Sunday, March 30, 2008

Thoughts from the Weekend

Sitting here listening to the new SabreCast from the bloggers of The Willful Caboose and Top Shelf, I figured that I would post some thoughts from this weekend.

The Sabres showed the desperation that they have in the 2-1 overtime win over the Bruins. While the playoffs are still in reach, they really made their life more difficult in not getting the full two points. The Bruins can only get one point in their next three games for the Sabres to have a chance to make the playoffs. They also have to leapfrog the Capitals, but that is another story. In terms of the game, it really was a good defensive effort from a team that seems to choke down the stretch this week giving up crucial leads in the last two minutes of the game. Andrej Sekera becomes the hero for this game scoring the game-winning goal in overtime from about 44 feet. No defensemen is in the minus for the night (right now it says Lydman is a -1, but that makes no sense when he scored a goal) and they looked like a cohesive unit for once. At least the Sabres put on a show in what was most likely their final home game.

The NLL loves the Buffalo Bandits. Rochester knocked off the Wings AND the Shamrox beat the Swarm. This puts the Bandits in a better playoff position with the Wings at 7-3, Rock and Swarm at 7-4 and finally the Bandits at 7-5, only a game back from the top spot. The Titans are a half game behind the Bandits at 6-5. With four games left, 3 at home, and three of them against teams that are .500, the Bandits have a good shot at making the playoffs in either the top or second position.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Notes about things

The Sabres kept their heads above the water with the shootout win last night against the Senators. While I only caught the last couple of minutes of the game, it was good to see a sense of urgency and not what I saw against the Senators on Tuesday. All this is moot though, because the high-flying Canadiens are coming to town tonight. The Canadiens lead the division by four points over the Senators and are playing very well, which was evident the last time they came to town. If the Sabres want to keep themselves alive in the last 5 games, they obviously need to come away with two points tonight.

The Amerks and Knighthawks have found a new majority owner in Curt Styres. Styres bought out owners Randell Latona and Walter Turek to become the new majority owner. Donner still stays on board with the team running day-to-day operations. This puts to rest all the rumors floating about on the Sabres possibly owning the team. Where the team will move to is unknown at this point and there are no rumors floating yet.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Around the NLL for Week 13 and Preview of Week 14

At least the rest of the league helped out the Buffalo Bandits pursue of the playoffs last week as well. Here is the recap of the rest of the games that happened last weekend.


Portland vs. Colorado
The Lumberjax went into Colorado on Thursday and absolutely stunned the Mammoth crowd walking away with a 16-15 win on the shot of Pete Jacobs. The Mammoth have been struggling as of late, losing 4 of their last 5 games while the Lumberjax had broken a two game losing streak with this win. This win brought the Lumberjax within 2.5 games of the top spot in the Western Conference and seperates themselves from the Rush to stablize their playoff chances. Gee Nash took the loss in the game allowing 16 goals on 63 shots while Matt King took the win stepping in for Dallas Eliuk allowing 6 goals on 21 shots.

Top Performer: Brian Langtry gets the nod in the loss scoring 9 goals and added 4 more assists for a 13 point night.

Friday Night

Toronto vs. Edmonton
Before the Rock came to Buffalo to thrash the Bandits on Saturday night, they did the same thing to the Edmonton Rush at home, beating the Rush 14-9. The Rock did what they do well, having a lockdown defense that allows few good shots and then having a goalie that can stand on his head if need be. Bob Watson took the win here, only allowing 9 goals on 52 shots. The Rush have been struggling all season, only winning 2 games on the season. With the smaller Western Conference though, they are only a .5 game out of the playoff race.

Top Performer: Here it was Aaron Wilson who had 4 goals and added an assist for a 5 point night.

San Jose vs. Calgary
San Jose enters in a tie for the top spot in the Western Conference with a 13-12 win over the Calgary Roughriders. The Stealth have looked good as of late winning 4 of their last 5, with their only loss coming against the Philadelphia Wings in Philly. The Roughriders on the other hand have struggled over this season losing some key components this season including their top goalie Steve Dietrich. The Roughriders are 3 games out of the top spot and only a .5 game in front of the Rush for the final spot.

Top Performer: Colin Doyle takes this nod here with the game winner and a total of 4 goals and 5 helpers.

Philadelphia vs. New York
The Titans take the first shocker of the weekend beating the Philadelphia Wings 20-13 at MSG. Matt Vinc carries the defense allowing 12 goals on 50 shots. Rob Blasdell takes the loss allowing 20 goals on 41 shots. This win places the Titans a half game back of the 4th position in the Eastern Conference. The 4th place is held by the Bandits. The Wings hold the top spot by a half game over the Swarm.

Top Performer: In this game it is Casey Powell with 4 goals and 7 assists for an 11 point night.

Chicago vs. Rochester
The final shocker of the weekend is the Shamrox pulling out the win against the Knighthawks 12-11 in Rochester. The Shamrox have only won 2 games on the season while the Knighthawks have had their fair share of struggles this season going 4-6 on the season and 2 games out of the playoffs.

Top Performer: Jonas Derks takes the player of the game honors with 4 goals on the day including the game winner.

Here is the lineup for Week 14

Minnesota vs. Chicago
In the second of four matchups this season, the Swarm will take on the Shamrox. In their last matchup, Minnesota beat the Shamrox 13-9 in the Xcel Center. Craig Point had 4 goals on the game while Nick Patterson allowed only those 9 goals on 38 shots. The Swarm have had the last two weeks off while the Shamrox have gotten some confidence back by beating the Knighthawks on the road. This should be a close game in the Sears Center where I think that the Shamrox could pull off the upset.

Philadelphia vs. Rochester
The reeling Knighthawks need to take their season by the reins if they are going to make the playoffs and their next opponent is not going to be easy. Both the Wings and Knighthawks are both coming off losses and both need wins to keep their spots in the jumbled Eastern Conference. In the last matchup in Philadelphia, the Wings took a 15-14 win holding onto the game from a 7-2 final run by Rochester. I think that the Wings are just going to be too powerful for the Knighthawks and the Wings should disappoint the Rochester fans again. Besides, Rochester is 1-5 against divisional opponents at home.

San Jose vs. Edmonton
The surging Stealth travel to Edmonton this weekend to try and keep their streak along against the Rush. The Stealth are tied atop the Western Conference standings with the Mammoth and look to beat the worst team in the Western Conference. This game should be pretty easy for the Stealth because the Rush have just traded one of their leading scorers in Mike Accursi to the Bandits. The Stealth have also looked good on the road going 4-2.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Game, Set, Match

The Sabres have made the road to the playoffs that much harder tonight, giving up 4 unanswered goals and also a 3-1 lead, losing 6-3. The Sabres collapsed after giving up a short-handed goal that cut the Sabres lead to one. From there, it all just went to hell. The Senators scored 3 and never looked back. The bright spot of this game was Derek Roy who scored 2 goals and looked like he was going to carry this team on his back.

One thing that no one seems to mention so I will is the lousy play of Ryan Miller. He has proven one thing, he is no Martin Brodeur in that he cannot play 30 straight games. He really needs a break and the Sabres need a proven backup that can pickup the load. Joclyen Thibault is not the answer for the Sabres, but Ruff at least needs to play him once in these last 6 games. At this point, the Sabres season is over. There is no real chance that they are going to run the table with 2 games against the Canadiens and 2 games against the Bruins. Also, how come Miller gets the free pass on the play. In his interviews, he never seems to criticize his own play but does of the rest of the team. Opponents seem to know him better as well because he is getting beaten on the same move over and over and over again, including tonight on the short-handed goal. If Ryan Miller is going to want the Kiprusoff and Lundqvist money, he will have to start actually playing like them. His play is going to have to carry this team and if that is the case, then start making the tee time now.

Bandits make another trade

The Bandits announced today that they have traded for Edmonton Rush forward Mike Accursi. Accursi once played for the Bandits during the 2000-04 seasons scoring 257 points in 73 games. He was playing for the Rush and has 33 points in 9 games with the Rush. The terms of the deal were Dan Teat and Buffalo's 1st round pick in 2009 and 2nd in 2008.

This only makes the Bandits better by trading for a player that knows the team and knows the culture in Buffalo. It also gets Teater out of town who has been struggling all season in the role of assistant captain. This leaves a couple of questions including who is going to be the new assistant captain.
Here is the story from NLL Insider

Sabres/Senators Preview

The home stretch, this is what weeds out the contenders and the posers. This game should determine which one of these the Sabres are going to be. They face a Senator team that has faltered down the stretch, fired their coach, and still have two goaltenders that can not seem to find their game. The Sabres are in the 10th spot, 1 point behind the Washington Capitals, 3 points behind the Boston Bruins in the eight spot and 4 points behind the Philadelphia Flyers. All of these teams play with the Capitals facing the Hurricanes, the Bruins against the Leafs, and the Flyers against the Rangers. This and every game from now til the end of the season are must win games. Having the game in Buffalo will help this team who have struggled against the Senators this season, going 2-4, shootout and overtime losses just counted as losses. With 2 games left against the Sens, this team needs to capitalize on the struggles of the Senators.

Good news for the Sabres is that Nathan Paestch seems to have recovered and will be back in the lineup tonight, with Mike Funk being sent back down to Rochester. Ryan Miller will most likely start this game, being no shock since he has started the last umpteen games.

For the Senators, both Martin Gerber and Ray Emery have struggled. Gerber allowed 3 goals on 14 shots last night against the Canadiens and then Emery allowed 4 goals on 23 shots in a 7-5 loss. The Senators have dropped out of the top spot in the conference and the division, overtaken by Montreal. Martin Gerber will get the start in goal being that he has been the better goaltender against the Sabres.

Tonight's game starts at 7pm on MSG

The Ultimate Sports Weekend Bust

This past weekend was not pretty for the marketing geniuses of the Sabres. Both the Sabres and the Bandits ruined the weekend for the fans by each dropping their games. The Sabres dropped the ball against the Leafs 4-1. While I only watched the last period of that game, the effort that I saw from that team was the same effort that I saw when the team was in the multi-game losing streak. They lost their passion and they lost their heart. The Goose's Roost was right, this team needs heart and they need it now if they want to make the playoffs. This team has 7 games left all against division foes and are three points back of the final playoff spot. The Sabres are .500 against the division and need to play out of their mind to make the 92 point mark (5-1-1 to be exact). Tonight's game against the Senators will be the true thermometer of the team. The effort and the passion of the team will determine whether this team will make the playoffs.

The Bandits ran into their nemsis of this season, the Toronto Rock. The Rock just put together an effort that just could not seem to matched on the offensive side of the ball winning the game 13-8. The lone bright spot of the game was Kenny Montour who only allowed 12 goals on 52 shots, making save after save trying to keep this team in the game. The offense just could not put the effort together, scoring on their first two shots and then only scoring 6 more times on 45 shots. My main question with this team would be why did we allow the Rock continue to setup and let their defense set instead of using the run and gun which seemed to work in the first minute of the game. The Rock probably have the best defense in the game if they are allowed to set. Their transition game looks very weak and the Bandits should have capitalized on that instead of continuing to try and work the ball in feebly. Their next game will come against the struggling Colorado Mammoth who have lost 4 of their last 5. Both teams are off this week, but the Mammoth face the Knighthawks on that Thursday in Colorado.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Time to go Dancing

While hockey and lacrosse tend to take up most of my time and brain space, I feel that the best sports weekend of the year is the first and second rounds of the NCAA Men's basketball tournament. What better is there for a sports fan to be able to watch all 58 games in some form or another. The Cinderellas, the upsets, Gus Johnson, all of those factors and more make the tournament so special. So while I dont follow college basketball at all really, I do normally make a bracket. So here are my picks for the tournament and I will come on here and update my feelings on the games and whatnot.

Winners of the 1st Round: North Carolina, Arkansas, George Mason, Washington St, St. Joes, Louisville, Butler, Tennessee
Winners of the 2nd Round: North Carolina, George Mason, Louisville, Tennessee
Winners of the Sweet 16 Round: North Carolina, Tennesse
Winner of the East: North Carolina

Winners of the 1st Round: Kansas, UNLV, Villanova, Vanderbilt, USC, Wisconsin, Davidson, Georgetown
Winners of the 2nd Round: Kansas, Villanova, Wisconsin, Georgetown
Winners of the Sweet 16 Round: Villanova, Georgetown
Winner of the Midwest: Georgetown

Winners of the 1st Round: Memphis, Mississippi St., Michigan St., Pittsburgh, Marquette, Stanford, St. Mary's, Texas
Winners of the 2nd Round: Memphis, Pittsburgh, Marquette, Texas
Winners of the Sweet 16 Round: Memphis, Texas
Winner of the South: Texas

Winners of the 1st Round: UCLA, Texas A&M, Drake, San Diego, Purdue, Georgia, West Virginia, Duke
Winners of the 2nd Round: UCLA, Drake, Purdue, Duke
Winners of the Sweet 16 Round: UCLA, Duke
Winner of the West: UCLA

Final Four
North Carolina vs. Georgetown - North Carolina
Texas vs. UCLA - UCLA

North Carolina vs. UCLA - North Carolina

P.S. For those wondering what games Gus Johnson is calling, here they are:
Michigan State vs. Temple
Pittsburgh vs. Oral Roberts
Washington State vs. Winthrop
Notre Damn vs. George Mason

Ironic that all of the games are either 4 vs. 13 or 5 vs. 12 and that the George Mason game is in there as well?

Welcome to 10th Place

Since we could not get any help last night from either the Thrashers or the Predators, we are sitting in 10th place looking up at both the Capitals and the Flyers. It happens though when you aren't playing for 3 days. That changes tonight with the final non-divisional matchup of the season against the Lightning. The Lightning are essentially playing the role of spoiler for the rest of the season, sitting dead last in the conference and just playing for the Stamkos pick.

Since I have not written here for a while, I figured that I would mention the most important news that has come across the wire being that Teppo came back the arena yesterday to skate for the first time in probably three months. He says that he is ready to come back, and quoted as saying "I'm back." The question is if he will be ready to play at all for the rest of the season. He has skated around but probably would not be in game shape anywhere near to end of the season. While having him back would help ease the pain of the infirmary ward that the defenseman have seemed to found, he cant be all that effective to play.

The Sabres will keep the same lineup for tonight's game. Basically, if it ain't broke, don't fix it. That is the philosophy that coach Ruff is taking but has also said that he has no problem benching someone to replace them with Timmy. Hopefully this rest will give Timmy some strength back in his hip because the last couple of games he has looked awful sore and just not game ready. On the side of the Lightning, the only real news is whether RW Andre Roy will be back for the Lightning after essentially blowing his top during a Flyers game on March 6th. After losing a fight against Riley Cote, Roy lost his cool when the Flyers were repeatedly showing the fight over again on the Jumbotron and he motioned over to the Flyers bench with a throat-slashing motion and whatnot. The Lightning gave him a week suspension to decide whether he would be back on the team for the rest of the season. The week is up and it looks that the decision will be more of a game time decision.

Game time is at 7:oo on MSG.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Thank the Penguins

The Sabres ended up winning again last night in dominant fashion against the Leafs, 6-2. We can thank the Penguins for their 7-1 win against the Flyers today. The Sabres came out again with the attitude that they showed against the Hurricanes. This attitude is what is needed for the last 10 games for us to catch the Flyers and possibly the Bruins. The Bruins are playing right now against the Caps, tied 1-1.

Derek Roy has become a beast again and so has Daniel Paille after his benching. Paille had a goal in the game and Roy had an assist. The big winners in the night were Pominville and Hecht. Each had 1 goal and 2 assists on the game. This team needs everyone they can to step up with the missing defensemen.

Even though I have waffled a couple of times, I do think that this team can make the playoffs at the expense of the Bruins. The Bruins have been struggling as of late and with the absence of Chara could be faltering down the stretch. We have two games left against the Bruins and could make up the three point difference pretty easily.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

The Hurricanes Hate Buffalo

In their first matchup, John Grahame got run out of Buffalo after giving up 8 goals in the teams 8-1 loss. Last night, Cam Ward got run out of the game giving up 4 goals in the first 8 minutes. The Sabres looked like the team that wanted the game, eventually winning 7-1. Adam Mair became the star of the game with the Gordie Howe hat trick, with two goals, assist, and fight. The team basically came out with an attitude and that attitude basically gave them the win. They frustrated the Hurricanes enough that they drew 65 minutes of penalties in the third period alone.

Going on to tonights game, that attitude needs to continue. The Bruins and Flyers are playing right now, with the Bruins up 1-0 in the first intermission. We are 2 points behind the Flyers and 3 points behind the Bruins with 2 games against the Bruins. We need to keep winning to continue to close that gap with only 10 games left on the docket. The Sabres are running into a suddenly hot Leafs that are only 5 games out of the playoff hunt. Good news is that Sundin will be out of the game tonight, but the Sabres need to keep up their intensity and pull out this game.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Oh Boy

I picked the wrong time to start the Sabres blog. Yeesh. This game, season, and hopes of everything are basically over. Granted we could catch the Bruins, but with the effort that this team is portraying, they couldnt beat my mom's floor hockey team. Basically, I want the next Bandits to come again.

Speaking of the Bandits, Ken Montour earned both overall and defensive player of the week honors with the 49 saves he had in the 11-7 win against the Swarm. Steenhuis also earned transition player of the week honors again this week as well.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

The Sky is Falling, The Sky is Falling

Here is the wrapup of what I missed over the last couple of days.

- The Sabres keep failing to clinch the points they need to get the ball rolling. This team has a hard path in front of them with a handful of division games at the end of the season and the most of the top 8 in the conference. They essentially stole a point against the Hurricanes, who we see again on Friday, and dropped the ball only getting a point against the Rangers. 2 points gained out of 4 is not going to get you in the playoffs. There is a bright spot though. The Boston Bruins are falling and falling fast. They have lost Zdeno Chara for the last couple of games and from what I have heard out for a while too. We are 5 points behind them now, and they are getting a butt whooping against the Senators. We also have to play them twice too. I dont see the Flyers falling and I definately do not see the Rangers falling. If we are going to make the playoffs, its going to be at the expense of the Bruins.

- That being said, the path just got harder with the announcement of both Kalinin and Spacek being out for at least of couple of weeks. Basically means that we will see the services of Andrej Sekera for the rest of the season. Gratefully, it looks that Tallinder will be back against the Penguins which will mean that we only have to callup one defenseman from the Amerks instead of two. This does not bode well for the Sabres to make the push. Essentially, we are going to play two Amerks and a player that did not get a lot of experience in 2006. Oh boy.

- The Bandits played another solid game on Saturday in the defensive end this time. They beat the Swarm 11-7 putting them in the second spot in the Eastern Conference. With this week off and only one game per week for the rest of the season and 4 of the last 5 games at home with the road game in Rochester, this team looks poised to make a run. It looks that Bucktooth with be coming back for the Toronto Rock game on the 22nd possibly which will add just another scoring threat. This team is only a game behind the Wings while they have 2 games in hand. It will make for a good stretch run.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

New Feature

Quick little blurb that I want to add here since I didnt want to take away from the Amerks post. There is a new feature to the blog. Its my "shared items" from my Google Reader. I do try and read a lot of stuff on the Sabres, Bandits and NHL and NLL in general. Anything that I feel is readable and that others will enjoy, I'll put there. For now I'll use that in place of a blogroll too. I promise, I'll do one of those eventually as well.

The Sabres' Future with the Amerks

It seems like an odd title but there are some rumblings about a renewed interest with the Sabres and Amerks. It starts with the Knighthawks owing $27,000 in back taxes to the state. The Knighthawks are part of the deal with the Amerks. The next deal comes with the Rhinos and the city of Rochester seizing PAETEC Park due to the default of the loans on the stadium. This leads us to probably the most hated man in Rochester sports right now, Steve Donner. Donner has a 40% ownership in the Amerks and also has an ownership in the Rhinos. Because NBT bank wants its money from the Rhinos, they have sued the three major owners in the Rhinos, including Donner. This has a huge implication towards the Amerks and the Knighthawks which again Donner is majority owner of. There has been speculation that Tommy G., the same person who came in and swooped the Sabres out of bankruptcy, may come in a swoop up the Amerks and Knighthawks.

Isnt it interesting that the Sabres have yet to announce anything toward their next affiliation. It was announced in November that the Sabres were officially done with Donner and the Amerks and they were going to move on. Speculation at that time was the team was going to affiliate with the Portland Pirates, who are currently the farm team of the Anaheim Ducks. The Ducks were not happy with the Pirates because of the distance that their callups had to travel to get to the main team. They were reportedly looking for something closer. That was November, this is now. Nothing has been said about the affiliation since then.

Do I see Golisano picking up the Amerks and running them alongside the Sabres. I'm not sure. I do know one thing though, if he does do that the Knighthawks would have to be a seperate entity in the deal. There would need to be a new owner in the K-hawks due to a conflict of interest with the Bandits. Golisano is a local Rochester boy but I dont think that he has ever expressed interest in running that team due to the financial mess that the Amerks are now. There is another wrinkle in this story that came out today. It was assumed that the Florida Panthers, current joint affiliator with the Sabres, would take over the affiliation full time and what not. But this article in the Democrat and Chronicle suggests otherwise. The Panthers are having concerns with the same issues that the Sabres were having with Rochester, including the late payment of affiliation fees.

Most of this is speculation I know, I'm not claiming otherwise. But there is one thing I know. This is a friggin mess.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Sabres/Capitals Preview

The Sabres play the second of back to back games tonight as they head back home to face the Capitals. If you were paying attention to Versus on Monday, you would have seen the romping that the Caps laid on the Bruins to the tune of 10-2. Ovechkin had a hat-trick in the first period. The key to the Sabres keeping on a roll is playing with the same intensity as they did last night. It looks as if Tallinder will be out after the hit he took last night. It isnt known how long he will be back. Also out will be Tim Connolly who normally does not play back to back games. In their places will be Kalinin and either Paille or MacArthur, my money going on the first one.

Here are the standings for Eastern Conference heading into tonight and their points remaining to the magic 92 point mark:

1. Pittsburgh (9)
2. Montreal (11)
3. Carolina (19)
4. New Jersey (10)
5. Ottawa (12)
6. Boston (15)
7. New York Rangers (15)
8. Philadelphia (18)
9. Buffalo (19)
10. New York Islanders (21)
11. Washington (22)

* All Washington needs to do is to beat Carolina and not necessarily finish in the 8th spot or better.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Sabres/Flyers Recap

A couple bullets on the game

  • This Sabres team looked like they actually gave a damn. And its about time. The fire has officially been lit with 15 games left on the schedule. Being one point back can be overcome pretty easily. Let's actually see if the Sabres can start on a roll now. The rest of the games on the schedule look like this (number of games against in parenthesis): Toronto (3), Ottawa (2), Montreal (2), Boston (2), Carolina (2), Washington (1), Pittsburgh (1), Tampa Bay (1), NY Rangers (1). This looks like a scary lineup knowing that we look bad against teams like Montreal and Ottawa. Mirtle's site has a record for each team to reach 92 points which always seems like the magic number to make the playoffs. The Sabres record is 9-5-1 after this game. Can this team win 9 games against the teams above.
  • The loss of Tallinder for any period of time is a bad thought for this team. The defense is already starting to show its inexperience and lack of drive, hence why Kalinin was benched today for Sekera. Tallinder is now the top defenseman on this team, he always was but people thought it really was Campbell. Hopefully he returns to the lineup quickly.
  • Ryan Miller looked like his sold self again. Mentioned in the post last night, he hasnt looked all that good in the past ten games. But the defense looked solid and he looked just as well. The first goal wasn't his fault while the second I didnt catch.
  • The Flyers are complaining that the Roy goal shouldnt have counted cause there were too many men on the ice. Honestly, it happens. Breaks come and go and thats what happens in the turns of a season. Deal with it.
Tonight's Top Performer: This has to go to Max even though I'm not thrilled with it. Pominville had two goals as well but his were him being at the right place at the right time. Max looked good in his third game back with two good shots on the net with the second one tucked under the post to finally chase Marty. Afinogenov finished the game with 2 goals and 1 assist.

Sabres/Flyers Preview

This is it. This is going to be the game that decides the season. The Sabres are three points behind the Flyers and five points behind the Rangers each with 16 games left. The Sabres win, while still in the 9th spot, would be one point out and a good run to make it in. The Sabres lose, they are five points out and have a lot of work to do. Hopefully, the fact that Briere screwed up the last game by finishing the shootout in Buffalo gives a lot of things for the Sabres to think about. They need to turn on the gas and get the burners going. They have looked like an awful team against the top teams in both conferences and need to find there stuff back. Miller has looked like an average goalie, the defense look like they have lost their main component and forgot how to play and the offense cant keep them in games. So, here's to finding a way tonight.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Some Thoughts about the past couple of Games

Yeesh. Thats about all that can be said from the last couple of games. Granted that the Sabres have played the top two teams in the Eastern and Western Conference. But they looked really bad. Really, really bad. If the Sabres are going to have any chance getting into the playoffs, they need to fix their game and fix it fast. They head to Philly on Tuesday and they are 3 points behind the Flyers with the Islanders and Capitals breathing down their necks.

This team needs a swift kick in the ass. Ryan Miller has been, well, crappy. Here are the amounts of goals he has in the last 10 games: 4, 6, 4, 4, 4, 1, 3, 4, 5, 0. That is an ugly line. It would be nice if we could rest Miller but we need to ride him for the rest of the season because Jocelyn Thibault is about as helpful as a bag of wet cement.

The defense looks lost since Campbell left. Its not necessarily true that Campbell was a key piece to the Sabres, but with him gone Nathan Paestch is filling in. He and Pratt look like two lost puppies on the blueline. They were exposed in the last two games and need to tighten up their game.

The offense does not look all that bad but really need the return of Jochen Hecht. Hecht is just the key piece that seems to bring everything together. Bernier has been a nice addition to the lineup bringing more grit that the team really does need. Afinogenov needs to be permanently be scratched because his schtick has just worn out. A few tweaks to the lineup could turn the team around and be able to make a run in these last 16 games.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

A look around the rest of the NLL

Friday Night

Philadelphia wins 16-12 over New York. New York hung with the Wings all night but just couldn't handle the Wings who took control of the game heading into the 4th quarter. With a couple lead changes and back and forth action, the Wings took control of the game heading into the 4th quarter finishing off the Titans by outscoring them 6-4. The Titans were helped by their power play which went 3 for 8 on the night while holding the Wings to only 1 for 5 on the man advantage.

Top Performer: Easily this had to be Athan Iannucci who scored 6 goals and had a total of 8 points. Iannucci is on pace to break both Gary Gait's single season goal scoring record and John Tavares's single season point record. Heading into Saturday's game he had scored 31 goals in 6 games.

Saturday Night

Toronto beat Calgary 9-7 in a defensive battle that was suited for the Rock. With only 9 total players able to put in goals on both teams the spotlight went towards the two goaltenders. Neither team was all that impressive on the power play with Toronto going 1-5 and Calgary going 1-4.

Top Performer: Since this was a battle of the goaltenders, this has to go to Toronto's Bob Watson. Watson allowed 7 goals on 48 shots including stopping 22 of 25 in the second half. Watson kept his team in the game enough to lead them to victory.

Rochester handed the Shamrox their sixth loss of the season by defeating them 18-8. Nothing seemed to go right for the Shamrox between their lack of scoring, their bad penalty kill (Rochester went 3-6), and their inept man advantage (going 1-8). Rochester capitalized on that by outscoring the Shamrox 14-4 through the first three quarters.

Top Performer: This duel title goes to John Grant who netted 5 goals and had a total of 10 points and Shawn Evans who had 4 goals and a total of 11 points. These two have been consistent all season long with Grant being the leading scorer on the team with 53 points and Evans fourth on the team with 37 points.

Third time is the charm for the Rush who get their first win of the season against the Lumberjax 9-7. The Rush were helped in most part by their man advantage by going 3-5 on the night and holding the league's best powerplay to only 1 for 3. AJ Shannon led the Rush in scoring by netting a hat trick while the Lumberjax were led by Brodie Merrill and Matt Holman who netted two each.

Top Performer: This honor goes to Curtis Palidwor who was fairly impressive in net allowing 7 goals on 54 shots. Having a 12.14 goals against average, Palidwor has struggled all season but tonight looked solid and was able to keep his team in the game to be able to hand them their first win.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Bandits Clip the Wings for the First Time

In a night where the small things didn't see all that right, someone forgot to turn out the lights during the opening, the opening just being a little off, the in game host being out, and on a personal note the mustard dispenser spraying all over the place instead of my hot dog. Normally when those things start to go wrong the whole game starts to go to hell. And in the first 7:25 it looked like it was going to be. Philly started the game on a 5-1 run, scoring 2 in the first :29 seconds. Then the skies started to part. The Bandits went on 12-3 run and never looked back. The Bandits ended up wiping the floor with a tired and undisciplined Philly Wings 21-12. The main scorers from the Bandits are Steenhuis and Smith, who is officially listed for 3 but really scored 4. What really killed the Wings were the undisciplined penalties that happened including 5 illegal substitutions, a bad slashing penalty from Blasdell. The Bandits capitalized on these by going 9 for 13 on the powerplay. The Wings did have league leading Iannucci score 4 including 2 in the first 2 minutes. But the defense really locked in on him and shut him down. When someone scores 30% of a teams goals, the rest really dont have the firepower.

The star of the game was Ken Montour though. He replaced started Mike Thompson who allowed four goals on eight shots. Montour then just stopped almost everything that was put in front of him, not showing any effects of the concussion he suffered. Montour allowed 8 goals on 49 shots, stopping 26 of 29 in the second half. If he has not earned the starting spot after tonight's game, I'm not sure if he ever will have the starting spot.

The Bandits will face the Minnesota Swarm again at HSBC Arena next Saturday while the Wings face Toronto in the Wachovia Center.

Preview of Saturday's Week 10 Games

There are three other games on the docket tonight in the NLL besides the big matchup in Buffalo. Let's run through them real quick.

Calgary vs. Toronto

The Toronto Rock have not played all that much in the last couple of weeks, playing 3 games in 39 days. They should be rested and ready to go against a fairly competitive Calgary Roughnecks who are coming off a road win against the Colordao Mammoth. The Rock are among the bottom of the league in goals scored at 74. What makes them so competitive is their defense which gives up 10.71 goals per game. The Roughnecks have been struggling as of late winning only 2 of their last five. It doesn't help when your star goaltender Steve Dietrich has been out the last five games as well. I really think that Toronto is going to start getting on a streak and it helps more that they are playing at the ACC.

Rochester vs. Chicago

The defending champs have been struggling as of late. Sitting at 3-4 on the season, the Knighthawks have been inconsistent all season, putting up good efforts against teams like Calgary and Toronto, but then have just crapped the bed again last week against the Titans. They head to Chicago this week to face a Shamrox team that just does not seem to have all cylinders firing. The Shamrox just cannot seem to find the back of the net only scoring 65 goals and their defense gives up 14.17 goals per game. This should be a pretty easy game for the Knighthawks.

Edmonton vs. Portland

The Rush just cannot seem to catch a break this season. They fired their coach and general manager Paul Day and the rest of his coaching staff and replaced them with Bob Hamley. And the Rush still can't seem to get a win. They are heading to a difficult place in Portland where they face the always dangerous Lumberjax. Dan Dawson and Ryan Powell lead this team in scoring with 37 and 31 points respectively. They lead the league in powerplay percentage while the Rush are the league worst in penalty kill. I still cannot see the Rush getting a win out of this.