Kukla's Korner

The Sabres Observer

More Visor Talk

From Bill Hoppe of The Olean Times Herald,

“I’ve had instances when you get hit in the visor and the visor cuts you,” Mancari said Tuesday prior to the Sabres 4-3 loss to the Maple Leafs at the Air Canada Centre. “I just have better vision with it off. We’ll see what happens over time.”

As Mancari spoke, Vancouver’s Manny Malholtra was in New York hoping a surgeon could save his left eye and vision. Mancari has watched the scary footage of an errant puck hitting the veteran’s unprotected eye March 16.

Mancari’s in the minority. According to research The Hockey News published in December, 59 percent of NHL players (381) wear visors. A similar survey earlier in 2010 found 65 percent of players 30-or-younger wear the protection. It’s only 45 percent for those older than 30.

more, including some interesting comments from Buffalo’s Jason Pominville and Toronto’s Tim Brent.

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Sabres Still In Good Shape

Well, that’s one Shaone Morrisonn and Ryan Miller would like to forget. 

The Leafs took advantage of some shaky defense and goaltending in their 4-3 win last night over Buffalo.  Miller had an off night, which isn’t a reason to panic considering how much better he’s looked overall in recent weeks. 

As far as Morrisonn goes, well, you’d think it would be pretty difficult to be a -3 with only eight minutes of ice time, but he found a way to do it.  Morrisonn and Mike Weber are gritty guys that you really want to root for, but their hijinks last night as the 5-6 defensive pairing had to be uncomfortable for Sabres fans to watch.

If I’m Lindy Ruff, my top four defensemen (Myers, Sekera, Montador, Butler) are getting the brunt of the ice time on the blue line tonight against the Rangers, with my third pairing only playing 10-12 minutes or so.  This tactic didn’t work last night, but it has in the past and I would try it again.  You need your best guys out there and this game is too important.

I’d also strongly consider giving Morrisonn the night off and allowing Marc-Andre Gragnani some power play time.

Nervous fans in Buffalo need to keep in mind that this team is still on a 4-1-1 run, and mathematically they’re in very good shape for a playoff spot.  And while you’re complaining that the team looked awful last night, I actually didn’t think the forwards collectively were that bad.

Tonight is a huge night in the East, with 7th at 8th (NYR-BUF) and 6th at 9th (MTL-CAR) on tap.  Enjoy the ride.

Update 11:02 am: Per Mike Harrington tweet- Gragnani, who can play forward, and Matt Ellis will be in for Jochen Hecht and Mike Grier (both injured).

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Miller Coming Up Big At Right Time

From The Buffalo News,

Ryan Miller is playing some of his best hockey of the season at just the right time. That’s good news for the Buffalo Sabres and could be curtains for the slim playoff hopes of the Toronto Maple Leafs.

“I’m feeling better, feeling like I’m in the play a lot more and able to get in the flow of it,” Miller said. “It has a lot more to do with attention to detail around me and I can commit to some things. Way earlier in the season, we were hesitant on some plays and that makes me wait for things to unfold and that’s a tough position to be in sometimes. Right now I’m trying to dictate the play, force guys to do what they don’t want to do.”

more

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Sabres Should Be Leery Of Power Outage

I don’t know what’s riskier, walking on the Sabres logo in the locker room or bringing a negative vibe to any conversation involving this team in the midst of its playoff-bound bliss, but I’m going to walk a fine line with the latter while looking at the big picture here.

If I’m Darcy Regier or Lindy Ruff, the first thought to cross my mind when picturing this team in late April without Jordan Leopold is the ugly 0-19 power play drought that cost the Sabres a playoff series against Boston last spring.  That may be overplaying it, but in my opinion not by much.

With Leopold suffering a hand injury that will keep him out for the rest of the regular season and possibly longer, you have to wonder if the Sabres will want to take another peek at Marc-Andre Gragnani, who has been breaking scoring records down in Portland (AHL).

Continue Reading »

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Sabres Roll At Home, Back At It Tonight

The Sabres have picked a good time to resolve their issues on home ice.  After last night’s 4-2 win over Florida, thanks in large part to a big night for Drew Stafford (2 goals, 1 assist), Buffalo is on a 5-1-2 run at home.

Tonight the Sabres are back at it again as the New Jersey Devils invade HSBC Arena.  A week or two ago there was the potential for this to be a spotlight game, but that’s not the case now.  Even a Devils win tonight would still leave them eight points out of 8th in the East.  Ilya Kovalchuk brought out the concession speech in front of the media last night:

“If Buffalo wins [vs. Florida], I think we’re done,” Kovalchuk said following Friday’s 1-0 shootout loss in Pittsburgh. “Still, we’ve got to play for pride for our fans. Just make a push and feel better for next year.”

There was some good pace to much of last night’s game vs. the Panthers, but it wouldn’t be surprising to see a low scoring defensive battle tonight.  To be honest, Buffalo and New Jersey have played some real snoozers over the past few years.  But with playoff fever ramping up here, the Sabres will gladly forsake style points for standings points.

Update 10:52 am: Colin White and Anton Volchenkov both doubtful for the Devils tonight

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Sabres Honor Rick Martin

The Buffalo Sabres community said goodbye to former French Connection member Rick Martin today at HSBC Arena.  Speakers at the public memorial service included former linemates Gilbert Perreault and Rene Robert, play-by-play man Rick Jeanneret, and a few of Martin’s family members.

From WGRZ-TV,

Sabres play-by-play man Rick Jeanneret shared some of his personal stories of the former Sabres great. A video tribute, filled with Martin memories from former teammates, members of the Sabres staff and others was played.

more, with plenty of video.

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Buffalo Back To Back

From Darren Dreger of TSN,

Explaining why the Sabres play so many back to backs is somewhat complicated according to the NHL, although geography and the team’s request to maximize the number of weekend and holiday home games are said to be key contributors.

Buffalo leads the NHL with the most home weekend games (90 over past four years) which is clearly an advantage for the organziation, plus commitments to national broadcast partners specific to the Sabres divisional rivals, Toronto, Montreal and Ottawa area also factors into the scheduling equation.

more, including Sabres stats in back to back games this season, plus the NHL’s preparations for the Bruins-Habs rematch tomorrow

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We’re Sorry, Nathan Gerbe

On behalf of all Sabres followers, Mr. Gerbe, we apologize for doubting you.  Your performance in Buffalo’s 2-0 win last night in Montreal was the clincher.  All we can talk about today is your herculean effort that produced the empty net goal (1:10 of the video) that put the game away.

In our defense, not all of the pessimism surrounding the potential of your career was our fault.  Early on, you were given plenty of chances but things didn’t really seem to be working out.

In many ways, however, we’re equally to blame.

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Defense, Not Ryan Miller, Still The Albatross

Right after the Sabres blew a 3-1 lead with 2 ½ minutes remaining and proceeded to lose in overtime to Nashville last night, a brief and semi-cryptic comment of mine aggravated some puckheads in the twitterverse to the point of giving me the unfollow treatment.  An equal number of folks in agreement with me partially sustained my faith in hockey humankind.

My deserters were angry Sabres fans with a misguided notion that Ryan Miller not playing at a Vezina Trophy winning level translates to him being the problem for Buffalo in 2010-11.  Despite Sunday’s two deflected goals and ugly defensive miscues, Miller received some blame that he didn’t deserve.

What happened in this game should not have been a surprise to anyone who has watched this team enough to have a clear understanding of its most glaring weakness.  In a nutshell, the Sabres dominated the Predators for most of 58 minutes, before gaffes by Andrej Sekera and Tyler Myers snatched a Buffalo defeat from the jaws of what should have been their 22nd victory in 36 games.

Continue Reading »

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Another Big One In Buffalo

The game tonight with the most impact on the Eastern Conference playoff picture is probably the Atlanta/Buffalo game at HSBC Arena.  Considering that they’re four points behind the 8th place Sabres, the Thrashers should be a pretty desperate bunch.

This will be yet another chance for Buffalo to cripple the playoff chances of a close pursuer.  They missed opportunites to kick the Maple Leafs and Hurricanes to the curb despite playing pretty well in those games.  Lindy Ruff’s comments, per the Sabres web site:

“The message is we’ve put together a good run and now, really, this last stretch is the type of run where we’ve got to put together a good segment of hockey.  We missed some good opportunities in the Carolina game, we missed some good opportunities in the Toronto game. We’re playing hard, we just didn’t capitalize on some great offensive situations that put us behind the eight ball in the Carolina game.”

As Buffalo has struggled at home this season (15-16-3), we’ve been hearing the typical “We’re trying too hard to put on a show” response from some of the players.  But this is the stage of the season where even a 2-1 snoozefest would send their fans home happy.  These games are just too important.

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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: dd@kuklaskorner.com Twitter: [@DaveDavisHockey]

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