Tag Archives: Cody Hodgson

Sabres – Penguins Review

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Saturday night was more of the same from the Buffalo Sabres. They were terrible in their own zone, they couldn’t get any consistent pressure on Fleury, and again they get the same result: a loss.

Sidney Crosby got the scoring started 3:39 into the first period when he chopped at his own rebound. Crosby was being challenged by Jamie McBain in the corner, but easily pried the puck free and sent it to Dupuis in the slot. Dupuis sent the puck in front of the net where Crosby would eventually wind up. Crosby whacked and chopped at the puck while McBain and Tyler Myers watched. Continue reading Sabres – Penguins Review

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Sabres – Canadiens Recap

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It’s now official. The Buffalo Sabres are streaking.

For the second time in five days, the Sabres visited the Bell Centre in Montreal and for the second time in five days, the Sabres left with two valuable points.

Buffalo came into Montreal after defeating the Toronto Maple Leafs in a shootout this past Thursday. That bumped Buffalo up in the standings, leaving them just four points out of a playoff spot. That’s incredible.  Continue reading Sabres – Canadiens Recap

GM Gibs For A Day

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What would I do if I were GM?

First, I’d call all my friends and then have a crazy pick up game going at the First Niagara Center.

After the dangle, snipe, and celly session, I’d get down to brass tacks.

Ron Rolston told the media after practice that he’s thought about breaking up the Vanek-Hodgson-Pominville line. In my opinion, that’s a very smart move. For those of you who think I’m crazy, allow me to explain.

This hockey team isn’t going anywhere. They don’t put out a consistent effort every time they hit the ice, they’re in 28th place in the NHL (two teams are actually worse), and to reach eighth place is a miracle. So instead of having your three best players on the ice for 90 seconds at a time, why not spread out that talent a little bit.

Who would go where?

Ville-Leino-570x320What I would do is keep Vanek and Hodgson together, and stick Pominville on a line with Tyler Ennis and Ville Leino. Then I’d have Drew Stafford hop on with Vanek and CoHo. The reason for the move?

Trade stock.

Ville Leino is a good hockey player. He’s not going to score 25-30 goals a year, but he will create plays in the done and do a good job along the boards. Having Jason Pominville on Leino’s line would give him more freedom and space which would allow him to expose his talent. Leino’s got a set of mitts on him, and when he was with Briere and Hartnell, had all the space in the world.

Drew Stafford is another player that has failed to live up to his contract. Stafford has scored 20 plus goals in only threeAR-130219519.jpg&maxW=602&maxH=602&AlignV=top&Q=80 seasons. His highest total was 31 goals in 2010-2011, which is the last time the Sabres reached the playoffs (that was the year he had four hat tricks, two of them came against he Bruins). That 31 goal season brought Stafford a four year 16 Million dollar deal. The year after signing his contract, Stafford posted 20 goals in 80 games, and so far this season he’s been irrelevant. He’s got four goals and eleven points through 29 games, and has looked terrible most of the time. Two of those four goals have come in one game, and one of those goals was one of the biggest fluke goals you’ll ever see.

If you put Stafford on a line with Cody Hodgson and Thomas Vanek…I think it’s safe to say Stafford will find the net a lot more than he has this season. Not only that, but he’ll look a lot better than he does when he’s skating with Jochen Hecht and Nathan Gerbe. He failed to do anything on a line with Tyler Ennis and Marcus Foligno, so if you stick him on a line with your number one Center and best scoring forward, positive results are more than likely to come.

Instead of trying to convince yourself that this year is a fluke, which is what Darcy Regier really thinks, you should try and be the best team come April 3rd.

I’d be open to any ideas as long as Thomas Vanek, Ryan Miller, Tyler Myers, and Mikhail Grigorenko aren’t part of the discussion. Jason Pominville, Ville Leino, Drew Stafford, Tyler Ennis, Steve Ott, Nathan Gerbe, Jordan Leopold, Andrej Sekera, Robyn Regehr, and Mike Weber are all on the table if I’m the GM. If you got a first round draft pick for Paul Gaustad, I’m sure you can get another first rounder for Pominville or even a top six forward in return. Tyler Ennis is another first round draft pick caliber player for a trade.

The reason you keep Vanek, Hodgson, and Miller is because you can build a very good team around that. I understand Miller is 32 and is a big cap hit, but he’s still one of the best goaltenders in the world and he’s showing it this season. He’d be in the Vezina discussion if it weren’t for one of the worst defenses in the league playing in front of him.

thomas vanek sabres austriaThomas Vanek is your ‘get it done’ player, and in my opinion, he’s the only ‘get it done’ player on the team. He had a great start, but as somewhat cooled off after he suffered a lower body injury a quarter into the season. Cody Hodgson is having a very strong sophomore season, and hasn’t even reached the surface of what he can potentially become. Grigorenko’s obviously a young prospect that you don’t trade away.  Christian Ehrhoff wasn’t listed because of his monster contract, and also because he’s a top tier defensemen that you want to have on your rebuilding team.

Moving some players around also gives you room to think about who you might be able to pick up in free agency over the Summer.

Check out GM Gibs: A Look Into Free Agency, which will be posted soon.

Sabres – Hurricanes Recap

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The  four game point streak comes to an end as the Carolina Hurricanes sweep the season series with a 4-3 victory last night.

In the first period, the Hurricanes made the Sabres look like the team we’re all used to watching prior to their four game point streak (3-0-1). They were chasing the puck around in their own zone, and when they brought the puck into Carolina’s end, they weren’t able maintain possession for more than five to ten seconds. Continue reading Sabres – Hurricanes Recap

Sabres – Lightning Recap

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They’re not dead, not yet at least.

After allowing another goal in the opening minutes of a hockey game, the Sabres fought back to beat the finely tuned offensive machine that is the Tampa Bay Lightning.

In the first period, Buffalo came out like many expected. Slow, lazy, out of position, turnovers in their own zone, and that was in the first 70 seconds. Fourteen seconds later, the Bolts would strike.

Steven StamkosBuffalo had the puck in Tampa Bay’s zone when Tyler Myers took a shot that got knocked down in traffic. Matt Carle would recover the loose puck and immediately send it up to Teddy Purcell. Purcell easily skated into the Sabres zone, and took a hard shot right on Miller that bounced back out in front. Steven Stamkos came flying in, and buried the rebound.

Goal Breakdown: The only breakdown I have on this goal is Tyler Myers stopped moving his feet, and the Sabres were caught yawning. Oh yeah, one more thing: Yet again another Superstar burns Buffalo. It’s beyond a problem and it’s got to be at the top of the drawing board for Darcy Regier. Like I’ve been saying all season, Buffalo doesn’t have a Michael Peca or a Patrice Bergeron. Those two guys are/were fantastic as stopping their opponents highly skilled players. After the first meeting in Boston, Claude Julien decided to put Bergeron on the ice every time Vanek’s line went out. The results?  Vanek  has not registered a point in the last two meetings against Boston. Oh, and I almost forgot.  After those two meetings in three games against the Bruins, Vanek has fell into a slump. His last point was a 5-on-3 power play goal against the Penguins. — If that’s not a good enough example of a Super Star stopper for you, then please, find me a better one.

After Stamkos’ goal, it was all Tampa Bay and to be honest, the Sabres looked like they were in for an ugly loss. That all stopped when the Lightning let the puck slip out of Buffalo’s zone.

Steven Stamkos lost the puck at the blue line, and immediately sprinted after it with Vanek all over him. Stamkos got control of the loose puck in his own zone, and left tapped it back to Hedman. Hedman attempted to clear the puck out of his own zone, but his pass was intercepted beautifully by Pominville at Tampa’s blue line. Vanek saw JP intercept the pass, and immediately headed deep into the Lightning zone. Pominville got the puck to Vanek at the side of the net, he had no shot and elected to clear it through the slot but, no one was there. Sekera recovered Vanek’s pass at the blue line, stepped up, and took a shot right on net. Sekera’s shot deflected behind the net conveniently for Hodgson. CoHo tried banking it off of Garon, but it found Sami Salo’s skate which knocked it in to tie the162795770_slide game at one.

Goal Breakdown: It all starts with Vanek who did a great forechecking job on Stamkos who really isn’t on the ice for his defensive skills. Vanek’s pressure forced Stamkos to give it to Hedman who really had no where to go with it. Hedman panicked, tried clearing it, but Pominville read him the entire way. If you turn the puck over with the Vanek- Hodgson – Pominville line out on the ice, more often than not, they’re going to make you pay. All three members of Buffalo’s top line had big contributions on that goal.

There would be no scoring in the second period, which in Buffalo’s case, is a miracle. Tyler Myers, Drew Stafford, and again Tyler Myers, would all receive penalties in a little less than a four minute span giving Tampa Bay a long 5-on-3 power play. Buffalo’s top penalty killer, Ryan Miller, stood on his head as always and bailed the Sabres out of, what could have been, a very ugly scene.

In the third, it would be Buffalo who struck first in the opening minutes of a period.

Tyler MyersTeddy Purcell had the puck deep in his own zone with Thomas Vanek all over him. Purcell went around his own net trying to escape Vanek’s pressure, and tried clearing the puck out. Christian Ehrhoff was in perfect position to keep the puck in the offensive zone, and like I said earlier: If you turn the puck over in your own zone with the Hodgson line out on the ice, more often than not, they’re going to make you pay.

Ehrhoff got the puck to Pominville who skated with it momentarily before he cleared it infront, but failed to connect with Vanek. Vanek, however, recovered he loose puck down low, skated around the back of the net, and cleared it through traffic in front. Tyler Myers came down from the point, and blasted the puck home to win the game for Buffalo.

Goal Breakdown: When Pominville had the puck on his stick, he wanted to give it to Vanek across the ice down low, but consciously cleared the puck through the slot instead. Even if JP got the puck to Vanek down low, Vanek would’ve been stripped immediately. Pominville’s decision to clear the puck through the slot area, threw Garon off completely which made him get out of position. Vanek quickly recovered JP’s clearing attempt and wisely threw the puck out front because Garon was so far out of position. Myers cheated in, and had a wide open net to shoot at. This was one of Myers’ worst games this year, and that’s saying something — it’s just funny how he gets the game winner. I guess that’s just how sports work out sometimes.

The Sabres were able to fight off the Lightning, and win their first game with Ron Rolston behind the bench. Not only was it a huge road win, but it gives them some momentum heading into Sunrise, Florida to take on the Panthers.

Notes:

Buffalo killed off 6 penalties against one of the best Power Play units in the NHL.

– This was the first win by a Sabres coach not named Lindy Ruff since 1996.

– Buffalo is now 26-9-3 on the road against Tampa Bay and 44-28-5 all time.

– This is the first road win for Buffalo since their 3-2 victory over the New York Islanders on February 9th.

— The Sabres take on the Florida Panthers Thursday night at the BB&T Center. This is the second meeting between the two teams, as Florida came back from a 3-1 deficit to beat Buffalo 4-3 at First Niagara Center. Puck drop set for 7:30.

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Sabres – Leafs Recap

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Ron Rolston loses his first game thanks to JVR’s two goal performance, as the Maple Leafs beat the Sabres 3-1.

The past 48 hours leading up to this game, the Sabres were the most talked about team in the league after Lindy Ruff was relieved of his coaching duties. Ruff coached the Sabres for 15 seasons. His replacement, Ron Rolston, was the coach of the Rochester Americans this season before he was called on to be the Sabres new head coach. James Van Riemsdyk (JVR) used to play under Rolston for Team USA when he was a junior, and told the media that if it weren’t for Rolston, he wouldn’t be the hockey player he is today. For those of you who don’t know, JVR is a very talented forward and is having a very productive season thus far.

Sabres Defenseman TJ Brennan, who spent a great deal of time in Rochester with Rolston, said that the difference between Ruff and Rolston is that Rolston is more in your face and energetic. Whereas Lindy was more independent.

162307159_stdIn the first period, Buffalo looked like a rejuvenated squad on the ice. The controlled the puck in Toronto’s zone, kept skating, won the physical battles along the boards, and most importantly — weren’t chasing the puck around in their own zone.

Both teams would get their fair share of chances throughout the opening twenty minutes, but Buffalo would capitalize on one of their opportunities 13:20 into the opening period.’

Buffalo lost the draw in their own zone (how many times have we said that this season?) but recovered it after a shot by Bozak never made it’s way to the net. Ennis scooped up the loose puck along the half wall, gently bounced it off the boards for Stafford in the neutral zone, and headed up ice setting up a give-and-go. Stafford saw Ennis all the way, and gave him a nice lead pass into Toronto’s zone. Ennis flew past Gunnarsson, skated to the middle of the left face-off circle, and sniped a beauty to the top left corner to give Buffalo the lead.

The Stafford-Ennis-Foligno line is finally starting to feel it offensively. This is all thank to Stafford. Earlier in the year, Foligno and Ennis were doing their jobs (not to the fullest), but Stafford was nowhere to be found. Ennis does his part getting free and creating rushes, Foligno does his part when it comes to physical play especially around the boards, but Stafford was non existant earlier in the season. His job is to lead that line on the ice, shoot, pass, hit, etc. Now that Stafford is finally getting in a groove and skating much better, this line might go back to it’s old ways from last year. When I say old ways, I mean unstoppable.  Continue reading Sabres – Leafs Recap

Sabres – Penguins Recap

Pascal Dupuis, Kris Letang, Sidney Crosby, Matt Niskanen

Yesterday was another classic “Buffalo” finish. They’re down 2-0 just two minutes into the game, then they storm back to take a 3-2 lead, and then in the blink of an eye, Pittsburgh steals the game back again.

Buffalo allowed two goals just 1:27 into the game against the best team in the Eastern Conference, so they’re pretty much screwed, right? From what we’ve seen so far this season, all signs pointed to yes. Instead, Buffalo stopped the bleeding in the first period by cutting the lead in half, played their best second period all season, and grabbed the lead in the beginning of the third period.

After that, Buffalo completely lost focus and got lazy. They started to look like the team we’re used to watching: turnovers in their own zone, no offensive pressure, allowing their high skilled players walk in the zone unattested. The Sabres tried to play a prevent defense against a team with an offense that’s somewhat unstoppable. Buffalo lost their mental toughness and watched Pittsburgh take the game away.

In the first period, Pittsburgh played like they were about to put on a clinic on how to win games in less than 90 seconds.

161871254_slideCody Hodgson had the puck when he was skating around the back of his own net, trying to get free to clear the puck out of his own zone. Instead, Pascal Dupuis stripped him of the puck and went in front of the net. Chris Kunitz recovered the loose puck, and fired it to the point for Amherst, NY native, Brooks Orpik. Orpik blasted a shot right at Dupuis in front of the net. Dupuis deflected the shot in-between his legs perfectly, and over Miller’s shoulder to take a 1-0 lead just 35 seconds into the game.

For the amount of traffic in front of the net, I thought Miller put himself in a good position to make the stop. Dupuis deflection, however, was flawless. There’s nothing you can do when you can’t see the puck.

Just 31 seconds after Dupuis’ goal, Tyler Myers would be whistled for high-sticking, which would send out the number two ranked power play on the ice.

Pittsburgh set themselves up in the Buffalo zone with ease. Crosby would gently saucer the puck to Kunitz in the 161862147_slideoffensive zone. Kunitz immediately put the breaks on, and sent a pass to Malkin at the point. Malkin let a blast go that went just wide of the net and off the back wall. Crosby, who was camping out in front of the net, quickly jumped on the rebound and stuffed it just past Ryan Miller.

The Penguins only needed 19 seconds out of their two minute power play to take a 2-0 lead. With that goal, Sidney Crosby now has at least one point in 14 consecutive games against the Sabres.

Down 2-0 in the first two minutes against the best team in the Eastern Conference…the only positive thing the Sabres had going for them was that Pittsburgh gave Buffalo enough time in the first period to possibly get back in the game.

Five minutes after Crosby’s goal, Buffalo started to wake up a little bit and eventually would cut the lead in half.

Jason Pominville dumped the puck in the Penguins zone, which rolled all the way around the boards and to the point for Christian Ehrhoff. Ehrhoff let a blast go that got knocked down in traffic in front of the net. Hodgson fought off Joe Vitale for the loose puck in front, and buried a wrist shot past a stretched out Marc-Andre Fleury.

Cody Hodgson, Marc-Andre FleuryCody Hodgson is tearing it up in front of the net this season. All of his goals have been directly in front of the net, and has created a lot of plays in front as well. He’s one of the best players, if not the best player Darcy’s ever made a move for.

Buffalo would head into the first intermission down 2-1.

In the second period, Buffalo’s offensive lord and savior — Thomas Vanek — would be huge for Buffalo once again.

Sidney Crosby would be called for cross-checking after he shoved Jason Pominville to the ground. On the ensuing face-off, Tanner Glass would be whistled for slashing right as the puck dropped. So just like that, Buffalo had a 5-on-3 power play for two minutes.

Buffalo set up shop in the offensive zone, but couldn’t get a quality scoring chance in the first 90 seconds on the power play. That all stopped when Christian Ehrhoff found Thomas Vanek in front of the net. Ehrhoff sent a hard shot/pass to Vanek who was planted in front of Fleury. Vanek lifted his right leg, and deflected Ehrhoff’s shot through his legs, beating Fleury.

That’s the best second period Buffalo’s had all season. They skated with Pittsburgh for the entire 20 minutes, and got the better scoring chances. They were outshot 11-9, but not all 11 Penguin shots were quality shots on goal. Buffalo had a couple of opportunities in that period where they could’ve headed into the locker room up 3-2.

The third period would start off hot for Buffalo. They came out hungry, and created havoc in front of the net. The Sabres would be rewarded five minutes into the third when Nathan Gerbe set up a goal for Steve Ott.

Ehrhoff had the puck in his own zone when he sent a hard pass to Hecht at center ice. Hecht touched Ehorhoff’s pass up to Gerbe who was already sprinting towards the Penguins zone. Gerbe skated to the middle of the right face-off circle, stopped, and tried getting a shot on goal hoping for a rebound. Instead, the puck was blocked in the slot, but bounced right out to Steve Ott on the opposite wing. Ott had a quick release on his shot, and beat Fleury on the far side.

While everyone was waiting for Drew Stafford to score before he this past Thursday, I’ve been waiting for Nathan Gerbe to get on the score sheet. I understand he battled back from a serious injury, but he’s been in enough games and has had enough opportunities to do something. He’s played well in games, but a lot of the time, he’s missed on some huge chances. It was good to see him get 

After Ott gave Buffalo the lead, Pittsburgh took over. Sidney Crosby

It was almost as if Buffalo had a huge ball of momentum, and just handed it over to the Penguins bench. Instead of handing a fictitious ball of momentum to Pittsburgh, Buffalo would just turn the puck over in their own zone for them. That was their way of handing over the momentum in the game.

Two minutes after the Sabres took the lead, Buffalo would cough it right up.

Pascal Dupuis ripped a shot that got knocked down in traffic. The puck landed right in front of Pominville and Tyler Ennis with Chris Kunitz behind them. Kunitz never stopped moving towards the puck, and pushed it free. The puck got pushed around down low where Leopold would have it, and fan on his clearing attempt. Pittsburgh would recover, and Letang would have it at the point. Letang moved around Pominville, went deep in the zone, and fed a cross ice pass to Dupuis who buried it.

That entire shift was just ugly for Buffalo. The Sabres were out worked for loose pucks, and got lazy when it came to clearing the puck. Jason Pominville and Tyler Ennis were straight lazy when Kunitz beat them to the puck. Jordan Leopold’s clearing effort was childish, and it resulted in a goal.

The Penguins would win the game on a play set up by none other, than Sidney Crosby.

161871283_slideDupuis had the puck deep in Buffalo’s zone when he scooped it around the back of the net for Crosby. Crosby took the puck along the half wall, sent it gently to Paul Martin at the point, and headed toward the net. Martin tee’d up Crosby’s pass, and blasted it in the top left corner. Miller never saw the shot.

Alexander Sulzer was the man on Crosby in front of the net. Instead of shoving Crosby, or trying to clear him out of Miller’s way, he stood there whacking at his stick. If you knock him down, and it’s a penalty, it wouldn’t matter. Miller would’ve seen Martin’s long shot from the point the whole way through.

Buffalo’s performance in the second half of the third period was very lazy. They were out hustled, out worked along the boards, and didn’t give Miller any help whatsoever.

The Sabres are now in 12th place in the conference, and are now four points out of a playoff spot.

Notes:

– Sidney Crosby now has at least one point in 14 consecutive games against Buffalo.

– Vanek is the sole Goals leader in the NHL (also the sole leader in points).

– Nathan Gerbe’s assist was his first point of the season.

— Buffalo’s next game is Tuesday night when they host the Winnipeg Jets. This is the first meeting between these two teams this season. Puck drop set for 7:05.

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