Saturday, February 6, 2010

Buffalo Bandits And Toronto Rock Face Off In Eastern Conference Showdown

It was roughly a year ago when I last wrote something here and it happened to be the shellacking that the Bandits handed to the Knighthawks and Rock. Fast forward to now and the Bandits are having the roles reversed on them.

The Toronto Rock come into town with their Eastern Conference leading 4-1 record and their defeat of the Philadelphia Wings 19-11 last night. The Rock are lead by captain Colin Doyle who came back to the Rock after the San Jose Stealth moved to Washington. Doyle has been a key member of a Rock team that was rebuilt after not making the playoffs last season. In the win over the Wings, Doyle had seven points while the Rock took it to the Wings early with 11 goals in the first half. Doyle is now two points away from becoming the third ever player to score 1,000 points in the NLL.

The Bandits are trying to find a semblance of their domination that they have had over the league in the past few years. Their 1-4 record has been severely disappointing for the team and the changes that have been made in the past couple of weeks have changed the dynamics of the team. Their first win was last week over the Minnesota Swarm, 11-7, and they are looking to build off that win. One of the big disappointments for the Bandits have been the lack of offense in their game. Scoring 9 goals/game, which is the lowest total in the league, is not going to win any games and the offense needs to step up. The loss of John Tavares for the start of the season at this point has not helped production, but there are a handful of great shooters on this team that need to find the net.

Game time is 7:30 pm and can be heard on 1520 AM and seen on

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Bandits Need to Play at Home More Often

The Bandits had another blowout game at home, this time embarrassing the Toronto Rock, 25-10.  Mark Steenhuis was the game MVP by setting the (unofficial) NLL record with 17 points in the game, 4 goals and 13 assists.  Other scorers for the Bandits are Vyse (6), Tavares (4),  Bomberry (3), Tommy Montour (2), Dostie (2), Greenhalgh (2), Llord and Billy Dee (1). 

It seems that the Bandits are a team that will capitalize on a bad defense at will.  They did it against a Knighthawks team that gave up midway through the second half and they did it to a Rock defense that just couldn’t catch a break.  They also have found their secondary scoring.  This team needs to play good defense and they can let their offense take care of the rest.

The defense looked good with the return of Billy Dee Smith from injury.  This defense has always looked really good on the home floor and was able to answer the bell when the Rock started to get chippy in the fourth quarter.  The Rock had 65 total penalty minutes in the game, 42 of them coming in the fourth quarter.  

Montour looked average compared to what he has done, allowing 10 goals on 45 shots.  But in saying that, Montour has been the better goaltender of the two this season.  The goalie rotation has worked well in keeping both goaltenders fresh but Montour has been that much better this season.

In terms of the Rock, this is just a blip for them.  They may have lost Ratcliffe for an extended period of time after getting hit by Llord, I think.  But the Rock are going to bounce back after this game.  They have enough offensive players on that team to be able to contend in a game, see the first matchup between these two.  The Rock are going to want a piece of the Bandits when they come back to Toronto next Friday.

The last two games show how important home-field advantage is during the playoffs.  The Bandits are 3-0 at home and 3-1 on the road but have outscored their opponents 63-27 at home compared to 42-36 on the road.  They play infinitely better when they feed off the energy of the home crowd.  They have a two game lead over the Titans and Blazers at the time of writing and a half game lead over the Roughnecks in the west.  They are going to need to keep those leads to ensure a good draw for the postseason, if they make it there. 

Monday, February 2, 2009

As Much as Things Change is as Much as They Stay the Same

I know that this post is very, very, very delayed in coming but things happen.  Things will be changing around here due to the fact that I have signed on to be a contributing writer over at Die By The Blade.   This means that all Sabres stuff will be heading over there and everything else will stay here.  Hence, Dueling Sabres will keep the name but have nothing to do with the Sabres.  We will become a Buffalo sports blog with a major focus on the Bandits during their season. 

So to everyone who has read my stuff, thank you.  We will keep things going and have more and more things to write about.  I will also keep the Die By The Blade feed in the corner so you can keep up with our Sabres coverage over there. 

By the way, the Bandits turned on the jets in Edmonton on Thursday night winning 13-8.  A very well played game by the offense and Ken Montour did what the goaltending tandem has done all season, been a brick wall.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Bandits Travel to Edmonton for the Rexall Sweep





The Bandits travel to Edmonton tonight to take on the Rush and complete the Buffalo sweep of the city.  This will be the first matchup between these two teams.  This is the Rush’s fifth ye ar in the league. 

Both of these teams can be extremely dangerous.  Bob Hamley completely overhauled the Rush after he became their head coach and GM last season.  He continues to tinker with the lineup through trades including the last one he pulled off sending Ryan Benesch and Derek Suddons for a handful of picks.  Late last season, one of many Hamley trades included sending Mike Accursi to Buffalo for Dan Teat. 

The Rush have a bunch of big guns in the offense including Benesch and Teat.  Teat was named the offensive player of the week for scoring five goals in last week’s loss against the Roughnecks.  They also have a pretty good goalie that knows a thing or two about Buffalo shooters in Steve Dietrich.  Dietrich of course was with the Bandits from 2002-2007 and was traded to Calgary as part of the Sean Greenhalgh trade. 

The Bandits should have a hard time on their hands with this game and it could most likely be their first loss of the season.  The Swarm were a tough team and so are the Rush.  With what appears to be no changes on the injury front, the defense needs to stand tall and Ken Montour, who should be starting based on the rotation, needs to be as good as he has been in the first two games.

Game time is 9 pm from Rexall.  Can be seen on and heard on 1520 AM. 

The Game That was Setup to Fail

This game had loss written all over it.  Second half of a back-to-back series, scoring an insane amount of goals the night before, and playing against a team that is fresher than the Sabres.  The Sabres didn’t disappoint on this claim either losing to the Flames 5-2.  After the Bertuzzi goal went in early in the third period you had to know and feel that the Sabres were not going to claw back into the game and try and get a point out of it. 

The effort was there though, the team just ran out of energy by the third.  This is evident in that they were outshot in the third 19-5.  Being outshot and essentially outplayed in the final period of what started as a tied game just showed they had nothing left in the tank.  I am a little surprised that they did not start Lalime against the Flames but not totally surprised.  It is two straight games for Miller after resting over the break, but he did look like he lost a lot of focus as the game wore down, letting in his fair share of softies toward the end of that game.  Don’t be surprised to see Lalime in Phoenix rather than Anaheim due to the fact that Anaheim is the scarier team. 

The one nice thing about MSG trying to save production costs on this road trip is that we as Sabres fans get to see the Canadian broadcasts in this case.  Unfortunately, I do not get CBC so I can’t enjoy Hockey Night in Canada as often as I would like.  The Canadian broadcasts are so much better though.  The camera angles are so that you can see the game and follow it better, the announcers actually show a passion for the game that is being played and not trying to tote an agenda that their American counterparts love to do.  Versus should just stop trying to produce games and just show the TSN feed in the States.  They do this during the playoffs to save production costs and it should be done during the regular season to just try and promote the game better.  What Versus has done to hockey is just shameful and doesn’t grow the league, it makes it worse.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Sabres/Flames at the Saddledome


The Sabres cruise into Calgary tonight, riding high after that 10-2 crushing of the Oilers last night.  Things are probably not going to be as rosy tonight.  As we mentioned in the Oilers review, the Sabres are 2-5-2 in the second half of back to back games.  That record goes down to 1-4-2 when that second game is on the road.  They face a Flames team that has not played since the all-star break and is in a much better position playoffs wise. 

The Flames are leading the Northwest division with 60 points, 9 points ahead of the Wild and Oilers.  Jarome Iginla is still the face of the organization in Calgary, leading the team with 53 points which is good for 10th overall.  Iginla has some good supplemental support with Mike Cammalleri and Daymond Langkow.  On the defensive side of things, Dion Phaneuf leads a fairly suspect defense for the Flames.  Besides Phaneuf, there are not a lot of big names on the blueline.  Robyn Regehr is back there as well as Adrian Aucoin.  Both of them have experience but are well past their primes to be a major factor on defense.  In goal, Miikka Kiprusoff should be in net for the Flames just because there really is no other option for them.

The Sabres may be without Adam Mair tonight as he suffered a cut while blocking a shot last night.  Do not be surprise to see Lalime in net tonight though it will be a long shot at best.  I would expect to see him some time on this road trip, most likely in Phoenix. 

Game time is 8 pm on MSG.  Your announcers for tonight are going to be the TSN crew which may just be Gord Miller as play by play and Pierre McGuire between the glass.  Nothing is more annoying than Pierre McGuire, except for maybe fingernails on a chalkboard but thats about it.  At least we get to hear the Hockey Theme again.

As a note, while perusing the TSN website looking for the announcing crew, I came across this clip of Drew Stafford being pestered about the pigeon.  Somewhat entertaining but TSN doesn’t have embedding capability so here is the link.

Where 10 Is Always Enough

The Sabres came out on their first game of their four game road trip with a bang.  Stafford scored 10 seconds in the first and the Sabres never looked back, crusing to a 10-2 win.  West coast games are always fun for me due to the fact that it gives me an excuse to stay up late.  Its even more fun when the game you stay up for is incredibly entertaining. 

The Oilers looked really, really sloppy and Dwayne Roloson got absolutely no help from his defense on the first eight shots.  Of course, it wasn’t like many of those shots were ankle breaking, amazing highlight reel goals, but they were goals that were going to be tough to stop.  Ryan Miller on the other hand, looked really good.  But the two goals that he let in were more on the soft side.  The first goal from Cole deflected off of Miller and Miller looked visibly upset over it.  The second one, Miller went down way too early and the Nilsson scored rather easily.  Of course this is the mantra for Miller, when the team is cruising he loses focus rather easily and gives up the easy goals.

The main story line that came out of this game is Stafford’s hat trick against his uncle’s team, being the equipment manager and all.  That is all well and good, but the true player of the game was Craig Rivet.  So Rivet had only 2 assists and was a +1 for the game.  But the dude battled back after Penner kicked him in the well, you know.  What made that clip more entertaining was that the Oilers announcer at first thought that the puck hit him in the skate.  Which would exactly be the reason that Rivet would be down on the ice for a good period of time.  Rivet battled back and played the rest of the game and hopefully for our sakes, he is just fine. 

All in all, this team looked really good against a bad team.  Heading into Calgary is probably going to be a tougher test and the Sabres will most likely fail.  They usually do in the second half of back to back games with a record of 2-5-2 and are 1-4-2 when the second game is on the road.  For now, lets enjoy the drubbing and worry about tomorrow when tomorrow gets here.