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Losing to the Sabres is no fun as Edmonton media lashes out

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Today's Edmonton Sun, with Zenon Konopka's fight against Luke Gazdic on the cover.


By Mike Harrington

VANCOUVER -- The Sabres are mired in 30th place in the NHL and the Edmonton Oilers are struggling to get out of 29th but they had been going well (10-4-3) until Buffalo's 3-1 win Thursday in Rexall Place. By the tenor of Friday's Edmonton newspapers, you'd have thought the Oil was in the thick of the playoff hunt and not washed up weeks agao.

Photo 3The Oilers took a beating in their hometown media Friday, as the pictures that accompany this post show. Veteran Sun columnist Terry Jones called the game a "Grade A Large egg" in his column, pictured at left and linked above.

Oilers star Taylor Hall was left to answer whether the NHL's 29th-place team could have actually taken someone lightly. He didn't seem too pleased at getting those questions.

The win was the Sabres' 20th of the season, making them the last team in the NHL to reach that mark and ensuring they wouldn't join the 1971-72 team as the only ones in franchise history to not win 20 a season. Oddly enough, the Sabres won 22 and 21 games, respectively, in the lockout seasons of 1995 and 2013.

And the franchise record-low of 51 points from the 71-72 team that went 16-43-19 should be safe. The current Sabres have 48 points and still have 12 games to go.

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Today's Edmonton Journal. Click for a bigger view.

In regulation, the Sabres have beaten Florida, Toronto, Winnipeg, Boston, New Jersey, Columbus, Phoenix, Carolina, San Jose, Tampa Bay and Edmonton. They've beaten Toronto, Phoenix and Boston a second time, all in overtime. And they have shootout wins over the New York Islanders, San Jose, Los Angeles, Ottawa and Washington (twice).

So two wins apiece over Boston and San Jose, as well as Toronto, Phoenix and Washington.

Hey Edmonton: Settle down.

Numerology on tonight's Draft Bowl vs. Edmonton

By Mike Harrington

Some pretty interesting numbers heading into tonight's Draft Bowl, the first of two meetings this year between the 29th-place Edmonton Oilers and 30th-place Buffalo Sabres:

---The teams haven't met in more than two years, since a 4-3 Sabres win here on Jan. 3, 2012. Buffalo has won the last six meetings -- and the Oilers haven't beaten the Sabres since Oct. 16, 2003 at Rexall Place. They haven't won in Buffalo since March 4, 2002. Ryan Miller has started all six of those games, going 6-0, 1.67 and .943 but Jhonas Enroth is starting tonight against Ilya Bryzgalov.

---Matt Moulson, who is injured and won't play tonight, leads the Sabres with 33 points. The most among guys who have been in Buffalo all year is 29 by Cody Hodgson. The Oilers have four players with more points -- Taylor Hall (54), Jordan Eberle (45), Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (42) and David Perron (39).

---The games features the NHL's bottom four players in plus-minus. Sabres captain Steve Ott is minus-24, defenseman Tyler Myers is minus-26 (including minus-11 in the last seven games), defenseman Mike Weber is minus-29 and Edmonton winger Nail Yakupov is minus-30. Holy moly.

---Who's leading after two periods is a key stat most nights. It seems doubly important tonight. Leading after two, Buffalo is 5-0-2 and Edmonton is 11-1-2. Trailing after two, the Sabres are 2-26-4 and the Oilers are 3-29-1. Yeesh.

---The Sabres are 5-12-1 against the West and the Oilers are 9-12-2 against the East.

---The Sabres have scored 99 goals this season (the standings show 105 because they count six shootout winners).  Florida is the next lowest at 126. Edmonton has 145.

---Despite being in last place, the Sabres are only 19th in goals against with 157 (thank you, Ryan Miller). Edmonton is dead last at 192 and the Sabres are averaging 2.8 goals over their last 10 games, a pretty good clip.

---The Oilers are 19th on the power play (17.7 percent) and 17th on the penalty kill (80.9) but they're just 28th on the road on the PP (11.6). The Sabres are 24th overall on the PP (14.7) and 15th on the PK (81.3).

---The Oilers are coming off Saturday's 4-0 loss at Boston that snapped a three-game winning streak. Prior to that run, they had been on hellacious slumps of 2-8-3 and 4-14-3.

---Edmonton was buried early, just like the Sabres. The Oilers started 1-6-1 and were 4-15-2 on Nov. 15. The Sabres were also 1-6-1 at one point en route to 1-9-1, and were 4-15-1 when Ron Rolston was fired on Nov. 13. and Ted Nolan coached his first game two days later.

Ice chips: Kane named Nov. First Star, Wings clipped by injuries again, Edmonton names arena

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Patrick Kane is third in the NHL with 16 goals (Getty Images).



By Mike Harrington

Here's an afternoon update of news and notes from around the NHL:

---South Buffalo's Patrick Kane was named the NHL's First Star for November after collecting nine goals and 19 points as the Chicago Blackhawks moved into first place overall. They Hawks did it in part by going 6-1 on their annual extended road trip when the circus moves into United Center.  Kane is third in the league with 16 goals and is tied for fifth with 30 points in 28 games this season. The second star was Pittsburgh's Evgeni Malkin and the third star was Minnesota goalie Josh Harding.

---Pavel Datsyuk missed the Red Wings' Nov. 24 win here over the Sabres with an apparent concussion suffered the night before in Ottawa. Now captain Henrik Zetterberg is out of the lineup for at least two weeks with a herniated disc in his back, the team announced today.  He leads the team with 30 points in 19 games. (An aside on Datsyuk: I said the hit by Ottawa's Jared Cowen was worthy of a Shanaban. Now he's been out two weeks and there was no suspension? Terrible).

---The Edmonton Oilers have announced their new arena opening in 2016 will be named Rogers Place. It replaces Rexall Place, the former Northlands Coliseum during the Wayne Gretzky glory days. The building has seen better days and is now well behind its counterparts.

Rogers is just everywhere in Canada, especially with the new TV deal. As friend of the blog and NHL.com senior writer Dan Rosen points out, we already have Rogers Arena (in Vancouver), the NHL has its new multi-billion TV deal with Rogers, Rogers owns 37.5 percent of the Toronto Maple Leafs and, of course, the Blue Jays play in Rogers Centre.

NHL makes Clarkson's 10-game suspension official, hands five-game ban to ex-Sabre Kassian

By Mike Harrington

Some quick news Monday night from the NHL Department of Player Safety:

---David Clarkson of the Leafs has officially been handed a 10-game suspension for (foolishly) leaving the bench to join Sunday night's Sabres-Leafs scrum. That costs him more than $269,000 and keeps him out of the lineup until Toronto's 11th game, which is Oct. 25 against Columbus.

---There is no word on any penalty yet to Leafs winger Phil Kessel for his stick chops at John Scott. That one is going to require a hearing in the next day or two but Kessel did get a match penalty so should get at least one game.

---Vancouver winger Zack Kassian, the former Sabres No. 1 draft pick, has earned a five-game suspension and will also miss the final three preseason games for the reckless use of his stick. Kassian broke the jaw of Edmonton's Sam Gagner Saturday night in Rexall Place. Here's Brendan Shanahan's video explanation:

The Gretzky trade: Hockey changed forever 25 years ago today

By Mike Harrington

It was 25 years ago this afternoon -- Aug. 9, 1988 -- that the NHL changed forever.

It happened via an epochal moment some say is akin to Paul Henderson's 1972 goal to beat the Russians or the 1980 U.S. Miracle on Ice, even though it never happened near the ice.

This is the anniversary of the day the Edmonton Oilers stunned Canada and the entire hockey world by trading Wayne Gretzky to the Los Angeles Kings. The Kings had been in the NHL for 21 years by that point but this is the moment most hockey experts say is responsible for the growth of the sport in California. The Kings and Ducks have won Stanley Cups and plenty of youth players nowcome from the Golden State, including Sabres defenseman Chad Ruhwedel.

The Edmonton Sun, naturally, has a special section that's well worth a look. It's in multiple parts, with lots of video and written by veteran columnist Terry Jones. Today's part, the trade day itself, is particularly noteworthy. 

For an incredible collection of newspaper images from the day, go to this page on BergerBytes, the lively blog by longtime Toronto radio reporter Howard Berger.

For 99 facts about the deal in honor of Gretzky's number, check out this entry on Yahoo's Puck Daddy blog.

NHL.com has a great collection of videos from the day at this page. The actual announcement of the trade by Oilers owner Peter Pocklington is at the top of this post and click below for Gretzky's memorable breakdown when he referred to teammate Mark Messier, and his recollections of the deal today.

The night the power went out on the Stanley Cup final

By Mike Harrington

At least the folks in New Orleans got the Super Bowl restarted after the lights went out. When things went dark during Game Four of the 1988 Stanley Cup final in old Boston Garden, the game was suspended and the series was sent back to Edmonton for the Oilers to wrap up the Cup.

Check out the video here. There was a lot of fog too, circa the Aud 1975.

Video: No late fail for Oilers' Nail in wild OT win over Kings

By Mike Harrington

Thursday's late-night special had a spectacular finish as the Edmonton Oilers rallied for a 2-1 overtime win over the struggling Los Angeles Kings after a wild final minute of regulation.

The Oilers tied the game, or so it seemed, with 1:05 left on a goal by Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. But after a sudden discussion by officials, the goal was wiped out due to goaltender interference and fans at Rexall Place erupted. The ice was showered with debris and the game was delayed for about 10 minutes.

When it resumed, the Oilers scored the tying goal (again) as No. 1 overall pick Nail Yakupov swatted a rebound out of mid-air past Jonathan Quick with 4.7 seconds left -- and then took off down the ice for a knee-sliding celebration that reminded everyone of Theo Fleury circa 1991. Sam Gagner won the game with a goal in OT. With young stars all over, Edmonton has been great fun to watch so far.

Continue reading "Video: No late fail for Oilers' Nail in wild OT win over Kings" »

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John Vogl

John Vogl

John Vogl has been covering the Sabres since 2002-03, an era that has included playoff runs, last-place finishes and three ownership changes. The award-winning writer is the Buffalo chapter chairman for the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association.

@BuffNewsVogl | jvogl@buffnews.com

About Sabres Edge


Mike Harrington

Mike Harrington

Mike Harrington, a Canisius College graduate who began his career as a News reporter in 1987, has been covering the Buffalo Sabres since 2007. He is a member of the Professional Hockey Writers' Association and can vouch that exposed flesh freezes instantly when walking in downtown Winnipeg in January.

@BNHarrington | mharrington@buffnews.com


Amy Moritz

Amy Moritz

Amy Moritz, a native of Lockport, has a bachelor’s degree in journalism/mass communication from St. Bonaventure University and a master’s degree in humanities from the University at Buffalo. An endurance athlete, she has completed several triathlons, half marathons and marathons.

@amymoritz | amoritz@buffnews.com

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