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A Saturday gone haywire: MeshGoal in Detroit, line brawl and near hall-brawl in Vancouver

By Mike Harrington

Most of your attention last night was probably focused on Tylers Two getting the Sabres a last-minute point in their shootout loss to Columbus. But the rest of the NHL is buzzing over what took place in the final seconds in Detroit and the first two seconds in Vancouver.

The Red Wings earned a 3-2 shootout win over Los Angeles -- only because their tying goal with 26.1 seconds left clearly soared high into the mesh before plopping into the net off the back of Kings goalie Jonathan Quick. Incredibly, that's not a reviewable situation! So the goal counts, and we have a likely rule change for when the league's GMs have their next meeting in March.

Seriously, every goal is reviewable and a puck out of play leading to a goal should be also. That said, how did FOUR officials on the ice miss such an obvious thing? That's even more hard to believe. Even the Red Wings admitted it shouldn't have counted.

Best line came from Kings coach Darryl Sutter, referring to the Jan. 25 Kings-Ducks game at Dodger Stadium: "What are they going to do at the outdoor game? What happens if it goes through a cumulus cloud?"

Just as that one finished, choas broke out in Vancouver with a full line brawl after just two seconds of the game against the Flames that the Canucks eventually won in a shootout. Calgary coach Bob Hartley started a tough guy lineup up front with Kevin Westgarth at center and Vancouver's John Tortorella countered. Defenseman Kevin Bieksa took the opening faceoff vs. Westgarth and it was on.

After the first period, things got even more dicey as Tortorella tried to confront Hartley in the hallway leading to the Calgary dressing room, with Flames goalie coach and ex-Sabre netminder Clint Malarchuk having to be restrained too. Not a good scene.

I would think Hartley might be looking at one of those handy-dandy "player selection" fines the league suddenly created for Ron Rolston in the wake of the John Scott-Phil Kessel preseason dustup. (Or was that only a made-for-Toronto rule?). Hartley's postgame assertion that Tortorella had the last lineup decision was silly. Torts sees who the Flames are starting and he's going to throw, say, Daniel Sedin and Ryan Kesler on the ice? Please. 

That said, Tortorella can't go rogue and try to instigate in the dressing room hallway either. That's just not a good look for anybody, unless you're culling videos for places like Deadspin. Tortorella is reportedly going to have a hearing with the league and don't expect Colin Campbell & Co. to look too kindly upon his antics. This could be a multi-game suspension.

Click below to see videos of all the shenanigans, including Torts' pointed postgame comments:

Continue reading "A Saturday gone haywire: MeshGoal in Detroit, line brawl and near hall-brawl in Vancouver" »

To end home futility, history provides fighting chance vs. Kings

By Mike Harrington

When I wrote today's Sabres story on their struggles in First Niagara Center, I didn't know the startling fact that I updated the Web version with early this morning: A loss tonight against the Los Angeles Kings makes the Sabres the second team in NHL history to go winless at home in their first 10 games of a season. Jeez. 

The Sabres are currently 0-8-1 and the record for worst NHL start at home was set by the 1983-84 Pittsburgh Penguins, who went 0-9-2 (that's two ties) at then-Civic Arena. They finally won a game on Nov. 23, 1983 at the Igloo by beating New Jersey, 4-1.

That Pittsburgh team finished 16-58-6 and their 38 points was last overall in the NHL. It's widely believed the club tanked its season to get the No. 1 overall pick in the 1984 draft -- which it turned into Mario Lemieux. Hmmm. Sounds like a familiar strategy, even though there's no Lemieux in the offing at next June's league meeting in Philadelphia.

Continue reading "To end home futility, history provides fighting chance vs. Kings" »

Regehr on Sabres' rebuilding process: 'There's going to be lumps and they're going to be big'

Regher
Robyn Regehr has two assists and a plus-3 rating in 17 games for the Kings this season (Getty Images).



By Mike Harrington


Los Angeles Kings defenseman Robyn Regehr is back in First Niagara Center today for the first time since the Sabres traded him West on April 1 for second-round picks in 2014 and 2015. Regehr, remember, was personally recruited by Terry and Kim Pegula and Lindy Ruff during draft weekend in 2011 at his summer home in Saskatchewan and agreed to a trade from his longtime home in Calgary.

The Sabres were talking Stanley Cup at the time and thought a veteran like Regehr was another piece. Obviously it didn't turn out that way. They missed the playoffs in 2011-12 -- with Regehr's turnover in the penultimate game in Philadelphia leading to the Matt Read goal that knocked Buffalo from contention. As last season approached the deadline, Jason Pominville, Jordan Leopold and Regehr were all dealt and the Sabres are essentially starting from scratch, with a 3-15-1 record heading into tonight's game.

"They've gotten rid of most of the older players and really decided to go young and try to get as many young guys in there and give them a chance," Regehr said. "It doesn't surprise me. With that type of rebuilding process, there's going to be lumps and they're going to be big."

Regehr, who got to Game Seven of the Stanley Cup final with Calgary in 2004, said the 2011-12 season here rates as one of his big disappointments. The Sabres barely needed a plane to fly to the season-opening games in Europe because they were so high with Cup thoughts. They won both but the season soon got away from them and they didn't even qualify for the playoffs.

Continue reading "Regehr on Sabres' rebuilding process: 'There's going to be lumps and they're going to be big'" »

Late-night video: Quick's huge gaffe ruins Kings' home opener

By Mike Harrington

Rangers coach Alain Vigneault got his first win with New York in Monday's 3-1 victory over the Kings in Los Angeles but the game will be far more remembered for the it-will-live-forever gaffe by LA goaltender Jonathan Quick.

Watch what happens to Quick -- and looked at the stunned reaction of coach Darryl Sutter -- when Ryan McDonagh makes a routine clear down the ice during a Rangers penalty. Holy moly. A few seconds later, listen to the crowd's reaction and watch for Quick's response when he cleanly fields another long clear. Downright Ryan Miller-esque.

Appears Quick didn't get why reporters were asking him about the play afterward. Pretty basic, dude. Key play in the game. Video that's going to live forever. Come on. The Rangers could joke about it, even calling it a "set play."

What does this remind me of? How about this one from 2008 courtesy of former Leafs sieve Vesa Toskala? Pretty similar, although the only way Toskala is ever seeing a Stanley Cup or Conn Smythe Trophy like Quick has is by buying an admission ticket to the Hall of Fame.

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.

Kings' Brown gets two games for elbow on Pominville

By Mike Harrington

Kings captain Dustin Brown is gone for the final two games of the regular season for his vicious elbow on Jason Pominville. Click the video above for the explanation from NHL discipline czar Brendan Shanahan.

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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