Tag Archives: Tyler Ennis

Sabres – Canadiens Recap

164440511_slide

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

hi-res-81664564_crop_650x440

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

163175924_slide

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 – Leafs Recap

162307265_slide

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.

150px-Winnipeg_Jets

Sabres – Senators Recap

161607240_slide

The Sabres put on heavy pressure, but Craig Anderson blanks Buffalo 2-0.

The story of the night was Mikhail Grigorenko coming back after being a healthy scratch, and the return of Tyler Myers who was also a healthy scratch, missing two games. The poor play on Defense is the biggest problem Buffalo is having this season, and who would’ve thunk it? The Sabres are so deep at defense, you’d think it’d be their biggest threat.

In Ottawa, Buffalo would play better defensively, hold onto the puck in the offensive zone better, but was better overall. Continue reading Sabres – Senators Recap

Sabres – Panthers Recap

160613614_slide

Buffalo’s top line stays hot by grabbing the early lead for the Sabres, but the Panthers score the last three goals of the game to complete their comeback.

After getting embarrassed in Montreal Saturday afternoon, the Sabres had a chance at redemption on home ice when they played host to the Florida Panthers: the worst team in the Eastern Conference. The Panthers came into Buffalo 0-5 on the road, and at the time, the worst goal differential record in the NHL at -11. Still, Buffalo found a way to lose the game. Continue reading Sabres – Panthers Recap