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6 ways to endure the 2013-14 Buffalo Sabres

Immediate reactions: UB 32, UMass 3


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Immediate Reactions: Canucks 3, Sabres 0

blog by Ryan Nagelhout  • 

The major story that came out of the NHL Draft in June was not how far Seth Jones fell, or that Nate McKinnon went to Colorado first overall. It was the trade made between the Vancouver Canucks and the New Jersey Devils. Actually, the big news was the trade the Canucks didn’t make.

Vancouver dealt Cory Schneider to New Jersey, shocking the crowd in Newark and a handful of fan bases across Canada in the process. Vancouver was expected to get rid of a goaltender, but a trade was supposed to be Roberto Luongo’s ticket out of town. Instead, both netminders were shocked to learn about the trade while watching TSN’s draft coverage. After years of almosts in British Columbia, the Canucks and Luongo (and his massive contract) were stuck with one another.

To be stuck with a team as good as the Vancouver Canucks would be a dream scenario for Ryan Miller. Instead, he is saddled with this Sabres team until general manager Darcy Regier can line up a move that includes a name on Miller’s wish list. Until that trade is made, Miller will face an endless barrage of shots and rumors while the Sabres continue to lose. It isn’t shaping up like much fun for anyone involved.

As rumors swirled of a trade with the Edmonton Oilers, Miller started in a 3-0 loss to Luongo’s Canucks on Thursday night. Earlier in the week there were rumors that Darcy Regier was on his way out of town as well. Rumors, of course, are tough to justify and even harder to ignore. Luongo himself was hypothetically traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs thousands of times over the last few seasons, yet there he was on Thursday, stopping 25 shots in a shutout win.

Hypotheticals are fun to talk about, but they do little to fix the on-ice product fans are suffering through. The reality of this team remains that Ryan Miller and Thomas Vanek are still Sabres, outplaying teammates and opponents alike while the squad collectively struggles to collect points. The buzz outside the rink is far superior to the one inside, but until the bags are packed and names are removed from lockers there won’t be much change with this team.

You can wait for a trade to make things better with this team, but I wouldn’t hold my breath. As Luongo knows, sometimes a trade can’t really fix the problem.

Fresh Hot Takes

— The Thomas Vanek goal that wasn’t is such a great illustration of the Sabres this year. It was really great work from the Ott/Hodgson/Vanek line, with Hodgson making the perfect play on an almost-2-on-1. The center attracted both defenders while Vanek hid at the blue line. Hodgson sifted a pass to the middle as Vanek activated, attacking the net all alone. It was a sneaky spectacular goal, except that it never went in.

I wrote about appreciating Vanek earlier in the week, and that was exactly the kind of play I was talking about. It’s a shame he didn’t score on it, but he sure as hell is the only player on the team anywhere near good enough to create that opportunity.

— Early in the game, I heard Rick Jeanneret say “Hamhouse,” or something to that effect. I spent the rest of the first period trying to figure out which Canuck last name he was trying to say. My best bets are Jannik Hanson and Dan Hamhuis. My darkhorse pick is one of the Sedins. According to Rick their lost brother, Henrique, got lots of ice time on Thursday night.

— We haven’t talked much about hybrid icing, but I’m a big fan. It’s rare in sports that a rule change can benefit both player safety and improve the pace of a game. Those wasted seconds and unnecessary injuries are not essential to a good hockey game. There may be some confusion and controversy in some of those races to the New Red Line, but I think it’s worth the risk of bad calls if it keeps defenders off IR.

— It was probably a good thing I wasn’t in the press box on Thursday, because I laughed like a lunatic when Cody McCormick set up Chris Higgins for a perfect shot between the hash marks to open the scoring. McCormick, who has a motor that just doesn’t quit, decided to clear the puck up the middle to Higgins’ waiting Bauer. Miller couldn’t stop the 16th shot he faced in the period. Tough to blame him on that one.

— Marcus Foligno missed an open net after Luongo misplayed the puck behind the late in the third period. Because of course he did. Foligno hasn’t had a particularly awful season, really, but he’s very far removed from scoring goals with his butt and looking like a real NHL player like the bygone days of 2012.

— I was going to start doing a “Giveaway of the Game” section in these, but they’re all just so great.

Hot Twitter Takes of the Game

GOOD SEATS STILL AVAILABLE

Let’s be clear: he probably didn’t say that. Not verbatim, at least.

This isn’t funny, but it is incredibly accurate. Might want to take the under, actually.

Hit of the Night
Rasmus Ristoleinan nearly put Tom Sestito into the Sabres bench in the latter stages of the second period. The more interesting thing, as always, is what tunes play inside First Niagara Center during games. The first period featured the Simple Minds hit “Don’t You (Forget About Me).” The rain kept falling. It kept falling. Down. Down. Down on Thursday night. The second period also got a bit of synth-organ “Don’t Stop Believing” while the Sabres trailed 2-0. The Sabres have 73 games left in the 2013-14 season.

Scratch of the Game
Jamie McBain, Buffalo Sabres — If Sabres fans really cared about this guy, they would already have a Bain mask photoshopped on his face. I miss Balls Sekera.

Hometown Hero Villain of the Night
Tom Sestito — Tom is from Rome, New York, about a 3-hour drive down the I-90 northeast of Utica. A reasonable day trip if you’re craving some rest stop Roy Rodgers.
Did you know? Oneida is where the Oneida Community sprang up. It most notably promoted socialist free love, especially between postmenopausal women and young boys. Think about that the next time you set the table before Thanksgiving dinner.

Stat-line I liked:
None
— Can I say none? I’m going to say none.

Stat-line I didn’t like:
19-7, first period shots on goal
— Vancouver had eight shots about three minutes into the game. Not a good start. Not a good finish.

Next Game:
Saturday (10/19) vs. Colorado — Sounds fun.

(Top photo via Sabres Facebook)

Ryan Nagelhout is a freelance writer who blogs at The Goose’s Roost when he’s not writing children’s books.

TAGGED: buffalo sabres, downtown, immediate reactions, ryan nagelhout

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