Tsuj’s Ten: The day after Canisius toppled UB

Immediate reactions: Bills 27, Jaguars 20


Immediate Reactions: Flames 2, Sabres 1 (OT)

blog by Ryan Nagelhout  • 

The Buffalo Sabres and Calgary Flames played a hockey game at First Niagara Center on Saturday afternoon. While the snow swirled outside, two NHL hockey teams plodded through a slushy hockey game that featured 45 minutes of scoreless action.

It’s easy to see why the architects of these two teams are currently unemployed. They sport two of the worst records in hockey. The Sabres have seven wins. Only three of them came without the help of the shootout. These were bad hockey teams playing bad hockey surrounded by bad weather and “18,368” fans. The general managers that created this mess were not very good, and now both teams don’t have general managers at all.

The ‘Help Wanted’ sign is still in the front window in both cities. Buffalo has been without a general manager for 31 days. Calgary fired Jay Feaster on Thursday. Still, it was easy to feel the presence of the two men in the building on Friday. After all, these are still their hockey teams.

Acquiring Matt Moulson from the Islanders was the last significant move Darcy Regier did as general manager of the Buffalo Sabres. It was Moulson who gave Buffalo the 1-0 lead 5:40 into the third, when Zemgus Girgensons threw a pass across the netmouth to waiting winger.

Feaster has barely had time to clean out his office, so the entirety of the Calgary Flames are his handiwork. An occasional trading partner with Regier, it was former Sabres that did most of the work in Calgary’s 2-1 overtime win on Saturday. Paul Byron tied the score at one less than three minutes after Buffalo finally got on the board. Chris Butler got the assist. Regier drafted both Butler and Byron. They were both shipped to Calgary in 2011 for defenseman Robyn Regehr.

Paul Byron played eight games for the Buffalo Sabres. Chris Butler played 162. It was a trade that made sense at the time. Butler was struggling and Byron was barely an NHL-ready player. Now Regehr has moved on to Los Angeles, essentually turning Byron and Butler into a second-round picks in the 2014 and 2015 NHL Draft. No one is sure who will be making those picks for the Buffalo Sabres. This is how teams are constructed, no doubt. General managers acquire players that remain long after they move on. But when the hockey is bad and both teams are looking to fill front office vacancies, it’s more interesting to look at how the teams got to the arena than how they played once they got inside.

For the record, Byron fed Matt Stajan, who ripped a shot to the left of Jhonas Enroth 42 seconds into overtime to win it for the Flames. Calgary will cut through the winter weather and fly to New York to play the Rangers. The Sabres will wait for the Jets to come to them on Tuesday. The season rolls on. The midpoint approaches.

The Buffalo Sabres and Calgary Flames are in medias res. All the great epics started that way. Mimicking form, however, doesn’t always replicate quality. The Buffalo Sabres are a hockey team waiting for someone else to come in and change them. The fans are waiting, too. Everyone is trying to make the most of what’s here, but it isn’t much. Buffalo is very much in the middle of things. The middle of the season. The middle of a front office transformation. Everything is in transition in the hope that the future will be better.

It also doesn’t mean the present is very interesting, though.

Fresh Hot Takes
— John Scott looks like a baby giraffe trying to walk on ice in these Sabres third jerseys. That’s really the only nice thing I can say about them. That said, I hope they wear them forever.

— The new lighting they put in the arena makes for some great unintentional comedy when the hockey is this bad. At the end of the first period, an apparent Flames goal was waived off because of offsetting minor penalties between the two teams. The ref got on the mic to announce the penalties, then they immediately went to dance music and strobing yellow and blue lights. Everyone was trying to figure out what happened and they were basically like, “OKAY THEY’RE DONE TALKING HIT THE LIGHTS LET’S PARTY.” Partying did not ensue.

On the plus side, they often have four triangles circle around the Sabres crest at center ice, which reminds me of that Kanye West Don’t Let Me Get In My Zone game. So that’s nice.

— Speaking of zones, I actually zoned out for a bit while writing this because the video board that hovers over center ice was getting raised to the rafters after the game. It was fascinating to watch. The jumbotron actually makes a beeping noise as it rises, just like a big truck backing up. That may have been the highlight of the afternoon for me.

Hot Twitter Takes of the Game

Whoever designed them should be sent to Guantanamo for a while. I thought that’s what we did to enemy combatants in this country. IS THIS NOT AMERICA?!?

Same team. Different attitude, though. I suppose that counts for something.

Hit of the Night
By far the best Synth Organ Song That Rolled Into ‘Let’s Go Buffalo’ of the night goes to the Peanuts Christmas special music. No, not Christmas Time is Here. The other one. Either way, Vince Guaraldi would have definitely hated it.

Scratch of the Game
Cody Hodgson — I may or may not have Googled “Why is Cody Hodgson not playing?” when I got to the press box on Saturdy afternoon. The results may or may not have been inconclusive. Hodgson has a “lower body” injury according to the game notes, but no one is really sure if that’s the case. He definitely has a body injury. He is not as healthy as he’d like to be. Aren’t we all, Cody? Aren’t we all.

Hometown Hero Villain of the Night
Brian McGratton — Brian is from Hamilton. Remember when Hamilton was close to getting an NHL franchise? That was hilarious.
Did You Know? Hamilton is known as “The Hammer,” while Toronto is often called “Hogtown.” The only conclusion is that Ontario loves pigs. I bet Animal Farm is required reading in Grade 13 up there.

Stat-line I liked:
— That’s the number of shots Ville Leino had on Saturday. That ties a season high.

Stat-line I didn’t like:
— That’s how many points Paul Bryon had. I don’t really have much to say about this game, do I?

Next Game:
Tuesday (12/7) vs. Winnipeg (7 p.m.) — The Guess Who suck, the Jets were lousy anyway.

(Top photo courtesy of Bill Wippert at the official Sabres Twitter page.)

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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