Ho hum.

What went wrong in this game?

To be honest, I have no idea. You can point the finger at a lot of the players on the Sabres squad and claim that they hadn’t stepped up in this game. You can look at the overall series and pick and choose at individual players; dissecting their stats. For instance, before Brad Boyes just scored in this game as I’m typing, he did not have any points at all in this series. In fact, he was the only player that played in every game (besides Miller) that did not have a point in this series. The acquisition was huge because we as Sabres fans did not expect anything like this so soon within the Pegula Era. He immediately had an impact in the New York Rangers game after the trade deadline and scored a huge goal. Throughout the rest of the regular season for the Sabres he would score a total of 14 points in 21 games. He has one more year with the Sabres so I’m hoping he shows up moreso during the regular season but we could have used his help during this entire series.

You can turn to look at the defensive play…Steve Montador, who was a +16 during the regular season, was a -1 during this series and was scratched in game seven. Chris Butler looked lost most nights and had ten minutes in penalties. If we compare Game 5 to Game 6 and also to Game 7, the defense was entirely non-existent on the ice. There was a reason Ryan had two shutouts during this season. The defense and Ryan himself had been spectacular. Injuries affected them, sure, but the defensive breakdowns were inexcusable. It’s something that will have to be looked at in the offseason.

Top six not showing up at crucial points, especially tonight’s game. If you read numerous quotes, the Sabres claimed they were ready for this game. They didn’t show up until the third period. The Flyers poured on the offensive power like they know best and proved why they are the better team. Maybe not the most respectful team out of the two, but the better one, and unfortunately that’s what counts in the playoffs. The Sabres just couldn’t match up to the adversity in the most important game when they needed it the most.

The thing that will be stuck in my head this summer is Game 6, at home. Crucial point where you could’ve wrapped things up. The Sabres were up 3-1 and then the Flyers ended up coming back from that deficit and won in overtime. I’ll be honest and say that after that loss, I lost a little faith in the team if only because they would come back to a loud building – I was right. Maybe it was my lack of faith that caused me to lose, or perhaps it wasn’t. We won’t know what the Sabres could have done to the Caps if they have moved on in this series. Now we’re left to wonder what could have been for another season. Locker clean out will come and go, then the long offseason. I think it’s going to be an exciting one, Sabres fans. Terry’s first as the owner and we’ll see what he can do. Let’s hope it instills some newfound hope into this organization that goes on for the entire season.

Let’s go, Buffalo.


Two Headed Monster: Roberto Luongo and Cory Schneider.

The goaltending duo in Vancouver was awarded with the Williams M. Jennings Trophy to have the fewest goals scored against between the both of them. The Canucks also won the President's Trophy this year and I don't think it was any accident. The team has played just as such - a team. There have been contributions from every line, the defense has been figuring into the scoring and even though there were plenty of injuries to have happened during the season, the team played well. It helps that both Schneider and Luongo had nearly an even number of games to play so that not one goaltender was hit by fatigue. It makes you wonder if this is the key to success for a hockey team.

Now not every goaltending duo is on it's game like these two are. Not every year are you going to find a lot of teams that can play both goalies every night and have much success. The thing is, many backups tend to play better as they play more often. Let's use Patrick Lalime as the case in point. When he went down to condition in Portland last season, he came back up and won a stellar game versus Chicago. He went on to win a few more last season. When Lindy played him more frequently, he became better as time went on. Only a few goaltenders are still excellent when they sit for a long time. Nearly every other game, Schneider and Luongo switched roles to lead the team to an impressive 54-19-9 record. I really think that Canucks have a great chance to take it all this year, and I would see the even time between the two goalies to be a huge factor in that. When they're both on their game, they are on. The only case where I would hope they're not is if the Sabres make it to the Stanley Cup Finals along with the Canucks - then I hope both goaltenders are fatigued.

The hunt starts tonight as the Canucks take on the Blackhawks with a 10 PM ET puckdrop. I'm hoping the result this year is different from the past two seasons. Go Canucks, go!


Columbus Shenanigans.

It's nice to have slept in my own bed last night but this weekend seemed unreal. A huge win by the Sabres on Friday along with clinching a playoff spot made the trip to Columbus that much more exciting since we didn't have to be nervous about maybe not making the playoffs. Tamara and I left early Saturday morning for Ohio and arrived in the early afternoon. I have never seen so many things on the highway closed for renovations. At least it wasn't like when Denny's was closed when we were heading for Ottawa last season...

We arrived at Nationwide Arena pretty early and could already see about 40+ Sabres fans across the street at a local restaurant. There were jeers at Columbus fans of course, and one fan replied back that we could 'go back to the empty arena'. I replied to him that he should come up for a game and then see how empty it is.

The Rivet jerseys were worn for this game and we received several snide remarks from Sabres fans. Tamara and I never had this problem at home but considering we seemed to be the only Sabres fans in attendance who were wearing any sort of Rivet jersey, we were being heckled. It's about the logo on the front, not the name on the back. Of course, after his little scuffle with Tyler Ennis we took the jerseys off. I had my Vanek shirt underneath, it was all good.

Now the Columbus fans...I admire their dedication but yelling at Sabres fans that we're going to get out of the first round and saying 'let's go, Flyers!' is...well. I guess since they had nothing else going for them, they had to say that. There was an old lady one row in front of us a little ways down that was pointing and yelling at me, saying we were going to lose the 'first game'. First sweetie, a playoff series is a ROUND. Secondly, I know some badass elderly women in Buffalo who could kick your ass so sit down. Seriously, Ottawa and Montreal was fine regarding opposing fans. Columbus was brutal. Coming from a team who was only in the playoffs once during their ten years as an NHL team, they think they have a lot of firing ammunition against other team's fans. Please get out of here. It was nice to see the Sabres win their first game at Nationwide, though.

The Philadelphia/Buffalo series is bound to be a good one if Friday night's game is any indication. A lot of aggressiveness and goal-scoring I'm sure. I can see the Sabres winning this round because of their playoff surge, let's just hope I'm right.


The Hardware.

The Vancouver Canucks gave out some team awards last night in their 5-0 win over the Minnesota Wild and watching it reminded me the Sabres are doing the same thing this evening before the game. Within an otherwise very important night (the Sabres can clinch with at least one point), there's some fun to be had this evening too. For instance, at least 80 members of the Sabres Alumni are attending the Red Carpet Event to sign things for fans. The fact that a ton of them haven't been back to this city in a long while makes this all the more special.

I was thinking to myself about who might win what awards and I figured it would be fun to try and guess. Let's see what the awards are first:

  • 2010-2011 MVP of the Year
  • Rookie of the Year
  • Hardest Working Player
My choice for MVP of the Year goes to...

Drew Stafford.

I called it in the beginning of the season that he might get more than 35 goals (he currently has 30, I'm close). This was the first time in his career he's hit the mark. Drew has come a long way since his rookie season and perhaps he finally has become the player we wanted him to be his sophomore year. He's helped a lot in killing hopes and dreams (preferably Boston) and I believe that he has been one of the highlights of this season. I say he gets this award.
  • Runner Ups: Jhonas Enroth, Thomas Vanek, Nathan Gerbe.
My choice for Rookie of the Year goes to...

Tyler Ennis.

He's 5th on the team with 48 points and is one goal shy of the 20-goal mark. A lot of people were doubting him near the middle of the season because of work ethic and his size, but I think that he's coming into his own just fine. I'm excited to see what he has in store for the playoffs again.
  • Runner Ups: Nathan Gerbe, Jhonas Enroth.
My choice for Hardest Working Player goes to...

Thomas Vanek.

He's grown up. He had the A sewn onto that sweater and he's become an immediate presence in the locker room and on the ice during games. You're looking at your (possible) future Captain of the Buffalo Sabres. He has worked on all areas of his game. His assist total is higher than goals for the first time in his career. You can see him mature throughout each and every game. Bank on this one.
  • Runner Ups: Drew Stafford, Nathan Gerbe, Derek Roy.
Again, the most important thing tonight is getting at least a point so we can clinch. It'll be comforting to go to the Columbus game tomorrow already knowing we're going to the playoffs. Let's hope the boys make tonight more fun with a win. Go Sabres.



In 2003, Thomas Vanek was the 5th overall pick for the Buffalo Sabres. He was already deemed as 'a natural goal scorer' but many scouts considered him to be lazy on some nights. Regardless of this being the European stereotype or it being the typical terminology used with some college players, the Sabres still took him and expected huge things from him. He had a pretty good rookie season with the exception of the playoffs where he was scratched for the Eastern Conference Finals against Carolina. As we all know, he came back the next season with 43 goals, a +47, and an impending 7-year, $50 million contract in the summer.

Ever since that contract most of us have expected a lot of Vanek. We expect more than fifty goals a season, we expect him to be on the scoresheet every night, we expect him to play in every situation. Expectations go a long way with this guy. Jeremy White Tweeted the other night that he will remember this season as the year most Sabres fans finally embraced Vanek and what he's become in the past few years - except for those who still claim he's lazy and wish we had gotten the draft picks instead in the summer of '07.

Here's the problem with Vanek: it's the kind of person he is. This reflects on how he plays, the decisions he makes. It's no secret that Vanek has been my favorite player since 2006 so I've been watching him particularly close over any other player on this team which I believe causes me to over analyze on the type of person he is. I think I've only heard him throw someone under the bus in two of his interviews out of them ALL, while also throwing himself under the bus. He consistently puts himself down over and over again, even about plays he wasn't involved in. It's to the point where it's ridiculous.

He wants to work in all areas of his game which is what Lindy has wanted to do for so long, but there are Sabres fans who just want Vanek to be 'the goal scorer'. Nothing else. They don't expect more assist than goals (in fact, they abhor it). If he isn't right on a guy's ass on a backcheck, he's lazy. If he's coasting near the blueline to try and score on a breakaway, he's lazy. I always wonder if the Vanek haters have colored glasses on that block out all the positive aspects about him or what. I know I am biased but I think even if I hated the guy, I could see that he has changed quite a bit from the 22-year old who was stuck sitting in the pressbox; knowing he had to change something about his work ethic and self to be better in the fall of 2006.

This is the guy who stayed calm and collected after the Washington game to say that the game last night was more important - and they won. You have to wonder if he said anything in the lockerroom to get the guys going or if they already knew it by the look in his eyes. The faint outline of a 'C' should be stitched in Vanek's jersey in a light, gold color. Whether you guys like it or not, he has indeed grown up. You should, too.