We turn the calendar to 2023 and offer up the resolutions we have for the Sabres in the New Year. The Sabres find themselves creeping up on the playoff race in the Eastern Conference and are enjoying impressive seasons from a number of key contributors. With their impressive improvements in mind, we dig into a few areas we hope to see the team focus on in 2023.
The Instigator Podcast 11.8 – Tage Against the Machine
Tage Thompson is on fire, racking up nine points over two games this past week and helping the Sabres further their winning record. We talk about Thompson’s breakout and another Sabres center who has been terrific this season: Dylan Cozens. After we discuss the team’s top two centers we serve up a few treats at the end of the show in discussing the Arizona Coyotes arena and the new Adidas Might Ducks sneaker and jersey line.
The Instigator Podcast 10.35 – Sabres 2022-23 Season Recap
Another season is in the books and we look back at the way the Sabres played over the course of 2022-23 and what it means for them going forward. While we don’t assign grades to any individual, we break down each of the team’s position groups to see where the bright spots were and where the Sabres need to improve most.
We wrap up the show with a brief conversation on the NHL playoffs and which early storylines in the postseason stand out most to us.
Answering the 10 Big Sabres Questions from the Preseason
Entering the year, the Sabres were very much in a state of flux. Jack Eichel hadn’t been traded, nor had he gotten the surgery he preferred. Buffalo’s offseason pointed towards another difficult season as the team continued to rebuild. With so much uncertainty surrounding the on and off-ice business of the team, I put together a list of 10 big questions that would likely define the 2021-22 season.
As the season wraps up, I wanted to take some time to look back on each of those topics and see just how they affected the Sabres as the season progressed.Continue reading
The Instigator Podcast 9.19 – The Kids are Alright
Buffalo’s young players have been getting plenty of attention since Don Granato took over, playing key roles in the Sabres’ stretch run. We discuss the impact some of the prospects and young players have had this spring and the potential that exists for that group to have a significant impact in the future as well. We also place focus on Don Granato and whether or not he should be the first choice as the long-term head coach of the team. There’s also bonus conversation on the European Super League and the fallout of the apparent failure of some of soccer’s biggest clubs to break off and make their own competition.
Questionable Lineup Choices Plague Sabres
The Sabres’ drama du jour has been all about Jeff Skinner and it doesn’t show any signs of ending as the team trudges towards another season without playoffs.
Skinner’s usage has been a focal point for going on two years now as the winger has bounced around the lineup but has rarely found himself in the spot most fans want him to be; playing beside Jack Eichel. His lack of playing in overtime, on the power play exacerbate the questions being asked about his contract, his influence on the roster and his relationship with Ralph Krueger.
This has all come to a head with three-straight scratches of one of the league’s best even strength scorers over the last decade. Lance Lysowski of The Buffalo News wrote an excellent piece on the Skinner situation and his agent’s call to Kevyn Adams that should be required reading for anyone thinking Skinner deserves to remain out of the lineup. Lance’s article lays out the statistical evidence that backs up just how bizarre it is that Skinner has been scratched the last three games. Continue reading
The Instigator Podcast 9.4 – Thoughts on the First Sabres Scrimmage
Sabres camp continued on Monday with the Blue-Gold Scrimmage which featured a number of impressive performances from players up and down Buffalo’s roster. We touch on a few of the stand out performers, discuss which performances may have affected roster battles while touching on some of the weaker showings as well. Also on the docket was discussion over a trio of AHL teams opting out for the 2020-21 season, a World Juniors update and a bit of fun remembering some guys who moved teams this year.
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Two in the Mailbox – Trade Targets, Goalie Wishlist and More
It’s been a while since the last mailbag ran, so I’ve taken a few extra questions for this edition to make up for lost time. This edition of the mailbag will hit on draft questions, goalie gear, movie recommendations and trade targets.
Hopefully I won’t be as lazy moving forward and there will be more mailbags to come in the weeks to follow. Continue reading
Post-Camp Musings Ahead of Final Cuts
The Sabres are about to get down to playing some honest to god, regular season hockey games this week. Before they jump in to games that count for something, they need to make a few decisions on their roster.
Preseason hockey is tough to take too much information from given the irregular rosters on a game-to-game basis. One night you could see an NHL-heavy roster and on another night you might only see three or four NHL regulars in the lineup. With that being the case, it can even be hard to be impressed by individual performances since the level of competition they can come against can vary so much.
There’s also the Preseason Pledge to consider. You can’t get too high or too low on a player or the team given the volatility of the roster during the preseason. But that can go out the window when Vladimir Sobotka skates on the second line and the coach says a lot of really nice things about him.
On the eve of the regular season opening, there seems to be more concern and annoyance than excitement across Sabres nation. Jason Botterill went out and acquired a handful of players who could really help this team turn a corner this year. Only, he forgot to get rid of anyone from last year’s group. This preseason was thought to be the one where we’d finally see some dead weight stripped off the roster. The likes of Sobotka, Zemgus Girgensons and Marco Scandella have been the most popular candidates in that regard. But with the season almost upon us, that’s looking more and more dire.
I, for one, seriously expected Sobotka to spend the final year of his contract in Europe. I’m glad I attached the caveat to my opinion that we couldn’t take solace in it happening until Botterill filed the paperwork. Given the state of the roster, Sobtoka seems to be safe. It’s disappointing for a number of reasons, primarily because Sobotka is bad at hockey. The silver lining here is that it appears that Sobotka is simply keeping Conor Sheary’s seat warm on the second line. He may just be the extra forward, meaning he’ll spend plenty of time in the pressbox this season.
Still, the fact that he’ll be an option to dress on a nightly basis is extremely disappointing.
I suppose there’s still a chance that we get surprised by the noon waiver notifications. But I’m not expecting any fireworks from the Sabres. That’s not to say they shouldn’t make some noise with their roster decisions. While about two-thirds of the roster was set before camp opened, I think there have been a few eye-opening performances the should have affected Botterill and Ralph Krueger’s thinking on the final 23-man roster. Continue reading
The Instigator Podcast 8.3 – Sabres Training Camp Primer
While the additions of Colin Miller, Marcus Johansson, Henri Jokiharju and Jimmy Vesey were welcome, the lack of movement off the Sabres roster has become a point of annoyance. We dig in to the overabundance of bodies on Buffalo’s blueline and bottom six, and try to determine what options face the Sabres as they enter camp. We spitball what the team’s lines may look like while taking a quick look back at last weekend’s prospects challenge.
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