The Sabres Observer
From the Buffalo News,
Ville Leino was nearly invisible with a hockey stick in his hand. Off the ice, however, he was the Sabres’ straightest shooter.
Leino candidly and honestly delivered opinions on any subject that came up this season. The switch from left wing to center? Hated it. The crowd in Buffalo? Too quiet. The atmosphere in the dressing room? Not fun enough. Games early in the season? Sometimes it’s tough to get excited for them.
So, as he said farewell to a forgettable season, it was no surprise Leino came clean about his first year in Buffalo.
via The Wall Street Journal website courtesy of the Associated Press,
BUFFALO, N.Y. — Buffalo Sabres president Ted Black says the team is already looking ahead on how to rebound from this year’s disappointing finish. And he adds those plans include moving forward with both general manager Darcy Regier and coach Lindy Ruff.
As difficult as it was on the franchise to miss the playoffs, Black told The Associated Press by phone that there’s “no time to wallow in misery.” He says the team will continue the aggressive approach in adding players it established last offseason, its first under new owner Terry Pegula.
Black cleared up any questions regarding Regier and Ruff’s futures by saying they will be back. Both have been criticized in the media this past week after the Sabres, and their high-priced payroll, finished ninth in the Eastern Conference standings.
After a rough weekend for the Sabres, when so many aspects of the team’s performance were worthy of scrutiny, the local sports talk radio station spent about 99% of its airtime yesterday talking about the backup goaltender.
Sportswriters pounced on another opportunity to trash Ryan Miller, and antagonist fans with an unconditional disdain for the franchise netminder ate it right up, other factors of equal or greater concern be damned.
Is it unworthy of discussion that Thomas Vanek and Jason Pominville failed to register a shot on goal in a must win game on Saturday at the Air Canada Centre?
Is it unimportant that the Pens and Leafs went a combined 3 for 5 on the power play while Buffalo put up a goose egg given the same number of chances?
Did anyone raise their eyebrows at Cody Hodgson being pointless and a -4 over these two monumental games?
Nope, nary a word about any of this. Many fans, writers, and radio pros seemed overcome with a state of tunnel vision where all that mattered was what happened in the blue ice. For a group of people that keeps telling us that goaltending isn’t as important anymore, they sure spend a lot of time obsessing about it.
From Pierre LeBrun of ESPN.com, a piece that’s gotten Ryan Miller both good and bad reviews in Buffalo today…
The goalie always gets heat. ... I don’t blame fans or media for talking about hockey; it is fun to be passionate about the game. I try not to pay attention because, unless you have played goalie in the NHL, I don’t think anyone can understand what it is like to stand in there and be one of us, to put yourself out there every night. This year, a lot of opinion I normally avoid or ignore was dragged into the locker room by the media, and I took it hard. But I kept working and searching for my comfort level. I finally remembered I love to play and I am not doing it for what people outside the locker think about me. I’m doing it because I love hockey and I love to win. I love making saves and being on a team. I love the challenge.
It’s time for some Sabres trivia. Which of the following players, over his past 30 games, has scored the fewest points: Ville Leino, Thomas Vanek, Tyler Myers, Derek Roy or Drew Stafford?
Give yourself a stick tap if you said Vanek.
Buffalo’s most talented and highest paid forward is slumping. The Sabres are on an 11-3-3 surge that has elevated them into the playoff hunt, but Vanek has only managed to put up 6 points in that span.
Going back a bit further, here are the numbers over the past 30 games for Sabres forwards who are on the team in large part due to their scoring ability:
Not only does Vanek have fewer points in his last 30 games than Ville Leino, he also has less than defensemen Tyler Myers (6-9-15) and Christian Ehrhoff (3-11-14).
Ryan Miller has been a big part of the Sabres resurgence, but it’s a lot to ask of him to continue giving up fewer than 2 goals per game. Whether he’s playing hurt or just lacking confidence, the sooner the better for Vanek’s return to excellence. Tonight’s important contest in Winnipeg, which could result in Buffalo catapulting to eighth place in the East, wouldn’t be a bad place to start.
If Paul Gaustad wants to be a big help to his team in the next few hours, punching Milan Lucic and/or Brad Marchand in the face tonight is only the second best thing he can do.
If the gritty forward really wants to be part of a winner in Buffalo, as he has stated, then there is no better way for him to do that than by signing an extension at his current annual salary today.
I realize that many Sabres fans and media pros are wishing Gaustad out of town to adhere to the culture change agenda, but I say not so fast.
While he’s obviously not much of a scoring threat, there are traits and intangibles in Gaustad that are sorely needed on this team. Unfortunate inaction during the Lucic-Ryan Miller incident notwithstanding, Gaustad is a standup character guy that you don’t find everyday. I think the Sabres will miss his physicality a great deal if he leaves.
via The New York Times (nytimes.com),
The 48-day standoff between the MSG Network and Time Warner Cable ended Friday, according to two people aware of the resolution who were not authorized to speak publicly.
“You know a guy is good when you want your team to lose just so they have a chance at drafting him.” - James Duthie of TSN on Nail Yakupov.
“This kid (Mikhail Grigorenko) could be Evgeni Malkin. It’s not out of the question.” – an unnamed scout speaking to TSN’s Bob McKenzie.
I was hoping for an Edmonton victory over Toronto last night, fellow Sabres fans, but perhaps not for the same reason as you.
As of this week, my daily NHL standings viewing habits have changed. I’m sorting by league instead of conference. I’m looking down instead of up.
I just had a dream of a smiling Darcy Regier (his starry-eyed owner really isn’t going to fire him, right?) on the floor of the Consol Energy Center on June 22, anxiously awaiting the first overall selection of the Columbus Blue Jackets. He looked thrilled because, regardless of what his friend and peer Scott Howson was about to announce, the Sabres were preparing to get their hands on one of two great players capable of giving them an immediate and invigorating infusion of star forward talent.
Then I awoke to the shuddering thought of the Sabres making a valiant surge to finish ninth in the East.
From Mike Harrington of The Sabres Edge (Buffalo News) blog,
Buffalo Sabres coach Lindy Ruff left practice early today in First Niagara Center after taking a scary fall in the wake of a collision with defenseman Jordan Leopold.
Leopold was working in a 1-on-1 drill with Ville Leino and lost his balance, sliding to the ice and barreling into Ruff from behind. Ruff went airbone and landed hard on the ice, letting out a scream as his body crumpled that echoed through the empty arena.
Working under a salary cap requires an NHL GM to utilize his value investing skills. On the worst scoring team in the Eastern Conference, which Sabres forwards are delivering the most bang for the buck? Who is the most overpaid?
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: email@example.com Twitter: [@DaveDavisHockey]