For more information regarding our move, please read the two last post published below.

31 May 2007

Leafs Make a Bad Call in Signing Sundin

TSN is reporting that the Leafs are close to signing Mats Sundin to a two-year, $11 million US contract. All I can say as a Buffalo fan is hallelujah! This really isn't about Mats Sundin, he is a heck of a player. This is more about the continuing penchant for the Maple Leafs, as an organization, to bury its head in the sand and pretend that they are close to being a championship team and that Lord Stanley will come knocking with his cup anytime soon.

Sure, you need top flight players like Sundin to get a cup, but you have to surround those players with workable high quality pieces in order to make your cup dream a reality. The Leafs have it somewhat right. They have started a form of a youth movement and have some great young pieces. Guys like Kyle Wellwood, Carlo Colaiacovo, Mats Stajan and Alexander Steen. They have a horse in Thomas Kaberle. Unfortunately they also have a slew of overpriced and injured or under-performing players like Nik Antropov, Hal Gill, Bryan McCabe and Jeff O'Neill, just to name a few. Reality wise, they are like most teams in the league; they don't want to commit to a youth movement because the want to WIN IT NOW. They don't want to commit to a veteran squad because it has failed so many times before. In the meantime they sputter along with mediocre goaltending, a faltering defense and mediocre offense and seemingly are content to eke into 8th place with 41 sellouts under their belts.

The Leafs management needs to be better than this. Like them or not Leafs fans are passionate, knowledgable and ultimately, loyal. Sometimes it takes hitting bottom to rise out of the ashes. As frustrating as it may be, I have to believe the Leafs fans know that and would accept it. In my most humble opinion the Leafs should have sent Mats packing and sent the majority of the veteran underachievers out the door afterward. While the outlook on this coming season and maybe the next would have been ugly the consolation prize could very well have been named John Tavares. Tavares is the type of player that could lead a young, up-and-coming team like Toronto would be out of the wilderness. The fan base might have been unhappy for two years, but the pot at the end of the rainbow would have made it worth it.

But... the Leafs took the road they have almost always chosen. Bringing Mats back guaranteed they are in the mix for a playoff spot, but not a championship. Until this mentality changes the Leafs are doomed to continue their Lord Stanley drought.

Crosby to be named Captain


I will have more information about this when it actually happens but for now it looks like he will be named Captain today. You can read the article here.

UPDATE I was reading at Mirtle's blog...and he was saying that the reason they are doing it now is so that Crosby can break another record by becoming the youngest Captain ever in the NHL. I think it's a little ridiuclous to be perfectly honest. I believe Crosby is a great player...he has a TON of skills BUT when it comes to his leadership...I have doubts. Maybe, if I wouldn't have seen him cry, and whine to the refs after every bad call...I would change my mind. The fact of the matter is this is a mans game and Crosby is still...a boy...disagree with me if you want...but it's the truth.

Article Here

30 May 2007

Plan B, Buffalo Style

Hopefully I am wrong about my impending feeling of doom when it comes to Chris Drury and Danny Briere. Hopefully it is all just a bad dream. Unfortunately, my mind knows that this is my stupid heart getting in the way. Therefore it is time to look to plan B. Say they are both gone, Teppo too. What to do, what to do?

Well, I think to start the Sabres would need to change their center ice philosophy a bit. I think a bit bigger would do the trick and allow Connolly to fill Briere's role and leave Roy in his role. The guy I would look for is Michael Handzus. Moneywise I think he would be a good fit and would change the dynamic for the Sabres nicely. A highly mobile 6'5" and 220 pounds he would lend a presence the Sabres have not had since the days of Chris Gratton. Add to that his quality production and I think the Sabres have their centerman to move forward with. If Danius Zubrus were to return as well the Sabres would be much larger up front than last season without much in the way of a loss in mobility.

As unfortunate as the loss of Briere and Drury would be it would give the Sabres a ton of financial flexibility to use to reshape this team. High on the list should be signing or trading for an aggressive and physical defenseman and another gritty forward. The Sabres have many marketable commodities and Dan Paille and Drew Stafford ready to go full time. I would not be at all surprised to see the Sabres make an expensive play for an upper-tier veteran defenseman at the draft . I could easily see the Sabres package a group like Dmitri Kalinin,
Ales Kotlaik and Clark Macarthur off to a team like Calgary for someone like a Robyn Regehr.

This team was close, but as the loss to Ottawa illustratred, they have a long way to go. Losing Briere and Drury would be tough, very tough, but it would hardly be the end of the world.

the ghost is pissed...

First off, I want to thank Bleu, Blanc et Rouge for letting me post here. I appreciate it. He does a damned fine job and the man truly loves hockey and, for some unholy reason, the Canadiens.

That being said, many of you, unfairly took Bleu, Blanc et Rouge to task for MY article on the rumour of the fight between Briere and Drury. Many of you, especially the eponymous "Anonymous" and "Let's Go Sabres," spared no venom vilifying BBR when I, the ghost, wrote the article. I stand by what I wrote regardless of your shallow points and criticisms. My source, who works HSBC security and is a police officer, swears by the story and I believe him. Of particular concern is Lets Go Sabres who accused BBR of rabble rousing and writing this because BBR is a Canadiens fan. I find it funny that you spent all the time refuting my writing yet blaming it on the wrong guy. Memo to you, at least criticize the right guy if your going to do it at all. Otherwise, you just look dumb whether your points are valid at all. Worst of all if you are who I think you are you know better than to accuse people of lying especially when you have no fact straight yourself.

Possibly the worst point of all is that the article was clearly marked as a rumour. I did not claim this was a New York Times front story nor did I say it was absolutely true. I simply stated it was a rumour that appears to have significant substance.

To the people who follow what I write I thank you. To my critics, bring it on! But at least, torch the right guy.

- the ghost

29 May 2007

Ryan Miller...on EA's NHL 08 cover?



That, ladies 'n' gentlemen, is what has been flying around some hockey message boards in recent times.

If you don't know, EA Sports' "NHL" franchise is pretty succesful, although it has fallen off in the recent years.

But the question is: is this authentic, or just some joke?

Ryan Miller, no offence, is not good enough to be on the cover of a video game just yet, take a look at the recent names to hit the game cover:

1999 Lindros cover
2000 Pronger cover
2001 Nolan cover
2002 Lemieux cover
2003 Iginla cover
2004 Heatley/Sakic cover
2005 Naslund cover
2006 Lecavalier cover
2007 Ovechkin cover

Does it really make sense for Ryan Miller to follow suit?
And, if you look closely, the image is fake, the "08" is bigger than the "NHL" and the background for the "NHL 08" lettering should be transparent, like its predecessor, NHL 07.

Man, I should make one of those with Cristobal Huet on it, it would be so easy.

--BBR

Here's what I love about Eklund...and what I hate about him...

First off, here's what you need to know about me before we begin:

1) I don't like Eklund, but I don't hate the guy, he's just a human being.
2) I believe the stuff he posts is crap.
3) I also believe he's just some washed-up no-life stuck in a basement in Philadelphia.
4) I never said I hate him though, but I do love one thing about him:

How he really makes people his pawns by feeding them crap day in and day out which ACCORDING TO HIM, are inside sources to the NHL organisations many of us love and adore.

So, I subscribe to his "Daily Buzz" emails, just to see how he'll make me laugh every day, and get me "buzzed".

Here's what he sent all of his pawns today:

Remember rumours are rumours are rumours...so, PLEASE do not take this too seriously folks. As it gets closer to July 1, it continues to intensify. Every now and again it is important to inform you of a few rules around these parts. (only #7 really matters)

1. I do not make this stuff up.
2. I do not trust everyone.
3. I am fully aware of how I am being used from time to time, but I have learned to tell the difference...it isn't hard to tell.
4. I like to think that we provide a fun place for die-hard hockey fans to discuss these rumors and the possibilities.
5. I don't expect 90% of the rumours I post to eventually amount to anything, but the fun part is the discussion and the 10% that do.
6. It should be fun ALL the time.
7. It is ONLY Hockey

Onto the fun........With Markov signing long term fro BIG bucks in Montreal, it is becoming safer and safer to assume that Sheldon is going elsewhere.
I am hearing alot of Dallas, and the Rangers this morning.

Ok, here's where I really got pissed: Eklund, hello, like everyone can say what they want, if I see that the Stars are in dire need of a good scoring d-man to compliment Sergei Zubov and Phillipe Boucher, I'll say Dallas, and if I see that the Rangers will be in a free-spending mood, just by assuming that Glen Sather still isn't over a few dumb mistakes guys like Fedor Tyutin and Marek Malik made against the Rangers and besides Michal Roszival, there wasn't a single true offensive force from the point, I'll say THE RANGERS NEED HIM.

You see, that was easy, and that kind of exhilirated me.

I can say that the Leafs are interested in JS Giguere because Raycroft stinks, and what, I'll post that "I'm hearing the Leafs have interest in Giguere", and you know where you "hear" this Eklund?

In your own head buddy!

You may be a terrific guy and a terrific hockey fan, but cut with the crap that you have many people reading day-in and day-out, seriously, you're making money off of people who want to believe guys like you can lend them the inside scoop.

Isn't it amazing how many people don't know you were a zamboni driver for the Philadelphia Flyers and that's how you claim you got your inside sources?

And here's all you need to know if you're still clouded about Ek:

What I will do is give you the top 30 UFA’s each week based on what I feel they will get on the open market July 1. I will base this number on the Rumors that I am hearing. Of course you could ask many insiders and you would never get the same list. Where they rank is highly subjective and based on several factors.

THE HOCKEYBUZZ CENTRAL UFA RANKINGS, MAY 21, 2007
some changes this week..more rumor updates later this morning..

1. Chris Drury-Boston
2. Scott Gomez-Ottawa
3. Ryan Smyth-Calgary
4. Sheldon Souray-Dallas/Colorado
5. Daniel Briere-Montreal
6. Kimmo Timonen-Philadelpia
7. Peter Forsberg-Sweden, Colorado
8. JS Giguere-STILL PLAYING
9. Petr Sykora-Edmonton
10. Brian Rafalski- New Jersey
11. Paul Kariya- Vancouver
12. Tom Preissing- STILL PLAYING
13. Gary Roberts- Toronto
14. Jason Blake- Toronto/NY Islanders
15. Dominik Hasek- Tampa
16. Michael Handzus- St. Louis
17. Andrei Markov- Signed with Montreal
18. Mathieu Schneider- NY Islanders
19. Roman Hamrlik- New Jersey
20. Michael Nylander- NY Rangers
21. Ladislav Nagy- Edmonton
22. Niklas Backstrom- Minnesota
23. Dainus Zubrus- Dallas, Montreal
24. Brad Stuart- San Jose
25. Mike Comrie- STILL PLAYING
26. Bill Guerin- St. Louis/Boston
27. Craig Rivet- New Jersey
28. Scott Nichol- Carolina
29. Mike Peca- Toronto
30. Keith Tkachuk- St. Louis


Like, seriously, anyone can make ascertions according to what "I've heard", hell, I can even make my own:........but I just don't feel like it, since it's just what I think, not what some overpaid hockey player who will get more many than many of us will receive in our lifetimes in one year will decide.

Here's the reality:

How would anyone know what only a guy like Bob Gainey and his assistant Pierre Gauthier know about?
Do you think Gainey and Gauthier go broadcasting around what they do, what they talk about?

Hell no, then tell me Eklund, how do you know all this, these "inside sources" of yours, don't know any more about a player than me sitting at my computer desk right here, do you seriously think that they know what Gainey's doing, or what Gauthier told Gainey?

Then answer this: who told your "sources", was it the wall or the wallpaper on it?

Read more at Offwing Opinion, Eric's got a good tell-it-like it is article on the man in question.

--BBR

Hasek good bet to return


Listening to Dominik Hasek's comments after the Game 6 loss to Anaheim Tuesday and on Friday during the locker cleanout day, I'm convinced he's coming back. He feels great physically and still has a burning desire to win another Cup. He's wanted back by management and teammates and he feels good about this team's chances next season. Unless his family convinces him otherwise, I'd expect him back.
Mike Babcock was already set to make his pitch.
"I'm going to grab a bottle of wine, and I'm going to walk down the street and around the corner,'' Babcock said. "I don't know exactly where he lives but I know he lives in my neighborhood and we're going to sit on his deck and I'm probably going to bring my wife, too, and we'll hang out and find out. That's how we're having it. I already told him that. So that'll be good and we'll make sure we don't run out of wine.''
This time, Hasek isn't likely to settle for a $750,000 base salary. But, since there's no other place he'd rather be, he probably won't be looking to break the bank either.
Todd Bertuzzi made it clear there's no other place he'd rather be than Detroit. The Wings would definitely re-sign him, but they have to be concerned about his back, so they probably wouldn't commit more than one season at at around $2 million, with maybe a option year based on games played or performance.
The Wings also want Mathieu Schneider back, but they realize it won't be easy agreeing on a figure. In the end, my guess is Schneider returns because he's been more comfortable here than at any of his previous five NHL stops.
That probably might not leave enough room for Danny Markov. Forget about Robert Lang (his bags were probably packed by Christmas) and Kyle Calder, who have no chance of returning.

Game 1: Step Away From the Ledge!

Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals is in the books with the Senators coming up short 2-3 against Anaheim. Admittedly, there were moments in the game where it was clear that the Senators were simply overmatched. It reminded of game 1 against the Pittsburgh Penguins, except this time with the Senators playing the ones being feasted upon.

It's easy to assess what the Senators did wrong. They were being out-hit and out-muscled. They thought they could match the Ducks' tight physical style with their flair and the run-and-gun offensive playmaking style that they were known for, not expecting the Ducks to shut down their extra-pass at the offensive blueline and cause a rush going the other way.

I was reluctant to say it, but it's true. This team really does rise and fall with the play of their captain Daniel Alfredsson. He didn't have a solid game last night, giving up on plays too easily, being outmatched physically and having trouble controlling the puck. That being said, he was hardly the weakest player on the Senators squad last night as most of the team, save for Ray Emery and Mike Fisher, couldn't find that extra gear.

Clearly, it didn't work and I have faith that if anybody can turn their play around, it'll be the Senators. They've responded very positively to all of the adversity they've faced so far this year and I trust they will do the same. Scrap the cute extra passes, stop trying to gain the zone by yourself. Chip the puck in, use your speed to beat your opponents and fight for it. Nobody said this was going to be a cakewalk and after 9 days off, I suppose it's expected that the intensity level was a bit of a shock to the system.

To be fair, the Ducks only had about two days less of a break than the Senators did and it sort of showed as well. The Senators came out strong in the opening minutes of the game but eventually ran out of steam after they realized that they were being dominated and couldn't find enough gas in the tank. It's there! It was just hidden a little bit.

I'll be the first to admit that there are Senators fans that can be quite fickle and are quite liberal when it comes to hitting the panic button. Let's just sit back and take a deep breath and try to have more faith in our squad. They've earned that very least from us. Don't make me create a Playoffs Edition Panic Metre. Let's hope we are never in need of one!

In the meantime, if you're looking for something to fill the days in between, or if you're a Devils and/or Sharks fan who wants to see your teams in the finals for something, I suggest you head on over to Mike Chen's blog for the Rawk the Puck '07 Final and place your vote!

Losing Drury and Briere Becoming More Likely Everyday

It hasn't been the glorious May that Buffalo Sabres fans envisioned in their wildest dreams this season. Coming off a stunning rout at the hands of the Ottawa Senators the Sabres are bracing themselves for some losses that could be felt for even longer. It is well documented that both co-captains, Chris Drury and Daniel Briere, are unrestricted free agents. It is also common knowledge that the Sabres broke from their own team policy and negotiated with Drury within the season while not talking with Briere. Rumours abound of a split between the captains late in the season and during the playoffs. Now a combination of team policy, fiscal restraints and hard economics might conspire to strip Buffalo of its core leadership.

Last week Sabres Managing Partner Larry Quinn spoke on WGR550 about the fallout from the season and the upcoming off season. Most of the talk centered around the co-captains and the salary cap. Quinn pointed out that the cap is expected to rise to somewhere near $48-$49 million dollars. He further spoke of the Sabres intent to spend around 44 million on the cap. To go further, he said, would mean the Sabres would have to make the second round of the playoffs to maintain a positive cash flow. To be sure, Quinn said all of the right things about wanting the captains back and doing everything possible to keep the team core together.

Unfortunately, the writing between the lines speaks volumes. With the cap going up to 48 million the maximum individual player salary rises to approximately$9.5 million. Andrei Markov, a very good, but hardly a superstar defenseman just received an average of just under $6 million from the Montreal Canadiens. Teams have loads of money to spend and Drury and Briere both lend special talents sure to command top dollar.

Initially the thought was that $6.5 -$7 million each might be enough to keep the two captains around. Now the talk is starting to hover around the $8 million a year mark, a price the Sabres cannot afford for both players and, more than likely, will be unwilling to pay one. The rising costs also signal a reason as to why Ryan Smyth turned down a recent Islanders proposal for nearly $6 million a year, far more than he had ever been offered. Free agents are expecting a field day and it will be an expensive one.

Last year the Sabres went to the wall financially to keep the core of this team together. Unfortunately, the wall just became the Great Wall of China. There is always hope, but it is shaping up to be a long, cold summer in Buffalo.

Markov: c'est fait! The $23 million man...


Markov: C'est fait! That was RDS.ca's title of the article they have on Andrei Markov.
The $23 million man, Markov now top-paid player in team's history: The Gazette's intruiging yet FANTASTIC TITLE.

Wait, I have to be unprofessional for a second:
YEEEESSSSS!!!!!!!
YEEEESSSSS!!!!!!!
YEEEESSSSS!!!!!!!
YEEEESSSSS!!!!!!!

Phew, glad I got that out!

Just a single day after my first part to my "Which Hab...only one Hab...$$$$$ Hab" series, featuring ANDREI MARKOV and the MONTREAL CANADIENS, the Canadiens did well and signed the 28-year old Russian to a 5-year $23 million contract.

Markov is now the team's top-paid player in team history, surpassing Saku Koivu's $4,75 million annual mark, and Alex Kovalev's $4,5 million mark.

Markov, get this, will make more than 3 times more money than he made last season with the Canadiens.

He will receive an average of $5.75 million per season, Brian McCabe type numbers, a hefty raise from his 2007 $1.5 million salary.

The priority now remains Sheldon Souray according to GM Bob Gainey, with the cap going up and salary being cleared, thinks that the Habs have enough room to retain Souray as well:
"The question is whether he thinks we have enough", said Gainey.

Gainey also indicated to the press yesterday that the Habs will begin talks with Souray shortly and hope to get a deal done before July 1st.

Look for today's SOURAY vs GAINEY battle, and Souray will be a Hab for 5 more seasons tomorrow as well.

Habs Inside/Out
Current Habs History and Opinion

--BBR

28 May 2007

Which Hab...only one Hab...money Hab...

And the soap opera begins, here's your cast for ''Money Habs vs. Which Hab?''

MONEY HABS----------------------------------------- WHICH HAB?
starring:-----------------------------------------------
directed by:

Andrei Markov---------------------------------------Montreal Canadiens
Sheldon Souray------------------versus------------ Bob Gainey
Don Meehan------------------------------------------Well-being of team
113 points-------------------------------------------- Salary Cap
$$$$$$$$$$--------------------------------------------$$$$$$$$$$

It's no secret the Montreal Canadiens can do only so much, as a team on the ice, as buiseness men off the ice and as regular but slightly more rich people in general.

And they can only sign one of their current impending UFA defencemen, unless they want to devote a quarter of their cap total to 2 players and not bring in a guy that can help this TEAM SCORE GOALS.

I have devisted a little battle/movie premiere for you, I hope you enjoy it, especially those who aren't aware of this situation (oh brother...)



1) Andrei Markov vs Montreal Canadiens
The Star: Andrei Markov
The 28-year old Russian-born defenceman is by far one of the most underrated and best defencemen of the NHL.
He is an excellent skater, plays a sound and solid defensive game while providing a more than average offensive touch.

The Stat: Markov had 6 goals and 43 assists last season in a total of 77 games played, averaged 25 minutes of ice-time and was a +2 on a team whose defence featured a -28 by the other star, Sheldon Souray.
He set career highs in assists (43), points (49), and powerplay assists (27).


The Director: Montreal Canadiens
The Canadiens' up-and-down season was full of surprises and some unwanted twists and turns.
But it became clear after the season ended in dismay, after we realized that Andrei Markov would become a UFA that we needed him more than everyone originally thought. He is such a good player and guy to have around your team, he excels defensively and is improving year-by-year offensively.
He is a Paul Coffey of the new NHL, and only God knows how much this guy's been underrated in 29 GM's minds.
The Canadiens world was in shock once Zdeno Chara was named to the new NHL's first ever NHL all-star game while Andrei Markov can all but sit and watch from his television screen.
The point above also illustrates how Markov is underrated and underlooked in this case in many, many people's minds.
Chara had a decent season but was nothing compared to the powerhouse monster he used to be in Ottawa.
Only Montreal Canadiens fans understand Markov's value, more than any other team or fanbase in the entire country, and it is imperative that Bob Gainey make him his no. 1 priority, and not Sheldon Souray.

The $$$$$$: Andrei Markov put a little more than $2 million in his bank account last year and he'll be looking to double and almost triple that come this summer.
Rumours are flying around media sources like RDS and La Presse that suggest Markov has been offered a 4 year/$20 million contract by Bob Gainey, and that Don Meehan (his agent) and co. will evaluate this offer carefully.

The deal-breaker: Markov recently blew his knee out on a knee-on-knee hit at the World Championships in Moscow, his knee was examined by Montreal and Russian doctors and both have come to the same conclusion: no surgery needed, and thank God!
It is not expected to have an impact on his potential deal, but nevertheless, doctors can be wrong too.

The Skinny: Markov will be retained by the Canadiens, for a duration of 4-5 years and he will net between $5 and $5.5 million.
I am almost certain he will be in the Bleu, Blanc et Rouge and a topic on this blog for the years to come.
(more to come)

24 May 2007

Balsille switches over to Preds...to move them?



After failing to buy the Pittsburgh Penguins from Mario Lemieux earlier in the NHL season, Blackberry mogul Jim Balsille has reportedly put an agreement in place to buy Music City's Predators.

Balsille went after Pittsburgh and a deal like this was almost done, until Balsille backed away the last minute, he eventually came crawling back but Mario coldly said "no", and his franchise then faced relocation.

Luckily for the Pens, the city was able to make a deal in time with Lemieux and co. for a new building, that would move them out of the oldie that is Mellon Arena.

Balsille, according to a Nashville news publication, has indeed bought the Predators, and he very well may have bought a failing franchise.

The Preds have had a tough time attracting fans consistently, and many have toyed with the idea of relocation; their fan problem is also mainly due to the fact that Gaylord Entertainment Centre, isn't exactly your natural hockey arena, and has a surplus of seats for other events like soccer, arena hockey, lacrosse.

Balsille pulled a whopping $220 million out of his pocket to buy his first NHL franchise.

There is a way out, however.
Because average game attendance for the season recently ended was below 14,000, the team has 60 days from its final hockey game to exercise an exit clause.
That move, which would have to happen by mid-June, would trigger a one-year cure period in which the city must bring ticket sales up to 14,000 per game. Otherwise, after the year, the team could leave.

That is very, very interesting.

And what make this even all more intriguing, is the fact Balsille is rumoured to be buying land and it speculated he will build an arena for his Predators there.

Where? In...Cambridge?

One of the guys from the sports desk who is from the area says where the land was purchased is "a stones throw from the 401 ... probably about 1 hour and 10 minutes from downtown Toronto." -Mirtle
--BBR

22 May 2007

Got a question...

I posted this on HLOG and will post it on the other blogs I contribute to also. What do all of you think of the overtime format? Do you enjoy games that go into the 4 OT's? What do you think should be done or should be anything be done? I'm just curious what you guys think?

Stuff on the Draft

Here is the article that Dispatch put out on the Draft.

Lots of fans, festivities expected for big event
Tuesday, May 22, 2007 4:50 AM
By Aaron Portzline

THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH

The Blue Jackets own the No. 7 pick in the NHL entry draft, but they're already on the clock.

It's exactly one month until the hockey world gathers in Columbus to welcome the next wave of talent into the NHL. The first round will be held at

7 p.m. June 22 in Nationwide Arena; rounds two through seven will begin at 10 a.m. the following day.

"We're almost ready for the party," said J.D. Kershaw, the Blue Jackets' director of fan development and the point man to the NHL since the draft was awarded to the Blue Jackets more than a year ago.

Here's what's known about "the party" at this point:

• The pop punk band Yellowcard will perform in the plaza in front of Nationwide Arena in the hours leading up to the first pick on Friday.

• It's going to be a big party on Friday. Kershaw isn't sure how big, but he's hoping it's "standing room-only" inside the arena, with a large contingent outside. The Blue Jackets had 12,000-plus requests for tickets through their Web site, and another roughly 11,500 were given to season-ticket holders. The biggest "south of the border" draft crowd in recent memory was 11,000 in Raleigh, N.C., in 2004.

• The plaza in front of Nationwide on Friday will be packed with food and beverage stands, interactive games, etc. Nationwide Boulevard between Front Street and Marconi Boulevard will be blocked to allow spill-over and easy foot traffic.

• The Blue Jackets have yet to decide whether they want to air live draft coverage by TSN or Versus on the huge TV screen that looms over the plaza. The dilemma: If people get too comfortable on the plaza and know they can watch the draft outside, why go inside? The Jackets want the building packed so it looks good on TV.

• Nationwide Arena will open at 4 p.m., with a Hall of Fame Trophy display -- including the Stanley Cup -- and a memorabilia exhibit on the concourse. Season ticket-holders can begin taking their seats at 5:30 p.m., and the general public can fill in around 6:15 p.m. The covered ice surface will be filled with the stage on one end, draft tables for all 30 clubs in the middle, and the media riser on the other end.

"Unless the fire marshal steps in, we won't turn anybody away, even if they don't have a ticket," NHL director of events and entertainment Bill Miller said. "The sense I'm getting is we'll continue the trend of doing well in newer markets, similar to Nashville (2003) and Raleigh, N.C. The key is getting those people who stuffed their tickets into a drawer to dig them out and come on down."

The Blue Jackets are resigned to the fact that the Saturday crowd will be smaller.

"Probably in the 4,000 to 5,000 range if we're lucky," Kershaw said. "Most of our budget is going into Friday."

But the Blue Jackets will have autograph sessions on Saturday morning -- both with draft picks and current Jackets players -- to entice fans.

"And we have two picks in the second round," Kershaw said. "If you're a Blue Jackets fan, that might be kind of interesting."


Link to the Article

Stanley Cup Final Schedule

All start times are 8 p.m., EST

Game 1 Monday, May 28
Game 2 Wednesday, May 30
Game 3 Saturday, June 2
Game 4 Monday, June 4
Game 5 * Wednesday, June 6
Game 6 * Saturday, June 9
Game 7 * Monday, June 11

*if necessary

21 May 2007

Was The Loss of Scott Arniel the Biggest Loss of Last Offseason?




Much was made of the fact that the Sabres lost Jay Mckee, J.P. Dumont and Mike Grier in the last off season. Relatively little of any attention was paid to the loss of Assistant Coach Scott Arniel to the minor league Manitoba Moose where Arniel became head coach. Of course assistants change all of the time and it would seem hard pressed to say that the loss of an assistant coach damaged the President Cup winning Sabres.

That is until you look deeper. While losing Mckee, Dumont and Grier removed grit from the lineup losing Arniel seems to have cut deeper. Two years ago the Sabres had the #2 ranked Power Play and Penalty Kill units in the NHL. This year with the power play under the tutelage of Brian McCutcheon and the penalty kill under first year coach James Patrick each unit slipped dramatically. One could point to the loss of Grier on the penalty kill and Dumont on the power play, but the results seem to be bigger than that. It often appeared that the Sabres couldn't adjust quickly to strategy changes other teams initiated and it hurt them at critical times, especially in the playoffs. Unfortunately the failings of both units led directly to the downfall of the Sabres' Stanley Cup dreams this year.

I guess it just goes to show that in the fickle game of professional hockey even the most minor change can have resounding effects down the line. Ironically the Sabres' failings may have helped vault Arniel even higher in the eyes of prospective bosses around the NHL. One only need to see the negative effects his departure had on the Sabres to see the value he can bring to another NHL franchise. For the Sabres, who have shed old guard people like Arniel, Don Luce and Terry Martin, hopefully this isn't a harbinger of things to come.




Rumor: Did A Briere - Drury Lockeroom Fight Occur?

First off, I am a Sabres fan, this may look like a Habs blog, but there are many writers on here and I am the Sabres writer, just to get that out of the way so you can know that this isn't biased like some of you may think.

Many of you may have possibly heard rumours of an altercation between Sabres' co-captains Chris Drury and Daniel Briere.
I have been provided information by a source associated with the Sabres that an altercation did occur, but that it occurred during the Sabres - Senators series after the Game 2 loss in Buffalo. It appears to have occurred after the morning skate the following day.
This source has given me positive information on the logo change and has informed me of the alleged agreement between Drury and the Sabres. He has also given me heads up on Sabres trade activity that has borne out through the years including Donald Audette and Danny Briere coming to town.

What I am saying is when he talks I tend to believe it is true.


From what I have been told Daniel Briere was sitting with an unnamed Sabre in the lockeroom talking about possible places he may be playing next season.
At this time Chris Drury and Drew Stafford walked through that area of the room and overheard the conversation.
Apparently there had been some strife over the earlier reports, especially after a Philadelphia press interview with Martin Biron, that Briere has talked openly about leaving previously and that it had a negative effect on the room. When confronted by Drury on the comments Briere, allegedly, made reference to the rumour, which I have previously reported, that Drury had already reached a handshake deal and that he, and the team, were hiding it.
Allegedly, Briere also made a reference that Drury was favored in Buffalo because he was an American and that is why he got all of the credit.

According to my source it escalated from there and some blows, though none damaging, were thrown and they had to be separated by teammates.
The Sabres immediately followed this brush-up with possibly the worst performance by the team all year in Game 3. Interestingly after Briere tied game 2 with video clearly shows Drury skating right by Briere without even congratulating him. also in a off day press conference Joe Corvo of the Senators made reference of how it was tough for the Sabres to focus on the Sens when "they are fighting themselves".

Is it an interesting set of coincidences?

Maybe, maybe not.

The Sabres aren't talking and worked quickly to dispel the rumour around town.
All I know for sure is that the Chemistry and team play the Sabres lived on all year seems to have disappeared.
Is it a divided lockeroom or just a totally superior Ottawa team?

In the meantime, Drury and Briere have had a full fledged love in, especially Briere, about each other since the season ended.
Each can't say enough of how much they still want to play on each others team.
Interestingly, Drury came out and admitted that he and the Sabres had negotiations during the season on an extension.
Briere, on the other hand, was told there would be no negotiations due to policy.
If this is true, at the very least, the Sabres botched the handling of their two leaders and maybe lost their best shot at the cup. Granted, you expect Briere and Drury to conduct themselves as professionals all the time, but when feelings, emotion and money mix, the results are seldom positive.

I will keep an eye on the story and report an further information that arises.

Remember, this is only a rumor.

20 May 2007

Sabres Left Wondering What Should Have Been

When Daniel Alfreddson beat Ryan Miller in the overtime of Game 5 Saturday it was an anti-climatic finish to a wild Sabres' ride. There is little solace in the two overtime losses, nor a feel good spirit about the fight the Sabres showed at the end. All that was left, in everyone's mouths, was the bitter taste of failed expectations.

Make no mistake about it the better team won. The Senators were simply stronger on the puck, more focused, hungrier and better prepared than the Sabres for this challenge. The loss highlighted some simple truths for the Sabres. Though a supremely talented team, they lacked the grit to compete against an equally talented opponent. Coaching also failed this team in the areas of special teams. The loss of Scott Arniel to the Manitoba Moose was a much bigger loss than anyone could have foreseen. While the Sabres have historically been an average power play team they have consistently been a tremendous penalty killing team. That simply was missing this year. While the players should accept much of the blame there is no way to excuse Darcy Regier, Lindy Ruff and the coaching staff for these failings.

This loss also put many players squarely at the crossroads of their Sabres' careers. Dimitri Kalinin, who has been enigmatic throughout his career, finally wore Lindy's patience to a nub. Though dressed, Kalinin hardly played in the final two games. Likewise, Ales Kotalik and Jaro Spacek played sparing minutes and performed at levels far below expectation. The two captains Danny Briere and Chris Drury may have played their last games in a Buffalo uniform. There are rumours flying around the media that tell me that Drury has already agreed on a contract with Buffalo and it is commonly thought that Briere is as good as gone.

Topping all of this off is the fact that Darcy Regier and Lindy Ruff are unsigned as well for next season. I would like to have the quiet confidence that all will work out and they surely will return, but I have been burned too many times before. My gut feeling is that this team will return nearly in tact from this season. I expect Briere, Kotalik, Numminen and Kalinin to be gone and replaced by Drew Stafford, Dan Paille and some players to be named. I think it is likely that Danius Zubrus will return for a mid-level contract though it is far from a guarantee. Regier, assuming he returns, has always done his best work in the off season and there is little reason to believe this year will be any different.

The hope here is that the lessons learned from this gut-wrenching loss to the Senators will drive the Sabres to victory much as the Sabres victory over Ottawa did last year. Lindy Ruff very likely earned his second straight Adams trophy for coach of the year, but next year will be his biggest challenge as he has to re-gear this team to play in a different NHL that the league started as this year. This tougher, somewhat slower game is not one the current roster likes to, or is suited to, play. It will be interesting to see how he devises a way to keep this run and gun squad interested.

The one thing this loss doesn't do is diminish how good this Sabres team was. It was an outstanding and entertaining team for much of the year. Unfortunately, as is seemingly always the case in the NHL, entertaining does not equal Lord Stanley's Cup. They may very well be the second best team in the league, but as we in Buffalo know, second just isn't ever good enough.

Wings and Ducks headed to OT!

This is thrilling, 1-1 in the 1st OT and the loser will be hanging on his heels next game.

Catch the game on TSN if you can!

If history repeats itself, no Stanley for Senators...

Yep, it's sad for us bandwagoning Canadians, but it's the obvious truth.

No team from north of the border, has won hockey revered prize since mes Canadiens did it back in 1993 against the Los Angeles Kings.

Not saying that this is going to happen, I said IF history repeats itself.

Now you ask, what is this history?

2003-2004: Tampa Bay Lightning defeat Calgary Flames in 7 games
2005-2006: Carolina Hurricanes defeat Edmonton Oilers in 7 games
2006-2007: ------------------- defeat Ottawa Senators in 7 games ?

For the past 2 finals, Lord Stanley's Cup has been lost twice by two Canadian teams, the Edmonton Oilers last season to the Carolina Hurricanes, and the last pre-lockout season when the Calgary Flames came up a game short against the then-powerful Tampa Bay Lightning.

The history would scare any Sens fan away, but, here's another interesting tidbit that completely debunks my outrageous claims above:

The modern-era Ottawa Senators have never made it to the Stanley Cup Finals

so, we can never know how they'll perform?

Will they suck?
Will they be awesome?

God only knows.

Until yesterday at around 6:30-7:00 PM EST, that idea was still in play.

No more though.

I wish you Sens fans all the best, it must be great having a dominating team heading into the Cup Finals for the first time, while we Canadiens, Leafs, Oilers, Flames and Canucks fans can all but sit and watch on our Plasmas, LCD's or some crappy 90's box.

Now the question of the post: Who do you prefer? Detroit? or Anaheim?

--BBR

P.S. The Ghost may come out of his tavern and post a little something on those defeated and depleted Sabres later.

19 May 2007

Chris Pronger blasts Canadian media...



"The league should make its own calls, not be pressured into anything by the media, and more to the point, the Canadian media."

"I think inconsistency in the refereeing has been there all season, let alone in the playoffs. All you've got to do is look at our games against Detroit. You could bring in other series. The referees have been very inconsistent from series to series, from game to game and from team to team. As you witnessed, (Thursday) night was an absolute joke. But that's neither here nor there. It's over with. I just hope going forward we're going to be on a level playing field."

-TSN

Actually Chris, the refereeing (apart from a few Sabres-related calls and non-calls) has been pretty strong this postseason.

On a side note, Kevin Pollock has really been the best of this crop.

But come on man, really, you're CHRIS PRONGER, you put yourself in this situation when:

a) You were born in CANADA
b) You played for a CANADIAN team
c) You were surrounded by CANADIAN media
d) You played for Team CANADA at the Olympics last year
e) You're damn CANADIAN
f) Hockey is CANADA'S Sport
e) You play HOCKEY.

Well, well, and how can you not want the NHL to base its decision through the media, where do you think they get the majority of their ideas from anyway?

Oh and besides, the second you requested a trade out of Edmonton, was the same second that you signed up for the "Canadian media hounding 4 life" feature.

Cut with the crap, and be lucky you didn't get more than one game, ya pansy.

And if you don't remember, Pronger was suspended for Game 5 of the Ducks-Wings series, after delivering a violent head-on hit on Tomas Holmstrom in Game 4 of this series.

I have more on this, if you missed it, a few posts below.

"It's a nothing play if Robbie doesn't hit him," he told the Times on Friday.

The only reason you say that is because the ref called the penalty on "Robbie" because that was who he saw hit Holmstrom from his angle, you were the real culprit there.

--BBR

17 May 2007

Hockey Night Online: It's Called Character

It goes without saying that I am absolutely in love with my team and some might say that I'm perhaps overly emotionally invested that it is no longer healthy. However, when you follow the team closely and get to know the characters involved, it's simply hard not to be.

AQG has a nice collection of fun anecdotes involving the Ottawa Senators including the fact that nobody in Ottawa actually has any idea who Tom Preissing is.

I can only imagine what a Ray Emery architectural wonder would look like.

If you watch the post-game show for Hockey Night Online for game 3, you can see Daniel Alfredsson with his 4-year-old son Hugo on his lap during this press conference. If you watch afterwards, you can also hear Elliotte Friedman gush about how they have the exact same eyes and an adorable story from their Headliner filming. You can watch the Headliner segment they're talking about here under 'Archived' and it is about 15 minutes into the Game 2 video.

I'm not worried about them losing. Were it any other squad from year's past, I may have had reason to be concerned but this team has shown that they're mentally tough and can survive a few bumps on the road. Their fate is still in their own hands.

GO SENS GO!

Miller Makes The Save and The Sabres Live to Fight Again

The Sabres led by a desperate spirited effort and a marvelous game by Ryan Miller beat the Ottawa Senators 3-2 to bring the series back to Buffalo. The Game was highlighted by the fastest goal in Sabres playoff history when Derek Roy and Chris Drury capitalized on an Andrei Meszaros turnover to score 9 seconds into the game.

The Senators played hard but, for the first time in the series, looked mortal. The Sabres penalty killing was sensational killing off consecutive penalties in the third to preserve the lead and win. Of course, most of the success in the third was due to some world class goaltending by Ryan Miller. On the other end of the ice Ray Emery looked shaky despite only giving up 3 goals. He fought the puck all night and Chris Drury's eventual game winner was an extremely week goal.

The Senators also exhibited a lack of discipline that they had not shown the entire series which cost them when Buffalo scored their second goal with a two-man advantage. also, the senators by, Versus Television's count, shot wide on 17 scoring chances in the game. It was an uncharacteristic effort by this Ottawa team.

In any event the Sabres have a pulse and that is all we can ask now. The Senators best close this series out Saturday afternoon in Buffalo or things might start to get scary.

News and Notes:

Danius Zubrus did not play at all in the second or third period in Game 5. He is apparently suffering from an injury but it has not yet been disclosed. There were pictures of him being given smelling salts on the bench which would lead me to believe he has a concussion-type injury.

Dmitri Kalinin played only 4:31 in the game. He was effectively benched for periods two and three. The Sabres basically went with 4 defenseman as Jaro Spacek's ice time was also significantly limited, though it increased as the game wore on.

16 May 2007

And...save by Chris Dury, what a stop with the glove hand!

You read the title right, Chris Drury is now stopping pucks.

And this is how the Buffalo Sabres are supposed to improve their powerplay, and likely, their morale heading into Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Final tonight.




So is Derek Roy



And Nathan Paestch



Oh, let's not forget Brian Campbell too



Miller looks on, wondering if his Sabres can pull off a "Red Sox" miracle.



Sorry fellows, I don't think you'll be any better than Ryan Miller soon.

--BBR

Pronger says he was just ''finishing hit''...

As many people probably expected, the Anaheim Ducks were not enthusiastic about talking to the media that bowled over mountains just to interview them, get a quote worthy of a front page story, anything.

Besides the Detroit Red Wings shelling the Anaheim Ducks 5-0 at the Honda Centre last night, reporters had other things they wanted to talk about, more precisely, Ducks' defenceman Chris Pronger hit-from-behind on Wings pest Tomas Holmstrom along the right wing boards in the 2nd period.

Pronger and Rob Nierdemayer both went into Holmstrom, probably because they wanted to give him a piece of his own medecine, what it feels like when some guy sticks his rear end in front of your goalie.

Pronger's hit was by far more violent, he lifted both his arms with his stick parallel to ice and just smashed, just made mashed potatoes out of Tomas Holmstrom, who really, had nowhere to go.

Actually, it was probably more out of frustration that they both hit Holmstrom, after all, he had already gotten his name onto the scoresheet.

Holmstrom finished the night with 2 goals and 1 assist, and must've felt good about himself, especially after he left the game, got 13 stitches to the head, and came back to score some more.

"I had two guys on me and fell into the boards," the veteran Swede said about the hit. "I never saw the guys come from behind."

Pronger on hitting Holmstrom:
"I was just trying to finish my hit, it was good to see him back."

The referee completely missed out on the call, and sent Rob Nierdemayer to the dressing room, while the real culprit, Chris Pronger, remained on the ice.

The NHL now had a choice to make: do you suspend Pronger or not?

At first, I would say yes, you suspend Pronger for hitting from behind to the head, but, Holmstrom came back to play in the 3rd, so that may soften the severity of Pronger's actions, in certain people's eyes, Holmstrom was not injured as bad as first thought.

But, it was still there, the intention was there to injure, come on, it's bull that Pronger wanted to only finish hitting Holmstrom, he wanted to hurt him, to dump a valuable asset off of Detroit's roster.

Tell me, if referees penalize hooking for the intention and not the result, shouldn't the NHL do the same when it comes to these kind of situations?

TSN: Andrei Markov will be examined by Habs doctors after being the subject of a knee-on-knee hit at the Worlds, Saku Koivu also had succesful eye surgery.

--BBR

Hope Springs Eternal.....

....or at least until about 10pm tonight.

Sabres are talking a good game and saying all the right things. Here is hoping the regain dignity first and then maybe win a hockey game.

Lindy Ruff has said there will be no lineup changes for tonight. I expect to see a good defensive effort with the Sabres escaping with a 2-1 win to force a game 5.

Of course, I may just be in denial?

Go Sabres!

15 May 2007

My Habs could have done better...



than 15 shots and no goals in a crucial Game 3 at Scotiabank Place last night, wherein Scotiabankers cheered at great length.

Once the clock at the rejuvenated Scotiabank Place adamantly flashed 0.0, the home team, yes, those Ottawa Senators, the same team that just three and a half months earlier was struggling to hold onto a playoff spot, had just taken a three games to none lead in the Eastern Conference final over the best team in the National Hockey League.

And they should be feeling very proud of themselves.

They held the highest scoring team in the regular season to just 15 shots on their goaltender, the unflappable Ray Emery.
What makes this all more intriguing, is that the Buffalo Sabres played pathetic hockey last night, totally emotionless and passionless, as if they didn't realize they could be heading back home in a 3-0 hole.
How do you play like total crap during the most important time of the hockey year?
HELLO?! These are the STANLEY CUP PLAYOFFS and you just got shutout and had 15 shots and are down 3-0.

Hat tip to the Ottawa Senators, who more than doubled the Sabres shot total last night and managed to squeak one past a depleted Ryan Miller, who was the only player on the ice last night for, I think, a Buffalo Sabres playoff team.

By God Daniel, Jason, Jochen, Chris, Dainius, Tim, Toni, Dmitri, Brian, Maxim, Adam, Paul, Henrik, Jaroslav, Teppo, Thomas, Ales and Derek, where the heck were you last night?
Out drinking a beer? Or thinking about the pretty party girls you were anxious to meet after the game at some strip joint?

Pfft, when all's said and done, the Ottawa Senators deserved this victory, and the way the Sabres (I won't even used the word ''played'') ''performed'' last night, I think it's safe to assume even my golf-driven Montreal Canadiens team could have managed more than 15 measly weak shots on Ray Emery.

Congrats to the Sens again, Bryan Murray's doing an awesome job behind the bench, Daniel Alfredsson's playing some of the best hockey I've ever seen him play, Ray Emery's getting it done (I can't really say it was a difficulty earned shutout last night, 15 shots is nothing) in goal, the pointmen are playing sound defensive hockey, such as Anton Volchenkov, the hearty Chris Phillips and Tom Preissing; while some offensive-minded studs like Joe Corvo, Wade Redden and Andrej Mezaros are really helping out guys like Dany Heatley, Jason Spezza and Mike Comrie on the attack.

I also tip my hat to Mike Fischer, Christoph Schubert, Peter Schaefer and Antoine Vermette for their terrific two-way play.

I'm now going for the Senators, my mind has been made up, sorry Sabres, even my Habs can do better than a 15-shot performance.

GO SENS GO!

--BBR

14 May 2007

Pathetic Effort Leads to Another Sabres' Loss

The Buffalo Sabres showed something in tonight's game three loss that they had not shown before. They showed quit. They simply failed to show up, sans Ryan Miller and Maxim Afinogenov. Clearly over matched defensively by a hard skating and tight checking Senators club the Sabres simply refused to pay the price to get to the net and create chances.

This sudden and harsh turn of events has left this city stunned and wondering "what happened?" I suppose that all the signs have been there for a while but we fans just failed to accept them. Lack of toughness, long periods of lackadaisical play, defensive turnovers and poor special teams have been prevalent for a long period. I guess we just figured it was the Sabres waiting to turn it on. Well, they seem to have lost the on switch. Though a President's Trophy winner, this team has fundamental flaws that the Senators have readily exposed.

It is going to be a hard pill to swallow for the team and the community, but hopefully it will lead to positive changes that will put the Sabres over the playoff hump.

Here is hoping the Sabres muster some pride and win game our at home. It would be a shame to lose the last game on home ice. Of course there is always hope for a Red Sox type miracle, but I think miracles are all used up right now.

NHL Misses Lydman Goal in Sabres' Game 2 Loss?

Here is the evidence, you be the judge.

DVR Stills from Billszone

(***IMPORTANT***)

To access hi-def clips:
username: brad12R
password: bbrblog)

The YouTube "Smoking Gun" Video

I have been searching for evidence to confirm my suspicions and I think I have enough now to confirm that the NHL did, in fact, fail to award the Sabres a goal on a Toni Lydman shot in the first period of Game 2 of the conference finals.

In the following pictures taken from a high definition DVR and video from YouTube, you will see the puck enter the net and come out after disappearing into the net.

In the video you will see the play in regular, slo-mo, and close-up slo-mo replays.

I think you will find the evidence clear and convincing.
I would like to thank SkateZilla, from Bills Zone for the freeze frames off his Hi-Def DVR and bd007h from YouTube: link to the video replay.

While I can understand how this goal was missed I find it unacceptable in a major professional league that things like this continue to happen. I also firmly believe that the NHL was fully aware of their mistake. I say this because in the 3rd period, two separate times, the video goal judge had Ray Emery remove the water bottles on top of the net. Oddly enough the placement of these water bottles coincides directly with where the puck appears to have struck the back crossbar on the net.

Memo to the NHL:

If you want to be a big-time sport the officiating must get better! Hiding this from the public does not help your cause.

Shame on you.

13 May 2007

This One Hurts

This was a tough one to swallow. Ottawa deserved the win, but it marks the second time Buffalo has been in postioin to win and failed. This has been a hallmark of this Buffalo team and has mysteriously disappeared all of a sudden.

Kudos to Anton Volchenkov and Antoinne Vermette who, in my opinion, were the best players on the ice last night.

Heres hoping Buffalo has a few miracles left in them this season.

12 May 2007

Pathetic Officiating Continues...(game too!)

Ottawa dominates early in the OT; Buffalo controls play late. But one thing remains the same. The officiating of this game has been appalling. Obvious penalties missed, Tallinder hit from behind. Campbell cross-checking some Senator into next week prior to the tying goal. The refs top this all off with ticky-tack garbage calls at critical points.

A message to the Refs:

Call it all or call nothing, just make up your minds.

Danny Briere, Danny Briere, Danny Briere!!!!!

Told you!

Actually, what a tough break for Ottawa. They were clearly the better team for the last two periods. I am still furious about the two-man advantage, though. Campbell deserved his too a point, but the Zubrus call was just horrible!

I'll call the goal now. Tim Connolly wins it for Buffalo.

See you at the end of game.

A New Sabres Team Tonight ( But the Refs still stink!)

Wow, the first period might have been the Sabres' best in 4 months. It appears Ruff has just decided to turn them loose. I have been especially impressed with the way Briere has responded. He is playing aggressive and tough. He will score tonight. Someone appears to have re-energized Teppo as well. It was the best period he has played all year.

As for the referee's, in the arena and in Toronto, not a good start. The real problem I have is that the league allowed the exact same goal to count for Jason Pominville in the Islander series. This is the type of inconsistency that just hurts the game.

Furthermore, I am a firm believer that if you can't make a decision in 3 minutes then the call on the ice was probably good.

As for the Senators, the call for interference on Chris Phillips was awful. Pominville simply missed the pass. It is a good sign for Ottawa that they got out of the period only down one. Someone, though, should put out an APB for Jason Spezza and Dany Heatley. What a terrible effort they put out, especially on Vanek's goal. Ray Emery is really fighting it tonight and has let out some enormous rebounds. He must play better.

See you after two.

Still undecided...Senators or Sabres?

As I sit here at my computer desk, I'm still undecided one game into the Buffalo-Ottawa series who to root for.

I really like the Senators (only in the playoffs), and I think they have played fantastic hockey.
I would go for them, had it been any other team than Buffalo, I just don't know why, but I decided to go for Buffalo before the playoffs began, seeing my dear Habs were eliminated.

Two Northeast division foes facing off has got me all prickly inside, I wish I could make any easy choice but I just can't.

Well, Sherry did make me a "victim" in the hockey blogger's playoff pool and I am forced to write an article about her Senators, so maybe I should go for them, so she won't make me redo the article I will write.

Then again, it is only a playoff pool, and these are the playoffs.

I need help.

Who do I go for?

11 May 2007

Disappointment and Emery Reign in Buffalo

Color me thoroughly disappointed in the Sabres' effort in the 3rd period last night. I must admit I was totally confident going into the 3rd period tied. What I saw was a lackluster effort punctuated by some foolish mistakes. The Sabres have no excuse for coming up flat in a critical period like that.

Speaking of coming up flat what is happening with Danny Briere? It looks like he doesn't want the puck at all. I have to think that he may be suffering from a crisis of confidence right now. I think a lot of it stems from the power play struggles. Teams have focused on Briere on the power play and he has given the puck away numerous times. This really worries me.

The play of the night had to be Ray Emery's blocker save on Tim Connolly. It was a world class play and shot by Connolly and Emery simply beat him. In my opinion the game really turned after that save in the 3rd. Ottawa surged immediately afterward. It was an extremely critical save after the terrible goal Emery had allowed to Toni Lydman to allow Buffalo to tie the game.

It might be time to put Paul Gaustad on the power play. The sabres might just be better off planting him in front and just firing away. The current power play revolves around control and trying to set up the pretty goal. Maybe playing a more dirty type of power play would help the Sabres overall mindset.

I still believe the Sabres are better, but they better start playing that way...tomorrow.

10 May 2007

Chris Neil Must Die! (and other thoughts on Sabres-Sens)


- I hate Chris Neil. Plain and simple, I hate him! He is a dirty, blindsiding piece of dirt. That is enough of the nice things I have to say about him. It would be a shame if he got hit by the Metrorail (well, a shame for the Metrorail).

- Sabre fans need to acknowledge that every point Spezza, Heatley and Alfie score aren't a sign of failure. Those guys are going to score their points. We need to be worried about the Schaeffers, Comries and Vermettes of the world. If we don't control them it will be a short series.

- I expect a big series from the Kotalik, Connolly and Briere line. something tells me that Briere is going to make his mark in the playoffs this round. I also expect big things from The Afinigenov, Roy and Vanek line. They should be the beneficiary of some great matchups, especially against the second and third Ottawa defense pairings.

- Speaking of Ottawa's defense. I have heard multiple people anointing Anton Volchenkov and Andrei Meszaros as the next big things. I fully expect them to be exposed in the series. If they do get exposed Buffalo will have a field day.

- I am slightly embarrassed about Buffalo's response to Ray emery's shots at the city. First we got upset at Willis Mcgahee's parting shots, but now we are getting uptight about the comments of a second rate goalie? Come on people, we are better than that. They are from Ottawa for cripes sakes, not Honolulu!

- Sabres are simply better. Sabres in 5.

09 May 2007

NHL Playoffs Schedule for Conference Finals

2007 EASTERN CONFERENCE FINAL
#1 Buffalo vs. #4 Ottawa
Thursday, May 10, 7:00 p.m. at Buffalo
Saturday, May 12, 8:00 p.m. at Buffalo
Monday, May 14, 7:00 p.m. at Ottawa
Wednesday, May 16, 7:00 p.m. at Ottawa*
Saturday, May 19, 2:00 p.m. at Buffalo*
Monday, May 21, 7:00 p.m. at Ottawa*
Wednesday, May 23, 7:00 p.m. at Buffalo

2007 WESTERN CONFERENCE FINAL
#1 Detroit vs. #2 Anaheim
Friday, May 11, 7:30 p.m. at Detroit
Sunday, May 13, 7:30 p.m. at Detroit
Tuesday, May 15, 9:00 p.m. at Anaheim
Thursday, May 17, 9:00 p.m. at Anaheim*
Sunday, May 20, 3:00 p.m. at Detroit*
Tuesday, May 22, 9:00 p.m. at Anaheim*
Thursday, May 24, 7:30 p.m. at Detroit

These should be really interesting series, sadly (for me and my playoff pool hopes), there was no Cinderella team this year for fans to bandwagon on.
I chose the Wild to be that team, others chose the Islanders, or the Flames.

Detroit-Anaheim interests me a little more, since we don't always get to see #1 vs #2 in a playoff series.
They're both killer teams and it'll be very difficult to predict who a winner will be...well actually, now that Mathieu Schneider is out for the rest of the playoffs, Detroit has a glaring hole on its blue line, its #2 defenceman out!
So, Anaheim has the slight edge and I can see this going down to the wire, and may we please get a damn Game 7, which seems to be so difficult to get to this year!

Even though I like that series more, I probably will get to watch every single Sabres-Senators game, since up to this point, I have watched EVERY signle Sabres and Senators games on TSN and CBC.
I just don't feel like staying up till one in the morning to watch the Ducks play at home.

What will you be watching?

07 May 2007

Let it begin...NHL team vs. European team


Could a guy like Miro Satan endure intercontinental travel, even if it meant going back to Slovakia to play a game or two?

According to nos amis at TSN, a European team would face-off against next season's Stanley Cup Champion in September of 2008.

The IIHF apparently hopes that this exhibition will become an annual tradition, that most fans probably won't even bother with.

So:

European champion vs. Stanley Cup Champion = Something champion?

Really people, we need a name for this, "world champion" sounds too international, like a national team, and the term "world champion" has been abused enough greatly as it is.

I remember hearing the other day on TSN as well, that the NHL may expand...no, not in the US or Canada, but in Europe!
Cities like Moscow, Stockholm, Prague, Oslo may one day be home to an NHL team.

My question to you: does this foreshadow, or is it an indication that NHL hockey may one day end up in Europe?

But of course, there is intercontinental transportation involved here, which translates to jet lag, fatigue, time loss and I'd rather be on a plane heading to Chicago than to Olso, Norway.
I also don't think NHL'ers would appreciate the fact that they will constantly have to go to Europe and leave their family behind, and more teams in Europe may mean a longer schedule as well.

Transportation is one thing, but being able to attract a big enough audience AND build a succesful team in order to attract fans and support financially any new arena built is another.
There's no guarrantee that Europeans will switch from their Swedish Elite League Djugardens to watch some crummy Americanized Stockholm Stormers team!

Just a theory, it would be very interesting, but, I can already see the negative outweighing the positive, should this idea pan out.

--BBR

Sabres Escape from New York

It is over and Buffalo fans can breathe a bit easier, well, at least for a few days. The Sabres finally overcame a spirited effort by the Rangers after they brought their effort in line with their talent level.

I must admit I came away from the series with a much greater respect for Tom Renney and the Rangers in general. Unfortunately I also found my lack of belief in Jaromir Jagr reinforced in games 5 and 6. Jagr played ok but he had the ability to dominate this series. The Sabres simply couldn't handle him down low. Instead of bulling to the net and forcing the Sabres to play hack-a-shaq on him he was simply content to stay to the outside. On the Sabres end Danny Briere upped his effort nicely in games 5 and 6, but... a 7 million dollar player, as Danny is likely to be, needs to be better.

Color me thorughly impressed with Michael Rosival, Lundqvist and Martin Straka. I thought each of them brought it all every single game. They were the heart and soul of a strong Ranger's effort. I also liked the contributions of the young Rangers like Girardi, Callahan and Betts. Each played strong and bode well for the Ranger's future.

Kudos to Ryan Miller, Chris Drury and Henrik Tallinder who played marvelous the entire series. I honestly believe that Tallinder outwilled Jagr and did what you have to do with Jagr. If you make it hard for Jagr to be great he won't be and Tallinder made him work for everything and Jagr eventually faded.

Up next is the Ottawa Senators. This should be an emotionally supercharged series and has the potential to be an all-time classic. The NHL should get a showcase of the open, emotional hockey they want to sell.

My pick: Sabres in 7 nasty games.

06 May 2007

Sabres take care of Rangers at MSG...


Tom Renney receiving a round of applause as he acknowledges the Rangers' fans support throughout this series and the entire season as well.

Here's a final look at the series, from a Fanatic's point of view, and by no means a Rangers or Sabres fan's (ahem, PW and Ghost, feel free to comment.)

Buffalo Sabres

The Sabres played well in general, although, in their first two games on the road, at MSG (their only two losses) they played horribly, actually, uninspired, as if they didn't want to win, and I commend the Rangers and Tom Renney for the great show they gave us this series, it was a roller-coaster ride all the way and every game was decided by a single goal; the most recent (obviously, if you haven't heard yet) being a 5-4 Sabres win on this glorious Montreal (and hopefully, wherever you are) afternoon (or night...or morning).
After two paltry losses to New York in Games 3 and 4, I was beginning to think that they were running out of gas, and that (as the NHL has witnessed a lot in the past century)their fantastic season was all for none.

In Game 5, in Buffalo with the series tied at two, Chris Drury put through a maze of players, behind Henrik Lundqvist off a rebound that even fooled two defencemen trying to stop the puck derrière the Swedish-born goaltender as well.
Drury has shown he is an amazing leader, and Daniel Briere's under-par play this series is only fueling Darcy Regier in one direction concerning both players' contract status, (both are UFA's on July 1st, and it's unlikely that he will retain both.)more precisely, in Chris Drury's direction.
Drury also prompted Ghost to write a spontaneous, emotion-filled post late Friday night when his blood pressure was soaring and his hands were shaking after the Sabres won 2-1 in overtime, with help from Chris Drury's goal at the 19:52 mark of the third period.

Imagine this: a Rangers fan sitting excitedly on his couch staring at his television screen, feeling the unavoidable power of victory approaching.
But then, all is lost when Drury scores, and his coffin is sealed with Afinogenov's blast from the point.
Now? Well, now he's probably in Heaven, wishing he were in Hell.

No but really, Rangers fans have nothing to hold against their team, Glen Sather put together a terrific team, even more terrifically coached by Tom Renney.
Led by Jaromir Jagr (...at home) on the scoresheet (with a little help from Michael Nylander) and with Henrik Lundqvist stopping the puck in their own end, you can say bad luck was the reason the Rangers lost this series.
They played so well, and deserved to beat them Sabres, but, sometimes, logic prevails over reason.

The Buffalo Sabres are the better team, the best team in the NHL and have been tops ever since the new NHL was born, it was just logic that Buffalo won, and frankly, I thought it would have been a lot easier for them to put the Rangers away, but no.
New York fought till the bitter end, and it was bitter.

The return of Paul Gaustad to the Sabres' lineup was more valuable than thought, he was an all-around smashing success in his return to the lineup after missing 35 games with an injury.

I'll let the Ghost and PW fill you out on the players, these were just my general impressions.

Oh, and PW would like for me to present to you this little pic of his, showing Henrik Lundqvist's backdoor, his weakness, where the Sabres didn't shoot in Games 3 and 4.



--BBR

05 May 2007

Why the Sharks Won't Win

There is a big no-no in NHL playoff hockey. You cannot blow two-goal leads. The Sharks have now broken that cardinal rule twice in the same playoff series.

For all the praise that has come about the Sharks for their play this post-season, they're in a dog fight with a team they should have already sent home. Looking at recent history, this should not be of any surprise under the current regime.

After losing 1-0 in Game 7 to Colorado in 2002, and missing the playoffs in 2003, the Sharks finally overcame the Avalanche hurdle. After being up 3-0 in the 2nd round, the Sharks put the Avs away in Game 6. They then lost to Calgary in the Western Conference Finals, after winning twice in Calgary to even the series. What really stung the Sharks now Flames Superstar goalie Miikka Kiprusoff, started the season with the Sharks.

Fast forward to last season, the Sharks, now with Joe Thornton, beat the Predators as a 5-seed and found themselves as the top seed remaining in the West. They drew the Edmonton Oilers, whom they beat in the first two games. The Oilers than took 4 in a row after winning Game 3 in Triple Overtime, and the Sharks fell apart.

Now it is happening again. After an impressive 2-0 shutout in Game 1, the Sharks had their foot on the collective throat of the Red Wings, jumping out to a 2-0 lead in Game 2. Instead of going to the jugular, the Red Wings get back into the game, and win with less than two minutes to play. In Game 3, the Sharks pulled one out, dominated the 2nd half of the game and won going away. Even as Tomas Holmstrom returned from injury in Game 4, the Sharks looked in control of the series witha 2-0 lead in Game 4. Holmstrom then scores with 4 seconds left in the 2nd, and Robert Lang, a perennial whipping boy for the Red Wings ties the game before Mathieu Schnieder wins the game in overtime.

Enter Game 5. The Sharks should have swept the Red Wings, but still have a great chance. It was Game 5 where the real color of the Sharks showed up. After scoring the first goal, the Sharks played like a team that simply cannot win the big games. They got whitewashed in the last two periods, even though Schnieder broke his wrist and lost 4-1. Nabokov gave up a bad goal to Pavel Datsyuk, and the Sharks couldn't kill penalties.

Some are very surprised the Red Wings are up in this series, going to game 6. I am not. As the Sharks have proven over the years, they're a team that knows how to lose. For all the talk this team gets of being a contender every year, I simply don't get it. The Sharks want to be a team that gets the respect that teams like the Avalanche did and especially the Red Wings do. Winning commands respect, and the Sharks simply cannot do that.

04 May 2007

Druuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuury!!!!!!

All I can say is "amazing." What a clutch goal! The man just became a bonafide legend in Buffalo hockey lore. No matter how this ends.

Some random notes:

It appears the old Max is back!!

Lundqvist was amazing tonight. The guy is money.

I was very dissappointed in Jagr, he looked out of sync from the get go.

Michal Rosival is one tough cookie. I have been thoroughly impressed with him.

I never imagined that Danius Zubrus would be as tough and physical as he has been in these playoffs.

I expect game 6 to be a war. NBC has got to be really excited.

I'll write more when my blood pressure returns to normal.

Halak/Jekyll and Aebsicher/Hyde...


Ever read that tauting psychopathic novel that goes by the quaint name of "The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde" by Robert Stevenson?
Yeah, that Stevenson, the guy who supposedly was a schizophrene and exalted his horror into this book.

My essay due Monday on "duality" (a very vast and symbolic subject) in the book, inspired me to present to you this short but very helpful blog post, summarizing Jaroslav Halak and David Aebischer's season.

Gotta go write it now!

--BBR

Pot, Meet Kettle

Your overlord hasn't yet introduced me yet but I am a new addition to this merry cast of characters and will be taking care of your Ottawa Senators coverage. You can find my usual spews and thoughts about the team over at Scarlett Ice.

So with the Ducks finishing off the Canucks last night in the second OT period, it looks like the Senators might need to get a bigger bandwagon as they are the last thread of hope for the cup returning to its home country since, oh...14 years ago. But you know, no pressure or anything.



The Senators can eliminate the Devils with a win tomorrow and advance to the conference finals. Then, they twiddle their thumbs and wait for the Buffalo Sabres and New York Rangers to beat up on each other to await their opponent. Still, it's important to take it one game at a time. Ain't over until the fat lady sings but maybe that's just me being nervous for no good reason. Yesterday, Martin Brodeur attempted to deflect attention away from the fact that he's let in a string of questionable goals by saying his counterpart down the ice Ray Emery, "wasn't very good":

"I think we finally proved to ourselves if we shoot the puck on Emery, he won't look too good," said Brodeur, after he himself had a shaky night in the Senators' 3-2 win to take a 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven series.

"He was bobbling a lot of pucks and we could have got a lot more than we did. He played a good game, but I think we exposed him a little with his rebound control."


I think everybody was licking their chops at the salacious bitchiness of it all. I have to admit, when I first heard it I was all "Oh, no you di'nt!", myself. The general consensus I've been hearing is that most people think that Brodeur is just grasping at straws to 1) Deflect attention away from the fact that he hasn't been all that strong himself and 2) to rile his team up and get them fired up.

Now I don't have a problem with any of those things and if anybody can get away with saying stuff like that it's Marty Brodeur. I'm also not too concerned about Emery's play at all. He's never outplayed Brodeur in this series, but he's never had to. What Emery's been doing now works and on a team that clicks, everybody has a specific role to play and it's about accepting your job. Emery hasn't had to make particularly hard saves but it isn't necessarily about how difficult the save is, it's about the timing of the save. A lot of the goals Brodeur has let in, especially in the last game, were very deflating to the team and sapped the momentum from the Devils. Emery, on the other hand stood tall in the last minute of play when the Devils were desperately trying to tie it.

Watching these games, I have been at times been concerned with Emery's play though, I will admit. There are times at the start of games where he's looked shaky handling the puck. The biggest thing that people are harping on is his rebound control. However, none of them has lead to goals which can be attributed to the fact that there simply aren't enough Devils who are crashing the net. But also to the fact that Emery tends to kick his rebounds out to his defensemen so they can clear the zone. Whether or not this happens by accident or just part of his game plan, I don't know but if it works, it works.

Knowing Emery, this will just fire him up to play better. I've noticed from round 1 that Emery gets better with each game and he's shown that in this series as well. Emery's the fiercest competitor out there as evidenced when the Senators decided to sign Martin Gerber at the start of the season. He responded by improving his play and became the go-to guy for the Senators squad and they play with much more confidence in front of him.

All this being said, GO SENS GO!

© 2007 Bleu, Blanc et Rouge.

All Rights Reserved. The content of this blog is the sole opinion of these bloggers and does not represent an opinion of any kind of a professional NHL hockey team mentioned.