VANCOUVER -- I'm one of the people who likes the Cody Hodgson/Zack Kassian trade for both sides. The Sabres and Canucks each filled a need. And Hodgson has more than doubled Kassian in points (77-37) since the deal. Obviously, Vancouver got the better of the deal Sunday as Kassian assisted on all four goals in the Canucks' 4-2 win.
"I know everybody is going to focus on the four points that he gets but for me there were other things," Canucks coach John Tortorella said after the game. "He dumped the puck at the right times rather than trying to make something happen. He changed up at the right times. You could see the concentration in his game. You see it. You want to see it more."
"We want to be good with the puck down low," Kassian said. "When we come off the wall like that, we want to look to make plays. Tonight was a night where it seemed everything I passed ended up going in the net."
There was certainly the requisite frustration down the hall in the Sabres' room. Good start, not much of a finish. Click below to hear audio from around the Sabres' dressing room:
Click the file below to see Kassian's postgame interview (nice hat as player of the game)
And click the file below to see video of the Canucks' classy pregame ceremony to honor Henrik Sedin for playing in his 1,000th NHL game earlier this month.
Nathan Lieuwen makes one of his 23 saves (Getty Images).
CALGARY, Alberta -- The Sabres were pretty good defensively, probably as good as they've been in many games, over the first 40 minutes here Tuesday night. But what does it matter if you can't score?
Another one-goal game. Another goal by Drew Stafford. No one else scoring. And the 3-1 loss to the Flames featured a season-low 14 shots on goal -- including only 10 all night by forwards. That's six goals in the last seven games, all of them by Stafford (4) or Tyler Ennis (2).
By the time the team plays Thursday in Edmonton, it will be two weeks -- two weeks! -- since anyone other than those two has scored. Pretty easy to see how one more regulation loss sets a franchise mark of eight straight.
At least rookie Nathan Lieuwen looked sharp in goal. And the kid was bright-eyed and smiling during his postgame chat with reporters too.
Click below to hear what was said in the locker room from Lieuwen, Stafford and coach Ted Nolan.
PHILADELPHIA -- As you can hear in the audio file at the end of this post, Ted Nolan's voice wasn't loud Thursday night in a hallway deep within Wells Fargo Center. But he has to hope his message resonates loud and clear in the Buffalo Sabres' locker room.
The interim head coach was furious after his team's 4-1 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers, a penalty fest that saw Buffalo give up 34 of the Flyers' 46 shots on goal in the final two periods and all four of their goals in the final 25 minutes.
I'll be honest. I was taken aback by Nolan's comments. But he's right.
Everyone watching this team -- fans, front office types, media, even some of the players themselves -- has been lulled to sleep by what they've seen so far. It's normal to us. But believe me when I say it's jarring to folks who don't watch every game. Be it writers/broadcasters covering the opposition, scouts in the building and now the team's interim head coach, they can't believe some of the things they're seeing.
Bet Nolan can't wait for Pat LaFontaine to hire a new GM to really shake this thing up.
TORONTO -- The Sabres had a huge edge in play over the final two periods but it wasn't enough to overcome yet another rough first. The result was a 4-2 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs and a split of the weekend home-and-home that marked the return of Ted Nolan as coach.
Click below to hear audio from the Sabres' dressing room
The Sabres' bizarre 3-2 shootout win over the Los Angeles Kings was really all Ryan Miller.
He made 43 saves while enduring the eighth 40+-shot game of the season for a Buffalo opponent. He improved to 46-27 all-time in shootouts, snapping a tie with Henrik Lundqvist for the all-time NHL lead in victories, and did so in a game where the Sabres were outshot, 45-17.
Only one time in the Sabres' history, a 7-5 win at Boston on March 21, 1971, has the club won a game when outshot by more than it was Tuesday. That first-year expansion version of the Sabres survived despite getting outshot, 56-25, thanks to a hat trick from Eddie Shack.
TAMPA, Fla. -- You want me to say something? Seriously? After that?
Tuesday's 2-1 loss to the Lightning was hard to fathom. Just a no-show against a team going nowhere. Seven shots in the first two periods. Just no explanation. Let them try to explain it. Click the files below. Ron Rolston's disgust comes through pretty clear
MONTREAL -- We'll start with the cockeyed optimist approach. The Sabres' 3-2 overtime victory over the Canadiens has them just six points behind a logjam of teams (Carolina, Toronto, Rangers, New Jersey) that are tied for spots 6-9 in the Eastern Conference. And it came on a day the team actually sent out playoff invoices to season ticket holders that said it needed to be prepared "so that tickets are available WHEN the Sabres clinch a playoff spot." (I put the capitals in for emphasis). Ooooook.
I've stopped laughing now. The realistic approach is that they're still 13th in the East and they still have the league's worst power play. But the line shifts by Ron Rolston looked good until Thomas Vanek got hurt, the power play is starting to get more pressure and Jhonas Enroth has suddenly became as reliable as Ryan Miller.
After all the rigamarole over the last three days, this team is nothing but interesting no matter where its place in the standings is. Enough talking from me. Let them talk after the win.
WASHINGTON -- Ryan Miller was understandably annoyed I asked him about Patrick Kaleta in the wake of another frustrating loss. Kaleta didn't play in the game and that kind of question is thus usually a no-go in a postgame setting.
But when Kaleta popped off about being scratched earlier Sunday, the rest of the team had already left after their morning skate. This was the first chance to get reaction so I asked. And Miller certainly reacted.
The dressing room door was zipped shut for nearly 20 minutes after Tuesday's 2-1 loss to Winnipeg. On one hand, I would have liked to have been a fly on the wall in that room. On the other hand, I've heard it all before already. And we heard some more after this one.
Lack of effort (how is that possible again?). Lack of execution. Playing tight. It's all hard to believe, especially when you see how little Terry Pegula's $65 million payroll is buying him.
Lindy Ruff said he was embarrassed and added, "we need to take a hard look at everything". Ya think?
Hard to believe it's gotten to this point. Tied with Columbus for most regulation losses in the NHL (10). Now standing 13th in the East -- seven points behind every team in the Northeast Division -- and 27th in the NHL if Los Angeles got a point late Tuesday night in Edmonton.
Click the files below to go around the locker room after the inexplicable defeat:
Tyler Myers celebrates his third-period goal. (Harry Scull Jr/Buffalo News)
By Mike Harrington
It was one of those nights.
The Sabres were decent in the first period (albeit unable to get the puck out of their zone for the first 82 seconds). They were horrific in the second, getting richly deserved boos on their way off the ice in a 2-1 hole that would have been about 6-1 or 7-1 were it not for Ryan Miller.
Something pretty darn interesting must have gone on in that dressing room in the second intermission. Tyler Myers and Lindy Ruff both admitted there was plenty of anger and the third period that followed was easily this club's best of the year.
When the 4-2 win over the Boston Bruins was complete, Drew Stafford (the elephant finally off his back after scoring his first goal), greeted the media in an outlandish fur coat with Sabres logo on the back. He then unleashed this gem as reporters encircled him: "Guys, I want to thank Mike Harrington for letting me borrow his coat."
Ryan Miller and Mike Weber combine to thwart Chris Neil. (Getty Images)
By Mike Harrington
OTTAWA -- When you're judging quality of defeat, you know it's a bad season. That was the situation the Sabres were in after Tuesday's 2-0 loss to the Ottawa Senators at Scotiabank Place.
There was plenty of merit to the thought because it was a big improvement over the previous three games. The offense generated chances (but didn't get nearly enough traffic in front of Craig Anderson) and for a good 35 minutes, the defense wasn't running around in its own end and smartly moved the puck around. No issues with Ryan Miller either.
Thomas Vanek is pumped after pulling the Sabres within 4-3. (Getty Images)
By Mike Harrington
It certainly helps to have the NHL's leading scorer but it's still hard to imagine the Sabres are third in the NHL in goals with 35. But that's the fact. Of course, being tied for last in goals-against with Washington (41) remains a huge issue.
Here's the latest numbers on Thomas Vanek's epic start to the season:
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.
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.
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.