Tag Archives: Jochen Hecht

GM Gibs For A Day


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 – Rangers Recap


Two very unexpected heroes took center stage on Tuesday night in Buffalo’s 3-1 win over the New York Rangers. Marcus Foligno scored twice ending a 20 game scoring drought, while Jhonas Enroth made 32 saves giving him his first win since November 26th, 2011.

In the opening ten minutes, the Rangers looked like they were en rout to take care of business. Unfortunately for New York, Jhonas Enroth decided to drink water instead of coffee before the game. Enroth came up big stoping all 10 NYR shots. The Sabres made some noise here and there in the opening period, but Buffalo’s best chance came at 12:01 when Thomas Vanek had two chances at an open net.

Henrik Lundqvist, Thomas VanekJason Pominville had the puck at the side of the net, and chipped it in front for Vanek. Vanek took his shot as soon as possible, but Lundqvist came across and absolutely robbed Vanek blind. Vanek’s shot created a rebound, but he wasn’t able to get his second chance shot through.

The first period would end in a 0-0 tie. Buffalo’s record when heading into the first intermission was 6-6-3, and for New York, 4-5-1. Another bizarre stat, Buffalo has ended a period tied 15 times this season, ten of those 15 have come in the first period. Continue reading Sabres – Rangers 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.


– 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.


Sabres Recall Adam Pardy


Adam Pardy, who’s played in 183 NHL games, thought he would have a starting job with the defensive unit. With a plethora of defenseman within the organization, he was denied a spot.

Now with injuries to Andrej Sekera and Robyn Regehr, and the rest of the defense playing horribly, a spot has opened up. Pardy’s name has been called. He has one goal and three points in five games down in Rochester.

The 6 foot 4 226 pounder will play his first game as a Sabre tomorrow night in Ottawa. Ruff has yet to announce who will come out of the lineup.

Pardy will provide reinforcement for a blue line struggling without Robyn Regehr and Andrej Sekera. There’s a good chance that Christian Ehrhoff is hurt, which is the worst news Sabres fans can hear right now. Ehrhoff has been their best defenseman hands down through the first nine games. Lindy Ruff said two of the five players who skipped the optional skate today in Buffalo — Jason Pominville, Cody Hodgson, Steve Ott, Jochen Hecht and Ehrhoff — are doubtful for Tuesday.

Ehrhoff, however, played the entire game Sunday against Florida, including the last shift of the game.

Buffalo has given up 33 goals in their nine games…so they could use Pardy’s help.Pardy1

I’m excited to see what Pardy will bring to the table. I liked what I saw at the Blue/White scrimmage before the season started, and I believe Pardy will be a positive addition to the lineup.

You can’t coach size or NHL experience. If Pardy plays well enough, he’ll stay in the lineup. Let’s face it, nobody on that blue line has really played well enough to stay on the roster with the exception of Christian Ehrhoff.

WGR Sports Radio 550’s Matthew Coller, who cover’s the Amerk’s, made a comment about Pardy via Twitter. — You can follow Matt on Twitter @MatthewWGR

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Sabres – Capitals Recap


The Sabres losing skid hits three thanks to the Washington Capitals.

Buffalo, despite a good effort, chose not to cover one of the best players in the NHL — Alex Ovechkin. The Sabres left Ovy all alone on the power play, and he made them pay with a one-timer goal with 5:11 left in regulation. That would end up the game winner.

The loss was Buffalo’s third in a row, while the Capitals would find their way into the win column for the first time this season. Tyler Ennis and Marcus Foligno would be the two goal scorers for Buffalo, who were without their leading scorer Thomas Vanek. Thomas was out with a muscle strain he suffered Friday night against Carolina. Continue reading Sabres – Capitals Recap

Sabres: Gerbe Back To Full Practice


The Sabres were back at practice today after Ruff gave them Tuesday off as predicted. With 48 games in 97 days, you’re not going to get many chances to give your guys a day off which is key in a shortened season.

Bill Hoppe reported that Nathan Gerbe was back to full practice today, and was skating with Grigorenko and Ott. Gerbe was put on the injured list the first two games of the season, as he is coming off of back surgery that he received this past offseason.

I’m excited to see Gerbe on a line with Griggy and Ott. Nathan’s speed and puck control will open up ice for
Grigorenko’s offensive skill set, and might be the spark to get the 18-year-old on the score sheet. Gerbe would be a good fit for this line because of how well he plays in all three zone’s in terms of puck support and back checking.

Leino, who was supposed to be on the Grigorenko/Ott line, is still out with a leg injury, and will miss his third straight game come Thursday. It’s looking more and more like Leino will be replacing Gerbe on the injured list, and Gerbe will be activated to the 23-man roster. If this happens, Matt Ellis would be the odd man out, and Jochen Hecht would Center Patrick Kaleta and John Scott. Hecht was seen Centering Scott and Kaleta at practice.

Lindy will update Gerbe and Leino’s statuses after practice.

The Sabres will then travel to Raleigh, NC to start the front end of a home-and-home series between the Carolina Hurricanes.