The Sabres Observer
It's only three games into what is expected to be a long season for the Sabres, but Ted Nolan's emotions may already be boiling over.
“That was like an NHL team playing a Pee Wee team,” the coach told the media following Buffalo's embarrassing 5-1 loss to the Anaheim Ducks. The remarks have already made headlines all over the place.
A few writers I know who were in the room told me that they had never seen Nolan as upset as he was tonight. After what transpired last season, that's a telling observation.
While the NHL has overall done a pretty good job cleaning up its act, thuggery is apparently still alive and well in the AHL.
Below is video (courtesy of sabresprospects.com) of a brawl last night between Rochester and Adirondack, which shows Flames forward Trevor Gillies slamming Amerks forward William Carrier's head to the ice during a fight. Things escalated to the point where even slick forward Mikhail Grigorenko, who had a goal earlier in the game, got involved in the fisticuffs.
It didn't get Gillies a match penalty, but it did get him trending on twitter in Canada.
It's time for my annual NHL predictions.
Below is a summary of where I think teams will finish in the 2014-15 season.
If you read the list, I promise to never clog your twitter feed with news that the performance of so-and-so ruined my fantasy team. #HintHint
OK, sure, it's all supposed to be about what's best for the organization and not what's fair or not fair to the individual player.
But if anyone has shown in Sabres training camp that he's turned over a new leaf and is now deserving of a chance to prove himself as an everyday NHL player, it's Mikhail Grigorenko.
The 2012 1st-round selection has been put through the ringer more than enough, much of it admittedly his own fault. But it's quite possible that we're witnessing his slow departure from hockey purgatory into a realm where he is an important part of Buffalo's rebuild.
If that small, morally superior legion of Sabres fans and media thumbing their noses at the "Dishonor For Connor" and "Win Jack for Jack" movements is still out there this morning, my advice is to lay low and keep quiet for a few days.
Jack Eichel was a cut above every other player on the ice in the CCM/USA Hockey All-American Prospects Game last night in Buffalo, notching a goal and an assist and taking home game MVP honors.
Meanwhile, the Big Day featuring he and fellow wunderkind Connor McDavid is nine months from today in Florida.
If the prediction of one major media outlet is true, the Sabres will have only one player with more than 50 points this season.
TSN has released its 2014-15 Top 300 Projected Scorers list, and Matt Moulson tops all Sabres with 27 goals and 63 points. That ranks him 33rd and much better than the next highest rated Sabre, Tyler Ennis (20 goals, 49 points) at 96th.
I know it was only a prospect scrimmage that's not to be overanalyzed, but at least allow me to say that I didn't get the warm fuzzy feeling that most of the other whopping 8,725 or so fans in attendance did.
Tim Murray watched the festivities from the 5th row in section 216. I'd love to know what he was thinking. I'm going to venture a guess.
From an offensive display standpoint, it had to have left him wanting more.
From Ken Campbell of The Hockey News,
Based on where the Sabres sit in the standings, they are looking up, way up. But so are their prospects for success. And the best part of it for a guy like Murray, who has made a living on identifying young talent, is that the canvas is relatively blank. After they bought out Ville Leino and Christian Ehrhoff this summer, the only big-money, long-term contracts that remain on the books belong to Cody Hodgson, Tyler Myers and Matt Moulson. They have a very good stable of young prospects – defensemen Rasmus Ristolainen and Nikita Zadorov were both rated among the top 10 NHL prospects in Future Watch 2014 and center Mikhail Grigorenko made the top 50 – and at the trade deadline they picked up a rising prospect in Hudson Fasching. They have an owner who has been willing to spend, but that has been more of a curse than a blessing in Buffalo of late.
Patrick Roy and Joe Sakic have known Claude Lemieux's son Brendan since he sat in the Stanley Cup as a three-month-old baby in 1996. Brendan's dad remains good friends with Roy and Sakic to this day.
Lemieux (left wing with 27 goals, 26 assists and 53 points for the OHL's Barrie Colts last season) had made it clear Colorado was his first choice, and it seemed like a great fit.
So why did the Avalanche not take the 6'1" 209 lb. truculent forward at number 23, even though many had him rated as a first-round talent in this year's draft?
The answer is Conner Bleackley.
This morning on Buffalo radio, Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press referred to Tyler Myers as a franchise defenseman with "a really appealing contract."
Those of you outside of Sabres Nation may not realize how many Buffalo fans had a good chuckle when they heard that one.
This is the same defenseman who has needed to spend occasional games in the press box to clear his head. And that's the same contract that was unappealing enough to some to put Myers on the list of compliance buyout candidates.
About The Sabres Observer
Dave Davis has covered the Buffalo Sabres for various NHL accredited websites and newspapers since 2003. He was the senior writer and Sabres correspondent for The Fourth Period, covered hockey for Western New York Sports and Leisure Magazine, and has had articles featured on NHL.com, FOX Sports, Yahoo Sports and in New York Sportscene. Sabres news and notes can be found on his Twitter page.
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: [@DaveDavisHockey]