|(Photo Credit: Bill Wippert)|
The Sabres are in Toronto tonight for their third preseason game. Dan Dunleavy joined Kevin Sylvester and Andrew Peters to preview the game. He’ll be doing play-by-play on WGR 550 with Rob Ray providing analysis when the puck drops at 7:30 p.m. at Air Canada Centre.
Dan Dunleavy on Hockey Hotline
Sabres Hockey Hotline will be back on the air on Tuesday at 10 a.m. on WGR 550.
|(Photo Credit: Getty Images)|
Today, Kevin Sylvester and Andrew Peters were live from the annual Sabres Foundation Golf Tournament. Current Sabres, coaches and members of the Alumni Association were on hand at Wanakah Country Club.
Interview with Craig Rivet
Finally, Kevin and Andrew were joined by Zemgus Girgensons, who is getting ready for training camp, which opens Thursday. Friday marks the first day of on-ice sessions that are open to the public.
Interview with Zemgus Girgensons
Hour One // Hour Two
Sabres Hockey Hotline will be back on the air Thursday at 10 a.m. on WGR 550.
|(Photo Credit: Bill Wippert)|
Matthew Coller flew solo Monday on Hockey Hotline.
Well, not quite solo. He opened the show talking to Justin Mackey, the Pittsburgh Tribune’s Penguins reporter. They discussed about some of the moves the Penguins have made this offseason and if the balance of power among the best teams in the Eastern Conference has shifted.
Matthew also went into some position battles he’s looking forward to when training camp opens next month. Should the Sabres bring in some other free agents who are still out there? Who could crack the defense’s top seven? Can Jake McCabe be a regular contributor? Will Jack Eichel and Sam Reinhart both crack the top two lines? Those are just some of the questions Matthew posed.
Kevin Sylvester returns Tuesday. The show starts at 10 a.m. on WGR 550.
|(Photo Credit: Getty Images)|
It was a busy show for Matthew Coller and Andrew Peters.
Former Sabres captain Daniel Briere called in during the first hour. He hasn’t decided if he’ll retire yet, but he did reflect on some of his times in Buffalo. He also shared some glowing comments on what new Sabres Ryan O’Reilly and Jamie McGinn were like as teammates.
Interview with Daniel Briere
If you’re driving around Buffalo tomorrow morning, you may notice some firefighters and Sabres alumni standing on the corners, hoping you’ll help “Fill The Boot” to benefit SMART. Marty Maloney, the Sabres director of ticket operations, stopped by the studio to talk about that charitable endeavor. You can learn more at smarthope.com.
Interview with Marty Maloney
Hockey Night in Canada’s Elliotte Friedman called in at the top of the second hour and discussed some things he’s seen in the game that may have tipped competitive balance. He also gave his take on the new power structure with the Maple Leafs.
Interview with Elliotte Friedman
Matthew and Petey were then joined by Adam Gretz of CBS Sports to talk about all of the changes that hit the Penguins roster this summer.
Interview with Adam Gretz
Matthew Coller and Andrew Peters kicked off Analytics Week with a bang.
But first, Petey also shed some insight as to what is going through players’ minds during the offseason as they prepare for the new schedule to begin.
Then Jeremy White stopped by in the first hour as well to talk about the NBC national TV schedule.
They also touched on yesterday’s announcement of Russ Brandon taking over as president of the Buffalo Sabres and what impact a team president can have on the players.
Robert Vollman of HockeyAbstract.com called in during the second hour to talk #fancystats.
“How many numbers can I crunch in a week?” Petey asked.
TRAVERSE CITY, MICHIGAN – The 2014 NHL Prospect Tournament is over for the Buffalo Sabres and they’ll head home with a lot of new lessons learned.
The Sabres finished 0-3-1 after a 2-1 loss to the St. Louis Blues on Tuesday at Centre Ice Arena.
After a disappointing effort on Monday against Dallas, Sabres tournament coach Chadd Cassidy liked the way his team responded against the Blues. They came out hard for their first shift and rebounded from a performance that no one on the team was happy about.
“That’s what we ask our guys, is to compete and they played with a lot of determination today,” Cassidy said. “I thought they played desperate. We piled up the shots and scoring chances and didn’t get the result, but it was a much better effort today.”
WATCH: POSTGAME INTERVIEWS
Robby Fabbri, St. Louis’ top pick in this year’s draft, scored twice on the power play to put the Blues up 2-0.
Justin Bailey got Buffalo on the board 1:02 remaining in the second period while on the man advantage. Bailey threw a puck on goal, followed up down the wing and netted the rebound. Daniel Catenacci and Rasmus Ristolainen assisted on the goal.
It’s one of many golden opportunities Bailey has had in the tournament. After he scored, a look of relief was clearly visible on his face. He had a great backhand chance late in the first period that was stopped but he finally broke through later on.
“I think it was a huge relief, especially at the time the goal came,” Bailey, who scored 25 goals for Kitchener last year, said. “It gave us some momentum in the third, but for me it was a huge boost.”
The fourth line generated some good chances as well, but things didn’t go in their favor. Forward Jordan Samuels-Thomas made a strong move to the front of the Blues net midway through the second period and scored. However the goal was disallowed because officials determined that the net had come off its moorings before the puck crossed the line.
Buffalo controlled play for most of the third period, holding an 11-3 shot advantage through the final 20 minutes. They ended up out-shooting the Blues 38-16 in the game.
Andrey Makarov started in net for the Sabres, stopping 14 shots. Niklas Lundstrom picked up the win for St. Louis.
SHORTAGE OF GOALS
One reason Buffalo struggled to win games this year in Traverse City was a lack of offense. Buffalo scored only six goals in four games with half of them coming against the Stars on Monday. However, oddly enough, with the exception of that Dallas game, the other three games were tightly contested.
And even without 2013 third-round pick Nicholas Baptiste, who missed the tournament due to injury, the Sabres still had plenty of firepower on the roster. However, the various line combinations couldn’t click in time and Buffalo was unable to execute.
“Nobody saw us going 0-4 in this tournament, but you never know. You’ve got a lot of young guys here and the thing that probably we didn’t see coming was our inability to score goals,” Cassidy said. “When you don’t score, you’re not going to win hockey games. If you really take a good look at it from a coaching perspective and when we stand back, three of the four games, we played pretty darn well.”
A TIGHTER GROUP THROUGH ADVERSITY
One thing the tournament can do is bring the group closer together and start to build the chemistry that other, older teams in Traverse City have been able to develop.
“There’s a lot we can learn from this tournament. There are a lot of good players and I think we realized that first hand,” 2014 first-round pick Sam Reinhart said. “Obviously we didn’t take anyone lightly coming in, but it was battle right from the start and we’re trying to take as much positive as we can out of this.
Reinhart finished the tournament with only one assist, but didn’t look out of place in the tournament and made some heady passing plays throughout. One player that was impressed with Reinhart’s play was 2013 first-round pick Nikita Zadorov.
“I like playing with him and I think he’s one of the best centers I’ve played with in my life. He’s so easy to play with,” the defenseman said of Reinhart. “I think it’s great to have that smart center on your team.”
Including Reinhart and Zadorov, the Sabres had a total of 10 first and second-round picks on their Traverse City roster. The talent was there, but they weren’t able to break through.
“I know we have a pretty good team and a lot of talent over there,” Zadorov said. “But I don’t know, we had so many shots today, so many scoring chances and we’ve got to score. Maybe it’s not our tournament.”
What they can do, however, according to Bailey, is take all they can from these experiences.
“Moving forward as a group, I think we’ve learned a lot about each other losing the games that we lost this week,” he said.
ZADOROV BOUNCES BACK
After being benched against the Stars, Zadorov had a lot to prove to Cassidy in the game on Tuesday. Zadorov played some key situations against St. Louis and, like the team, rebounded with an honest effort.
“I liked his game a lot today. He played desperate. He played a team game today,” Cassidy said. “I thought he was much sharper out there today and I thought his teammates could rely on him to play the right way today. That’s going to be a big step for him.”
Zadorov said he felt better on the ice as well.
“I just tried to play hard, just tried to the best for the team to help my team win,” he said.
As for the game against Dallas, Zadorov said all he can do is move on and not dwell on it.
“That wasn’t my day and I can say, ‘Bad things happened,’” he said. “Don’t look back and keep going and play my game.”
LEADING BY EXAMPLE
One player that impressed Cassidy over the course of the tournament was Ristolainen, Buffalo’s top pick in 2013 (eighth overall). Ristolainen was named the captain of the team in Traverse City and has used his time off the ice to further his development.
Over the course of last season and this summer, the 19-year-old Finnish defenseman has really committed to a healthy diet and exercise. He now checks in at 6-foot-4, 205 pounds (down eight pounds since last year), but he said he’s as lean as ever and his play in the tournament showed that he has already come a long way since he was drafted.
“Rasmus was as good as we could ask him to be. He played big minutes, he played really physical, great leadership,” Cassidy said. “It’s hard to say what guys played really well because we didn’t get the results. I thought a lot of guys played hard, but I thought the leader of that group was definitely Rasmus.”
He wrapped up his Traverse City tournament with a goal and an assist.
Main camp opens up on Thursday with the first on-ice sessions starting at 11 a.m. on Friday. All on-ice practices during training camp are open to the public.
TRAVERSE CITY, MICHIGAN – From the first shift, the outcome was evident.
The Dallas Stars got off to a fast start against the Buffalo Sabres on Monday, controlling play off the opening faceoff and never letting up on the gas pedal. Dallas scored three goals in the first period and ended up with a 7-3 victory to claim the Ted Lindsay Division title at Centre Ice Arena.
The Sabres fall to 0-2-1 in the NHL Prospect Tournament, a disappointing result considering they came into the tournament with high expectations and the goal of winning it all.
“The first two games, I think sometimes we played pretty well, but this third one was horrible right away from the first shift,” Sabres tournament captain Rasmus Ristolainen said. “We were not ready to play and battle and we looked horrible. We’re going to make sure that doesn’t happen tomorrow.”
Brendan Ranford and Matej Stransky each scored twice for Dallas. Brett Pollock, Ludwig Bystrom and Julius Honka also put the puck in the back of the net.
Ristolainen, Justin Kea and Brady Austin tallied for Buffalo. Francois Brassard started in goal for the Sabres but was replaced by Andrey Makarov to start the second period.
WATCH: POSTGAME INTERVIEWS
“Looking at today, I think we were lackadaisical off the start,” center Sam Reinhart, the second-overall pick in 2014, said. “They came out ready to play and for whatever reason, we didn’t. We need to correct that fast if we all want to stick around.”
Buffalo was able to claw their way back into the game and had some great chances in the third period to cut the lead down.
“But it was too little, too late,” coach Chadd Cassidy said. “The first shift of the game set the tone for the game… They just cycled on us, had some good chances and we were playing from behind the rest of the way.”
Buffalo had a prime opportunity to make it a closer contest when they went on the power play with 6:38 remaining in regulation. However, they weren’t able to convert and a few minutes later with Makarov pulled, Dallas netted their seventh goal.
Cassidy thinks fatigue may have been a factor in causing some of the Sabres’ problems against Dallas.
“Coming off of an off day, I know some of our top players were playing a lot of minutes – especially Rasmus and [Jake McCabe] tonight played tons of minutes,” he said. “But you’ve got to smell the blood in the water there and understand the urgency of that power play.”
The Stars finished round-robin play 3-0-0 with eight points. They’ll face the Columbus Blue Jackets on Tuesday in the final.
Buffalo will play at 3 p.m. on Tuesday in the seventh-place game. It can be heard live in Buffalo on ESPN 1520 and on Sabres.com (a Flash player is required to listen to the stream).
CAN’T START A FIRE WITHOUT A SPARK
Down 1-0 and realizing the game was heading in the wrong direction early, Kea tried to create a spark when he dropped the gloves with defenseman Patrick Sanvido 8:02 into the game. It’s the second time Kea has fought in the tournament.
“You get sick of losing, right? The last few games haven’t gone the way we wanted and they probably could’ve if we had a little more scoring. After they scored that one goal, I didn’t want it to keep going in their favor so I just tried t get something going for the guys,” he said.
GOALS TOUGH TO COME BY
Going into the game, Buffalo had been held to only a goal in each of their first two games. Cassidy tried to mix up the line combinations a bit, most notably moving Joel Armia to left wing and playing William Carrier with him and Reinhart.
Carrier set up Buffalo’s third goal when he cut to the middle of the ice and dropped the puck back to Austin.
While the goals aren’t yet going in with the desired frequency, Reinhart said he isn’t panicking or feeling frustrated.
“It’s early. For me, a lot of it is building and I feel if I’m getting chances, it’s just a matter of time,” he said. “I feel confident with it. Everyone has some moments where it’s not going in and I stick with the process and I know it’s going to turn eventually.”
Buffalo thought they had another goal from Austin but it was waved off due to a delayed offsides call. Austin shot the puck in from center ice and it took a bounce and banked in off the post and past goaltender Phillippe Desrosiers. While the Sabres were celebrating, the officials were talking to get the call right.
The goal would have made it 4-2 with 7:21 remaining in the second period.
“That would’ve put us back in the game at that point with a lot of time left but that’s kind of the way the tournament’s gone,” Cassidy said. “Not that we’ve earned a lot of them, but we haven’t gotten a lot of breaks. We’ve certainly got to play better and play harder so we earn some more breaks.”
Defenseman Nikita Zadorov did not play for most of the second period and was benched for the entire third. Cassidy said he wanted to see more effort out of the 2013 first-round pick.
“We’ve got a lot of guys that are trying to make an NHL team in the next week or so. I wouldn’t specifically say he was the only one, but maybe the biggest offender,” Cassidy said. “We just didn’t like his effort and we had to make a decision on it.”
TRAVERSE CITY, MICHIGAN – Goals have been hard to come by for the Buffalo Sabres so far in the 2014 NHL Prospects Tournament.
Through two games, the Sabres have scored only two goals and are now 0-1-1 after a 2-1 overtime loss to the New York Rangers on Saturday at Centre Ice Arena.
The names you’d expect to see on the scoring sheet have had their opportunities, but haven’t yet been able to bury the puck.
“I’m not going to lie, I’m pretty frustrated,” forward Justin Bailey said. “I think I had a few grade-A chances these past few games that I haven’t executed. I know it sounds a little cliché, but I am getting chances and I think once one goes, in the floodgates will open up.”
Bailey was robbed early in the third period by the glove of Rangers goaltender Mackenzie Skapski. He also had a chance to score on a 2-on-1 in the first game of the tournament, but was also foiled by a great piece of goaltending.
Joseph Blandisi, a camp invitee who played in Ottawa and Barrie last season, scored the Sabres’ only goal. That gave Buffalo a 1-0 lead with 5:54 remaining in the first period.
“I thought one of our strengths coming into this tournament was going to be scoring goals. We have a lot of guys who are producers in that area,” Sabres tournament coach Chadd Cassidy said. “It’s obviously been an issue for us. We had a lot of good chances again tonight.”
The Rangers tied the game five seconds into the first period when a long shot off the faceoff at center ice by defenseman Sam Noreau skipped up and beat goaltender Francois Brassard.
Regulation didn’t solve anything so the game went overtime, where Rangers wing Chris McCarthy found Adam Tambellini on a 2-on-1 for the winning tally. With Sabres defenseman Jake McCabe caught up-ice, it was up to forward Brendan Lemieux to defend against the oncoming attack.
Lemieux was in good position, but the puck found its way over to Tambellini on the left side, who buried the puck into the back of the net.
“I did all I can, pushing over and he found a hole. It was a nice shot,” Brassard said.
To generate more offense, Cassidy would like to see his club play heavier around the net and create more traffic to make the opposing goaltenders’ job even more difficult.
“Unless you’re going to play heavy down in that area, you’re not going to score a lot of goals,” Cassidy said.
A STRONG DEBUT
The Sabres coaching staff opted to go with Brassard in net over Andrey Makarov, who is expected to compete for the starting job in Rochester this year.
Brassard was a sixth-round pick of the Ottawa Senators in 2012 and played last season with Quebec of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.
He wound up with 33 saves against the Rangers and his strong play may have earned him another start in the tournament, whether on Monday against the Dallas Stars or on Tuesday in a cross-divisional matchup.
While the bouncer early in the second period may have been one he’d like to have back, he impressed his teammates with his performance.
“Other than that, he was lights out,” McCabe said. “He gave us a chance to win the game and that’s all you can ask from your goaltender.”
A ‘FUNKY’ NEW FORMAT
With rule changes coming at both the NHL and AHL levels, some new rules were adopted for the Traverse City tournament. Among them, the overtime format has been tweaked to reflect the new rule in the AHL.
In the now seven-minute overtime period, teams skate 4-on-4 until the first while following three minutes of play. The remaining amount of time will be played 3-on-3 and if that doesn’t solve anything, a three-round shootout will commence.
It was during the 3-on-3 portion of overtime that the Rangers won the game.
“The 3-on-3’s kind of funky and I got caught below the puck and an odd-man rush went the other way,” McCabe said.
Just before the puck went back up ice to set up the game-winner, McCabe and Sam Reinhart were in on a good scoring chance in the Rangers end. A little it before that, Reinhart and Bailey almost converted as well.
Bailey also had a great chance in the overtime period and started the 3-on-3 portion with Reinhart and tournament captain Rasmus Ristolainen.
“It’s definitely unique. That doesn’t happen very much. Usually it’s 4-on-4 and then a shootout. You live for those moments,” Bailey said. “I think there’s a lot of room. Me and Sam Reinhart had a good chance there that just didn’t happen. You have to really pay attention.”
Cassidy will have to adjust to the new rule when he’s behind the bench of the Amerks all season. He said after the game that it will take some time to get used to and will be something else he’ll need to have his players prepared for.
“Experience is the only thing I dislike. You don’t play a lot of 3-on-3s so it’s hard to figure out exactly how to play that and guys don’t have a lot of practice playing it,” he said.
“Everybody’s trying to score. It’s something that probably, once the season breaks out, you’ve got to work on it a little more, but it’s a work in progress. We’ll see how it goes.”
WANTED: A STRONG FINISH
The Sabres will practice Sunday afternoon in preparation of their 3 p.m. game on Monday against the Dallas Stars. It’s the last game of round-robin play and the outcome will determine their final seed – and opponent – for Tuesday.
While they won’t be able to reach the championship game for the third-straight tournament, they’ll look to leave Traverse City on a positive note.
“We’re trying to get better every game, ready for the season,” McCabe said. “Guys are getting in game shape now. It’s a great tournament. It’s a great compete level, great skill out there from all the teams. There are great prospects here. We think we have one of the better prospects [groups] so we’re going to put something together and hopefully put a couple wins together.”
TRAVERSE CITY, MICHIGAN – Rookie center Sam Reinhart said he’s good to go after two plays in the NHL Prospect Tournament game against the Carolina Hurricanes on Friday that looked like could have resulted in injury.
The second-overall pick in the 2014 NHL Draft took a blindside hit from Carter Sandlak along the left wing boards in the defensive zone 5:37 into the second period. While Reinhart was still down on the ice, Brendan Lemieux jumped in to challenge Sandlak. Both Sandlak and Lemieux were assessed roughing minors.
“It’s one of those things where your top-notch forward gets hit the wrong way and I pride myself on being a guy that sticks up for his teammates,” Lemieux said after the game Thursday evening. “I’m definitely going to want to step in there and just let him know.”
Reinhart said after the morning skate that he’s feeling all right for Saturday night and was happy to see his teammates jump in there like that for him when he took that hit.
“Nice to see it from them. From the hit and that standpoint, I felt fine from it,” he said. “I didn’t see him coming, but I got up and no side effects from it.”
Reinhart then appeared to cut a finger midway through the third period. He received treatment and finished the game without incident.
“He’s good. It’s fine. It’s going to be a little uncomfortable, but he’s going to be all right,” coach Chadd Cassidy said. “He just had a little bit of an injury. He fell on his hand and banged it up a little bit, but he’s going to be fine.”
The Sabres play the New York Rangers at 7 p.m. on Saturday. The game can be heard live on ESPN 1520 in Buffalo and will be streaming on Sabres.com’s desktop player. Check out Sabres.com/TraverseCity after the game for a recap and video analysis.