3.42 GAA, .894 SV%

Last Game

12/13/2011, First Niagara Center, Sabres 2 – Senators 3 OT

The Morning Skate: Slumping Sabres and Sens meet at FNC

Two teams struggling to keep their head above water will meet this evening at First Niagara Center. The Sabres, who have struggle mightily at home, desperately need a win against their Northeast Division rival. The Senators haven’t been able to keep the puck out of the net lately as they’re in the middle of a similar slide as Buffalo.

While Ottawa’s defense and goaltending have been spotty, they may get a reprieve against Buffalo. The Sabres have struggled to score more than once lately, let alone three or four goals. Ottawa has managed to find the back of the net despite their struggles. Considering Buffalo’s recent efforts at home, this game has the ability to turn into a snooze fest similar to Friday night.

The Sabres have been struggling with nearly every aspect of the game since the roster has been ravaged with injury. It seems Buffalo’s somewhat impressive depth has been worn thin with injury after injury. Some reports point to the Sabres receiving some reinforcements for tonight’s game. With Paul Gaustad and Pat Kaleta expected back, Buffalo’s penalty kill unit and generally grit should improve.

Buffalo’s first two games against Ottawa were wins. However, both came with far stronger rosters than the one Buffalo will ice tonight.

Highlighted Matchup

Buffalo special teams. The Sabres are still short on both special teams units. However, the power play still sports significant talent and has become terribly stagnant lately. Lindy Ruff noted more movement is necessary to create chances. It would seem a good night from the special teams units may equal two points for the Sabres.

Projected Goaltenders

BUF: Ryan Miller 14GP 7-6-1, 2.80 GAA, .910 SV%

OTT: Criag Anderson 26GP 12-10-2, 3.42 GAA, .895 SV%

Last Game

11/11/11, First Niagara Center, Sabres 5 – Senators 1

The Morning Skate: Enroth back in net against Sens

The Sabres will ice the same lineup they went with last Saturday in Ottawa as the Senators visit First Niagara Center for the first time this evening.

That includes the man between the pipes. Jhonas Enroth with get his fifth start of the season for the Sabres, his second-straight against the Senators.

It is a good choice by Lindy Ruff as Ryan Miller has a career 13-15-2 record against Ottawa.

The Senators will have their captain back in the lineup as Daniel Alfredsson will play his first game since suffering a concussion against the Rangers.

Buffalo’s special teams has powered the Sabres recently as the penalty kill unit has been bettered by only one team (Pittsburgh) and the power play has enjoyed a strong run despite not registering goals in every contest.

Buffalo enjoyed a shootout win over Ottawa last Saturday, despite yielding the game’s first goal and a tying goal on a poor defensive change in the second period.

The home woes have been halted for the time being as the Sabres have found a bit of mojo after opening their recent home-stand. This game marks the opening of Buffalo’s fourth set of back-to-back games and three games in four nights. All three games are against Northeast Division foes and will serve as an excellent chance for the Sabres to further cement a spot in the East’s top eight.

Highlighted Matchup
Michalek-Spezza-Alfredsson vs. the Buffalo defense. The Sabres defense was horrendous against Winnipeg, as was the d-zone coverage. Buffalo allowed Michalek to register an early goal last week before shutting down the top line. Still, the Sabres can expect a tougher night than Tuesday if they’re equally irresponsible in zone.

Projected Goaltenders

BUF: Jhonas Enroth 5GP, 4-0-0, 1.41 GAA, .952 SV%

OTT: Craig Anderson 14GP, 6-5-1, 3.47 GAA, .886 SV%

Last Game

11/5/2011, Scotiabank Place, Sabres 3 – Senators 2 SO

The Morning Skate: Sabres back to the road in Ottawa

The Sabres honored the late Rick Martin the last time they met the Senators

The Buffalo Sabres hit their third set of back-to-back games a night after finding some mojo at First Niagara Center with a 2-1 win over Calgary.

Since the season opening games were both neutral site contests, Buffalo has their first chance to sweep a set of back-to-backs after winning the first half at home. Since the Sabres did not skate this morning it is hard to say what lines may change or who the starting goaltender will be.

Expect the lines to remain the same, as Corey Tropp had an efficient night in his NHL debut and Brad Boyes looked right at home on the wing with Paul Gaustad and Nathan Gerbe. Same goes for the defensive pairings as the entire unit was sound against Calgary, yielding only 17 shots through the first 40 minutes last night.

The decision in goal may be difficult for Lindy Ruff. Jhonas Enroth had a very good night against the Flames and made the saves he needed to throughout the game. He wasn’t tested often, but he turned away any of the scoring chances he faced. Ryan Miller deserves a chance to get back on top of his game and tonight would seem to be a scheduled start for him based recent history. Had Enroth pitched a shutout last night I would put him right back in. Despite the only goal being a wacky deflection, you probably go with Miller to continue to show confidence in the team’s superstar.

The Sens are also playing the second half of a back-to-back set, however they had the luxury of sleeping in their own beds last night. Ottawa hosted Montreal on Friday, a 2-1 loss.

While the standings mean very little at this point in the season, tonight’s winner will move ahead of their division rival for the time being. Both teams are part of a four-way tie for fifth in the Eastern Conference. Of note, Kevin Sylvester and Danny Gare will call the game while Brian Duff will serve as the in-game host. It will be interesting to see how the new team does in their first true game working together.

Highlighted Matchup

Michalek-Spezza-Greening vs. Myers-Sekera. Lindy Ruff may choose not to match the Senators big line, but expect either the Myers or Regehr pairing to see plenty of time against Spezza and Michalek. The two forwards have combined for 28 points (14+14) through 14 games. Don’t be surprised if the Gerbe-Gaustad-Boyes line sees time against Ottawa’s top scoring unit too.

Projected Goaltenders

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

OTT: Craig Anderson 12GP, 6-4-0, 3.66 GAA, .883 SV%

Last Meeting

3/13/2011, HSBC Arena, Sabres 6 – Senators 4