Category Archives: Buffalo Sabres

SeeYouInOctober’s Tournament of Greatness: The Sweet 16

If you’ve been paying attention to our tournament thus far there have been a few upsets, lots of overtime games and some great discussions on the road to finding out who the best player in the history of New York and Boston sports is. Today we’re giving the athletes the day off to post the updated bracket to catch you up on what’s been happening in the frenzied first and second round. Tomorrow we will release the entire round of 16 for your voting pleasure. Currently there is one match up undecided with Pedro Martinez and Mariano Rivera dueling late into extra innings, so you still have time to cast your votes here.

Brady Region: #8 Patrick Ewing vs #9 Dominik Hasek

When we on the selection committee came up with the pairings for this tournament this match-up stuck out. Not because of how tight it could be or how intriguing but for just how wildly different these two athletes were. One thing’s for sure though during the 90s these guys were both pretty vital to the Knicks and Sabres, although neither was ever able to get to the top of the mountain.

Drafted first overall in the 1985 draft, Patrick Ewing went on to be one of the best guys to ever strap up in the orange and blue and MSG.   Ewing would go on to play for the Knicks for 15 years in which he was an All-Star 11 times and an All-NBA First Team selection once (1990). Although he never led the league in any category Ewing’s career numbers of 21.0 ppg, 9.8 rpg and 2.4 bpg are still stellar. Too bad he played during the Jordan Era as the only team he was ever a part of that made it to the NBA Finals came during the lockout shortened season 1998-99 season, the year after MJ retired. On the bright side Patrick Ewing was a guest star in one of the greatest sports movies of all time, Space Jam, where he was unfortunately again overshadowed by his airness.

Dominik Hasek played for a number of teams over the years but none for longer than his tenure with the Buffalo Sabres including a phenomenal stretch of six straight years in which he led the NHL in save percentage. In the 1997-98 season he set a team record with 13 shutouts and won the Hart Award for the second time the first goalie in history to ever accomplish the feat. In the next season he won his third straight Vezina Trophy and led the Sabres to the Stanley Cup, where they fell short to the Dallas Stars. He didn’t have the longevity of the greats like Brodeur but was definitely the best guy to ever crouch between the pipes for the Sabres.

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New York VS. Boston Tournament of Greatness

In the spirit of March Madness and the great rivalries and players in the history of New York and Boston we here at SeeYouInOctober are putting it to a vote. We have combed through the annals of the Celtics, Red Sox, Patriots, Bruins, Knicks, Nets, Yankees, Mets, Giants, Bills, Jets, Rangers, Sabres, Islanders and Devils to find the 64 players deserving of entry. There were so many great players and we had to make tough decisions, but we feel this is the best field. Our primary considerations included championships, MVP awards and how long a given player was with the team. Beyond that was where the real arguments came in. How do you quantify the city’s connection with a given player if it doesn’t compare to the success of another player? From the very beginning we set out to make a blog that honors greatness and post season success.

Over the coming days we will have four play-in games (you can vote for Rajon Rondo or Deron Williams right now click here.) pitting promising young New York and Boston players who may prove they belong when their career is over, but at present time have too small a sample size. They will then in all likelihood be slaughtered by the number one in their given sport. Our schedule will follow that of the NCAA tournament, so be sure to vote early and often in the frenzied first couple of days. And now without further ado: The SeeYouInOctober Tournament of Greatness!

Who did we leave off? Where were the biggest snubs? Who is the favorite to win it all? Let us know what you think via our twitter (@seeuinoctober) or leave us a comment. Download the bracket, print it out and play along at home. Every vote counts, so make your case for your favorite players.

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The Chase for the Cup

As we near the stretch run of the 2011-2012 NHL regular season, the Buffalo Sabres are in a deep hole and looking to dig themselves out of a very competitive and tight Eastern Conference playoff race. With that being said, nearly every team in this conference is alive for a playoff spot. We will begin from last place up to first place.

15) Carolina Hurricanes (20-25-9) 49 pts.

In Or Out?: Out

Facts:

-29th in NHL in goals against

-6-13-6 road record

-Points back of 8th-12

Carolina has played better as of late, but their miserable start will make it nearly impossible to make the postseason with the lack of depth on offense, along with lackluster play from goaltenders Cam Ward and Brian Boucher this season.

14) Canadiens De Montre’al (21-24-9) 51 pts

Odds of making postseason: 20%

In Or Out?: Out

Story: Does having a coach who doesn’t speak French considered wrong? Granted, head coach Randy Cunneyworth’s team has not exactly been up to snuff, but the team is filled with a lot of youth and talent and could be considered a force in the next couple years.

13) Tampa Bay Lightning (23-24-5) 51 pts

Odds of making postseason: 20%

In Or Out?: Out

Story: Same as Carolina and Buffalo. Lack of consistent scoring, underwhelming goaltending (cant blame Roloson being 41 years old), but a bright note is Steven Stamkos who is tearing the league up this season, well on his way to winning the Richard Trophy.

12) Buffalo Sabres (23-24-6) 52 pts.

If Vanek and the Sabres continue their hot streak they could sneak into the post season.

In Or Out?: Uncertain/Out

Facts:

-tied for last in East in goal differential (-28)

-tied for 28th in goals for (128)

-on pace for lowest scoring total in a season in franchise history.

-points back of 8th-11

Buffalo has four less games played compared to idle Ottawa who have 61 points through 56 games. The Sabres have potted 7 out of 8 possible points the last four games. They have a heavy home schedule for the month of February, with 8 of their next 11 at First Niagara Center. This is the same month last year when they dwindled near the Eastern Conference basement before storming back in March and April to make the playoffs. With Gerbe and Ennis healthy, the energy shown on the ice has picked up considerably. Don’t count out these Sabres yet.

11) New York Islanders (22-22-8) 52 pts

It looks like the Islanders are down and out. Again. (Mike Stobe/NHLI via Getty Images)

In or Out?: Out

Story: Well, who would’ve thought that the New York Islanders would be anywhere but the basement this late in the season. Goaltender Evgeni Nabakov and Al Montoya have been stellar for the Isles this season. With a great core of talent, shoring up the defense will make this team a playoff contender next season.

10) Winnipeg Jets (25-24-6) 56 pts

In Or Out?: Likely Out

Story: With 8 players having 20 points or more, the Jets’ are a balanced club who have been energized by the city of Winnipeg. If goaltender Ondrej Pavelec gets hot at the right time, you can see these Jets flying into the playoffs as the 7th or 8th seed.

9) Florida Panthers (24-17-11) 59 pts

In Or Out?: In

Story: Florida has been a pleasant surprise this season, but I think they will bow out to Washington for the Southeast division crown. But they could join Winnipeg in sneaking in the bottom two spots in the playoffs. I have a lot of confidence in head coach Kevin Dineen, who has an experienced club in front of him.

Ottawa Senators (27-22-7) 61 pts

In Or Out?: Out

I just do not see the Sens continuing the pace they are going at.

7) Toronto Maple Leafs (28-20-6) 62 pts

In Or Out?: On The Fence

Jury isn’t out on the Leafs yet, but having 30 goal scorer Phil Kessel and the USSR line definitely helps.

6) Pittsburgh Penguins (30-19-5) 65 pts

In Or Out?: In

Proved last season they could win without both Crosby and Malkin, they have the latter right now for this season.

5) New Jersey Devils (31-19-3) 64 pts

Martin Brodeur and the Devils look to continue their playoff push in Buffalo tomorrow.

In Or Out?: In

Not the prettiest style of play, but they have a bunch of no-names who work well as a unit.

4) Philadelphia Flyers (30-16-7) 67 pts

In Or Out?: In

Trades paid dividends in offseason. Almost no drop in play after their top two scorers left for free agency.

3) Washington Capitals (28-21-4) 62 pts

In or Out?: In, if their goaltending shapes up.

2) Boston Bruins (33-17-2) 68 pts

In or Out?: In

Very strong team that can roll four lines and score on all of them. Rough stretch lately but they will right the ship.

The Rangers are the current beast of the East. (Scott Levy/NHLI via Getty Images)

1) New York Rangers (33-13-5) 71 pts

In or Out?: In

Despite their horrendous power play, the Rangers from top to bottom are as balanced and strong as any team in the East.

So my playoff positions in the Eastern Conference are as follows,

1) Boston Bruins

2) New York Rangers

3) Washington Capitals

4) Pittsburgh Penguins

5) Philadelphia Flyers

6) Florida Panthers

7) New Jersey Devils

Toronto Maple Leafs

Best chance to sneak in: Buffalo Sabres

-Special thanks to Lars Lewis for his reporting and analysis. Lars can be reached via twitter @larslewis12

Who has the best chance of sneaking into the post season and who will come out of the East? Let us know what you think via our twitter (@seeuinoctober) or leave us a comment.

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Better Late Than Never

The Sabres have been pushing their opponents around lately. (Bill Wippert/NHLI via Getty Images)

Since the last blog the Buffalo Sabres have been playing outstanding. The Sabres are now 4-0-1 in the last five games and it’s about time. January wasn’t a great month to be a Sabres fan, but so far three games in, February is changing that quickly.  It’s almost like the Sabres are a new team. While we can’t confirm it is because they are reading SeeYouInOctober, we like to believe that has something to do with it. Maybe Ryan Miller has been reading when he searches for his wife Noureen DeWulf because she is our second highest search item. Second only to Minka Kelly (Our hits just doubled.)

Against the Rangers they lost in a shootout 1-0, but playing the number one team in that conference that close proved what fans have known all year: this team isn’t as bad as their record. Then on the road against the New York Islanders, a team that has had Buffalo’s number so far this season, the Sabres took it to shootout and win, showing improvement. Also Ryan Miller broke Dominik Hasek’s franchise record of 234 wins. Miller’s 235th career win marked the first time Hasek has not held the record since Hasek surpassed Don Edwards (156 wins) on Nov. 3, 1998 in a 4-2 win vs. Boston.

The biggest climb of the ladder was the last game at home against the Boston Bruins.  It is important to take care of business at home and the Sabres did just that, burying the Bruins 6-0. It was only the second time they’ve scored six goals in a game this season, and Buffalo’s largest margin of victory this season. The Sabres looked confident, hungry and capable of playing against a rival and playoff contender. Especially after losing their Head Coach Lindy Ruff just two days earlier to a freak accident. Ruff and Defenseman Jordan Leopold collided in practice, breaking three ribs, and making it impossible for Lindy to coach from the bench.  Assistant Coach James Patrick took a hold of the reins and Lindy partially coached from the press box via headset. Forward Patrick Kaleta set the tone early earning a third star for the night. Kaleta came out swinging stepping up to Boston’s Milan Lucic with a couple fights, and had a goal on Tim Thomas, retribution for past transgressions against the Sabres. Miller got another shutout after taking 36 shots, which earned him his first star and Captain Jason Pominville earns second star with 2 goals on 4 shots.

The Sabres extended their win streak last night with a 3-2 shout out victory over the Dallas Stars at the First Niagara Center. Star Thomas Vanek returned to the line-up after missing three games with an upper body injury. One thing is clear this team healthy is a force, and if they can stay on these winning ways it’s possible they could push for the playoffs. But with the trade deadline lurking who knows what the end of this month might bring.

-Special thanks to Nick Stutzman for his reporting and analysis.

Can the Sabres keep up their hot play? Let us know what you think via our twitter (@seeuinoctober) or leave us a comment.

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The Second Half Begins

Goalie Ryan Miller was near perfect for Buffalo. (Francois Lacasse/NHLI via Getty Images)

Buffalo Sabres 3 Montreal Canadiens 1

The Buffalo Sabres came back from All-Star weekend somewhat refreshed. Only two players were busy participating in the event, Captain Jason Pominville and Luke Adam. For the first time with a healthy defense, the Sabres took on the Canadiens in Montreal for the finale of their seven-game road trip.  The Sabres played the New Jersey Devils before break and won in shootout overtime 2-1, while the Canadiens ended the Detroit Red Wings seven-game winning streak by an overwhelming score of 7-2. Sabres center Paul Gaustad and Tyler Ennis made comebacks with only Jochen Hecht still out on injury from the regular squad. Luke Adam and Marc-Andre Gragnani were healthy scratches as T.J. Brennan battles flu-like symptoms. The biggest twist for last night’s game was that not only Ennis came back, but he played center on a line with Nathan Gerbe and Drew Stafford.

The first period belonged to the Habs, even though they were out-shot by the Sabres 14-8, they were first to get on the board with a goal less than 5 minutes into the game from Max Pacioretty.  The Sabres ended the first period losing both on the score board and personnelwise as star player Thomas Vanek was lost to an upper body injury for the rest of the game.

In the second period momentum began to shift as Habs goalie Carey Price’s luck ran out and he let a top shelf goal into the net off the stick of Ville Leino. Leino’s goal was set up by some solid passing from Christian Ehrhoff and Gaustad, who added with the assists. Price was the only thing holding the ship together for Montreal as the team was out-shot again in that period 19-7, with the Sabres abusing the Canadiens defense.  Montreal also found themselves in some penalty trouble, but the Sabres weren’t able to convert any power play opportunities as they continue to struggle in this area.

In the final period the Sabres came out flying. Only six minutes into the third, Gaustad made his return known scoring his fifth goal of the season right in front

Leino provided a goal for Buffalo. Here he is colliding with Subban. (Francois Lacasse/NHLI via Getty Images)

of Price on the assist from Brad Boyes. Sabres Goalie Ryan Miller was on his head as the Habs were pushing mid-to late period and laying on the pressure and he did not break.  Forward Pat Kaleta delivered the nail on the empty netter with 51 seconds left in the game assisted by Gaustad and Ehrhoff again, both guys in the action all night.

When Buffalo went to Boston on November 12th they were riding a four game win streak. 81 days later, the Sabres win two games in a row. First regulation win for the Sabres since January 13th, and they end the month of January with just 4 wins out of 12 games. The top performers of the game were Gaustad with a goal and two assists, Ehrhoff with two assists, Miller stopping 27 of 28 shots and Tyler Ennis making his presence felt on offense. Who knows what the next night will bring as the Sabres look to take on New York Rangers, who just lost against the Devils in a 4-3 shootout. The Sabres will return home to the First Niagara Center to see what kind of energy the fans can bring into this game. The Sabres still have a rough road ahead of them to make their way back into this division and possible playoff contenders. Who knows what else Head Coach Lindy Ruff might do, with Vanek out for an unknown period, he will have to shake things up some more as they try to extend this win streak.

-Special thanks to Nick Stutzman for his reporting and analysis.

Is there hope for this Sabres squad in the second half of the season? Let us know what you think via our twitter (@seeuinoctober) or leave us a comment.

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The Mid Term Report: Buffalo Sabres

Jason Pominville was selected to team Alfredsson for the 2012 NHL All-Star Game. (Andre Ringuette/NHLI via Getty Images)

As students return to school for the beginning of spring semester, I would like to hand out my grades for a group of individuals who spent a little too much time in the mess hall, and not enough in the gym (well rink if you wanna be all technical about it). But before we get to the report card, allow us to set the stage for what transpired from July 1st, to now.

The Buffalo Sabres currently head into the All-Star break tied for last place in the Eastern Conference. Now hold that thought, let is sit, and process that. Last place in a conference where the Sabres were predicted by numerous outlets on television, magazines, and of course here in Buffalo to be world beaters and run roughshod over the conference. Those extremely lofty expectations driven by the acquisitions of defenseman Christian Ehrhoff, Robyn Regehr, and forward Ville Leino, equaled a parade down Delaware Avenue with Lord Stanley riding shotgun with owner Terry Pegula. But as the season transpired, those Sabres quickly turned from Stanley Cup contenders, to a team on the edge of extinction from even the playoff picture. Here is my report card on this embattled squad from the Queen City.

OFFENSE: C-

Goals For Rank: 14th EAST (25th NHL)

Avg: 2.37 goals per game

Overview

Lindy Ruff has an uncanny ability to turn potential 30-40 goal scorers, into 15-20 goal grinders with his constant emphasis on back-checking. All I have seen this year is an unhealthy dose of dump and chase, which is the most torturous style of offense I’ve ever seen. There is no creativity moving the puck past the opposing blue line. Seeing Derek Roy trying to stick handle by the Red Wings was borderline comical showing just how inept Buffalo has been in driving the puck towards the net.

Forwards With Extra Credit

Jason Pominville (17-30-47): The captain has proven he wants to lead his team by example. He is a great two-way player who can play all facets of the game, scoring on Brodeur in the shootout against New Jersey last night to keep it going proved to me that he still wants to win. Pominville will play in the NHL All-Star game for team Alfredsson tomorrow night.

Nathan Gerbe (4-13-17): This modern day Pat Verbeek just impresses me more and more each and every game he plays. Nathan plays with such ferocity and conviction that I wish would be rubbed off on his fellow forwards. Their enthusiasm is as noticeable as Ron Paul is to any corporate media outlet that covers the GOP nomination.

Forward Overstaying His Welcome

Roy and Stafford are among Ruff and Regier of Sabres who have been here too long.
Derek Roy (9-16-25) (-11) Roy has been a poison to the Sabres with selfish play, lack of effort in the defensive zone and lazy penalties, costing Buffalo a goal last night against the Devils. Roy is the senior tenant on the team, and a change of scenery is desperately needed for both him, and the fans.

DEFENSE: D

Goals Against Rank: 11th EAST (3.00 per game) 26th NHL

Fast Fact: Only one defenseman is on the plus side in +/- (Marc Andre Gragnani +10)

Where to begin with this bunch? Let’s say that it is another carousel of pairings from the injury ravaged Myers/Regehr, to the painful Leopold/Weber line that

Rookie Center Luke Adam has provided Sabres fans some hope.

resembled little more than pylons for forwards to navigate around.

GOALTENDING: C-

After the Lucic hit on Miller Nov 12th, the Sabres are 10-18-5.
Ryan Miller (12-15-2 3.07GAA .899 sv %)

Jhonas Enroth (8-9-3 2.59GAA .919 sv %)

Blame the defense all you want, but you can’t help but notice that Miller has not had the same spring in his step this season as he did in previous campaigns. Jhonas Enroth has run into poor luck after having stellar performances in starts and in relief appearances for Miller. I understand that they pay Ryan Miller to be their franchise goaltender, but the more Miller falters, the more I’d like to see Enroth take the reigns for a couple games.

COACHING: D-

“Wait, why is he trying to stickhandle his way towards the net!?”
Lindy Ruff has overstayed his welcome here in Buffalo. The NHL is now an offensive game. Lindy has not realized that yet and continues to play dump and chase like it was Boughner, Wholley, and Holzinger out there. Mostly all of the players (except Gerbe/Pominville) seem to have quit on him. The Sabres had no business winning that game against New Jersey, they only managed to put up 14 shots all game!

OVERALL: D+

This squad has their team picture next to the word underachieving for many reasons. To keep it short and to the point, the Sabres need to be rid of the Larry Quinn era entirely. We got rid of the slugs on the uniforms, now it is time to be rid of the slug on our bench, and the slug sulking in our front office. Until that happens, that mangy silver challis may never darken the doors of First Niagara Center.

Despite the overall grim outlook for the team, two players were rewarded with trips to the All-Star Game tomorrow. Pominville will play for team Alfredsson and rookie Luke Adam will be opposing him on team Chara.

-Special thanks to Lars Lewis for his reporting and analysis.

Let us know what you think via our twitter (@seeuinoctober) or leave us a comment.

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Don’t Call it a Comeback

The Sabres are feeling good after breaking a five game losing streak. (Paul Bereswill/Getty Images)

Buffalo Sabres (20-24-5) 45 pts.

Last night the Sabres snapped a five game losing streak with a 2-1 shootout victory over the New Jersey Devils. The Sabres were 0-2 vs. the Devils so far this season, but with some healthy players coming back and the Devils star players not playing well as of late, the Sabres snagged the opportunity to get a much needed victory before the All-Star break. Goalie Ryan Miller was able to out-duel future Hall of Famer Martin Brodeur and Buffalo hopes he can continue this in the second half of the season.

Two players who returned from injury last night were defenseman Christian Erhoff and Robyn Regehr. Buffalo missed Erhoff on both defense and the power play, which has suffered since his rib injury 11 games ago. Regehr has been a staple on the penalty kill, which has also struggled since his absence with an upper body injury. With both players returning the outlook for the team will definitely change, even though there are still some good role players sidelined. Forward Tyler Ennis will be back after the break. He practiced well yesterday and Coach Lindy Ruff said he will let him come back against Montreal on the 31st. Center Paul Gaustad’s status is still undetermined with an upper body injury and requires some tests to determine when he can return. Forward Brad Boyes was out with the flu, and defenseman T.J. Brennan, who suffered a concussion earlier in the season, is close to returing, but still suffers from concussion-like symptoms and sickness so they have to be very cautious. Hopefully after the break (barring anymore setbacks) Boyes, Ennis, and Gaustad can wil be back on the ice.

There are only a few weeks left until the trade deadline at 3 pm EST on February 27, 2012. With the All-Star break coming up there will be lots of time for the Sabres management, especially GM Darcy Regier, to have a look at some of the other team’s talent and window shop to see what might help this struggling Sabres team. One of the biggest missing pieces on this Sabres team is a dual threat center. The Sabres need a center who can not only win face-offs and pass, but can play solid defense, score goals and show some positive leadership. There are a few players in the NHL that fill this role, but finding available ones on teams that are willing to trade is another subject.

Speaking hypothetically here, as talked about in last week’s blog, Anaheim’s Ryan Getzlaf is still an ideal pick up but since the deal hasn’t been pulled off by now it will in all likelihood remain a rumor and the Ducks were probably asking for a steep price. With new ownership fans are looking for an aggressive move but have to wonder, what can the Sabres give up to really get a star center? The Sabres have a lot of great talent that has been seen throughout the season due to injury, but like any potential NHL prospect, are the Sabres willing to lose them and have those players come back to haunt the team? And if they did lose them would what they gain automatically make them a playoff contender this season? Not saying the Sabres should give up on this season, but the potential stars could help in the future and build a winning team for seasons to come.

Getting back to the trade prospects, there are two guys that are not only young and have amazing talent, but in the right environment flourish and get even better. Tampa Bay Lightning’s center Steven Stamkos is one, he is a leading all centers in goals and second only to Pittsburgh’s Evegni Malkin in total points by a center. Stamkos is about to be 22 years old and he can flat out play. Only downside is that he just signed a five year $37.5 million dollar extension with Tampa as of last offseason. Even though Tampa is a shell of its former glory when they were a winning team, to give up on a stud like that would be very counter-productive. Another young solid player on a team that is making waves but can’t go far due to the team’s play is New York Islanders John Tavares. Tavares even has ties to Buffalo because his ageless uncle, John Tavares, has been a Buffalo Bandit lacrosse player since the beginning of time.  Tavares is on an Islanders team without any complimentary players. He has 48 points so far this season, and even though he has to work on his defense, Tavares is improving every game. Downside is that he did sign a 6 year contract extension for $33 million back in September. Fans can only hope Darcy is looking at these guys as possibilities. The Sabres need a spark sooner than later and a big trade could help.

Check in this week on Thursday and Friday as Tyler Perrillo and Lars Lewis preview the NHL All-Star game.

-Special thanks to Nick Stutzman for his reporting and analysis.

Is there a player out there you would like to see the Sabres pursue before the trade deadline? Let us know via our twitter (@seeuinoctober) or leave us a comment.

 

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A Certain Season of Disappointment?

Ryan Miller has struggled in the net for the Sabres.

Buffalo Sabres fans coming into this season had much to celebrate. An active owner having his team make moves, fresh blood in new players, and the idea that management was looking to make a run for the championship. Much promise and anticipation for this 2011 – 2012 season, and this might be why the first half of the season has been so tough to swallow.  Goalie Ryan Miller looks lost ever since being knocked out with a concussion, the defense has been non-existent, and the offensive lines can’t score consistently. Drama has ensued over Lindy Ruff’s ability to coach and whether or not he should be replaced. However, with the Sabres now riddled with injuries, it seems the Rochester Americans are really playing as the Sabres in disguise.

January 14th 2012, in Detroit marked the second game in a seven game road stint for the Sabres.  After losing, a close one to the New York Islanders 4-2 two nights prior, Ryan Miller was making a homecoming into Joe Louis Arena to family and friends, but there were no friends on the Red Wings’ bench. Detroit came out flying and after letting five goals on 14 shots, Miller left the ice not to return, in favor of back-up goalie Jhonas Enroth. The Sabres didn’t have an answer on offense either putting on 27 shots without finding the back of the net, giving Detroit net minder Jimmy Howard a shutout, his fifth of the season.

In his post game interview Miller told the media he did not feel that a trade was needed to fix the team’s problems. Lindy Ruff said yesterday after a team practice in preparation for the Chicago Blackhawks, “One player isn’t going to make a difference. A lot of times that one player leaving is a good player, and you’re getting a player from another team that had been having a tough time over there. It can work in situations. There are other times when it doesn’t make any difference at all.” Rumors were swirling that the team was looking at Mighty Ducks star center Ryan Getzlaf as the savior trade of the season. However, Anaheim is looking for a huge return and the Sabres would have to give up too much young talent to pull the trade off.

Tonight the Sabres play another high-powered team in the Chicago Blackhawks, who are 17-5-4 at home while the Sabres woes continue with an 8-12-0 road record. Buffalo Captain Jason Pominville and forward Thomas Vanek have provided rare bright spots for the team with 44 and 41 team points respectively, but Vanek has been plagued with reoccurring injuries. The defensive unit also has health concerns with the latest injuries coming to Christian Erhoff, who has been skating with lingering pain and discomfort and not likely to play the next two games. Robyn Regehr is day-to-day, but also not likely to play this week.  Andrej Sekera is back in the lineup on defense and TJ Brennan has been called up from Rochester. If the defense can step up, Miller return to his Olympic form, and Vanek can go on a scoring tear perhaps they can grab a win.

Buffalo hasn’t been able to pull out back-to-back wins in regulation since October 20th leaving fans searching for a sign of life in this team. Trade or no trade, injuries, and Lindy Ruff not losing his temper, this team needs to pull it together for the road stretch and play as whatever semblance of a team they can be.  Buffalo needs something to root for, and if the First Niagara Center is Hockey Heaven then let’s hope the pearly gates haven’t closed on this season already.

-Special thanks to Nick Stutzman for his reporting and analysis.

Let us know what you think via our twitter (@seeuinoctober) or leave us a comment.

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You Thought the Bills Were Bad

Jason Pominville and the Sabres were completely overwhelmed by the Wings. (Dave Reginek/NHLI via Getty Images)

Buffalo Sabres (19-21-5 43 pts.)

As I watched the massacre at the Joe Louis Arena in Detroit, Michigan, I couldn’t help but notice how far away this team is from being an elite club in the NHL. After Detroit’s 5-0 win on Monday, the first thought that crossed my mind was simple, “Lindy Ruff should be fired by the end of the evening.” Now I understand that is typical fan talk that stems after a bad loss. But this game was a prime example of how fragile this team has become physically, and mentally.

Detroit out-skated, out-muscled, and out-classed Buffalo in all facets of the game. Seeing Buffalo attempt to create an offensive rush was almost comical. Derek Roy trying to maneuver his way through the neutral zone was met with a wall of red from every angle. Aside from last night’s debacle, it seems some of the team’s problems can be traced back to Buffalo’s “beloved” owner Terry Pegula. During his first press conference on February 22nd, he addressed the status of coach Lindy Ruff and Darcy Regier at the former HSBC Arena saying both men, “Ain’t going nowhere.”

Mr. Pegula, the Sabres are well on their way of being the league’s biggest disappointment after signing multi-year contracts to highly touted free agents Christian Ehrhoff, and Villie Leino. Fans expected with a bottomless wallet and a fancy new locker room, Buffalo would take the next step in becoming one of the league’s elite teams.

After sweeping the NHL Premiere series in Finland and Germany against Anaheim and Los Angeles, fans across the area were already touting the Sabres as world-beaters. However, these victories came against two teams that are experiencing struggles of their own. The Sabres are 17-21-5 since and falling faster than Rick Perry’s popularity among people with alternative lifestyles.

Let’s go back to when Buffalo was 10-5 going into Boston November 12th, 2011 against the Bruins. When Milan Lucic ran Ryan Miller after Miller tried to move the puck from his faceoff dot, Buffalo is 9-16-5 since the incident. They have lost their identity and need to figure out what kind of team they want to be going forward.

Pegula said that both Ruff and Regier are safe, but are the fans safe from another year of the two? It is obvious that the Sabres are faltering under Ruff’s style of play, which is nothing but constant dump and chase, with little to no creativity or passing past the blue line. When they can’t control the puck in the offensive zone, how can they expect to score consistently? To that point, Buffalo has scored 2 goals or less in 8 of their last 10 games. They were shutout twice against Toronto, and most recently, Detroit.

As Buffalo continues their six game road trip, tonight they travel to Chicago to face a very balanced Blackhawks team in a very hostile United Center. After facing Chicagon and Buffalo native Patrick Kane they will have the pleasure of facing off against the putrid Winnipeg Jets. Attempting to break a 9-game road losing streak with the team’s current state of mind, will make people who have Time Warner Cable thankful that they don’t have to watch it.

-Special thanks to Lars Lewis for his reporting and analysis.

Can the Sabres turn this around? How can they get the puck moving on offense? Let us know what you think via our twitter (@seeuinoctober) or leave us a comment.

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