Tag: buffalo sabres

Eastern Conference Winners & Losers At The NHL Trade Deadline

The Eastern Conference has been the better of two divisions over the last few years. And looking at the division now with the Tampa Bay Lightning already at the 100 points 62 games into the season, the Eastern Conference has the biggest fish in the sea right now. Which means all the other contending teams have to go out and improve to make themselves compete vs Tampa Bay.

Winners: 

  1. Columbus Blue Jackets: No argument here. The Blue Jackets only have 3 draft picks this draft but they acquire a top-30 NHL player(Matt Duchene), an up and coming forward (Ryan Dzingel) who will need no time to adjust to the NHL as he has proven to be a top-six guy. In addition they add Keith Kinkaid who has had a rough season in New Jersey this year but a lot of that is due to the players in front of him. Never hurts to add a back up goalie. Finally, Adam McQuaid, depth is big in the playoffs and so is physicality and size. The playoffs are a different game and it gets more physical and guys like McQuaid who can kill a penalty and play the number six/seven role on Columbus is a perfect fit. In all honesty, with the way the Penguins and Capitals have looked this season, the Blue Jackets now have a legitimate shot at the Conference finals. As long as the Islanders do not upset them and Sergei Bobrovsky comes to play.
  2. Boston Bruins: The Bruins are well aware that they are not the top-dog in the East anymore. They have to make their roster especially their front end just as good if not better than Tampa Bay and Toronto. They did exactly that by adding Charlie Coyle and Marcus Johansson. Johansson now slots in at line two with David Krejci and Jake DeBrusk and Coyle is a third line center. Depth down the middle and on the wing is big. Johansson is not the biggest playoff performer but he is finally getting healthy and could hit his stride here for Boston.
  3. Buffalo Sabres: The Sabres back end is really their biggest concern they lack consistency and depth there is no denying that. Their offense can definitely be more consistent too but the Sabres are losing games 5-4 too often. With the addition of Brandon Montour it really helps bolster this blue line for a possible playoff push but also further down the road. Montour provide his worth at the NHL level last season and has 25 points this season already on pace to surpass his 32 points last season.

Losers: 

  1. Florida Panthers: They are out of a playoff spot perhaps but they needed to do something in my opinion, maybe they are waiting for the off-season but the Panthers have Mike Hoffman, Alexsander Barkov, Jonathan Huberdeau, Evgenii Dadanov on the front end they should be a better team. Adding some depth up front or a goalie would have been smart but the Panthers again stay still and do not improve and miss the playoffs.
  2. Washington Capitals: Coming off a Stanley Cup and all you add is Carl Hagelin is not going to cut it. Sure, Hagelin has playoff experience and adds some depth but the Capitals have been a disaster on the back end, they needed add some defensive depth and not doing so really hurts them. I don’t think we see this team play the same way they did last playoffs come this playoff run. For sure losers by adding just a bottom-six forward.
  3. Carolina Hurricanes: Currently in a playoff spot, have not made the playoffs in nine years, so much talk about re-location. Give the fans something to look forward too maybe a playoff series that is? Not just the hopes of a playoff spot. The Hurricanes have so much cap room too that they are just not using or waiting to spend on Aho. They did Nino Niederreiter but they need a little more fire power on the front end. A guy like Kevin Fiala could of helped, Tanner Pearson, Derick Brassard, Marcus Johansson. I don’t know for a team that is playing well and has a chance to sneak in and make the playoffs to do nothing is not great. They may have been bounced in the first round but at least making the playoffs gets the fans excited and puts the Hurricanes some what back on the map.
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NHL Trade Deadline Deals: Nyquist to SJS, Montour to Buffalo, Kinkaid to Columbus

To keep this short and concise due to the amount of trades that can happen. I will do a bigger over view after the deadline is over for now. Just the details.

Columbus made another trade this time for New Jersey Devils goalie Keith Kinkaid.

Columbus received Keith Kinkaid and devils received a 2022 5th round pick.

The Sharks made a great deal for a premier passer, veteran and top-six forward. Gustav Nyquist was sent to San Jose for a 2nd and 3rd round pick.

The Sabres made a surprising deal that caught some of us off guard for Ducks young defenseman, Brandon Montour. Buffalo picked up Montour and Ducks received a 1st rounder (San Jose 1st round from Kane deal) and prospect Brandon Guhle.

NHL Eastern Conference Playoff Predictions; Metropolitan, Atlantic and Wild Card Teams…

This may be the year the Eastern Conference is officially weaker than the Western Conference. For years the Rangers, Canadiens and Islanders were top 15 teams in the NHL, but this year the Western Conference seems to be a little tougher and tighter in terms of the playoff race.

Taking a look at the Eastern Conference Metropolitan Division it is heavily dominated by three teams the Tampa Bay Lightning, Toronto Maple Leafs and Washington Capitals. It has been a major shock to the East that the Pittsburgh Penguins are a non playoff team right now as well as the Flyers being out of contention and struggling this season. Another big surprise is the Canadiens start, coming out now 35 games into the season and being in the second wild card spot and six points out from the three seed in the Atlantic.

The Atlantic division playoff teams 

The Buffalo Sabres are off to a surprising start, yet after going on their win streak, they dropped six straight and now are 3-4-3 in their last ten. Are we sure the Sabres are legitimate playoff contenders? Or will they be out of the race come March? Personally after seeing what the Sabres have done and are capable of, they can easily be a playoff team. Realistically they need to stay above .500 for the next month or so to stay in the race and when it continues to tighten up and get closer, they will pull a few games out of their back pocket and make a push. With that, I don’t think they stay #3 in the Atlantic though, the Bruins are five points behind and have yet to hit their full stride this season. If the Bruins get healthy soon, they will knock the Sabres out of three, but this means Bruins stay three and Leafs stay two it will be another Bruins vs Leafs first round match up. The Leafs are not catching the Lighting (54), the Lightning have essentially clinched first place and will have an easier first round than other teams. Out of the Atlantic I think we see Lightning (1), Leafs (2), Bruins (3), Sabres (4), Canadiens get bumped out of the playoffs by either the Penguins or Islanders. Which brings me to the second part of this article.

The weak Metropolitan playoff teams

The Metropolitan is extremely weak, of the four divisions in the NHL the Metropolitan is by far the weakest. The Capitals with 43 points lead the Metro, yet in any other division would be third in the division. The Metro is basically run by the Capitals who lead the division by just four points but I do not see the Capitals dropping out of that one spot. The Blue Jackets come in at number two (39 points) and they have been very inconsistent this season, they struggle to stay consistent and string together wins over multiple games and number three is the Islanders (38 points) who are on  three-game win streak and surprising a lot of people right now. Based off what we have in front of us right now, I would have to assume the Islanders get knocked out of three by the Penguins and top three in the Metropolitan are Capitals (1), Penguins (2), Blue Jackets (3), the Metro is so weak that the Penguins can start of the season below .500 and still be in contention for a playoff spot. Out of the Metro it will probably be Capitals (1), Penguins (2), Blue Jackets (3), Islanders (4).

Playoff prediction in the Eastern Conference: 

Tampa Bay Lightning (1) vs New York Islanders (WC2) 

Washington Capitals (1) vs Buffalo Sabres (WC1) 

Pittsburgh Penguins (2) vs Columbus Blue Jackets (3) 

Toronto Maple Leafs (2) vs Boston Bruins (3) 

Rasmus Dahlin named Rookie of the Month (November)

It is probably hard to forget about Dahlin but with the Sabres recent success there has not been a ton of buzz circulating around the first overall pick. With the Sabres 10-game win streak and top-five ranking in the NHL, we cannot forget about one of the reasons the Sabres have been so good this year. 

As we are remembered that although Dahlin is behind Elias Pettersson by 8 points for the rookie lead in points. Dahlin was recently crowned rookie of the month for November. In the month Dahlin managed one goal and nine assists in 15 games. Dahlin has not been a human highlight reel in the NHL like he was in international play last season but the rookie is a major reason the Sabres are 17-7-3 with 37 points tied for first with Tampa Bay. Just the sheer fact that at 18-years-old Dahlin can be an impactful player and play many roles on the Sabres blue line adds a ton of depth and versatility to the Sabres defense now. This sure won’t be the last time we hear Dahlin’s name in relation to the NHL acclamation’s/awards. Dahlin is tied for 23rd in the NHL among the point leaders for defenseman. 

Take note NHL! Buffalo and Colorado climb to the top from the bottom in 19 month

The Buffalo Sabres are at the top of the league. And it is not a joke. Colorado Avalanche went from the worst team in hockey to one of the best in just few months. We take a look at the standings and looking back just to the April of 2017… It is quite unbelievable.

When the regular season 2016/17 ended in the April of 2017, the Avalanche were dead-last in the standings, posting only 48 points, being -112 in the process. The Sabres were not much better, they finished fifth from the bottom with 78 points. In just 19 months circumstances have changed drastically. Buffalo is leading NHL and Colorado has 30 points to sit sixth overall in the standings.

Buffalo has missed every play-off opportunity since 2010, the Avs had miserable year in 2016/17 being 21 points short of 29th place overall. Now Colorado is a play-off team from last season and it seems like they are not stopping anytime soon. The Sabres have won 9 straight games in attempt to battle their franchise records. A team not being a play-off team for eight years is leading the league and it is beyond Thanksgiving.

From bottom-pit to the very top in a flash

It is always so nice to see new teams with fresh young players dominating the game. But these stories are nearly jaw-dropping. You may be very honest with yourself and admit, that whenever your team plays the Sabres or the Avs, you say ´Oh, come on! We have to win, it´s just Buffalo!´.

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But it has been quite opposite so far this season. Sabres are firing on all cylinders, leading the standings, winning NINE games in a row, scoring ton of goals… They are used to play exciting style of games, they scored 76 goals and gave up 66, it is not like Buffalo dominates hockey, but they never give up and always seem to find a way. Like yesterday in Detroit, Sabres won that one in 7th round in the shootout.

Colorado is being led by its´ terrific top line. Nathan MacKinnon, Gabriel Landeskog and Mikko Rantanen have combined for 99 points during current campaign. Rantanen is leading the league race in points with 38 points, just three points ahead of… Nathan MacKinnon. Gabriel Landeskog leads the league field in plus-minus with +16, his linemate Rantanen is +14.

mikko-rantanen-nathan-mackinnon-gabriel-landeskog

Everything has been like in one sweet dream for Colorado and Buffalo so far this season. Will it continue? Will they always find a way? How will they respond to tough challenges like injuries or bad luck? One thing is for sure – they are young and here to be self-confident and courageous enough to overcome any kind of trouble.

Sabres win six straight, two points behind Toronto for the Atlantic lead

The story of the NHL this season, the Buffalo Sabres and their 28 points in 21 games. They have won six straight and head back home for two games vs the Flyers and Canadiens. The Sabres sixth straight win and 13th on the year came off the stick of captain Jack Eichel in overtime. The Sabres fell into a three goal hole early in the second period. They trailed the Penguins 4-1 with nine minutes remaining in the second.

Note: Three goals this game came off the fault of rookie Rasmus Dahlin (1) Derek Brassard beat him to the inside cause he was caught cheating. (3) Bad front net positioning and kicked the puck the Jake Guentzel. (4) Shot from the point from Penguins Jack Johnson again Dahlin could not get good front net positioning, didn’t tie up the forward and Tanner Pearson scored. 

The Sabres quickly answered back with a goal from defenseman Zach Bogosian. Off a Jack Eichel forecheck and Jeff Skinner puck protection/foot work, Bogosian stepped in and let one loose to make it 4-2. 

The Sabres struck late in the second period off a broken play, Sabres defenseman took a shot form the point and what looked like Conor Sheary tipped it, it seemed it hit off the skate of defenseman Jack Johnson infront to make it 4-3. 

Mid way through the third the Sabres tied it off a terrible break out attempt by the Penguins that led to open ice for Casey Mittelstadt and sure goal with the amount of room he had. Mittelstadt tied the game at four. Note: that was the Penguins second break out blunder that lead to a Sabres goal. (1) Penguins forward tried to chip the puck out was kept in to Sam Reinhart to Tage Thompson. (4) Again a bad break out attempt on the wall that lead to a keep in by Dahlin to Kyle Okposo and Mittelstadt goal. 

Eventually the game would go to overtime which only needed about 40 seconds as Evgeni Malkin was entering the zone and tried to delay for time in the neutral zone, coughed the puck up Ristolainen passed to Jack Eichel for the game winner and the Sabres sixth win. 

NHL News: Is it to early to jump the gun on the Buffalo Sabres?

I am ready to throw off a knee-jerk reaction, the Sabres are legit. They are making the playoffs, the wild card or three seed in the Atlantic. Going to lose in the first round, get back to the drawing board. Cup Champions in 2020. Well, that escalated quickly.

Buffalo Sabres team stats

In all reality though the Sabres have looked exceptional this season. They rank FIFTH in the NHL in points right now with 24 points. They sit 18th in the NHL in goals for(55), 18th in goals against(54). Only average 2.89 goals for per game(21st), allow just 2.84 goals against per game. Have the 20th ranked power play(18.5), 9th ranked penalty kill(82.1). As you can tell by the numbers they are a middle of the pack team performing at a crazy rate. In my eyes this is a HUGE step forward for the Sabres. They allow just 2.84 goals against, they used to be one of the worst ranked teams in the league. Last year they allowed 3.39 goals per game and only scored 2.41 goals for.

It is still early in the year but the Sabres newly formed blue line of Rasmus Ristolainen and Jake McCabe, a healthy Zach Bogosian, Marco Scandella and a third line of Rasmus Dahlin and Nathan Beaulieu this blue line is deep and it is because of two reasons. The addition of Dahlin and emergence of McCabe. Not to mention , Carter Huttons 2.48 goals against and the Sabres forward line one of Jack Eichel, Jeff Skinner and Sam Reinhart can have some credit to. The Sabres have not seen this much production from a line since maybe coach Phil Housley was on the team. 

Sabres second/third line depth

We can also mention that the Sabres have three forward lines that can score and no line is ever a liability out there. With Casey Mittelstadt, Conor Sheary, James Pominville, Kyle Okposo, Patrik Berglund and Vladimir Sobotka. The Sabres do not need to worry about line one doing all the work anymore. When you have 10 players with 6+ points and Jack Eichel is not your only guy with 20+ points on the year it makes it a lot easier to win games. 

The Sabres took two games from the best teams in the league, the Lightning Tuesday night and Winnipeg Friday night. They have Minnesota Friday night and the remaining of their November schedule looks like the Penguins, Red Wings, Flyers, Canadiens, Sharks, Lightning and Panthers. They play four road games in the remainder of November but the Sabres can very well come out of November into December with some confidence and a serious shot at the wildcard/postseason play.