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Ron’s Rant

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RON’S RANT 12-11-18

BUY NOW, NOT LATER

Sabres are off to a great start this year. They have some talent at each level (offense, defense and in goal). They are primed to make the playoffs for the first time in 7 years and quite possibly a playoff series win, depending on the match up.

But, there are some deficiencies that Botterill needs to address, and no better time like the present. Don’t wait till February to strike deals at the last possible minute, make some moves now. Sabres biggest need is secondary scoring. Either trade/waive some of the slugs we have now and bring up a Nylander, Smith or Olofsson, or make a move to bring in someone.

This team has a plethora of left handed shooting defensemen. Brendan Guhle could be moved to bring in a winger to help on the third line. Evan Rodrigues, who has done absolutely nothing this season and is barely holding onto a spot, might have some value, possibly a third round pick, which would open a spot for CJ Smith or Alex Nylander to come up.

With the goaltending we have been getting and the scoring we are getting from Jack and the top line, which I believe will continue because Jack is that good and makes whoever plays with him better, a tweak to the 2nd and third lines now could go a long way in not only securing a playoff spot, but a top 3 division finish.

TIME IS OF THE ESSENCE, MR. BOTTERILL…. NOW, NOT LATER!!!

RON’S RANT 11-29-18

NOW IS GREAT, BUT THE FUTURE IS BRIGHT AS….

Sabres are good again. On a 10 game win streak, the talk of the town, and just a whole lot of fun. But there is so much more to this story that is unfolding in front of our eyes.

The Sabres are a very young team, and they have a core group made up of kids that will be here for the foreseeable future. But, this is not THE team we will see in 2 years. Expectations are Olofsson, Pilut and Nylander will be in the fold soon. Ullmark is probably the goalie of the future while Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen is in the wings.

Our GM was criticized for his moves last year, and criticized early in the season for allowing Thompson to stay up, allowing Girgensons and Larsson to stay in the line up when there are Amerks who appear to be better. Housley getting ragged on for letting Pilut sit in the pressbox on his two call ups, and for letting Rodrigues sit as a healthy scratch 7 times this year.

Calls for Housley’s head came after the opening night loss (yes, Jeremy White). Fans were already saying its going to be a long season. Complaints about Dahlin’s ice time were irritating the fans.

But then….

Sabres started winning, and winning. Coming back from deficits of 2 and 3 goals. Winning at home (8 home wins as of November 27th, only 11 home wins all of last year). Winning on the road in places like Pittsburgh, Winnipeg and Minnesota. Beating Tampa Bay at home. Blowing leads late, but prevailing in overtime. First hockey team to be in first place in the NHL after 25 games after finishing last place overall previous season, in NHL history.

The buzz is back! Fans chanting a count down of not how many goals in a game, but how many wins in a row they want, as witnessed last night. An hour after the game, fans in the streets chanting “Let’s Go Buffalo!”… Honking horns, high fives, and its only November.

And to culminate all of this, RJ finished the game by quoting himself, “You asked for it, you got it. These guys are good, scarrrry good!”

LETS GO BUFFALO

RON’S RANT 11-19-18

TIME TO COME BACK, FANS

For the last several years, the Season Tickets Holders (STH) have been selling off their tickets to many games in hopes to recoup some of their losses financially. Can you blame them? The product was bad and for awhile, it looked hopeless. I mean, who would pay to go see a Broadway play that you know is bad over and over? So, the building was often full of opposing fans, especially if playing a Canadian team. But, that can stop now.

Fans, especially the STH, you have held onto your tickets for many years, waiting for this day to come. Waiting to go to a game where you see not only wins, but fun, exciting hockey. You kept your tickets in the hopes that someday their would be meaningful games to attend to. That day has arrived. Time to start coming back downtown. For many of you, the name of the building has changed, maybe a few times, since you last stepped into it.

It is time to come back, get loud, be proud, and cheer on OUR boys. Don’t stay away and hold it against this former group of players, they are not at fault for the previous failures. They are a young fun energetic group who deserve your cheers. Don’t let the Leafs fans come in and own the building. It is our building. Own it.

Time to come back home, fans! The boys are back in town!

RON’S RANT 11-13-18 BRING BACK THE FIGHTER

For the last 15 years, I have been a big advocate of removing fighting from the game of hockey. Felt there was no place in the game for it anymore. The game has gotten faster, players more skilled and, for a lack of a better way to put it, less tougher. The burly beasts of Larry Playfair, Jim Schoenfeld, Tie Domi, Bob Probert and Donald Brashear have all gone by the wayside into a new generation of hockey players. The toughest guy on the Sabres may be Rasmus Ristolainen. What does that tell you?

But over the last few years, I have seen some gruesome “attacks” on the star players in the NHL. Most of these have been cheap shots that have resulted in fines and/or suspensions (which are hardly ever long enough). Players of all shapes and sizes have taken liberties on the star players of the league, most notably Bruins punk Brad Marchand.

Marchand would not get away with his antics in the 70’s and 80’s because teams had their enforcers, their policemen. With what has been going on in recent years, maybe its time to let the players begin to police themselves, cause it worked in the past. We need our star players protected. Yes, players can fight, but the penalties for going after a player usually is too costly to the team. An instigator penalty along with 10 minutes puts your team at a disadvantage for too long. The real instigator, the one who threw the cheap shot, often gets away scott free. Its time for that to change.

NHL needs to get rid of the instigator rule and allow players to handle business. Otherwise, the McDavid’s, Matthews and Eichels of the league, will eventually be harmed with no fear of retribution.

End of Rant

RON’S RANT 11-9-18 – JUST ENJOY THE GAMES, FANS!

Last night’s game vs the Montreal Canadiens was one of the most fun games I have watched the Sabres plan in a long time. Brought back instant memories of the 7-6 playoff win vs Ottawa in 2006. The game was fast, exciting with lots of scoring back and forth. Not a game for the defensive-minded, mind you! Im sure the coaches hated it, too. Who cares, im a fan, I loved it. I want that game every night, win or lose.

I think some fans are really missing the enjoyment of the game. They look to critique the negative no matter how fun the game is. Complaining about the goalie, “We could have won by a lot if we had better goaltending”, or “the defense is terrible tonight”, or “Risto would have been the goat if Montreal scored on that 3 on 1”, which was said AFTER the winning OT goal by Risto.

Fans also get caught up too much in the analytics phase and really just missing the game. Get too caught up in the details of every stat: time on ice, plus/minus, time of possession. As a fan, I only get caught up in the stat that matters: the scoreboard. Yes, its part of being a fan talking about players playing well and not playing well, and who we would like to see up here from Rochester, etc. That is part of the fun.

Fans need to relax a bit and not break down every goal for or against and break down a play to the bare bones. It just does not matter. First goal by Montreal was a beauty last night – 2 on 1 with a nice pass across the ice through Dahlin. Some say Dahlin played it poorly, some say it was a great pass that he played correctly. Fine, opinions will differ. Neither was right or wrong, but it became the source of contention. Like, someone HAS to be right. Fan A makes opinion, Fan B makes an opinion. It could end right there, but Fan A has to argue his opinion further, to the point of breaking it down and using stats . Like really? Move on, you gave your opinion. What fun is arguing EVERY point?

Analytics is the new wave in sports. Some coaches in hockey say they are starting to hurt the game. For example, Caps Coach said Corsi is hurting his team because his players are just shooting the puck from everywhere to improve their own personal Corsi. And many fans live and die on analytics, and use it to defend their opinions way too much, taking the enjoyment out of some discussions. For example, a few years ago, I picked Calgary to make the playoffs around November. All season long, one fan kept reminding me they probably won’t because the analytics are against them. Well, hockey is not played on a computer with analytics, its played on a sheet of ice with a round disc that bounces sometimes, by imperfect human beings who will make a mistake by either trying to hard or, just misplaying the puck. Goalies will make incredible saves or give up bad goals. Analytics cant tell you those will happen.

So fans, start enjoying the game in front of you. Especially now that the Sabres are back and look great, and FUN!. Oh by the way, about that Calgary team a couple of seasons ago that will miss the playoffs because analytics said so… they not only made the playoffs, but won the first round.

Go Sabres!!!

Ron’s Rant 11-1-18

Listen. It is pretty simple. Sabres were supposed to be better this year while Senators were supposed to be in the Jack Hughes sweepstakes. Ottawa had a nice October for them, considering, but have cooled off considerably as expected.

Sabres are playing well, for being the Sabres (3-0-2 last 5) and their next two games are a home and home vs the aforementioned Sens. What does that mean? A must sweep 2 game set. 4 points in the standings. Not 3, not a split. 4 points. Sabres are better than the Sens in goal, on defense (Scandella not withstanding) and on forward.

It is early in the season and yes, calling games Must Wins on November 1 may seem ludicrous to many, but these two games are MUST WIN. MUST 4 points. Points in October and November are just as important as the ones you are fighting for in March and April. Teams like Ottawa are teams you have to beat if you want to be a serious playoff contender.

Last season, Sabres had a terrible record vs the bottom feeders of the NHL and threw away too many points. All good now (Rasmus Dahlin), but at the time, not so much fun.

It starts tonight. 4 points in the standings over the next 2 games are crucial. Then after that, you got the Rangers, Canadiens and Canucks. I dont expect a 5 game win streak, but, these are beatable teams. So, lets start with the two MUST WIN games and go from there.

Ron’s Rant 10-22-18

Last night was probably our best game overall since pre- Eichel. Every line played well and as well as they played, they fell in a 2-0 hole on a couple of bad breaks. But, they didn’t cave like us fans are accustomed to. They kept going, kept fighting. They were rewarded. A game like last night could be a franchise saver. They followed up a great game with an even better game. Thursday becomes the most important game in the Eichel era.

Where did it start? With Housley figuring out pairs on offense that could work. After starting Eichel with Skinner on opening night, and after 40 minutes showing there was zero chemistry, he made the switch with Sheary, hoping to light something. Although they didnt score that night, they looked like they had a connection. It carried through the next two games, which ended in victories. As the pair tailed off, Housley went back to pairing Jack with Skinner and it paid off with huge dividends over the weekend. Hopefully, these two, along with Pominville (who may be the key figure for that line), they can go on a nice long tear.

Another subtle move was taking Thompson out of the lineup and moving Rodrigues from a bottom role line into the top 9 and back to his more familiar position on wing, where he flourished growing up and at the University of Boston.

And finally, the missing piece of the puzzle in Zach Bogosian. When healthy, he is one of our best defensemen. But, he has to stay healthy.

For the moment, Housley looks like he finally found some magic in them there players. They have won 5 games in October for the first time in 7 years. It’s a start.

Now, the real fun begins….. Go Sabres!

Ron’s Rant 10-16-18 – Stop Blaming Owners

It gets tiring when fans want to blame the Pegula’s for the current situations of our hockey and football teams’. Why blame them? Let me guess: Cause they hired the GMs and coaches over the years, and picked the wrong ones.

So here it is… So what? Pegula’s came to town to buy the Sabres from an owner who only bought them to save them from bankruptcy and possibly leaving the city, until he could eventually find a person who would keep them in Buffalo forever. He eventually did the same thing for the Buffalo Bills, assuring us their longevity.

In the meantime, he started a Renaissance in downtown Buffalo that was 75 years in the waiting, and as a business man, he gets big time kudos for that. But, that aside, he wants winning teams here in Buffalo. So, what does he do? He talks to other people to get an idea who would be good people to put in charge.

Sabres – gave Darcy a chance with the “chains removed” to see if he can pull off some earlier magic. Didnt happen, replace him with Murray. After 2+ years and tanking and trying a quick rebuild, Murray was yanked when the winning was not apparent any time soon. After some time and discussion, he hired one of the hottest up and coming Associate GMs to become GM, who happened to be an expert at the Cap.

Bills – same thing with Whaley. Gave him 2 years, then replaced. They hired Ryan as coach, who got less than 2 years. Now they are on to McDermott/Beane.

Their job as owners is to try and find people to be put in charge of the operations and hope for the best outcome. They dont pretend to be experts at sports ownership. They dont try to be Jerry Jones and meddle. They try to hire the right people. Just like in any job.

I grew up hearing fans hate Ralph Wilson. Then he hired Polian, we went on a 10 year run, everyone loved Wilson.

Pegulas are great at management. They manage the business. These teams are not about making money for them, otherwise, we would already be hearing about him wanting a new building for the Bills, instead of just the opposite: The Ralph (now New Era) is perfectly fine, while fending off the wolves known as Jerry Jones and Roger Goodell.

Stop blaming the owners. That is just lazy.

End of Rant.

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