April 26, 2011 - 5:12 PM
April 24, 2011 - 3:07 PM
Welcome to a potential clinching game in HSBC Arena, something we haven't seen since Game Five against the Islanders in 2007. And we haven't seen a Game Six clincher since the Sabres waxed the Flyers here in 2001 with a crazy 8-0 rout. I do not expect that today.
We're waiting for the lineups to be made official but Michael Leighton was the first goalie on the ice for the Flyers and Chris Pronger DID take the warmup. So we'll see. No Derek Roy or Jochen Hecht for the Sabres. Matt Ellis is in for Jason Pominville.
Keep it here well into the evening for all your updates and we should have the lineup decisions from the Flyers in the next couple of minutes.
3:10 pm.: Lineups are in and Leighton and Pronger are both in for Philly. Connolly is wearing an A for Buffalo in Pominville's absence.
Sabres starters: Ennis-Niedermayer-Stafford-Leopold-Gragnani. Goal: Miller
Flyers starters: Van Riemsdyk-Richards-Versteeg-Carle-Meszaros. Goal: Leighton.
3:15 p.m.: The Sabres take the ice to a huge roar from their gold pom-pom waving fans. NBC's Darren Pang snags Nathan Gerbe for the quickie interview at center ice.
Of note: "We Can Be Heroes" is one of the tunes played in the intermission here. Good choice. Which Sabre might join Ennis in that category? ... This is the first playoff overtime at HSBC Arena since Daniel Alfredsson won the clinching Game Five of the Eastern Conference final here for Ottawa on May 19, 2007. ... Meszaros has played 28:31 for Philly, Leopold leads Buffalo at 25:05. Stafford is next at 24:09. ... Van Riemsdyk has 10 shots on goal in the game. Wow. Briere has six. Stafford and Coburn have five, while Gerbe and Zherdev have four. ... Sabres have a 41-32 edge in faceoffs. Buffalo also leads by a smidge in hits (22-20) but Flyers have the edge in blocks, 16-15.
6:20 p.m.: The puck is dropped. Where's Van Miller right now? Fasten your seatbelts.
17:51 left: No shots yet.
17:31 left: Gaustad just wide.
17:07 left: Kaleta shot from the wall stopped by Boucher with Gaustad in front looking for a rebound.
15:17 left: Leino with a tap-in. You could feel it coming. FLYERS WIN 5-4.
Of note: Vanek and Briere now share the NHL lead for playoff goals with five. Gragnani has seven points, one off the NHL lead, and is tied with Anaheim's Corey Perry for the assist lead with six. ... The Sabres are 2-5 on the PP and the Flyers are 1-4. ... Pronger has played just 3:24 -- all on the power play -- and took a penalty of his own. So he's basically useless. ... Gragnani is leading the Sabres in ice time at 18:01. Stafford is leading forwards at 16:24 as he's gotten 3:54 on the PP and 2:45 on the PK. Meszaros leads the Flyers are 18:34 but he limped off late after taking an Ennis shot to the foot.
5:29 p.m.: The puck is dropped. Connolly did not return. Imagine he's in the quiet room.
16:38 left: Stafford off the post on a 2-on-1. Great saucer pass by Ennis. Puck was rolling and he struggled to chip it up high and true. Flyer into the net to stop play and Stafford smashes his stick on the glass in disgust.
16:35 left: Boucher snags Gerbe quick wrister off the faceoff.
15:00 left: Boucher with a save on Boyes.
14:50 left: Miller comes back by stopping a Briere slapper and Leopold gets the crowd roaring by wiping out Briere behind the net. Shots are 4-3, Buffalo.
13:00 left: Ennis is skating circles around the Flyers for two games straight. Another great shift ended with a Weber slapper just missing.
12:36 left: Offside on Flyers and the crowd is up waving the pompoms. (And don't tell me how to spell that. NO ONE says "pom-pons")
11:21 left: Butler for holding. Pronger comes back out.
10:09 left: Pronger can only pass. He can't shoot at all. Won't shoot. Had a couple chances.
9:17 left: Hartnell with a tap-in on a Richards pass -- under both Gaustad and Miller just four seconds after the penalty expires. GAME TIED, 4-4. Shots are 42-31 for the Flyers and it's 11-5 in this period. Sabres tried to hold on for 24 minutes. Couldn't do it.
8:22 left: Connolly is listed as a MAY RETURN with an upper-body injury.
3:30 left: Sabres getting outworked badly. Are they out of gas? Shots are 14-5 for Flyers.
3:26 left: Vanek in alone stopped.
3;15 left: Briere passes on a 2-on-1. Didn't connect.
2:54 left: Offside. Flyers have 11-1 edge in shots in last 12 minutes. Ouch.
1:23 left: Kaleta with 70-footer that Boucher gloves but has to hold for faceoff.
39.5 left: Brutal icing on Flyers. Take another step.
And we are going to ooovertime: It's 4-4 through 60 minutes. Shots are 45-32 for the Flyers (14-6 in the third period)
Of note: The Flyers' power play is 2 for 29 in the series. The Sabres are 6 for 25. Myers had three assists in the first period and Gragnani had two more. Myers played 8:03. He's a beast. Van Riemsdyk has a game-high three shots on goal. By far the Flyers' best player. Has Mike Richards even played in this series? ... AP stats guru Mike Haim reports Vanek's five goals in the series are a first for a Sabre since the immortal Chris Gratton had five against the Flyers in 2001. ... Sabres have an 11-5 edge in the first period in this series.
4:23 p.m: BOUCHER IS IN GOAL FOR THE FLYERS. And the puck is dropped.
13:14 left: Apologies for the disappearance. I had a frozen laptop, not related to Internet issues, and it took a while to get it back. The Sabres' lead was cut to 3-2 on James Van Riemsdyk's snapshot from the slot 49 seconds into the period and the Flyers have been good in this period. Buffalo has a 7-6 edge in shots but Boucher has too much degree of difficulty to deal with ... The Flyers have been so good in the Buffalo zone for spells that Lindy Ruff used his timeout with 16:19 left. Didn't look like he said much. ... Gragnani pulled a puck off the goalline a few seconds earlier that was going in.
So we now should be able to resume our regular programming. Shots are 23-15 for Philly.
12:12 left: Leopold for holding after a scrum. Never event saw an arm in the air. Terrible call.
11:17 left: And the Flyers' PP finally gets it done. Connnolly played a long time with no stick and Briere blows it by Miller. Game tied, 3-3.
10:03 left: Boyes high and wide from the slot.
9:09 left: Sabres have an 11-5 bulge in goals in this period. It's 8-1 for the Flyers in the second. Hard to figure that out.
8:08 left: Boucher snags an Ennis shot to hit Carle's leg just before it gets over the line.
7:27 left: Miller makes the save on a 3-on-2. It's the Flyers' 30th shot of the game (Buffalo has 17).
6:54 left: Good shift from Gerbe-Gaustad-Kaleta results in Versteeg slashing penalty. Vanek PP time.
6:03 left: Richards boarding Connolly from behind. How is that not a major? Two-man for 1:10.
5:18 left: Boucher holding firm on three shots so far. Coburn dumped Vanek well after a whistle. Timeout, Philly.
4:00 left: FLYERS SURVIVE
3:51 left: And just like that , another goaltending mishap. Gerbe with the quick snapper high glove on Boucher, who pounds the ice after he misses it. It was deflected by O'Donnell. Sabres lead, 4-3. It was 12 seconds after the PP ended.
1:58 left: Shots on goal are 30-26 for the Flyers. The Sabres have had the last nine in the game.
END-2ND: Sabres lead, 4-3. Shots were 18-14 for Buffalo and it's 31-26 through two. A wild affair.
3:21 p.m.: The puck is dropped.
18:39 left: Great shift by Gerbe-Gaustad-Kaleta. Kaleta saves an icing and Gaustad throws his weight around twice. He ends up grappling with Hartnell and body slamming him behind the net. They're both getting two minutes. Could have been five. Crowd loves it.
17:47 left: A 3-on-2 break and Ennis feeds Niedermayer for a wicked snapshot to the top corner. Leighton on his knees. Has to make that save. right under the bar. Sabres lead, 1-0. The place explodes. Niedermayer's first playoff goal since 2007 with Anaheim. The guy was a dog during the season but great in this series. His 18th career playoff goal, first since the '07 final vs. Ottawa.
16:52 left: Miller stops a Coburn deflection, Coburn's second good chance of the game. Shots are 5-2 for Philly.
14:00 left: Pronger has not been on the ice yet. They dressed seven D in the game. He must be there for moral support.
12:30 left: Shots are 7-2 for the Flyers but it's not like they've had any real control of things. Sabres have been buzzing in the Philly zone but mostly kept outside. You get the feeling another goal on Leighton might really open the floodgates (or bring in Boucher).
12:10 left: Carcillo for cross checking. Not the most intelligent play in the world, coming in the offensive zone against McCormick.
11:19 left: And the penalty kills the Flyers as Myers puts one toward the net and Vanek reaches behind and deflects it off Andrej Meszaros' leg and in. Sabres lead, 2-0. Two goals on four shots. Vanek's fourth of the series, three on the PP. Another assist for Gragnani.
9:55 left: Gerbe for holding. Let's see if Pronger comes out. Shots are 10-4 for Philly. Pronger skating around limbering his legs. Looks like he's going to be a PP-only guy today. Gerbe has to think better than that. Don't get engaged with anyone and grab a stick when your team has all the momentum.
9:22 left: Briere-like boos first time Pronger touches the puck.
7:15 left: Solid job on the PK. Flyers had virtually no zone time at all. Shots are 12-4 for Philly but Miller is sharp again. The crowd up here by us is chanting, "Who's Your Goalie?" Reminds me of Yankee Stadium's "Who's Your Daddy" at Pedro Martinez. Solid creativity there.
6:39 left: Briere trips Kaleta well after the whistle in the Buffalo crease. Kaleta chirps at him on the way to the bench.
5:35 left: Leighton robs Montador from the slot and Montador misses the backhand rebound with much of the net. That would have been just about it for the Flyers and Leighton you'd think.
5:07 left: It was inevitable. Flyers have been better last few minutes. Briere gets open alone in front and flips one past Miller. Sabres lead, 2-1. Shots are 14-5 for Philly.
3:47 left: Connolly for cross checking. Flyers 2 for 27 on the PP in the series and desperately need one here.
2:22 left: Butler for delay over the glass. Big mistake. Another two-manner for the Flyers for 36 seconds.
1:58 left: Pronger for slashing in front of the net as Myers battled him and dropped him after the slash.
1:46 left: Meszaros for high sticking against Gragnani. So much for that Philly power play. Now it's 4-on-3 for Buffalo.
33.0 left: Vanek with an absolutely ridiculous circus goal on the PP. Pulls the puck behind him, through the legs, through Leighton's legs. Sabres lead, 3-1. Leighton has to stop that one too. Flyers have to go to Boucher for 2nd period, right?
End-1st: Sabres lead 3-1. Leighton skates off with mask atop his head, no chance of seeing the ice again. Shots were 17-8 Philly. This series is all about power plays and goaltending. Buffalo is absolutely killing the Flyers in both.
April 22, 2011 - 7:29 PM
PHILADELPHIA -- Greetings from high atop the Wells Fargo center for Game Five and I immediately bring you some good news as we get set for the latest installment of NHL's whine-and-cheesesteak series between the Sabres and Flyers: No, it's not that Chris Pronger is definitely out, although that is good for the Sabres. The big news is I got an Ethernet port going so we're expecting no issues with the connection here and the live blog, as we had in Games One and Two.
Now that you know my technical issues are secure, let's talk hockey. OK, wait a minute. We'll talk hockey in a minute after food. I had to stop at the Reading Terminal Market today and it was phalanx of people to navigate on Good Friday. Saw a Sabres fan wearing a slug jersey bless himself in line at a cheesesteak place. I thought he was worried about eating a Philly delicacy today but folks on Twitter reminded me about Good Friday and no meat (you lose track of days covering one of these).
We flew into Baltimore last night (saving the good folks at One News Plaza nearly $700 apiece on three airfares) and stopped for dinner at G&M Restaurant, about the greatest crabcake place on the planet. Props to John Vogl for that find.
Now, let's talk hockey. The Flyers are going to come out flying and hitting in this one. That's all they've been saying. They've even put incendiary quotes on the jumbotron during the pregame, such as Kimmo Timonen saying they'll double their hits tonight from Game Four and Ville Leino saying the Sabres "won't be heroes so much" on the road.
Here's one way to do it: It looks like injured Jeff Carter might be replaced by 5-foot-11, 180-pound Zac Rinaldo, the organizational thug from the Adirondack Phantoms. He had 331 penalty minutes in the AHL this season -- yes, 331 -- and ended it on a three-game suspension. Reading tweets from Flyers reporters, Rinaldo had more suspensions this year (4) than goals (2).
Ben Holmstrom, who can actually skate and play hockey, also took the warmup. We'll see who gets the call.
Let's see if the Flyers can dent Ryan Miller. Oddly enough, it's Brian Boucher who leads NHL goalies in the playoffs with a .954 save percentage and 1.54 GAA. Miller is fourth at 2.02 and .937, also pretty awesome stats.
We have another thanks-for-nothing-TSN 7:40 start on our hands. We should be able to provide plenty of updates here.
Just got this word from CSNPhilly.com -- They're reporting Pronger and Carter are both out for the series. Wow.
Check out the archive of Bucky and Vogl's pregame chat by going to this link. And be sure to join us Sunday at 2:30 prior to Game Six.
Scratches: It's official that Rinaldo is in over Holmstrom. Also out are Carter, Pronger and Andreas Nodl. The Sabres continue to scratch Roy, Hecht, Morrisonn and Sekera.
Sabres starters: Gerbe-Connolly-Stafford-Butler-Myers. Goal: Miller
Flyers starters: Carcillo-Richards-Versteeg-Coburn-Timonen. Goal: Boucher
10:23: The puck is dropped
15:51 left: Some technical trouble. Shots are 4-0 for Flyers. No great chances.
14:29 LEFT: Ennis on the rebound from Weber. SABRES WIN 4-3..
Of note: Van Riemsdyk leads all players with five shots. Meszaros has four and joins Giroux with two point games while playing 17:28. ... Vanek leads Buffalo with four shots. Sabres have a 19-18 edge in faceoffs -- even though Connolly is 2-10.
9:29 p.m: The puck is dropped.
16:24 left: Just an out-and-out disaster. Sabres doing nothing in this period and the inevitable tying goal comes. Of course, from Briere. Versteeg beats Butler to the puck and Briere sneaks from the back to take Richards' pass and beat Gaustad to the open set by a surprised Miller. Game tied, 3-3.
15:36 left: Leighton stops Boyes. His first decent save. Just the ninth shot he's faced.
13:59 left: Boyes and Ennis get a couple chances and Leighton stops Ennis, who has easily been Buffalo's best forward tonight. This is hard to believe that there's been three huge blown leads this week (NYR vs. Washington and LA vs. San Jose). In most cases, you get a big lead in the playoffs and you lock it down. Pretty amazing.
13:17 left: Leighton stops Stafford cutting in front.
12:24 left: Briere goes for interference. Mauls Gaustad near the Flyers' net. Sabres coming on.
9:55 left: Leighton solid during the PK. Sabres have 27-26 edge in shots. It's 9-2 in this period. They've been much better, oddly enough, since the tying goal. Leighton played just one NHL game this year but you have to remember he led this team to within two games of the Cup last year.
6:45 left: Shots are 27-27.
4:15 left: Timonen with the block on Connolly from the slot. Big news for the Flyers: Giroux limps off and looks bad doing it.
2:22 left: Leopold for hooking. Dumps Zherdev in front. Kind of ticky-tac for this late in this situation.
2:05 left: Giroux in alone. ... Miller stones him. Went right between Butler and Myers.
1:13 left: Timeout, Flyers. Lot of pressure so far. One of their best PPs of the series.
On to OT: We're tied at 3-3. Shots were 11-11 and it's 35-29 through regulation for Philly.
Of note: Flyers credited with 16 hits, Sabres just six. OK, Mr. Statman. Whatever. Myers played 8:57 and Gragnani 7:27. ... Briere is -2 and his penalty cost Flyers third goal. Vanek only Sabre wtih three shots.
NO POMINVILLE, NO LEOPOLD on the bench. Did Pominville get cut when the skate came loose?
17:21 left: Gaustad goes for holding. Building very quiet.
15:30 left: Niedermayer for delay, a rolling puck over the glass. Flyers up two men for nine seconds.
14:32 left: Great save by Miller on the 5-on-3 on a deflection from the edge of the crease by Giroux.
13:12 left: Sabres survive. Flyers power play is just terrible. Crowd booing after an icing.
13:04 left: Sabres say Pominville (lower body) will NOT return. Leopold (upper body) MAY return.
11:48 left: Van Riemsdyk, easily the Flyers' best player in the series, grabs the rebound of Meszaros' point shot, walks around Miller and stuffs it home. Definite danger zone for Sabres. Sabres lead, 3-1.
10:48 left: Miller snares Carle's shot from the point. Crowd getting back into it. Shots are 18-13 for the Flyers.
10:03 left: Now they're really back into it. Meszaros drills a one-timer from the slot past a screened Miller. Sabres lead cut to 3-2. Timeout, Lindy. Shots are 10-1 for Philly in the period.
9:02 left: During commercial, building roaring, heckling Miller, "Let's Go Flyers" etc. Vogl and I agree: At HSBC, they'd play a blooper reel or the kisscam and kill the crowd. That's why the atmosphere stinks there a lot. People running the game presentation don't understand hockey momentum.
6:15 left: Gragnani for cross checking. Looked like a nice dive by Powe. Plus the official at center ice a long way away called it rather than the guy looking right at it. Leopold returned on the last shift by the way.
4:17 left: Miller stops an open Briere to his right. Shots are 23-15 for Philly (14-2 in the period).
3:23 left: Another good save by Miller on a Carcillo backhand from in tight.
End-2nd: Sabres holding on to their 3-2 lead. Shots were 15-5 for Philly (24-18 overall). That's a good example of getting saved by the bell. Sabres need this break.
7:40 p.m.: After another scintillating Lauren Hart-Kate Smith duet, the puck is dropped.
17:36 left: Exactly the start Buffalo wants. A brutal goal allowed by Boucher as Ennis beats him with a low shot nearly from the goalline on the Sabres' first shot. Was Boucher playing a pass? To who? Wow. Sabres lead, 1-0. Ennis' first of the series.
17:14 left: Rinaldo played on the second shift and had a couple of hits, one on Vanek and a solid one on Kaleta. both clean. This place is stone quiet.
16:44 left: Stafford stopped on a wraparound. Sabres need to put every puck on the net while Boucher and this crowd are in shock. See if you get another gift, maybe another fat rebound.
16:09 left: Wow, part II. Kaleta beats a Flyer to the puck behind the net and tips it to Vanek -- who banks if off Boucher from behind the goal line. Incredible. Sabres lead, 2-0. Vanek's first of the series at even strength and third overall. Sabres lead, 2-0.
15:49 left: This shows the Flyers' problem. I'd have pulled Boucher. But can you really go with your No. 3 guy, even if Michael Leighton led the team to the Stanley Cup finals last year?
12:33 left: Shots are 8-2 for Buffalo. The place is stunned. Pominville just shot wide on an Ennis feed. Myers had a good chance blanked and Boucher made a save on Boyes. Aside from the score, it's a perfect start for Buffalo because the Flyers can't run around like crazy and risk taking penalties. You might not see Rinaldo at all now.
11:10 left: Flyers turning the puck over and Boucher giving out rebounds all over the place. Meszaros gone for tripping Vanek -- gave him the puck away at the blue line and had to prevent a breakaway. Shots are 9-2. I'm surprised Laviolette didn't go for the timeout after the second goal. He might have no choice here if Buffalo converts.
9:00 left: Just one shot on the PP. Let's see if that's some momentum for Philly. Sholts are 10-2.
8:42 left: Another Philly giveaway but Leino stops a 2-on-1 by blocking Stafford's pass to McCormick. This is by far the most lopsided 11 minutes of the series. The Flyers have been absolutely awful from the goal out.
8:17 left: Montador for high sticking. Careless play against the wall going with Hartnell. No reason for it.
6:14 left: Just as the penalty ends, Richards takes a slash at Miller. Butler responds. Crowd irate as Richards and Butler both go. And they have shown replays here at least three times that I've noticed to incite the crowd. Butler roughing, Richards slashing. Lindy would probably say Richards and the crowd are whining again.
5:10 left: Briere for goalie interference. Obvious call there. Not even much booing on the replays.
4:24 left: Great passing on the 4-on-3 and the Sabres convert. Gragnani lets it go and it beats Boucher between the legs. Sabres lead, 3-0, and here comes Leighton for Boucher. Shots are 11-7 for Buffalo.
3:23 left: Miller's best save on Giroux all alone after a Pominville giveaway at the line. And Pominville is off to the dressing room. Dropped his gloves and stick and I'll be totally honest -- I was looking down and typing. Didn't see it.
1:30 left: Weber limps off, took shot off left leg.
End-1st: Sabres hold the 3-0 lead. Shots are 13-9 for Sabres. We also note Leopold didn't play much at the end of that period. We'll have to see how all this injury stuff shakes out.
April 20, 2011 - 7:35 PM
Greetings again from HSBC Arena as we get set for Game Four, which will actually face off in the 7:40 range (raspberries and other noises from the press box in the direction of TSN for that one). I'm still trying to thaw out from the walk over here from One News Plaza a couple of hours ago through a biting wind that made it feel like January. I'm thinking the folks in the Party on the Plaza here at the arena should be inside at a watering hole somewhere? Why would you stand outside in this?
What happened to spring in this town anyway? That's one of the joys of playoff hockey, isn't it? The folks from Philly are snickering because the high temperature was 80 there today. Granted, it's supposed to be 53 range for Game Five on Friday but what we've had here has been ridiculous with the rain, wind, thunderstorms and Monday's snow.
The Bisons were supposed to be having Kids Week with ice cream giveaways all week. Yeah, right. Banged again today after playing two yesterday in 30-degree weather.
So maybe through all this we can agree it's hockey weather after all. By this point in the series, it's hard to have anything insightful to say. One thing that stick out to me is that the Sabres have to find more offense -- actually any offense -- from their top forwards.
They have seven goals in the series, with one each from the likes of Cody McCormick, Patrick Kaleta, Nathan Gerbe and Andrej Sekera. Thomas Vanek has two, both on the power play, and is minus-4. Drew Stafford has the other. Jason Pominville, Brad Boyes and Tim Connolly have yet to score, with Connolly's goalless streak in the playoffs at 26 games. Paul Gaustad hasn't scored either but that's nothing new -- 0 goals in 34 career playoff games. As well as he's playing, I'm not thinking the Sabres are long for these playoffs if Marc-Andre Gragnani continues to be their leading scorers.
The Flyers, meanwhile, continue to try to get through this series without Chris Pronger and take another huge step in that regard tonight. They were brutally mediocre (9-9-7) over the last 25 games but they're finding their stride. Bad news for the Sabres.
Be sure to check out the archive of tonight's pregame chat by going to this link. And if you missed the chat, be sure to join us Friday night at 6:30 for 30 minutes prior to Game Five.
Sabres starters: Gerbe-Connolly-Stafford? (Hmmm). Leopold-Gragnani. Goal: Miller
Flyers starters: Carcillo-Betts-Powe-O'Donnell-Meszaros. Goal: Boucher.
Of note: First off, the Caps have scored three goals in the first 12 1/2 minutes of the third to wipe out their 3-0 deficit and tie the Rangers, 3-3. Wow. ... Back here, Van Riemsdyk leads all players with six shots on goal and has been great again. Best player in the series by a lot. ... Pominville leads Buffalo with three shots. Connolly leads the forwards with 12:26 and that's a joke because he has been terrible most of the night. ... Butler has played a game-high 17:42. Flyers have 14 blocked shots. Sabres have a 20-15 lead in hits and faceoffs are split, 19-19.
9:32 p.m: The puck is dropped.
17:51 left: PP lousy so far. Puck knocked out of zone three times, Butler offside another. One shot. Connolly also passed up a wide-open one from 10 feet. That's why he never scores in the playoffs.
15:00 left: Lots of boos. The Flyers knocked the puck out of the zone 13 times - 13! -- after Buffalo got it in. Sabres had just two shots on the five-minute penalty, Flyers one. Richards was literally jumping up and down in the box as the clock expired. Now, it's five minutes less off the clock but you could have grabbed this game by the throat too. And you would think the Flyers have some momentum now. The crowd is quiet.
13:25 left: Sloppy, sloppy. Icing on Buffalo.
12:04 left: Caps-Rangers going to overtime. Incredible. Bergenheim goal with 3:17 left pulls Lightning into 2-2 tie with Pens after they were down, 2-0. Crazy night so far.
10:00 left: Sabres holding on. Shots are 4-3 for Buffalo.
9:37 left: Miller with the save on Versteeg from the slot.
8:50 left: Save of the SERIES: Miller stones Briere all alone in front with two dekes, snaring it with the glove. The crowd is wild now. Who made that horrible giveaway at the line? Gaustad? That puck has GOT to get out of the zone there. No excuse.
6:29 left: Shots are 6-4 for Flyers.
5:37 left: Boucher stops Pominville slapper and Ennis just misses rebound.
5:21 left: Ennis stopped on breakaway by Boucher.
5:03 left: Another SENSATIONAL STOP by Miller. Diving to his right on a rebound to rob Richards. We got "Ry-an Mil-ler, Ry-an Mil-ler, Ry-an Mil-ler" chants going. Wow.
4:01 left: Kaleta wipes out a great Vanek chance alone in front by wiping out in the crease and knocking the net off. Untouched.
3:00 left: Flyers nearly had too many men on the ice. Faceoff in Philly zone.
1:20 left: Boucher out.
1:12 left: Faceoff in Buffalo zone. Timeout, Flyers.
30.8 left: Miller survives scramble and spikes puck out of the crowd of players. Crowd chanting his name again. Faceoff to Miller's right. They're checking the clock. We think it ran. They're putting it back to 32.6.
18: Gaustad post on empty net
OVER: ANOTHER 1-0 WIN SERIES TIED. BIG SCRUM.
8:37 p.m. The puck is dropped. Myers has returned. But Carter has NOT.
18:19 left: Niedermayer stopped from right in front. Overpassing from Gragnani. Should have shot. Then niedermayer overhandled.
17:13 left: Good stop by Miller on Carcillo on a 3-on-2. Tough time for Weber at the Flyers' line and into the Buffalo zone.
16:11 left: Carter has a right knee injury. But the Flyers say he might return. They said lower body but it's pretty clear on replay what happened when he collided with Myers.
15:11 left: How about the Rangers leading the Caps, 3-0, at MSG? Pressure building on No. 1 seeded Washington again.
14:50 left: Miller stands up for a good stop on Hartnell. Sabres still treating the puck like a hot potato too much. One press box wag said hand grenade to me during the intermission. They're definitely jittery with it. Miller has been strong so far.
13:30 left: McCormick and Grier on a 2-on-1. That took forever. Shot wide.
10:52 left: Pominville slapper stopped. Shots are 17-15, Buffalo. Some good work by the Sabres in transition and I was really impressed with the backchecking on Vanek a couple shifts ago as he came back into the Buffalo zone and stole the puck. Key play. Never shows up in any stat column but you have to have them.
9:11 left: We're just past the halfway mark. Shots are 5-5 in this period and 18-16 for Buffalo.
8:21 left: Powe off the post after a sequence where Connolly got beat twice. Then Miller clubbed Carcillo in the crease and got help from Weber. Carcillo and Miller get roughing. Gerbe serves Miller. Weber got nothing and Laviolette isn't happy. He's getting an audience with the officials.
6:28 left: Miller stands up to stop Coburn. Flyers have 21-18 edge in shots and getting better of the play again. Miller has been strong in his crease tonight and not flopping too much. Good to see.
6:13 left: Great stop by Boucher on Myers. Gerbe just fails to handle rebound.
5:41 left: Myers for elbowing. Flyers to the PP. They're 0-2 in this one and 2-20 in the series.
3:00 left: Sabres survive the power play. Another terrible weak play with the puck by Connolly gave the Flyers another 30 seconds of zone time.
2:14 left: Flyers nailed for too many men on the ice as they were breaking into the zone. And Gaustad-Montador alertly get Kaleta away from Carcillo, who was chirping at him trying to lure him into an even-up deal.
2:03 left: Two goals in 57-second span early in the third by Caps at MSG. Rangers' lead cut to 3-2.
2.8 seconds left: WOW. Kaleta tries to hit Richards near the bench but Richards puts up the elbow and drills him in the face. FIVE-MINUTE MAJOR.
End-2nd: Sabres hold the 1-0 lead. Shots were 10-8 for Philly and it's 21-21 through two. Sabres will have 4:58 left on their power play. Huge chance.
7:40 p.m. The puck is dropped. By the way, Doug Allen did not stand on the Sabres logo mat at center ice while singing the anthem. Tara Minogue did the other night, just for the record. Hmmmm. Wonder if the players are gonna fine her 20 bucks?
16:00 left: Big, physical start by the Sabres. Gerbe nailed Betts, Kaleta drilled van Riemsdyk and Grier on Versteeg. And the lines are downright goofy. They rolled Gerbe-Connolly-Stafford, Vanek-Gaustad-Kaleta, Ennis-Niedermayer-Pominville, McCormick-Boyes-Grier.
14:05 left: Weber for tripping along the boards in the Buffalo zone. Just inside the blueline. Ticky-tack. Zherdev took a nice dive to accentuate the stick. Remember when someone asked in the chat about the officiating and I said I was OK with it? Not there.
12:00 left: Sabres survive as Butler makes a great save on Leino in the crease with Miller out of position.
11:27 left: Flyers got no shots on the PP. It's 4-1 for Buffalo through 8 1/2 minutes.
10:22 left: The Sabres make the breakthough and it's from a top-six forward. Badly needed. Great work from behind the net by Ennis and great veteran patience from Niedermayer to hold the puck and slide it over to Pominville for a tap-in at the edge of the crease. Sabres lead, 1-0 and the "Boo-chay" chants are out.
10:00 left: Grier and Boyes stopped from in tight.
9:42 left: Carcillo goes for goalie interference even though he landed right on his butt. Gotta see the replay on that one. Sabres to the power play.
9:01 left: Stafford for interference at center ice as Versteeg tries to get away. Total ticky-tack. Lindy was furious over that one.
7:18 left: Van Riemsdyk with a wide-open net -- but a sliding toe of Myers' got the puck and it went over th net. Sabres were in trouble on a 3-on-1 but Butler broke that up.
7:00 left: Sabres and the crowd upset as Miller gets sticked in the mask by Versteeg. Except it wasn't. Weber got him.
5:47 left: Shots are 7-6 for Buffalo. Flyers have been in control since Carcillo got out of the box.
5:37 left: Boucher for tripping Grier. Comes two seconds after a Myers snapshot from the slot beats Boucher -- but cranks off the post.
4:18 left: Versteeg gets a backhander on Miller. Save. Walked right around Connolly, who was lolly-gagging after the puck at the Buffalo line.
3:58 left: Boyes off the post on his own rebound. Sabres have had chances for the 2-0 lead. Big chances. Haven't converted.
3:00 left: Save on Niedermayer, who has been terrific again, as he cut down through the left circle. Shots are 10-8, Buffalo. Niedermayer spent 50 games doing absolutely nothing and has been very good for more than a month.
2:12 left: Myers down in front of the net. Got drilled high in a collision by Carter, right in the jaw. Last thing Sabres need is another D-man out. Bet Myers is headed to the quiet room.
End-1st: Sabres survive with their 1-0 lead. Shots are 13-11 for Buffalo. Flyers much better last couple minutes. Leopold has been pretty brutal with the puck and keeps getting beat. Looks nowhere near 100 percent.
April 18, 2011 - 4:14 PM
April 5, 2011 - 6:47 PM
I don't have a lot of deep thoughts to open with other than to greet you once again to my perch high above Section 319 in HSBC Arena for tonight's Sabres-Lightning matchup. One reason is you just let the games play out at this time of season with no buildup needed. The other is because I'm still frozen to the core from today's Bisons workout in Coca-Cola Field.
(Cheap plug alert: We'll have three Bisons stories in tomorrow's paper previewing the season in advance of Thursday's opener and a pair of videos here at TBN.com).
The snow was flying all around me as I stood on the field talking about what we might see this summer. Kudos to photog John Hickey for persevering as well. But at least the snow kept me in major hockey mode in April and this one tonight is so, so huge. Win tonight and get a Carolina loss tomorrow in regulation against Detroit and the Sabres are in.
It's a busy night on the out-of-town scoreboard among Eastern Conference contenders with Washington at Toronto at 7, Chicago at Montreal at 7:30, New Jersey at Pittsburgh at 7:30 and Philadelphia at Ottawa at 7:30. The Sabres, of course, control their destiny and are in complete Al Davis mode: Just win, baby.
Keep it here for faceoff.
Sabres starters: Gerbe-Connolly-Pominville-Butler-Myers. Goal: Enroth (who gets a well-deserved huge cheer). We're perplexed by the starting line. Gerbe spent Sunday with Gaustad and McCormick. Hmmm.
Lightning starters: Thompson-Lecavalier-St. Louis-Lundin-Ohlund. Goal: Roloson.
8:54 p.m. The puck is dropped.
19:43 left: Hold off on those Connolly plaudits. St. Louis intercepts his pass at the blue line and feeds Lecavalier in front for a quick wrister. Just like that we have a game. Sabres lead, 3-2. Uneasiness returns.
12:30 left: Apologize for the dearth of updates. Some laptop issues combined with a couple wireless issues. We'll see how it goes. Sabres holding on with just one shot in the period. Connolly's pass changed the momentum and really tarnishes his first three-point game of the season.
2:50 left: Been a bad third period for me folks. I might be back now. Sabres still leading 3-2.
13.6 left: The Lightning never got Roloson out. Great work by Gerbe, Gaustad, Mancari, Butler, among others. Vanek finally got the loose puck at center and drilled it -- and I mean drilled it -- home with a slapshot to make it 4-2 and give him his third career hat trick against Tampa. And the ice is littered. Vanek's 31st. Sabres lead, 4-2.
It's over: Great job by the Sabres to hold on in a nervous third period. If Carolina loses in regulation tomorrow against Detroit, this race is over. Sabres win, 4-2. And Enroth is 8-2-2. Bye-bye, Laffs. Toronto eliminated.
7:58 p.m.: The puck is dropped. Here's an odd stat: Sabres credited with no hits in the first period. Lightning with seven.
15:58 left: Enroth wtih a great save on Simon Gagne off a rebound. The only thing that has happened in the first four minutes as the Lightning keeps taking the air out of the game with Roloson freezing the puck.
15:30 left: Ellis-McCormick-Niedermayer have a 3-on-2 break and it's not offside. Why the whistle? Weber and Malone trading punches in the Buffalo zone. Well, Weber was trying to. Yikes, Malone crushed him with a couple rights. Weber is a willing customer but he's gotten killed a couple times this season.
14:56 left: Myers goes for cross-checking Lecavalier. They looked like they might go but Lecavalier smartly backed off.
14:37 left: Lecavalier goes for interference, ruunning through Montador from behind. Montador hit Sekera, his leg buckled and he looked gimpy going off the ice.
12:00 left: Vanek on the backhand for No. 30. Nifty. His second of the night. First time since 2007-08 the Sabres have had two 30-goal men (Vanek and Roy did it then). Vanek has 21 career goals in 24 games against Tampa, second to the 23 goals he had against Boston. Sabres lead, 2-1.
8:35 left: Butler for slashing, a pretty good two-hander on Steve Downie's hand. Shots are 6-4 for Tampa in this period.
7:41 left: Roloson stops Connolly on a 2-on-1 with Stafford. I like the fact Connolly kept it and fired a good wrist shot. No problem there. Good save.
6:14 left: Like I said, keep shooting. Connolly goes down the other wing, from the right side, on a 3-on-2, and fires another scorching wrister past Roloson on the stick side. His 13th. Sabres lead, 3-1.
3:30 left: Myers and Gaustad both miss a goalmouth pass with an open net staring them in the face.
2:30 left: Tampa is prone to short-circuits defensively and once you put the Lightning down, they really open up and seem to go haywire. Remember the six-goal outburst in February down south? This one was tight-tight-tight. Not now.
End-2nd: Big ovation as Sabres retreat to the room with a 3-1 lead as the playoffs get ever-so-closer. Shots were 8-6 for Tampa and are 17-16 for the Bolts but that's not the important stat.
17:02 left: Sabres have the first three shots as Ennis-Boyes-Stafford hem the Bolts in for a minute and get two great chances, one each for Stafford and Boyes.
9:31 left: After a long, long, long, loooong stretch with no whistles, we finally get one. The Sabres have a 5-4 edge in shots. The Boyes line is looking very dangerous tonight. Good bit of backchecking on one shift by McCormick and then Ellis. Solid start.
The lines so far are Gerbe-Connolly-Pominville, Ennis-Boyes-Stafford, Vanek-Gaustad-Mancari, Ellis-McCormick-Niedermayer. Defense pairs are Butler-Myers, Sekera-Weber and Gragnani-Montador.
6:07 left: The Lightning get on the board as Ryan Malone tips home a Mike Lundin shot from the right point standing just in front of Enroth. Myers didn't take him out. Sabres haven't done a whole lot since the big Boyes line shift in the early going. Bolts haven't either. Until now. Shots are 6-5 for Tampa. Lightning leads, 1-0.
444 left: Tyrell goes for interference, knocking down Montador in front of the Buffalo net.
4:31 left: Lundin fires a rolling puck from his zone over the glass behind the bench. Whole crowd called the delay of game. Two-man advantage for 1:47. Huge chance.
3:42 left: Two blocks and a Roloson save on a Pominville one-timer.
3:28 left: Big stop on Ennis, who takes return pass from Vanek to Roloson's left.
3:15 left: Vanek tips home the Pominville blast from the left point, with the puck dribbling through Roloson's legs. Vanek's 29th. Game tied 1-1. Have to like how Sabres won all but one faceoff on the 5-on-3 and how Vanek stopped the puck at the point on the one Buffalo lost.
2:25 left: Lightning back to full strength. Buffalo had four shots on the power play.
1:22 left: Enroth with a big save on Lecavalier in the slot after a bad giveaway behind the net by Sekera, who has been uneven to say the least the last few games.
End-1st: Tied at 1-1. Shots are 10-9 for Buffalo.
March 30, 2011 - 4:56 PM
Rumors have been spreading in the last hour at HSBC Arena and it appears Ryan Miller will not play tonight against the New York Rangers, sources have told The News. Miller is injured. It is not a night off. In response to an inquiry, the Sabres referred to their long-standing policy of often not announcing the starting goaltender so we'll have to wait until the team takes the ice for warmup at 6:30.
There is no word on the nature or severity of the injury but it's believed to be an upper-body situation. Miller did take a slapshot from Dion Phaneuf to the collarbone area with 14:48 left in the third period of Tuesday night's 4-3 loss at Toronto. He also took a Brian Rolston slapshot directly on the mask in the first period of Saturday's 2-0 win over New Jersey.
Miller was not at today's morning skate but that's not unusual. Jhonas Enroth and Patrick Lalime were on the ice. It was an optional skate with several players not on hand. Miller's absence was thus not a topic of conversation because he has often taken gameday skates off this season.
Enroth will start tonight. Miller has made the last seven starts. Enroth's last appearance was the 6-4 win March 13 against Ottawa. Lalime told reporters yesterday in Toronto his injured knee is better and he's ready to go so he should be the backup.
March 26, 2011 - 6:26 PM
Greetings again from HSBC Arena for the second half of the final home back-to-back on the Sabres' schedule. It's the Sabres and the New Jersey Devils. The Sabres split one in November (Los Angeles-Tampa Bay) and have gone 1-0-1 in the other two (beat Atlanta/lost to Detroit in shootout, beat Atlanta/lost to Nashville in overtime). So a win tonight gives them their first home back-to-back sweep of the season.
There should be big roster news from the warmup (confirming the scratches) so we're starting the live blog early. Keep it here.
6:30 p.m.: The teams take the ice and it is, as we speculated this morning, Mark Mancari and Jordan Leopold who are out tonight with Steve Montador and Jochen Hecht back in the lineup.
7:05 BULLETIN: Darcy Regier just met with the media in the press box and informed us Jordan Leopold will be seeing a hand specialist Monday. He has a broken hand and will definitely miss the rest of the regular season. His status for potential playoff games is uncertain.
Of note: Every score out of town is going the Sabres' way. Carolina down, 3-2, to Tampa Bay. Montreal still down, 1-0, to Washington and Toronto down, 2-1, at Detroit. This could be a big, big night in the standings and suddenly make sixth place a realistic possibility for the Sabres.
8:46 p.m.: The puck is dropped.
17:08 left: McCormick for high sticking. Came right after Miller made three point-blank stops on the first shots of the period for either side.
15:36 left: Grier limps off (right leg). Got tackled with Mark Fayne at the right point and might have gotten a skate.
13:29 left: Faceoff. Brodeur made good stops on Hecht and Pominville, with Hecht's shot leaking through but going just wide of the post.
12:43 left: Old friend Henrik Tallinder goes for tripping.
10:40 left: No clincher on the PP like the Sabres got last night. Still have to work through these last 10 minutes.
6:00 left: Gerbe hauled down hard behind the net by Clarkson but no call. Clock keeps ticking. There's 14 minutes left in Carolina and the Lightning still lead, 3-2.
5:39 left: Grier comes back on and gets hit again. Same leg. Limps off.
2:59 left: Miller stops Tallinder from the point. Shots are 9-5 for the Devils and 29-28 for New Jersey in the game. If he can hold on, Miller would tie his career high with five shutouts on the season.
1:30 left: Clock ticking.
38.7 left: Faceoff on offside. Brodeur out.
10.9 left: Faceoff after icing. Bad call. The Devils made the pass down the ice. It should be over.
0:00: And now it is. A 2-0 win keeps the playoff express on track. Final shots were 30-28 for Devils in Miller's fifth shutout.
Of note: Tampa Bay and Carolina are 2-2 after one. Washington leads Montreal, 1-0, late in the first while Toronto trails, 1-0, at Detroit.
7:57 p.m.: The puck is dropped.
14:10 left: Kovalchuk fires just wide and the puck bounces off the backboards through the crease. Kovalchuk then limped off (was typing..sorry didn't see what happened---update he blocked Vanek's shoot-in with his leg). There are loads of empty seats. Lots of folks stuck outside in the concourses because there's so few whistles. Listen to the two-minute bell, people!
13:00 left: Shots are 6-3 for New Jersey. Devils quite a bit more interested.
12:00 left: Miller with a neat save on an Elias deflection.
11:32 left: Rick Jeanneret has the T-shirt launcher -- and he just made the ice from the press box with two missiles. Dude is dangerous.
10:40 left: Tough hit on Weber by Palmieri. Weber is gimpy going off.
8:27 left: Clarkson alone in front of Miller. Goes to a couple dekes and backhands it wide. Sabres would do well to return to this one. Shots are 20-18. It was 14-3.
6:56 left: They keep showing this dude in a Cleveland Browns jersey dancing on the HD board. He keeps getting booed loudly. Didn't know there was that much Browns hatred here. Not like he's got a Jets, Patriots or Dolphins tog on.
4:25 left: Brodeur with the nifty glove save on Gerbe from the slot.
3:33 left: Ennis for tripping. First penalty of the night.
1:59 left: Elias for boarding after he smacked Pominville in the corner in the New Jersey zone.
End-2nd: Sabres survive to hold their 2-0 lead. Shots were 10-7 for the Devils and 23-19 for Buffalo through two.
7:07 p.m.: The puck is dropped.
Sabres starters: Gerbe-Gaustad-Boyes-Butler-Montador. Goal: Miller
Devils starters: Elias-Zubrus-Rolston-Tallinder-Fayne. Goal: Brodeur
16:00 left: Hecht is reunited with Vanek and Pominville. The other lines are Gerbe-Gaustad-Boyes (for Mancari, who has been returned to Portland), Ennis-Connolly-Stafford and Niedermayer-McCormick-Grier.
15:43 left: That little rat Gerbe sneaks around from behind the to Brodeur's left and fires a laser from the faceoff dot just under the bar. Gerbe's 14th. Sabres lead, 1-0.
13:00 left: Wonder if Ilya Kovalchuk thinks the Devils are done tonight?
10:00 left: Maybe the Devils are. Shots are 9-2 for Buffalo.
8:00 left: This baby is flying with no whistles basically. We've played 12 minutes in 15 minutes of real time.
4:38 left: We finally have a whistle. Shots are 11-3. Devils look pretty disinterested. Wow. Just lost 10 minutes, 14 seconds with no whistles! This is the first TV timeout. Crazy. Looks like Hecht is now between Stafford and Ennis.
3:43 left: Vanek pops home a Pominville rebound from the edge of the crease after Connolly wins a faceoff. Sabres lead, 2-0. Shots are 14-3. Devils playing exactly like Kovalchuk said. They're done. Vanek's first goal since March 13.
2:00 left: Miller takes a slapper right off the mask from Brian Rolston. He's a little stunned. Takes the mask off at the whistle.
:32 left: Miller's best save on Nick Palmieri from in tight.
End-1st: Sabres hold their 2-0 lead but Devils came on in the last three minutes. Shots were 16-9.
March 10, 2011 - 6:58 PM
BOSTON -- Greetings from Level 9 atop the TD Garden for tonight's game against the Zdeno Charas, er, the Boston Bruins. Seems like that's all we've been talking about today and all anybody in the building is talking about. So I get upstairs to my seat here and what am I next to? A black stanchion blocking my view of the net to the left on your television screen. Plenty of room for me to move down a couple and get the view. No stanchions for me.
Be sure to scroll through all of today's posts for the latest on Zdeno Chara. We've had a very busy day on the Edge before a puck is ever dropped. But we are finally going to get to hockey as the Sabres try to pull two points ahead of idle Carolina in the battle for eighth place in the East. The Rangers are also idle. The Sabres will pull even in games with the Hurricanes while Buffalo will have two games in hand over New York when tonight's play is over.
Speaking of Chara, doesn't he have to be on his best behavior tonight? No outbursts like we saw after Game Five of last year's playoff series in HSBC Arena. I'm thinking the Sabres may want to try to agitate him even more than normal. We'll see.
The Bruins have gotten great goaltending all year from Tim Thomas and they're a classic play-from-in-front team. They have outscored their opponents, 60-40, in the first period this season. They are 25-4-4 when scoring first, 22-2-1 when leading after one period and 25-0-1 when leading after two. Wow.
Keep these numbers in mind if we go to overtime tonight. Buffalo is 12-8 when tied after regulation and Boston is just 2-8. The Sabres are 5-1 in shootouts, the Bruins are 1-5. Hmmm.
With all the Chara chatter and pregame prep, you still have to eat at some point. And when you're in Boston, one of the great choices is The Fours on Canal Street right by the Garden. I've been going since 1989 and made it there again this afternoon. Classic stuff. Tremendous Boston-themed memorabilia collection. Voted No. 1 sports bar in America a few years ago in a Sports Illustrated story and a great Boston-themed menu. I'm a veteran of The Bobby Orr, a terrific steak tips sandwich. But today, I got a little daring and took the dive into lobster mac and cheese. Major yum alert.
Now that I'm hungry again, I'll find some of the league's best press box popcorn and hunker down. Keep it here.
Sabres starters: Niedermayer-McCormick-Grier-Montador-Sekera. Goal: Miller
Bruins starters: Paille-Campbell-Thornton-Seidenberg-McQuaid. Goal: Thomas
Overtime recap: SABRES WIN 4-3 as Boyes pots Gerbe's rebound with 1:44 left. It came 25 seconds after Rich Peverley had MIller beat but cranked a shot off the post. Sabres are 8-7 in OT deciders and 2-1 in them on this road trip.
8:59 p.m: The puck is dropped.
17:42 left: The Bruins take the lead as Gregory Campbell pounds a loose puck through Miller's legs. Chara let got a big shot from the point that didn't appear to get through but it pinballed right in front of the goalie and Campbell put it home. Looked like it hit Campbell, hit another player and bounced right back to Colin's son. Bruins lead, 3-2.
16:35 left: Recchi for high sticking.
16:18 left: Marchand for tripping Sekera, who went down awfully easily. Timeout Lindy. Two-man for 1:44. The Sabres have to tie the game here.
14:55 left: And they do. Good pressure. And Connolly pokes one home on Buffalo's third shot. Game tied, 3-3. Connolly had not scored in 14 games. That's his ninth of the season. Game tied, 3-3.
13:30 left: They announced it as a Boyes goal. I'd like to see another replay on that. We'll see if that holds. The Buffalo PP is thus 2 for 7 tonight.
13:00 left: They change it back to a Connolly goal.
11:07 left: Terrible Montador giveaway but Miller stops Bergeron from the slot. Shots are 5-5 in the period.
6:00 left: Still tied at 3-3, which is a nightmare for your deadline-nearing scribe.
4:05 left: Good stop by Miller on Recchi after Boyes failed to get the puck out. Shots are 41-28 for Buffalo (8-7 for Sabres in this period.
2:35 left: Grier fails on a tap-in of a great Vanek pass after a Vanek steal at the line. Bigger point: I don't want Thomas Vanek passing the puck down low to Mike Grier EVER. Gotta shoot.
End-3rd: Remember my OT stats at the top of this blog. Go get em. Here we go at 3-3. Shots are 41-29. Sabres move a point ahead of Carolinq with their eighth of the road trip. Now going for No. 9.
Of note: The Bruins' PR staff is one of the best in the league. Pregame notes are stellar and they produce between-periods and post-game information sheets the like of which every team should copy (hint, hint, Sabres). Here's a nugget they just passed out -- The Bruins are 37-4-4 in games in which they've lead at any point. That's points in 41 of 45 games. Pretty staggering. But there's this addendum: Two of the four losses were to Buffalo, on Dec. 15 in HSBC Arena and here on Jan. 20.
7:58 p.m: The puck is dropped.
19:37 left: Miller stops Recchi on a play set up by a terrible blind back pass by Mancari. He'll get a one-way ticket never to return with plays like that.
17:40 left: Sekera stopped and Connolly just fails to get the rebound.
14:17 left: Thomas with more robbery, including a diving stop on a Connolly rebound. The play ends, the scrum ensues and Chara is right in the middle with Grier. In the end, McQauid and Grier go for roughing. The Sabres have a 19-18 edge in shots in this game; it was once 10-3 for Boston.
13:06 left: Chara goes for boarding and that was a terrible call. He pushed Montador down and Montador slid 10 feet and hit the boards with a thud.
12:47 left: Thomas robs Vanek but another penalty, Seidenberg for cross checking. That was legit. So it's a 4-on-3 for the Sabres for 30 seconds, then it will be 5 on 3.
10:43 left: The two-man edge was for 1:10 and the Sabres didn't score as Stafford fanned on one shot, passed too hard to Vanek on another. Thomas made good stops on Pominville and Boyes. And now the Sabres get a too many men on the ice penalty. Not good.
8:34 left: Grier and Pominville block Chara shots but just as the penalty ends, the big guy gets in tight to feed Ryder. His first shot is stopped but Recchi bangs in the rebound. Special teams, special teams. Bruins lead, 2-0.
8:07 left: Big answer. Ennis gets in tight, holds it, holds it, hold it and flips it up and in off McQuaid from the goal line just to the right of the net. Ennis' 15th. Bruins lead, 2-1. Sabres their first goal on their 27th shot of the night.
5:49 left: Another Boston penalty. Boychuk for holding. The Sabres have a 19-6 bulge in shots on goal in this period. Doesn't seem like the ice is tilted that much but Buffalo has been good. Except on the power play. Here's another chance.
5:00 left: What a play by Sekera to save a breakaway by Brad Marchand, who was off to the races after Butler missed the puck at the Boston line. But Sekera quickly caught up to Marchand so no chance for short-handed goal No. 13 against Buffalo. As for this power play ....
3:40 left: No shots on goal on the PP.
2:52 left: Another Boston penalty, Kaberle for tripping. Sabres should decline.
1:08 left: I take it back. Vanek half fans on an Ennis pass but gets enough of it to chip it over Thomas. Great play at the point a few second earlier by Myers to keep the puck in after his point shot got blocked. Game tied, 2-2.
48.9 left: Big bout at center ice between McQuaid and Gaustad. Lots of shots but decision to McQuaid on that one.
8.2 left: Another scrum that's really nothing until Gerbe sent a Bruin flying. Eventually, Lucic and McCormick slug it out and the place is going wild. That was a pretty ill-advised shove by Gerbe. Butler ended up with the extra penalty for roughing.
End-2nd: We're tied at 2-2. Wild period. Sabres had a 22-7 edge in shots and it's 33-22 through two.
7:07 p.m.: The puck is dropped.
19:20 left: Big cheer as Chara takes the ice for the first time. And the crowd is chanting "Cha-ra, Cha-ra"
18:04 left: Miller with some robbery on Nathan Horton, who took a pass and walked right around Connolly. A few seconds earlier, Chara drilled Pominville in the corner. He only knows one way to play.
17:06 left: McCormick and Campbell talk, look at each other and drop 'em in the corner. Big decision to McCormick drew a few gasps from the crowd.
15:17 left: Have to like the Bruins' skating and physical play so far. Sabres haven't done much in either department other than McCormick's scrap. Shots are 4-1 for Boston.
13:29 left: A definite smoke smell wafting up into the press box where I'm sitting. Hey you people in the balcony, what's going on down there? Security! By the way, Thornton goes for interference for Boston.
13:24 left: There goes the Buffalo power play. Myers for tripping.
12:43 left: Leopold just fails to get away, then the Bruins lose the puck again and Leopold and Pominville are in on Thomas on a 2-on-0. But Thomas stops the Leopold shot.
11:06 left: With the Sabres getting completely outplayed a goal was bound to happen. Great 3-on-2 by Boston. Krejci to Lucic to Horton for a goal-mouth tap in. Bruins lead, 1-0. Shots are 9-3.
8:15 left: Great save by Thomas on McCormick from right in front. Sabres have just four shots but two A-1 scoring chances as Lindy Ruff likes to call them.
5:05 left: Thomas stones Pominville from 5 feet after a Connolly feed. Sabres much better since the Boston goal, strangely enough. Shots are now 12-9 for the Bruins.
2:17 left: Miller with a good stop on Adam McQuaid from in front a few seconds after what was at least Connolly's third grievous giveaway of the period. Couple inquiries on the lines and I just realized I forgot 'em (sorry). The Sabres ran out Niedermayer-McCormick-Grier, Gerbe-Gaustad-Mancari, Vanek-Connolly-Pominville and Stafford-Boyes-Ennis. Defense pairs are Montador-Sekera, Butler-Myers, Morrisonn-Leopold.
End-1st: With Miller making a save on Recchi in the final 30 seconds, the Boston lead stays at 1-0 through one. Shots were 15-11. Miller and Thomas were far and away the best players on the ice.
March 10, 2011 - 12:36 PM
BOSTON -- Another curveball to the Sabres lineup. Jochen Hecht said yesterday he was good to go tonight and Lindy Ruff seemed to think the same. Instead, the Sabres have decided to hold Hecht out for tonight's game against the Boston Bruins and have brought Mark Mancari back from Portland. Tim Connolly has been dealing with a sore arm from blocking a shot Tuesday in Pittsburgh but will play. Thomas Vanek and Mike Grier will return as scheduled.
On defense, Shaone Morrisonn's one-game scratch from the lineup is over and he's returning tonight. Mike Weber, who replaced him Tuesday, is back in the press box.
"He's had a pretty rough stretch with goals against," coach Lindy Ruff said of Morrisonn. "We're trying to keep the guys in going the best. I thought he had a little bit of a tough spell and maybe a game off [would help]. I thought Weber was OK in the [Pittsburgh] game. I'd like to see Morrisonn in again too."
Ryan Miller will start in goal tonight against Tim Thomas, who continues to lead the NHL in goals-against (1.97) and save percentage (.939). Thomas, however, is just 8-9-3, 3.14, .897 against the Sabres in his career. This year, he's 2-0-1, 2.52, .917.
Miller is 3-0-1 against the Bruins this year but his stats (3.17, .913) are inflated by Buffalo's 7-6 win on Jan. 1. His career numbers are 19-5-7, 2.61, .914.
March 8, 2011 - 3:23 PM
PITTSBURGH -- The Sabres' sudden injury situation isn't going to evoke any sympathy from the Penguins. They've been without Sidney Crosby since early January and without Evgeni Malkin since he injured his knee in the collision with Tyler Myers on Feb. 4. Brooks Orpik, Arron Asham (concussion) and Mike Comrie (hip) are all out too. Chris Kunitz (lower body) has missed 13 games and is a game-time decision tonight.
The news section of the Penguins' Web site has a full report on the team's activities this morning with notes, quotes and video. They have one of the best sections in the league for live game-day news. Definitely worth a look.
Defenseman Paul Martin logged a season-high 35 minutes, 26 seconds of ice time in the Penguins' 2-1 overtime loss Friday at New Jersey, then played another 28:36 in a 3-2 overtime victory in Boston 24 hours later. The Jersey minutes were inflated because Kris Letang was ejected early for not having his sweater tied down during a fight (the Rob Ray rule)
I asked Martin after the Pens' skate how the team has managed to stay afloat -- just two points out of the East lead -- in the face of all the injuries.
"No matter who is out there, we've maintained our desperation," Martin said. "They're all important games to us as well as the team we're playing. You can't look ahead for games and wait for the playoffs to show up. We still realize how important it is to play every night. Most other teams you play are desperate for a playoff spot. Every point matters so much. You just go with who you have."
On the one hand, you wonder how far the Pens can go in the playoffs if Crosby doesn't come back. And there's still no timetable for No. 87's return, which is getting bleaker by the day. The Penguins are just 4-4-4 in their last 12 and have played four straight overtime games going into tonight. But they're battlers. An interesting team to watch deal with adversity. Especially now.
March 8, 2011 - 8:56 AM
PITTSBURGH -- The Sabres are getting mighty thin up front and Patrick Kaleta's knee problem appears to be the biggest injury issue they're facing right now, coach Lindy Ruff said this morning during his weekly appearance on WGR Radio.
The coach revealed Kaleta has gone back to Buffalo to have further examination of his knee, which was struck by a slapshot from Minnesota's Greg Zanon just at the second-period buzzer Sunday night. Ruff said after the game that X-rays on the knee were negative. He said this morning that the knee started to swell here Monday and Kaleta could be out an extended period of time. That doesn't sound good. You have to wonder if another X-ray is going to find a broken bone.
Ruff revealed today that Mike Grier's lower-body injury is a groin problem and that the veteran will skate this morning but it sounded like he's iffy for tonight. Jochen Hecht will also skate today but Ruff said he will not play.
It sounds like the Sabres will be calling up veteran Mark Parrish from Portland and Ruff said there might even be another callup because another player, whom he did not name, is sick with the flu and might not be available tonight. Would imagine that would be Paul Byron or Luke Adam.
9:19 a.m. update: The Sabres tweet they have officially called up Parrish and Adam.
Yeesh. The Sabres skate at 11:30 at Consol Energy Center so we'll have the updates later today.
March 6, 2011 - 5:26 PM
ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Greetings from somewhere near Bemidji, which is seemingly the height of the press box in the XCel Energy Center as we get set for the Sabres and the Wild. But don't think I'm just blindly griping. This is one of the most spacious places I've been to. There's even hooks for your coats a few feet behind each seat. The view is sensational. It's just high-high-high. But they got big monitors right in front of us for replays. This will work fine. And great elevators. Hey, Calgary and Edmonton: Look, no catwalks!
And the people? Couldn't be any nicer. Press box attendants, elevator attendants, food service workers in the press room (kudos to the frisbee-sized chocolate chip cookies), anyone you meet here. There's even a by-name greeting to all of the Buffalo media in the game notes. Blown away.
So now that I've extended all the thanks, I got one small quibble: The Wild is making the Slug gaffe. You know. That one. Using the Sabres' old logo in their building. Now, the graphic on the scoreboard is correct. Some places haven't figured that one out yet (I'm talking to you, Islanders). But there are banners for every NHL team in the rafters here -- a great touch -- and Buffalo's is the old, ugly slug (it's in the back row in the shot at left, almost directly across from my seat in the rafters. Click the pic for a bigger view).
I know that Ted Black, and by extension Terry Pegula, are taking notes on just about everything since they took over. I certainly have my lists but here would be one of the biggest I would say to them on behalf of fans: Eradicate the slug. Everywhere. No TV networks should make the mistake (that's you, TSN). No arena scoreboard graphics, no banners, nothing.
And the big one: By opening day next season, I expect the slug to be gone off the scoreboard at HSBC Arena. It was pure laziness that it wasn't gone this year. And I'm sure there was money involved too. Those big slugs are involved in the smoke after goals, etc and lots would have to be changed so I don't think anything will be done this year. But that's not the logo anymore. The fans hate it. They got their classic swords back. Now it's time for the Sabres to go all the way with it and tell everyone in the hockey world loud and proud how they want to be represented.
My memo to the Sabres when it comes to details like that and so many others: You're in the NHL. Act like it. Too many corners cut in recent years that will hopefully be rounded off now.
End of rant. Stay tuned for notes from the warmup and our live game blog as the Sabres go for the points to finally get into the top eight in the East.
Warmups: Jhonas Enroth in goal for the Sabres with Patrick Lalime backing up. Ryan Miller will get a total night off like he did Feb. 15 in Montreal. Jose Theodore in goal for Minnesota and he's been hot (2-1-, 1.61 GAA, .959 save pct in his last four appearances). ... Buffalo has all seven defensemen on the ice. We'll see if Mike Weber sits again. Assume that would be the case. ... No Cal Clutterbuck for the Wild after he was felled by the ridiculous hit from behind from Islanders thug Trevor don't-call-him-Clark Gillies. That got a richly deserved 10-game suspension.
The scratches are in: Mike Weber, Mike Grier, Jochen Hecht, Ryan Miller.
The Wild's radio team is seated right next to me and they had a question about the Sabres' goaltending situation that I answered. Then the gent introduced himself. It's longtime former Minnesota North Stars defenseman Tom Reid, the Fort Erie, Ont., native who was a longtime owner of a well-known sporting goods store that catered to hockey. Awesome. You just never know who you'll meet in this gig.
Sabres starters: Gerbe-Gaustad-Kaleta-Butler-Myers. Goal: Enroth
Wild starters: Brunette-Cullen-Miettinen-Zidlicky-Zanon. Goal: Theodore
Of note: It looks like a rib problem for Ennis on the bench.
4:14 left: Stafford wins it with a spectacular goal. Shades of Pominville '06 the way he cut in front. His 26th. Sabres win, 3-2
7:48 p.m. The puck is dropped. As you would expect, no Kaleta on the bench. Mancari takes his spot with Gaustad and Gerbe.
17:00 left: Two good saves by Theodore on Ennis and a Niedermayer backhand.
15:13 left: Another close call as Connolly steals in the zone and fires one off the post past a beaten Theodore. The Sabres officially announce Kaleta will not return.
12:32 left: No doubt this is a better period for the Sabres so far. Shots are 7-4.
11:00 left: Another near miss for Niedermayer on the backhand and a scrum develops with McCormick getting the better of Clayton Stoner.
6:00 left: Still tied.
5:40 left: Enroth with the save of the night on Andrew Brunette on a breakaway as he tried to deke to the backhand.
1:54 left: Long, long stretch with no whistles. We should note the Sabres would move into eighth if they get a point here. They would have 71 points in 65 games while Carolina has 71 in 66. But, of course, they want two. How about another Enroth shootout win?
40.6 left: Another injury problem as Ennis was taken down behind the Wild net and is in pain at the bench. Wrist/shoulder/rib? Hard to tell from up here.
On to OT: We're tied at 2-2 and the Sabres officially move into eighth place in the East. Shots are 32-26 for Buffalo. The Sabres are 6-7 in game-deciding OT goals this year. The Wild are 5-1. Meanwhile, Buffalo is 5-1 in shootouts and Minnesota just 2-5
6:57 p.m.: The puck is dropped. Sabres have 1:18 left on the power play.
18:40 left: PP ends as Stafford and Vanek are foiled on great chances. But another terrible point giveaway, this time by Leopold, gave the Wild's Madden a chance to break out but his shot went wide. That keeps happening.
17:56: STOP THE GAME. ROB NIEDERMAYER HAS SCORED. Pounded a Sekera rebound between Theodore's legs for, finally and amazingly, his first of the year. Sabres lead, 2-0.
12:26 left: The Wild is getting chances. A loose puck just went in front to John Madden but he fired it wide.
11:55 left: Leopold for hooking. Terrible call. Barely touched the Minnesota forward -- who then crashed into Enroth. We've seen lots of goaltender interference calls on that one this season.
8:41 left: Wild also struggling on the PP, drawing lots of boos. Shots are currently 14-14 and you have to like how sharp Enroth has been, out at the top of the crease and moving well. Helps that the Wild have fired wide on a few good chances.
5:47 left: The Wild finally get close as Warren Peters has a tap-in on a 2-on-1 with Brad Staubitz, with Leopold late on the scene and Morrisonn doing little to guard the play. It was an awesome long pass from deep in the defensive zone from Brent Burns to set it all up. Sabres lead, 2-1.
3:59 left: More trouble. Myers goes for hooking.
2:27 left: Bigger trouble. The Wild converts as Marek Zidlicky one-times a low shot along the ice past Enroth after a great pass from Pierre-Marc Bouchard. Game tied, 2-2. I guess a 2-0 lead is the worst one in the NHL to have. Insane.
End-2nd: It's 2-2 and shots are 20-17 for the Wild (14-11 in that period). Just at the horn, Kaleta blocked a bullet from Greg Zanon and was down in a heap. Looked like a direct hit on the left foot. Going from bad to worse here.
6:08 p.m.: The puck is dropped.
18:37 left: Pominville puts Buffalo on top on a 2-on-1. Great pass from Montador on the backhand coming up on the play put Pominville at almost the same spot as yesterday's winner in Philly. Vanek with the steal at the Sabres line set it up. Great start. Sabres lead, 1-0.
17:50 left: Stafford barely misses a rebound from in tight that would have put the Sabres up two in a hurry.
17:07 left: Theodore stops McCormick on a 2-on-1 and the rebound just gets past Niedermayer, who would have had a tap-in for his first of the season. Wild VERY loose so far.
15:30 left: Just watched the replay of the near-miss. Niedermayer simply stopped skating and watched McCormick. If he goes hard to the net, he has an easy goal. Another terrible play by a guy who should know better.
14:03 left: Nidermayer slapper stopped by Theodore. Shots are 4-0 for Buffalo. McCormick pulled away out of the zone to start a 3-on-2. He's skating very well so far.
13:04 left: Wild's first shot is a good one from Antti Miettinen from the right circle.
11:00 left: Shots are 5-2 for Buffalo. The lines so far have been Gerbe-Gaustad-Kaleta, Vanek-Boyes-Pominville, Ennis-Connolly-Stafford and Niedermayer-McCormick-Mancari. Defense pairs stay the same: Butler-Myers, Sekera Montador and Leopold-Morrisonn.
10:36 left: Nice save by Enroth on Matt Cullen on a 2-on-1 after the puck hopped past Morrisonn in the neutral zone.
8:30 left: Vanek is going to score in his homecoming if this keeps up. He's had the puck on a string. Just undressed Greg Zanon to get in alone but shot wide.
6:10 left: Zidlicky for hooking a few seconds after Sekera took an awfully high hit from Brad Staubitz in the corner that wasn't whistled.
4:10 left: A zero power play. No shots. No zone time. Nothing. Bad passing, No retrievals.
42.5 left: Guess they'll try it again. Chuck Kobasew for hooking Stafford, who drove hard into the Minnesota end.
End-1st: Sabres hold their 1-0 lead as Enroth stops John Maddon on a partial break with six seconds left after Sekera's shot from the point is blocked. Poor point play is a reason for all these short-handed goals. Just can't keep happening. Shots were 6-6. Sabres had just two in the final 14 minutes.
February 26, 2011 - 7:02 PM
Greetings again from HSBC Arena as Terry Pegula goes for 3-0 and the Sabres go for 3-3 on the homestand as they meet the Detroit Red Wings.
Breaking news on the scratch front: Jordan Leopold is out for Buffalo with an upper-body injury. (He probably deserved to sit based on how terrible he was last night. Maybe he was nursing something that caused him to be so soft with the puck). Drew Miller is a scratch for Detroit. As in Ryan Miller's brother. As in the guy the Detroit papers all wrote about today playing his brother.
The Miller parents and siblings are here too. Drew has played 54 games this year. There's no hint of an injury. Now, I understand the Red Wings are getting Mike Modano and Valtteri Filppula back from injuries and they've lost two straight at home. But that seems like an awfully harsh decision from coach Mike Babcock.
Buffalo starters: Ennis-Hecht-Stafford-Butler-Myers. Goal: Miller
Detroit starters: Holmstrom-Modano-Filppula-Lidstrom-Stuart. Goal: MacDonald.
Wings win: Datsyuk and Hudler score on backhand dekes. Stafford and Vanek stopped. Two points behind Canes.
9:29 p.m: The puck is dropped. Sabres are 11-6 in OT this year (6-6 in game-deciders, 5-0 shootouts)) and Red Wings are 10-6 (7-4, 3-2).
4:30 left: Great move by Stafford, great save by MacDonald.
2:30 left: Ennis stopped on the doorstep, crashed into MacDoald. Didn't really get shot off.
1:40 left: Lidstrom just wide from in front.
33.0 left: Icing on Buffalo after a nearly brutal giveaway by Myers to Datsyuk circling near the red line as the last man back. Timeout, Lindy. Shots are 2-1 for the Sabres in the OT. They have to be thinking just get to the shootout, where they're an NHL-best 5-0.
4.2 left: Faceoff to left of Miller. Shots 3-2 for Buffalo.
On to the shootout: Final shots 37-32 for Detroit. AND GET THIS: Montreal beats Carolina, 4-3, on Andrei Kostitsyn's power-play goal with 3:53 left. Win this shootout and Buffalo is a point back.
8:52 p.m. : The puck is dropped.
13:36 left: Apologies for the lack of updates. Wrapping up early print duties and not many whistles. Nice save by Miller on Mike Modano. Wings pushing again. Shots are 5-3 for Detroit in the period.
12:33 left: Have to wonder if Sabres can protect a one-goal lead against this club for 29 minutes. Tough task.
10:59 left: Miller stops the always dangerous Datsyuk on a one-timer from the slot. Meanwhile, the Penguins get two late second-period goals to take a 3-2 lead at Toronto through two. The Canes and Montreal are 3-3 early in the third.
8:58 left: Some great skating by Ennis created a couple near-misses in the Detroit zone. Wings have a 9-4 lead in shots and 28-26 for the game. It was, remember, 12-5 for Buffalo at one point.
5:54 left: Buffalo still in hold-on mode. Shots 10-4 for Detroit. Miller has been great on this homestand (1.83 GAA and .945 save percentage). They need him to keep the door shut.
5:18 left: Old friend Clarke MacArthur and Joffrey Lupul score 35 seconds apart early in the third in Toronto and the dont-call-us-Laffs lead Pittsburgh, 4-3. Ouch.
2:19 left: The back-to-back and three games in four nights showing through as the Sabres are hanging on. Wild one in Toronto: Pens score short-handed, Leafs score on PP to go back up, 5-4, Pens tie it at 5-5. Carolina still 3-3 at Montreal with five minutes left.
2:00 left: Miller flat-out robs Datsysuk with the left pad.
57.9 left: That was inevitable. Had to happen. Floater from the point, rebound and banged home by Hudler. Game tied, 2-2. Shots are 15-4 in this period and 34-28 in the game. Sabres just outta gas. But seriously now, how many two-goal leads can a team blow in a season?
8.7 left: Butler with a great chance but MacDonald holds on -- with Niedermayer right there waiting for a rebound to drop.
On to OT: So we're tied at 2-2 as the Sabres came within 57 seconds of protecting a lead for 29 minutes. Shots were 16-6 in the third for Detroit (35-29 for the game)
Of note: Sabres had 24 hits each of the last two games. Already 11 in this period -- and six by Kaleta. Buffalo also 13-6 on faceoffs. Miller hardly tested.
7:59 p.m: The puck is dropped.
15:29 left: Kaleta driving Wings crazy, getting them all yelling at him but he finally goes too far and gets a kneeing call. Discipline, discipline.
14:50 left: Niklas Kronwell beats Miller but the puck rifles off the post.
13:47 left: Dan Clearly beats Miller high on the backhand -- and pings that one off the bar. The noise rang through the whole building.
12:43 left: Vanek high and wide on the slapper speeding down his off side after a Stafford steal/feed.
12:08 left: Brad Stuart for tripping. Sabres go on first power play. A goal for 3-0 completely changes things and puts Detroit out of it.
11:16 left: Filppula wide on a 2-on-1 after an awful pass by Myers sends Wings away. The short-handed goal bugaboo nearly crops up again.
9:48 left: No goal on the PP and now a penalty, Hecht for holding.
9:17 left: And we got two octopi on the ice. Pavel Datsyuk beats a screened Miller with a quick snapper on his second try after Gaustad blocked the first one. Sabres lead, 2-1. Shots are 7-5 for Detroit in this period; much better stanza for the Wings as Buffalo has found penalty trouble.
7:15 left: Hudler on a breakaway and Miller makes the stop -- but did it get thorugh his legs and go wide? Close call. Wings really controlling things now. Sabres woke up a sleeping dog.
4:08 left: Great work by Hecht, Vanek and Sekera get the Sabres some momentum back with a good 30 seconds in the Detroit zone. Badly needed. Shots are 9-7 for Detroit in the period.
3:30 left: Out of town, Carolina is in a 3-3 tie at Montreal and Toronto is leading Pittsburgh, 2-1. Yes, you have to watch the Laffs. They're at 61 points, three shy of Buffalo.
3:17 left: Morrisonn pulls one just off the goal line after it hits him and starts bounding past an out-of-position Miller. On replay: It was a sensational play by Morrisonn, as he reached on the backhand and swept the puck away.
End-2nd: Sabres hold on to their 2-1 lead. Shots were 12-7 for Detroit.
7:07 p.m: The puck is dropped.
17:00 left: Is it blasphemy to say I absolutely love those Detroit winged wheel jerseys? Whether it's the white they have on tonight or the red. And there are a TON of Detroit jerseys in the stands. Couple folks on Twitter told me Section 304 has been taken over and the upper rows are filled with red. The building is packed, by the way.
16:10 left: As for hockey, MacDonald makes a nice glove grab on a Weber wrister from the point. Shots are 3-2 for Buffalo.
12:15 left: Shots are 5-4 for Buffalo. Stafford looks a little sore on the bench after crashing over MacDonald on a power move to the net. The lines are the same as last night but the defense pairs are interesting: Sekera goes in for Leopold with Montador while Butler stays with Myers. Weber and Morrisonn stay together. The lines are Ennis-Hecht-Stafford, Gerbe-Gaustad-Kaleta, Vanek-Connolly-Ennis and Niedermayer-McCormick-Grier.
11:34 left: Great shift by Connolly line with several near misses and a couple solid MacDonald saves. Best chance was an open net for Pominville but he puck hopped over his stick. Sabres with good energy again and a 10-4 edge in shots. They've had 39 apiece the last two games. Well on their way again.
7:05 left: Sabres have great chances all over the place and finally capitalize. What a rush by Andrej Sekera, taking a feed from Hecht at the Detroit line and bursting in on the right wing to beat MacDonald high on the backhand. Perfect shot. His second of the season -- first since Nov. 3 against Boston. Sabres lead, 1-0. Shots are 13-6.
5:01 left: I guess Sekera HATED being a scratch. He just roared down the left side into the Detroit side and fed Grier in front. Grier kicks the puck to his stick and stuffs it home for his second in two nights. Sabres lead, 2-0.
4:00 left: Grier scores in consecutive games for first time since Oct. 21-24, 2009 at Florida and Tampa Bay. By the way, Grier is not a guy I'd be thinking about moving and it should be noted he has a no-movement clause anyway. As for Niedermayer .....
End-1st: In a fast-moving affair (an entire period in 34 minutes) with very few whistles, the Sabres leave the ice to a big hand. Shots are 15-7 for Buffalo and they hold their 2-0 lead. Full marks. They were dominant. They're 15-7-2 in their last 22 games but few periods have been that good.
February 25, 2011 - 7:09 PM
Greetings from the Arena for Game Two of Pegulapalooza: It's the Sabres against their former archrivals, the Ottawa Senators. Who are these guys? The Ottawa lineup tonight features immortals such as Zack Smith, Bobby Butler, Erik Condra, Francis Lessard, Corey Locke and Roman Wick. Lots of guys traded and others (Daniel Alfredsson and Sabres nemesis Chris Neil, to name two) are out injured. Odd.
A Buffalo win tonight would be four against the Sens this season, a first for the Sabres since 2001-02. What's really strange is the fact the visiting team has won the last eight games in this series. The Sabres went 3 for 3 in Ottawa this year while the Sens won the only meeting here on Oct. 22 as Alfredsson's empty-net goal was his 1,000th NHL point.
The Sabres dressed all seven defensemen in warmup so no idea yet if Andrej Sekera remains a scratch. No word yet on any claim of Craig Rivet off re-entry waivers. Teams have until noon tomorrow to make that claim.
Ryan Miller has a .947 save percentage and a 1.78 GAA in his last four games. He could become the first Buffalo goalie to beat Ottawa four times in a season since Dominik Hasek did it in 2000-01. Miller, by the way, is the subject of the gameday poster in Saturday's print editions. Be sure to pick one up!
The Sabres are in their second home back-to-back of the season. The Detroit Red Wings are already in town (their equipment is downstairs ready to be loaded in the locker room when Ottawa leaves), and be sure to check out the Sabres' notebook in Saturday's paper for an update on the Wings. There's your cheap plug alert for the night.
Out of town watch: Carolina is hosting injury-riddled Pittsburgh, the Rangers are at Washington, Florida is at Atlanta and red-hot New Jersey is at Tampa Bay. The Devils are 16-1-2 and have gone from 27 points out of the playoffs to just nine. That's crazy.
Keep it here for all your updates, Pegula sightings, Pegula tweets, etc.
7:27 p.m.: Sekera is the scratch for Buffalo.
Buffalo starters: Vanek-Connolly-Pominville-Butler-Myers. Wow. There's some odd combos. Goal: Miller
Ottawa starters: Michalek-Butler-Spezza-Phillips-Lee. Goal: Anderson.
7:32 p.m.: Great tweaks on the opening intro video with Pegula's presser and scenes from Wednesday night. And it ends with "Winning is Not a Goal. It is a Belief" on the screen. Gotta love that quote. Untouchable.
9:21 p.m: The puck is dropped.
15:00 left: Not many whistles so far. Hard to blog, write story at same time. Somebody ice the puck!
12:34 left: Shots are 5-2 for Ottawa. Sabres certainly need some insurance here. Good effort on the road by the depleted Sens, basically playing with a bunch of AHL players. Sabres need to sew this one up -- and then play a lot better tomorrow with the Red Wings here.
12:25 left: They heard me. There's your insurance. Hecht bangs home a Stafford rebound from the edge of the crease on a two-on-one. Sabres lead, 3-1. Hecht's 10th.
9:37 left: Sabres a little loose. Miller robs rookie Corey Locke on a deflection on the doorstep.
3:00 left: Sabres still in control. Your friendly beat writer/blogger in control. Story done. Sorry, Ryan. You can't wait till after deadline to write!
1:55 left: Uh-oh. Michalek with a wrister high to make it 3-2.
It's over: A 4-2 win on Vanek's empty netter with 31.5 left.
8:27 p.m.: The puck is dropped. Bad news out of town as Carolina leads Pittsburgh, 3-0, and the Rangers lead Washington, 3-0.
18:39 left: Anderson stops Pominville after a nice feed from Vanek.
18:00 left: Anderson again, on a Montador snapshot via an Ennis feed. Sabres will eventually cash in on some of this open ice.
12:52 left: Niedermayer for hooking. Shots are 5-3 for Buffalo in the period, 15-11 overall.
10:11 left: McCormick bangs it home from the slot after a pass from the point by Montador goes by Vanek but richochets off the end boards right into the slot. Vanek did a great job of puck possession on that shift. Sabres lead, 2-0.
8:03 left: Vanek a little gimpy after getting dumped along the boards by Michalek but he gets up and joins the play as the Sabres dominate delayed penalty time in the zone. Michalek gets a boarding call.
5:36 left: After a wild sequence (Myers broke up a 3-on-1, Stafford stopped by Anderson on a 4-on-1), the Senators come right back with a long pass to Jason Spezza and he smokes Miller with the backhand on a breakaway. Sabres had a power play and an odd-man to go up 3-0. Now it's a game. Sabres lead, 2-1.
4:02 left: Miller with two saves after a terrible giveaway in the slot by Hecht. The Sabres have not been good with the puck in their own zone in this one.
2:08 left: Miller with a nice grab on Michalek after Vanek and Leopold had shots from the slot fail to get to the net. Buffalo has outshot Ottawa, 17-9, in this period and 27-17 for the game.
1:34 left: Kaleta runs over Svatos at center ice. Few seconds later, he puts it in on the rebound of his own one-handed shot and crashes into Anderson. Goal waved off for now. It looked like a kick. And on top that, Kaleta is gone for goaltender interference. We've seen Miller run over a lot worse than that at times this year with no call. Happened in Ottawa as a matter of face in the last meeting. And on the replay, it wasn't a kick. Foot never moved.
End-2nd: Sabres hold the 2-1 lead. Shots were 18-11 for Buffalo and are 28-19 through two.
7:37 p.m.: The puck is dropped.
15:51 left: Pretty scrappy play so far. No shots for the first 3:02 until Miller robbed Milan Michalek from right in front. Anderson just stopped Pominville's deflection for Buffalo's first shot. It's 2-1 for Ottawa so far.
13:35 left: Terry Pegula is in the owner's box with Rene Robert and they're celebrating Mike Grier's breakaway goal, a neat deke to the backhand. Grier outskated a diving Chris Campoli for the puck at center ice and got away to score his fourth, from McCormick. Sabres lead, 1-0. Grier had been scoreless in nine games and had one goal (Feb. 4 at Pittsburgh) in his last 42 games. Ouch.
10:54 left: Weber goes for boarding on a tough hit against Bobby Butler that drew plenty of attention from the Senators. Derek Roy has joined Pegula and Robert in the owner's box. Interesting that Robert is here two nights in a row. A big welcome back to him. He's gotta be thrilled Larry Quinn and Tom Golisano are outta here.
8:55 left: A Vanek howitzer from the right wing off the post. Anderson hesitated coming out to get the puck and Vanek fired as he was trying to back into the net. He who hesitates is usually lost, right?
7:36 left: Yep, it's a whole new world here. During a stop in play, Sabretooth came down the aisle in the 100 level with a birthday cake as the Happy Birthday music played. The recipient? Jessie Pegula, who turned 17 yesterday. She was wearing the classic blue No. 4 with Pegula on the back that the owners' kids got Tuesday. And she got a good hand when she was saluted over the PA.
7:17 left: Francis Lessard for cross-checking Kaleta in front.
5:58 left: Ennis stopped point-blank after a great feed across the goalmouth by Gerbe.
2:42 left: Leopold for interference after a long shift in which the veteran was an absolute trainwreck. He gave the puck away at least three times -- including a horrible one right in front to Marek Svatos that forced Miller to be alert. Just checked: Leopold was on the ice 1:54 on that shift. Couldn't get off the ice and a tired player took a penalty.
The Sabres' lines tonight have looked like this: Vanek-Connolly-Pominville, Kaleta-Gaustad-Gerbe, Ennis-Hecht-Stafford, Niedermayer-McCormick-Grier. Defense pairs: Butler-Myers, Leopold-Montador, Morrisonn-Weber.
37.8 left: Kaleta sneaks around two Sens at center ice and gets a good chance on Anderson, who stops the slapper and a rebound.
End-1st: Shots are 10-8 for the Sabres and they hold their 1-0 lead.
February 23, 2011 - 11:54 AM
Sure, there was plenty of talk about hockey in HSBC Arena this morning. The Sabres and Atlanta Thrashers are tied with 60 points so tonight's game is a big one in the standings. Lindy Ruff is shuffling his lines (but some of the forwards weren't on the ice for the optional morning skate so we don't know the combinations). We do know Thomas Vanek is moving to right wing and Tim Connolly will be centering Jason Pominville and Drew Stafford.
But the night will certainly belong to Terry Pegula, in his first game as owner.
"It should be a lot of fun. There's going to be a lot of emotion in the building," said coach Lindy Ruff. "The game has a lot of a playoff feel to it. They're desperate for a win, we're desperate for a win. We know we need to play well, to play a lot better. We had a great day yesterday and hopefully all that focus goes into tonight's game."
"I'm sure their whole family is going to be here," said Jason Pominville. "We wouldn't want anything better than to get a win for them and a win for us in the standings."
"It's going to be electric," added Thomas Vanek. "It's exciting for the fans, for us. I'm real excited to have a guy that really, really cares. That's always fun. That's all you can ask for."
Ruff said he will keep the same defense pairs as Sunday (meaning Andrej Sekera will again join Craig Rivet as a scratch) but will shuffle some forward lines.
Click below to hear audio from Ruff, Pominville and Vanek.
February 20, 2011 - 11:50 AM
Good early afternoon from HSBC Arena as the Sabres get their Hockey Day in America game on against the Caps. Faceoff is expected to be just about at the stroke of 12:30 so be ready. And remember, it's an NBC game, not MSG or Versus.
The Caps will be sitting out standout defenseman Mike Green for the fourth straight game. He has been dealing with some inner ear trauma. Semyon Varlamov (9-8-4, 2.32, .921) will start in goal, which means Michal Neuvirth (17-9-4, 2.53, .910) likely gets Monday's showdown in Pittsburgh. The Sabres, of course, will again go with Ryan Miller (24-17-5, 2.74, .910).
The trade deadline is looming, as John Vogl wrote in today's paper after chatting with Darcy Regier Saturday in Amherst's Northtown Center. And be sure to check out Bucky Gleason's Inside the NHL column for more chatter on what the Sabres might do and what might happen around the league.
Want another sign it's coming next week? Check out today's press box roster. There are 23 scouts listed from 20 teams. Now, many of them are Toronto-based and come here all the time. But it is pretty unusual to see two here from Anaheim and one from Vancouver. The teams represented look like this: Montreal (2 scouts), Edmonton (2), Anaheim (2), Atlanta, Tampa Bay, Vancouver, San Jose, Chicago, Florida, Pittsburgh, NY Rangers, Colorado, Ottawa, St. Louis, Dallas, Carolina, Nashville, Colorado, Boston, Philadelphia. Whew.
Also starting today at 12:30 are Philadelphia at the NY Rangers and Detroit at Minnesota. The national telecast on NBC at 3:30 features still Sidney Crosby-less at Chicago. And at 6 p.m. on Versus and CBC is the Heritage Classic outdoors from Calgary pitting the Flames and Montreal Canadiens. Figures to be great fun.
Rob Niedermayer is back in the Sabres' lineup today. For what that's worth. We'll see who's out when the Sabres hit the ice for warmup. Stay tuned.
Update: Niedermayer is on the ice. But so are Byron, Kaleta and Butler. So no idea who the scratches are yet.
Update II: If you're reading from out of town and can't watch on NBC because of the regional telecasts, you CAN see the game as NBCSports.com is streaming all the action.
BULLETIN: Andrej Sekera is a healthy scratch for today's game. About time. He has been brutal for games on end and that terrible giveaway on the first shift Friday set the tone for the entire game. He's also had no points -- not even an assist -- in the last 19 games. Also scratched are Paul Byron and Craig Rivet. Do we really need to even mention Rivet anymore?
Sabres starters: Niedermayer-Gaustad-Grier-Weber-Morrisonn. Goal: Miller.
Capitals starters: Ovechkin-Backstrom-Knuble-Alzner-Carlson. Goal: Varlamov.
2:19 p.m.; After the pathetic Internet service here basically shut down and helped lock my laptop for the whole intermission, we're back at it.
17:37 left: Perreault goes for hooking.
15:00 left: No shots on the PP, barely any zone time.
13:06 left: Clock running, not much happening. Varlamov stops Connolly on a good rush. Shots are 3-1 for Buffalo in the period.
12:25 left: What's up at this end of the rink? A crazy bounce from the glass on the other side nearly caught Varlamov off guard.
10:45 left: Morrisonn for interference on Hendricks along the boards. I guess. But I'd like that called every time it happens, not with 11 minutes left in a tie game when we haven't seen it more than, say, once a month.
9:40 left: Perreault bangs home an Ovechkin rebound -- (looked tipped by Johansson?). It was a sensational rush by the Great Eight, who knocked the puck out of the air in his zone with his stick and did a between-the-legs, behind-the-back glove grab to set the puck at his feet and get started. Caps lead, 2-1.
8:20 left: The goal is, in fact, credited to Johansson.
3:15 left: Gerbe stopped by Varlamov. Shots 9-5 for Buffalo. Sabres need to somehow squeeze a point out of this game. Two goals in three home games to start this stand simply doesn't get the job done.
57.2 left: Miller out. Faceoff in Washington zone after Ovechkin steals from Ennis and shoots ice-length backhand wide. Not a great play.
13.7 left: Another icing after Leopold zhitniks one high and wide from the point after a good play at the opposite point by Connolly. Timeout, Lindy.
It's over: A 2-1 loss. An 0-3 homestand thus far with just two goals. Terrible. Shots were 11-5 for Buffalo in the third and 39-29 for Washington in the game.
Of note: Sabres forwards had just three of the eight shots in the first period (one each for Vanek, Pominville and Hecht). Montador had two of the defense's five. ... The Caps' power play is oddly poor this season. It entered today 23rd in the NHL overall at 16.5 percent (22nd at home, 17.0; 18th on road, 15.8). The Sabres entered 16th on the PK (81.5 percent) -- 18th at home and 18th on the road. It was pretty good in the first period with nine shots on goal. Miller, of course, made the difference for Buffalo.
1:27 p.m.: The puck is dropped.
16:08 left: Pretty tight so far. Just looked at the ice time in the first period. Forwards don't get shots when they're not on the ice due to penalties. Stafford (4:32), Vanek (4:42), Pominville (3:38), Gerbe (2:26) and Ennis (2:58) all got their time whacked. Pominville, in fact, played 1:11 of short-handed time.
13:51 left: After all that he did in the first period, Miller is confounded by the glass in his own rink. Puck bounces right off the zamboni entrance in front of Ennis, who was expecting it to go around the boards. Instead, it bounces right in the slot to a wide oepn Mathieu Perreault, who bangs it home for his seventh. Caps lead 1-0.
12:45 left: Shots are 24-11 for the Caps. Miller has far-and-away been the best player on the ice. He needs his teammates to give him some rewards.
11:40 left: Laich goes for goaltender interference. Definitely took out Miller and the crowd had plenty of sarcastic cheers when ref Dave Jackson's hand went up. Buffalo's first power play.
8:18 left: After yet another slowdown and finally an outage of perhaps the NHL's worst press box Internet service, I can tell you the Sabres tied it at 1-1 on Pominville's slapshot on the PP at 8:52. Cross-ice pass from Vanek and a big shot that whizzed over Varlamov's left shoulder. He might have been screened by Scott Hannan skating by. Game is tied at 1-1. Shots are 25-14 for Washington.
3:36 left: Vanek stopped on backhand in alone by Varlamov after a great play by Hecht, who took out a breaking Ovechkin in the Buffalo zone and then fed the puck up ice.
2:44 left: Shots are 31-16 for Washington (15-8 in this period). That's 30 saves for Miller in 37+ minutes.
1:42 left: Miller stops Boyd Gordon in alone after Gordon lost the puck slightly trying to make a move.
End-2nd: Shots were 18-10 for the Caps and 34-18 through two. Game tied, 1-1.
12:35 p.m.: After the anthems were done and we waited two minutes for NBC to give the go-ahead (what happened to 12:30?), we can now say the puck is dropped.
14:12 left: Shots are 3-3 in the early going with Kaleta trying to get the library-quiet crowd into things with a few hits. Varlamov made a solid save on a Vanek one-timer and Miller made a good stop on Semin.
13:38 left: Outgoing minority owners Larry Quinn were just thanked for their service on the HD board. They got underwhelming applause at best. And, of course, no sign of Tom Golisano. But he's watching on TV of course.
12:41 left: A Pominville slapshot leaks through Varlamov's pads but Jeff Schultz sweeps it away out of the crease.
11:10 left: Miller stops Steckel from in tight after a bad Myers giveaway a few seconds earlier. The big guy isn't too far from Sekera territory the way he's been going lately. Shots are 7-4 for the Caps.
9:10 left: Another good shift from the Gaustad line, with a big steal by Niedermayer setting up pressure in the zone. It ends with Gaustad slamming his stick on the end glass as he just missed a puck whizzing through the crease off the back boards.
8:47 left: Hecht for elbowing. Ticky-tack call against Alzner along the boards in front of Buffalo bench.
7:28 left: Miller a rock so far on this power play. He stops Laich from in tight, adds a glove save on Backstrom from the slot after Ovechkin undressed Connolly at the Buffalo line and a stop on Carlson from the point. All good chances.
6:40 left: Sabres survive as Miller makes a good stop on Ovechkin just after Hecht returns. Shots are 11-6, Caps.
6:21 left: Myers for boarding after a huge shot on Boyd Gordon. Jeez. It's not a tennis match.
5:55 left: Gaustad for cross checking and Lindy Ruff just went beserk on the bench. Grabbed a stick and starting banging the boards. Another marginal call at best.
5:11 left: Miller makes his best save seemingly in weeks, robbing Backstrom with the glove just to the left of the crease after a howitzer from the point by Ovechkin.
4:19 left: Miller with more robbery on Backstrom on a rebound off the back boards. The crowd is up. No. 30 has to be the best player in situations like this and so far, he is.
3:30 left: Sabres survive and get a big hand from the crowd. Shots are 14-6.
1:54 left: Morrisonn for cross-checking near the Buffalo net. Killed a 2-on-1 break. Stephane Auger, notorious as one of the worst officials in the NHL, is not high on anyone's list so far in this one.
End-1st: Marcus Johansson just fails to tip one home at the buzzer after a terrible giveaway by Connolly in the final three seconds. Get that guy outta here. Shots are 16-8 for Washington.
February 15, 2011 - 7:27 PM
MONTREAL -- Bon jour from high-high-high-high atop Le Centre Bell (grades on my 1st-grade level French, anyone?) as we await tonight's Sabres-Canadiens game. TV reminder: It's a Versus game so no MSG (Rick and Harry are radio-only). And faceoff is scheduled for 7:40, which has us print types in fine moods.
It was freezing here today. As in 1 degree. As in colder than when I was in Edmonton in December. So did I simply stay holed up in the hotel room? Nope. That's why you have Underground Montreal, a 19-mile long tunnel system below office buildings and hotels and the like. Shopping and great cafes everywhere (I found an apple turnover the size of a basketball).
Most of the attention tonight of course is going to Jhonas Enroth in the Buffalo net in place of Ryan Miller. An interesting environment to put the kid in for sure.
"Playing against Montreal is something very huge," Enroth said after the team's morning skate today. "It's a big arena and I'm real excited for tonight."
Huge is the word. This place is filled with 21,273 every night. It's a massive building with a lower level that goes about 25 rows deep. And the scoreboard is absurd. So is the pregame laser light show on the ice. If you've never been here, you must come once in your life. Awesome.
One Habs note: Old friend Jaro Spacek is a scratch (back). The Sabres' scratches are Patrick Kaleta (hand), Steve Montador (concussion) and Craig Rivet (whatever). Do we even have to list Rivet anymore?
By the way, this is one of the Sabres' games in hand over the Rangers, Thrashers and Hurricanes. None of them are playing tonight.
Sabres starters: Vanek-Hecht-Pominville-Myers-Sekera. Goal: Enroth.
Habs starters: Pacioretty-Plekanac-Gionta-Wisniewski-Hamrlik. Goal: Price.
Shootout recap: Sabres win 4-3 in 10 rounds. NHL-best 5-0 in shootouts. Second-longest in franchise history (lost to Colorado last year in 11). Ties NHL record for goals in a shootout set numerous times. Enroth was the first goalie in NHL history to post his first two career wins in shootouts. Now he has his first three. Montreal led, 2-0, but Vanek and Ennis kept Buffalo alive to get it into extra rounds. Pacioretty and Gerbe scored in round five to make it 3-3. Price made five saves when a Buffalo goal would have ended it before Hecht finally won it on a deke in round 10.
45.7: Place up as Price robs Pominville with the glove. After robbing Gerbe. After Myers cranked one off the post.
9:27 p.m.: The puck is dropped.
18:11 left: Hecht stopped from point blank range and the puck drops behind Price. Hecht then gets a high-sticking call for clipping Wisniewski behind the net. Tough, tough break.
17:10 left: Pacioretty off the post after a bad back pass from Connolly, who went for Leopold in the zone instead of a breaking Niedermayer who was open in front. Can't see how you blame connolly with those two options actually.
13:52 left: Hecht from behind the net. Pominville a one-timer from slot. Game tied, 2-2.
9:53 left: Sabres keeping the pressure on. Shots are 30-26 for Montreal. It was 17-4 late in the first period.
7:54 left: Great save by Price on Butler, of all people, streaking down the middle and tipping a Pominville feed.
1:25 left: Weber gone for tripping Andrei Kostitsyn. Lindy Ruff not happy. Nor should he be.
OT: Great kill so far by Buffalo. Shots are 31-29 for Montreal.
8:31 p.m. The puck is dropped.
18:20 left: Habs kill the penalty. Great save by Price on a Vanek tip from in front and on a Leopold rebound.
16:08 left: Hecht for holding. Silly penalty, using the free hand at center. Kills all the momentum the Sabres have built. Shots are 4-1 for Buffalo thus far and the edge has been big.
13:32 left: Myers-Sekera get burned like toast as Habs make it 2-0. Benoit Pouliot gets the goal, pumping in a great backhand pass from David Desharnais. Pouliot got ahead of Myers and Desharnais walked right around Sekera. No chance for Enroth. Habs lead, 2-0.
9:13 left: Habs in complete control in this one. Crowd is wild -- because of the car race going around the building on the electronic ribbon board. Jeez.
5:45 left: I haven't had much to say because not much is happening. Besides, we're late in the second period and I'm writing my story. I'm sure Ryan Miller approves.
4:02 left: Desharnais goes for interference on Vanek. Officials don't call that enough. Vanek-Byron-McCormick as a trio have done some good work.
2:12 left: The power play works as Stafford (who else?) flips one home for his 24th of the season. Vanek with a sick between-the-legs maneuver to Price's right helped make the play. Habs lead, 2-1.
End-2nd: It's 2-1 and shots are 26-22 for Montreal. It was 15-8 for Buffalo in that period. Much better one for the Sabres.
7:40 pm: The puck is dropped.
16:14 left: Myers for cross-checking. No trouble for Enroth so far. Shots are 3-0 for the Habs. He's made three saves. Habs had an early 3-on-1 break (COnnolly and Ennis caught) but Scott Gomez shot wide.
15:06 left: Pacioretty comes out from behind the net to Enroth's left and overpower the goalie on his own rebound to pump it home. Habs lead, 1-0. Shots are 6-0.
14:15 left: Price turns away Buffalo's first shot, a bullet from the right circle by Stafford.
12:48 left: The Sabres are in complete slow motion in this one. Habs dominating at all turns. Shots are 8-2. The lines have looked like this: Vanek-Hecht-Pominville, Ennis-Connolly-Stafford, Niedermayer-Gaustad-Grier and McCormick-Byron-Gerbe. Defense pairs are Sekera-Myers, Morrisonn-Weber and Butler-Leopold.
12:05 left: It's 11-2. Enroth needs to try to hold the fort until his team shows up.
11:10 left: Price stops Stafford on the doorstep after a Leopold feed. Stafford basically the only non-Enroth Sabre to show up so far.
9:52 left: Price's best save, a glove spear of Sekera's shot from the left circle. Price vs. Buffalo in his career: 8-4-4, 2.02 GAA, .936 save percentage. Yikes.
8:13 left: Pominville for holding at center ice. Chintzy at best.
6:10 left: PP killed. Enroth stopped Plekanec twice and Kostitsyn had a good chance from the slot that didn't get through.
5:00 left: Enroth stops Ryan White after a terrible giveaway by Niedermayer. Why is he still in the lineup? No goals. What does he do?
3:22 left: Shots are 17-5 but Price nearly made a major gaffe by thinking Pominville was pumping one around the boards -- when he was actually firing it on net. Price had to stick the right pad out and you should have heard the gasps in the crowd. Enroth needs to keep Buffalo within a goal here so the Sabres can get to the dressing room and then wake up.
A raucous standing ovation for Erik Guay as he appears on the HD board. Never heard of him. Had to google him. New world downhill champion. Who follows skiing in a non-Olympic year?
22.5 left: Pouliot for tripping. Good play by Connolly to take the puck all the way back behind the Buffalo net and kill much of the clock so the Sabres will have more penalty time to start the second.
End-1st: Sabres survive. Habs lead, 1-0 and outshoot Buffalo, 18-7, in a period that saw the Sabres completely outclassed. Regroup time.
January 23, 2011 - 2:06 PM
UNIONDALE -- Greetings from the Nassau Coliseum where the Sabres (again) meet the New York Islanders in their second-last game before the all-star break. I don't care about the standings frankly today (the Sabres, for the record, are 11th in the East and eight points out of eighth with three games in hand on Atlanta).
To me, this game is about pride, about representing the sweater in the 40th anniversary season.
I don't want to hear about the improvement of the Islanders under new coach Jack Capuano. Yes, they have some nice young talent and they're 10-6-2 in their last 18 games. But the fact remains that you can't lose three times in eight days to the 14th-place team in the East -- a team that won exactly one game in a 21-game stretch earlier this season and went winless in 14 straight. And the one win was over the equally pathetic Devils, so it almost shouldn't count.
The Sabres have to man up and beat this team today. Period. And I don't want to hear about injuries either. Anybody thinking that the absence of Tim Connolly is really addition by subtraction? Show of hands? Thought so. Let's see how Paul Byron does in his NHL debut. Can he really be any worse than Connolly and Jochen Hecht have been? The Sabres were 4-1-1 when Matt Ellis was here earlier in the year too
Not to slag on the Sabres, because they are 7-3-1 in their last 11. Hard to complain much about that. And they've got a real chance to get even closer to eighth today as Atlanta is at Tampa Bay in a 5 p.m. start. But you can't be losing to the Islanders. Players openly talked about getting all six points in these three games last week. Now the best they can do is two.
They better get those two. End of rant.
Keep it here for all your updates, especially if you're just going to follow here while watching James Starks and the Packers meet the Bears. If you missed Tyler Dunne's neat look at the Starksmania breaking out in Niagara Falls, be sure to check it out here.
The warmup begins in the 2:30 range so I'll let you know if Cody McCormick is on the ice. He has been battling the flu. Connolly, Patrick Kaleta and Drew Stafford are all out today.
Update: McCormick IS on the ice. Byron wears No. 24, Ellis his customary No. 37.
Sabres starters: Niedermayer-Gaustad-Grier-Morrisonn-Myers. Goal: Miller
Islanders starters: Comeau-Bailey-Schremp-Martinek-Hillen. Goal: DiPietro
Scratches: No surprises -- Connolly, Kaleta, Stafford, Butler, Rivet. Evgeni Nabokov is officially listed as an Islanders scratch. They're still waiting to see if he reports.
Of note: Clearly, something is wrong with Vanek. He's played only 7:40 in the game. Twenty minutes to go -- refer to what I wrote at the very top of this post. You have to win just one period to win a game against the Islanders. This isn't the Flyers or Penguins here, folks.
4:55 p.m. The puck is dropped.
19:04 left: Another pause. More debris on the ice. Knuckleheads. The PA announcer just warned the fans one more disruption is a penalty. "There's one fan interrupting the game. You point him out, we'll throw him out."
18:12 left: The PP converts as Gerbe scores his third in two games, popping home a neat backhand pass from Ennis. Sabres lead, 3-2.
18:00 left: Gaustad and Tavares go for roughing. Good trade.
16:07 left: Myers stopped on the goalmouth off a Gerbe pass. But did Bailey knock it in? Under review. AND IT COUNTS. Myers' first since Nov. 15. Sabres lead, 4-2. DiPietro has been badly outplayed by Miller in this one. Four goals in 20 shots. Byron also gets an assist as well as Gerbe for his first NHL point.
10:54 left: Shots are 6-1 for Buffalo in this period. Excellent response after Miller kept this team afloat during a rough second.
3:23 left: Nothing was going on. Sabres were on cruise control. Then they started scrambling around. Eventually Jack Hillen's shot from the left point gets through Miller. And now they have to struggle to the finish. Sabres lead, 4-3. Timeout, Lindy. This note from Sabres info guru Kevin Snow: Paul Byron is the 48th Sabres to get his first NHL point in his first game. Cool.
1:26 left: Niedermayer stopped on 2-on-1 with Gerbe. Pass to the hot man, scoreless one.
23.7 left: Pominville into the middle of the empty net seals a three-goal third and a 5-3 Buffalo win.
Weber led the Sabres in ice time at 7:01 in the first period. Byron with a good 5:33 and Ellis at 5:17. Lindy Ruff really shuffled the lines to get everybody time. BUT it looks like there's some issue with Vanek. Everybody in the 4-5 minute range and he was at just 3:13 with only four shifts. He IS on the bench to start the second.
3:58 p.m: The puck is dropped.
19:46 left: Myers for delay of game (puck over glass). Ooof.
18:45 left: The penalty is costly as Matt Moulson bangs home a one-timer off a great pass from behind the net from Tavares, who got what turned out to be a perfect feed from Leopold as he tried to bang the puck behind the net. Game tied, 1-1.
15:02 left: The Sabres go back out in front as Ennis does the give-and-go with Pominville and dribbles one through DiPietro on the backhand. DiPietro has hardly been sharp in this one. Gotta put more pucks to the net. Sabres lead, 2-1. Looked like defenseman Dylan Reese helped the puck in too.
14:33 left: Debris on the ice. Are there a bunch of pennies out there chucked from the crowd?
11:20 left: A note on the Moulson goal -- the Sabres have given up a power-play tally in six of the last seven games, including all three against the Islanders. Buffalo only killing at a 70 percent clip in that stretch (14 of 20 right now).
10:01 left: Miller with the glove stop on Hiller. Shots are 20-14 for the Islanders at the halfway mark of the game.
9:57 left: After showing highlights of last week's game in New England, the scoreboard and an Ice Girl wearing a Mark Sanchez jersey are leading the fans in a chant of "J-E-T-S."
7:33 left: Miller stones Josh Bailey on a breakaway after a long pass gets through Weber and allowed the winger to go in alone.
6:33 left: Isles are starting to skate Sabres out of the building like last week. They break in on a 3-on-2 and Parenteau taps in Tavares' feed to the goalmouth in front of Grier. Game tied, 2-2. Shots are 24-14.
6:00 left: It gets worse. Hecht gets four minutes for high sticking, cutting Nielsen with a hit along the boards. Stupid play, easy call. And Luke Adam isn't here why?
4:14 left: Miller smothers Comeau's slapshot. They gave the second goal to Moulson, who tapped it in at the goal line before it crossed. So that's Moulson's second of the game.
2:36 left: Miller stops Moulson's shot from the circle a few seconds after Tavares curled the puck just wide of an open net. Close call.
1:53 left: Sabres survive the four-minute power play and now they get one of their own. Just as Hecht gets out, Bailey clips Gaustad and he's gone for four minutes.
End-2nd: Sabres had some good zone time but not a lot of good chances. Still 2:07 left on the PP to start the third. It's 2-2 through 40 minutes and shots are 27-15 for the Islanders. It was 17-5 in that period -- that's six goals in the middle frame for the Isles in the two games here against Buffalo.
3:09 p.m: The puck is dropped.
19:45 left: THAT is how you start. Morrisson takes a hit to get the puck in the zone. Niedermayer outworks a defender behind the net to get the puck in front to Grier. His shot leaks through DiPietro and Gaustad taps it home. Sabres lead, 1-0. It's Gaustad's fifth from Niedermayer and Grier.
18:25 left: Byron's first shift, centering Ellis and McCormick. He gets thrown out of the circle.
17:05 left: DiPietro stops Gaustad, who was sent in alone by Vanek.
15:00 left: Shots are 6-1 for Buffalo. You'll recall they were 9-1 for the Islanders to start the game Friday.
13:45 left: Gaustad goes for hooking and the Ice Girls take the ice. Grrrr.
12:16 left: Miller with a couple nice saves on John Tavares and Frans Nielsen. Byron got some PK time early in that penalty with McCormick.
7:42 left: It's a bright, sunny day here but lots of folks are certainly staying home to get ready for Jets-Steelers and to watch Packers-Bears. I'm betting there's about 8,000 or so in the house. The Sabres have skated this way thus far: Niedermayer-Gaustad-Grier, Vanek-Hecht-Pominville, Ellis-Byron-McCormick. Gerbe, who had both goals Friday and played more than 20 minutes, has been spotted and so has Ennis. Odd. On defense it's been Myers-Morrisonn, Leopold-Montador and Weber-Sekera with Gragnani worked in as the No. 7 D.
6:49 left: Miller with a nice save on Grabner's deflection from in front. Shots are 8-6 for Buffalo as the penalty helped the Islanders reclaim some momentum in the game.
59.6 left: In a game with few whistles, the Sabres have been in trouble for the last couple of minutes. Solid period by Miller, who just robbed Bruno Gervais on a one-timer. Islanders now have a 10-9 lead in shots. It was 6-1 for Buffalo.
End-1st: Sabres hold the 1-0 lead and shots were 10-10.
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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.
About Sabres Edge
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.
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