The Sabres waived Vinny Hinostroza on Wednesday afternoon, opening the door for the team to officially carry three goaltenders on the roster. We discuss the decision to waive Hinostroza, the challenges of carrying three goalies and how this decision affects Buffalo’s outlook as they work to stay in the Eastern Conference playoff race. We start the show with a conversation about Ivan Provorov and his decision to not wear the Flyers Pride Night warmup jersey earlier this week.Continue reading
The Instigator Podcast 11.16 – Sabres New Year’s Resolutions
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.
No One Cause to Sabres Goal Prevention Issues
The Sabres have a goal prevention issue. Many have boiled it down to a goaltending issue, but it’s not that simple. Although, it’s played a big role.
Tage Thompson just tied the franchise record for goals in a game as part of a 9-4 win. The Sabres have scored four or more goals in seven of their last 10 games but are just 5-4-1 in that span. The Sabres have scored the most goals in the entire league but are six points out of the Wild Card race. It’s a peculiar situation they find themselves in and their inability to keep pucks out of their net is one of the most frustrating aspects of what’s been a promising season.
Buffalo is currently in the top half of the league in xGF% according to Natural Stat Trick and that positive goal differential is commendable considering the next closest differential belongs to the Flames who are dead even as of this writing and sitting 21st in the league in overall standings.
The Sabres’ recent loss to the Lightning was a contest that highlighted more than a few of Buffalo’s most notable struggles on the year. The penalty kill struggled, they surrendered a third period lead and their goaltending wasn’t up to snuff. Given how quickly things fell apart on the Sabres, I wanted to go back through the game and see how it all unfolded. Below are each of the six goals from the Tampa game broken down into a handful of key steps as each goal developed and was scored. It illustrates nicely just how many different factors came together to sink the Sabres and how many of these issues have been present in many of the team’s contests this year.Continue reading
The Instigator Podcast 11.13 – Answers in Goal Won’t Come Easy for the Sabres
While virtually every aspect of the Buffalo Sabres play has been humming of late, their netminders have been suspect for most of the season. Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen has been given an opportunity to prove his worth to the organization, but early returns have been questionable. Finding a solution that offers the club a true improvement in net is easier said than done. We discuss the shortcomings in goal plus the challenges that will face the Sabres in trying to once again improve between the pipes.
Fit Check: 2022-23 Sabres Goaltenders
It’s taken a little longer than usual due to the late-November launch of the Sabres alternate jersey but all the different sets of gear worn by Buffalo’s goaltenders have now seen the ice (with the exception of Eric Comrie’s black and red setup).
The black and red uniforms offer a great shift for the team’s netminders, providing a drastically different look for each when the team wears their new third jersey. Perhaps we will see more mask art or pads for the team’s Reverse Retro jerseys, but for now each goalie has sported two different sets on the year. It offers a great variety of looks and there’s a similar collection of mask art to admire. I’ve included Rochester’s goaltenders in the mix as well since more gear is always more fun.Continue reading
The Instigator Podcast 10.19 – Sabres Goaltending in Crisis
The Sabres goaltending woes have continued for a second-straight season as the injury bug has bitten the team hard. We discuss the most recent injuries to Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen and Malcolm Subban and what it means for Buffalo’s outlook. We also discuss Jack Quinn’s NHL debut and the promise he showed in his first game for the Sabres. The show opens with a discussion of Evander Kane’s latest exploits and whether or not the Oilers should be pursuing him as hard as they appear to be.
Two in the Mailbox – Visions of 2025?
Back with another edition of the 2ITB Mailbag. Thanks to those who wrote in and if you want to participate in the next one, send me a tweet tagged with #2ITBmailbag.
@passoffpads – The year is 2025 and the Sabres are preparing for the Stanley Cup Finals (because even we can dream). Who is the goalie? Who is the captain? Who is the leading scorer? Who is the coach?
Let me just start by saying, I love your optimism. If the Sabres are a Cup contender in the 24-25 season, quite a few things will have needed to go right for them. The 2020 and 21 drafts will need to be paying dividends and the picks they’re set to make next June and in 2023 may have a say in that as well. I think Don Granato would still be the coach in this scenario, as the ramp up to Cup contender in that 24-25 season (or 25-26) would need to start in October of 2022. The likes of Owen Power, Jack Quinn and JJ Peterka will need to fill big roles and Granato will be the one welcoming them to the league next fall, so it’s only logical to conclude that the Sabres would be riding a wave that he helped start.Continue reading
The Instigator Podcast 10.15 – More COVID Issues Running through the NHL
COVID outbreaks continue to impact the NHL schedule as this week has seen a number of teams impacted by positive tests and game postponements. We discuss how these most recent outbreaks are affecting the NHL schedule and what influence it may have on the league’s ability to send players to the Olympics. Also on the docket is the impressive play of Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen and how he may be influencing Buffalo’s choices in net. Lastly, we touch on the World Junior Championships rosters, the Sabres prospects expected to participate and who we predict to take home gold in this year’s tournament.
The Instigator Podcast 10.14 – Can the Sabres Solve their Goalie Woes?
Malcolm Subban has been acquired, Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen has been recalled and there’s still no end in sight for Buffalo’s issues in net. We discuss what options are left to the Sabres as they navigate an injury crisis to their goaltenders and how it could affect the remainder of the season. Along the way we touch on the latest round of firings as Jim Benning and Travis Green are out in Vancouver and Alain Vigneault has been fired by the Flyers.
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Finding a Remedy for the Sabres Goaltending Blues
The Sabres are set to enter the year with a 40-year old who nearly retired and a 32 year old who, up until the spring, hadn’t seen NHL action in four seasons. It’s an unenviable position to be in. And one that is indicative of the larger issues the Sabres are expected to face this year.
Of course, it isn’t exactly surprising either.
When the dust settled on July 29 and the Sabres we left with Craig Anderson and Aaron Dell as their prizes from the goaltending carousel, it became evident that Buffalo wouldn’t be counting on their goalies to steal them many games. That one of their two offseason acquisitions has now been moved to Rochester is even less encouraging.
Short of completely forgetting how to play the position, Anderson was always going to enter the season as Buffalo’s starter. It was the backup position that was truly up in that air. Though I think anyone inside KeyBank Center would have told you Dell and Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen were the only two true competitors ahead of camp.
It’s gone a completely different direction since. Dell was downright dreadful, and reports have now surfaced that the Sabres aren’t happy with how he arrived in camp. Meanwhile, UPL simply couldn’t grab the reins. He’d put in a good period here or there but his larger body of work just wasn’t good enough. Much like his four-game audition last year, he turned in some quality play but at the end of the day, too many pucks wound up behind him.Continue reading