Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Mike Harrington of the Buffalo News,
There was an overtime winner scored Thursday night in First Niagara Center that sent tons of folks home happy. It was accompanied by loud cheers with fans leaping out of their seats, many with arms in the air.
One thing was missing: The goal horn. That’s because the goal wasn’t scored by the Sabres.
It came from Arizona’s Sam Gagner and gave the Coyotes a 4-3 win over Buffalo in a game played through what has to rate as one of the most awkward atmospheres in franchise history.
In the bizarro world of Tankapalooza 2015, Thursday’s defeat rates as a major victory in the turtle race for 30th overall in the NHL. The Coyotes moved six points ahead of Buffalo in 29th place. Buffalo has a game in hand but only eight games left, including Monday’s rematch in Glendale, Ariz.
It looks like a huge deficit for Buffalo to overcome. The fact is, however, the masses’ obsession with Connor McDavid or Jack Eichel means they want no part of it getting wiped out.
from Amy Moritz of the Buffalo News,
The motivation in the Buffalo Sabres locker room is clear and simple: Avoid finishing last.
That may ruffle the feathers of some in the team’s fan base who actively want the Sabres to finish 30th, thereby guaranteeing them at least the No. 2 overall draft pick. But athletes and coaches are wired to compete and at this point in the Sabres’ season, the most attainable goal they can compete for is 29th place.
“For sure you want to finish as high as you can,” Sabres captain Brian Gionta said Wednesday afternoon after practice in First Niagara Center. “In a season like this you gotta find little things to set your sights on and that’s definitely one of them.”
The stakes for 30th place are high Thursday night as the Sabres host the Arizona Coyotes.
The Coyotes are coming off an overtime win at Detroit, putting them five points ahead of the Sabres. Buffalo has nine games remaining, Arizona eight. They will meet again on Monday night in Arizona.
“Nobody wants to be in the position our two teams are in. Not one player,” Coyotes forward Shane Doan said. “You’re embarrassed. You have to be. Nobody ever wants to be considered the worst. Obviously, both teams are considered the two worst teams in the league. That’s not a good feeling.”
from Mike Harrington of the Buffalo News,
It was a late night in the race for the bottom of the NHL's standings as the Sabres joined the Arizona Coyotes and Edmonton Oilers in escaping the Eastern Time Zone.
The biggest takeaway from Saturday: With 10 games left for the three contenders, this looks like a two-team "race" (yes, the quotes are intentional) between Darcy Regier's old team and the former Sabres GM's new team.
The Edmonton Oilers rallied from a 3-1 deficit and pulled out a 5-4 overtime win over Philadelphia in Saturday's final game, pushing six points ahead of the last-place Sabres. Buffalo and Arizona, meanwhile, both lost in regulation as they careen toward Thursday's bizarre showdown in First Niagara Center.
In today's Inside the NHL column, John Vogl writes that the upcoming pair of games against the Coyotes "might have as much impact as drafting Gilbert Perreault, trading for Dominik Hasek and letting Chris Drury and Daniel Briere walk away."
from Paul Friesen of the Winnipeg Sun,
At this rate, Evander Kane is going to have to become that 50-goal scorer he pegged himself to be.
Or else this will go down as the most lopsided trade the Winnipeg Jets have ever made.
As much as I initially said the deal that brought Tyler Myers and Drew Stafford here from Buffalo was tilted heavily in the Jets’ favour, I didn’t expect this.
Sure, Myers looked like a heavy minute-man, Stafford like a usable piece somewhere in the Jets’ top three lines.
Fifteen games after the move, two men who’d become used to losing on a team that’s gone straight to hell have become key parts of a winner hell-bent on a taste of playoff heaven.
“So far it’s been an unbelievable experience here,” Stafford was saying, Friday, some 15 hours after his latest exploits: a game-tying goal with six minutes left against St. Louis, and another in the shootout victory.
from John Vogl of the Buffalo News,
Anders Lindback is a super guy. Really, he is. Folks from Nashville to Tampa Bay to New York City vouch for him. All it takes is one conversation with the goaltender for anyone to be convinced.
It’s a shame, then, that he’s on his way to becoming one of the most reviled Sabres ever.
The second-best stretch of Lindback’s career has Buffalo hockey fans cursing him in the name of Connor McDavid. The goalie stole three points this week that never should have been in Buffalo’s bank. If he keeps it up for the final 12 games, 30th place might become a thing of the past.
At any other time in Sabres history, Lindback would be a triumphant feel-good story. Instead, he’ll enter the crease Friday against New Jersey or Saturday in Nashville with Blue and Gold backers begging for him to fail.
What everyone will see is a guy playing like his life depends on it. That’s not far from the truth.
from Fluto Shinzawa of the Boston Globe,
Buffalo is the worst team in the league. The Sabres entered the night without a win in their last seven games. They were playing their second game in two nights. Their roster is stuffed with borderline varsity players, ranging from Tim Schaller to Philip Varone to Zac Dalpe.
Buffalo is a team built to lose with the hopes of the ultimate win in June: the opportunity to select Connor McDavid as its reward for bottoming out.
The Bruins were lucky to get 1 point out of the decision.
The numbers say the Bruins deserved a better fate than a 2-1 shootout loss. They led in shot attempts, 95-47. They hammered Anders Lindback with 44 pucks. For the first 40 minutes, the Bruins looked like they were playing keepaway rather than hockey by grabbing a 26-10 shot advantage.
But the Bruins are at a stage where attaboys are not handed out for advantages in shot attempts or zone time. They need points. They only got 1 when 2, given the situation, were required.
The Senators took care of their business by beating the Hurricanes in overtime Tuesday, 2-1. Andrew Hammond tied a league record by launching his NHL career with 12 straight starts with three goals or fewer. This is the goalie the Bruins must stare down on Thursday. With Hammond in net, the Senators could close the gap to 2 points with a regulation win at Canadian Tire Centre.
from Mike Harrington Of The Buffalo News,
New Sabres goalie Chad Johnson was quite a punchline yesterday and he's not happy about it.
The Sabres traded Michal Neuvirth to the New York Islanders for Johnson, and it's obvious to anyone in hockey it was because the red-hot Neuvirth -- and not any opposing player -- was the biggest threat to the organizational goal of finishing in 30th place.
TSN, the Canadian media giant doing wall-to-wall trade deadline coverage, called Johnson when the trade was completed and bombarded him with questions about tanking. Johnson immediately shot them down by pointing out players are paid to compete and try to win.
Unprompted today, Johnson brought up the interview again with Buffalo reporters and was not happy with how the network orchestrated it.
"That whole TSN thing bothered me a little bit," said Johnson, 28. "I was asked to do an interview with them, they called me and I'm sitting on hold while they're saying what they have the right to say. But it was obviously a little disrespectful for them to have me on hold listening to what they have to say and then bring me on line to ask me these questions while they sort of bash me or whatever it is.
Both TSN and Sportsnet report Chris Stewart has been traded to the Wild.
added 3:33pm, Multiple reports say the Sabres will pay 1/2 of Stewart's salary, still waiting on trade details.
added 3:44pm, from Michael Russo of Russo's Rants,
Buffalo Sabres GM Tim Murray, who had been trying to trade Chris Stewart all year long for a huge return, may have overreached at the end. The Wild was able to snag the power forward for a 2017 second-round pick. The Sabres are also picking up half the $465,000 still owed to the free-agent-to-be.
BUFFALO, N.Y. (March 2, 2015) --- The Buffalo Sabres today announced that the team has acquired forward Jack Nevins and a seventh-round pick in the 2016 NHL Draft from the Montreal Canadiens in exchange for forward Torrey Mitchell.
Nevins (6’2”, 199 lbs., 9/18/93), who signed a three-year contract with the Canadiens in March 2013, has played 32 games with the Hamilton Bulldogs (AHL) this year in his first full professional season, totaling 88 penalty minutes.
A native of Stittsville, Ontario, Nevins made his professional debut in 2013-14 with three games in Hamilton after recording 48 points (19+29) and 159 penalty minutes in his final QMJHL season with Charlottetown and Rouyn-Noranda.
About Kukla's Korner Hockey
Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
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