RON’S RANT: SABRES HAVE A PROBLEM, BUT IT’S A GOOD PROBLEM!
The Sabres have started off in fine fashion. 3-0-1 after 4 games and scoring plenty of goals. Eichel is becoming a superstar, Dahlin is racking up the points (7 leads all defensemen) and the line of Larsson, Girgenson, and Okposo is bringing back memories of the hardest working team in hockey.
The defense is playing very well, including Scandella and for the most part, Ristolainen. That is a problem, but a good problem. At first, every figured when Montour returned from injury at the end of the month, he would slot in for Jokiharju, who is eligible for Rochester without clearing waivers. Four games into the season, The Joker, as he is affectionately known by, looks very good, and may be impossible to take out of the line up.
Ok, then replace Scandella, one of the whipping boys on defense? Not so fast. He and Joker have found chemistry with each other, and Scandy looks reborn. Not taking out McCabe or Dahlin, so options seem very little. Pilut is also expect to be available late October after he recovers from injury, although it looks like he would go to Rochester for conditioning and probably get stuck there until something shakes up with the big club.
Leaves us with Ristolainen, whom many expected to be traded during the summer. As well as he is playing, he is the most likely trade bait. Moving Risto would most likely net a top winger. The Skinner line needs a winger to replace Sobotka.
If you are worried about depth, both Gilmore and Borgen are NHL ready talents just waiting for spots to open up. Moves are going to have to be made, especially on defense as the well is over flowing and there is no room at the Inn once Montour and Pilut are healthy.
That is a good problem to have for a GM looking to bulk up his right wing. And its a problem that has to be taken care of well before the trade deadline. Keep your eyes open.
END OF RANT
“RON’S RANT: THE BEST 23
It’s pretty simple. Just because a GM says “we will put the best 23 in the line up on opening night” does not mean he will put the best 23 in the line up on opening night the way you think he does.
Take Cozens for example. Is he one of the best 23? For sure, probably one of the best 10. Does it mean he should start the season in Buffalo? Absolutely not. He is a young 18 year old kid still figuring out his body parts. Lots of skill, and he should for being drafted 7th overall, but has much growing and learning to do about the game.
Botterill makes it clear that development is very important in creating a winning team. Playing in Buffalo now is not developing. It’s a recipe for disaster. Look at Mittlestadt. Should have stayed at Minnesota one more year, then a season in the AHL. He should be sent to the AHL this season, but don’t expect it to happen. Poor lad is going to have the learn the job on the fly (opposite of what Botterill normally does). What will help Mitts is Johansson taking a center role and dropping Mitts down a spot in the line up.
Thompson has had a good camp and looks like he could finally be ready to take the leap. He is 15 lbs heavier, looking smarter, and really prepared himself in the off season. A good season by him could go a long way into the Sabres playoff hopes this season.
Botterill has a way, a system, a belief. Impatient fans will just have to be patient. IF Cozens is here on opening night, then Botterill and Krueger will believe he is mature enough and ready to handle the load. But, if he is sent back to juniors, as I suspect he will be, it’s not a bad thing.
RANT OVER AND OUT”
02/18/19 HOUSLEY IS NOT THE PROBLEM
Phil Housley, Coach of the Buffalo Sabres, has been getting raked over the coals by fans and media alike. Not all fans and not all media. For every Jeremy White who says he is the issue, there are the Mike Harrington’s who claim, rightfully so, that you can’t fire your coach every two years. Or we will just keep starting over.
Housley’s coaching history shows he is a young players coach. He served as the head coach when Team USA won the gold medal at the 2013 IIHF World Junior Championship. As an assistant coach with the Predators for four years, he handled one of the best young defenses in the NHL “He brings such a different element to coaching because of the player he was; he sees the game unlike probably anyone else who’s ever played the game,” Subban said. “When he talks, all that matters to me is what is coming out of his mouth.”
Fast forward to today. Phil is in his second season as NHL coach of the Sabres. Had a very nice start earlier this year, including a 10 game win streak that elevated the hopes of the fans higher than it has been since May of 2007. The “scary good” Sabres were back. Or so we thought.
Since December, the team once again has fallen on hard times Fans went from arguing why he should be coach of the year to why he should be fired. Is firing Housley the right answer? I don’t know but I will stick this opinion with you: Housley showed, as previously mentioned, he can work with young players and succeed. Who is playing well for the Sabres? Jack Eichel; Sam Reinhart; Jeff Skinner; Rasmus Dahlin; Lawrence Pilut. Mitelstadt looks to finally be coming into some kind of form. Not only are these guys the core of the future, they are all very young, with the exception of Skinner who is 26 (but still young).
Who is not playing well? The veterans. Who is not getting the job done? The veterans. Some are having decent seasons for what we expected (Girgensons, Larssons) but over, the veterans on this team are the issue. Not because of Housley, but because, quite frankly, they are not very good.
So, this is not a Housley issue. Its more a Botterill issue. He has to continue to replace the bad with the good. And I believe he will. What happens between today and September will tell a lot about this teams immediate future. And will tell quickly if Housley will get the support he needs from management to succeed.
02/05/2019 DRAFT POSITION CLOUDS FANS JUDGEMENTS
CJ Smith is 24 years old and was signed by the Sabres as an undrafted free agent. Lawrence Pilut is an undrafted free agent signee who is 23 years old. Victor Olofsson, now 23 years old, was drafted in the 7th round in 2014. What do these 3 players have in common? All three are players that many Sabres fans are enamored with, especially the 23 year old Pilut.
Jump to Alex Nylander. The now 20 year old who was drafted 8th overall in the 2016 draft. Many fans have already given up on the kid. Why? Cause he was drafted 8th overall and expectations are/were high. He didn’t make it by now so he never will is a common sentiment by fans.
Draft position is a stigma laid on players that often clouds the judgement of fans. If he was drafted in the third round, fans would not be clamoring to “trade him now”, the mentality would be different. Forget the fact he started in the AHL as an 18 year old, which is unusual, and should have been sent back to juniors. Forget the fact his second season as a pro last year was riddled with a major groin tear he had to deal with all season. Forget the fact he had a really good camp this year and probably should have started with the Sabres over certain other players. Forget all that. Fans just remember he was drafted 8th overall and he is now 20 years old and should be a top 6 forward putting up 20 goals and 60 assists. Because he is now 20 and drafted 8th overall.
Draft position does not guarantee length of time it takes a player to develop. Dahlin is 18 and considered a world class phenom. Those are rare. Pilut, at 22, was voted the best defenseman in the Swedish league last year, the same league as Dahlin played in last year, on the same team with Dahlin.
Sometimes, players take a bit of time to develop. We all want CJ Smith and Olofsson called up because of how they have been playing. As 24 and 23 year olds. Yet we are disappointed in Alex Nylander because he is not a star in this league at 20, which because he was drafted 8th overall (not his fault) its “expected” of him.
Forget where a player is drafted. Don’t rush to judgement, don’t rush to get him out the door. Nylander is 20 years old and developing in Rochester. It’s not hurting the organization that he is in the AHL. No reason to just ship him out because. Look at Olofsson, Pilut and CJ Smith as examples of players who take a bit of time to develop but eventually become NHLers we adore.
RON’S RANT – 01-23-19
TIME TO “CUT BAIT” WITH NYLANDER…. NOT!
For the last week, a debate has been brought up about Alex Nylander. Is it time for him to be traded? Reading many comments on Twitter, its probably around the 50/50 mark how fans feel about that. On the side that don’t want to, many of their remarks come with a but: But i dont think he will amount to much, but need to find out for sure.
Ok, lets cut to the chase. Nylander is 20 years old. Was drafted 8th overall in the 2016 draft, after scoring 75 points in 57 games in the OHL. First mistake: Putting him in Rochester his first year instead of sending him back to the OHL. He was not ready for the pros yet. Further proof to this is, that same year, during international competition, he racked up 26 points in 15 games, including 10 goals. He would have been better served going back to the OHL for proper development.
His second pro season was marred by an injury that he never 100% recovered from right out of camp.Yet still managed to put up 27 points in 51 games. He is now in ONLY his third pro season, and his development has come along. He has 25 points in 37 games, but more importantly, his overall game has vastly improved. According to Brayton Wilson (WGR 550) who sees the Amerks play regularly, Nylander is “going to the dirty areas, going to the front of the net”, and added while his point total is not lighting the world on fire, he has been setting up teammates with good chances. Also, he only has 57 shots and has scored on 9 of them. That is a 16% shooting %.
I asked Sabres Prospects Kris Baker: “Where are we on Alex Nylander. Many fans are giving up on him, and bloggers want him traded now as his value wont be any higher. I have high hopes for him still.”
Kris Baker replied to me: “Fans gave up on him when he was 18. There have always been parts of his game that I wish were different (I’d like him to shoot more) and have been clear about needing to show more want (he’s improved), but 25 points in 37 games as a 20 is not a bad thing. Bottom line is any guy can be traded. If a team pays a good price he could be moved just like any one else. I ranked Sergachev higher and they passed him, but I’m not joining the mob that aggressively wants to ship him out.”
Nylander is a 20 year old kid who is developing. I cannot understand why some fans/bloggers need him traded now while his “value is still there”. What is the rush? Why can’t he continue to develop in Rochester? Why can’t we give him some more time? Fans are coo coo for cocoa puffs over Victor Olofsson, a player many never heard of until this year. Well, he is 23 years old. Drafted by Sabres in 2014 and since has never put up outstanding numbers at any level. After getting off to a hot start with the Amerks, he has cool considerably. Victor has 33 points in 37 games, including 13 goals, many of which came in the first month of the season. He developed in the Swedish league for 4 years after being drafted, and turned pro just this year.
Lastly, I felt he had a good training camp and preseason and should have been in the lineup over Tage Thompson and Evan Rodrigues. Neither have had a good season to this point, especially ERod, while Thompson has shown some flashes.
So, no, it is not time to “cut bait”.
RON’S RANT 1-15-19
THE WAGON IS EMPTYING, QUICKLY
The Sabres cushion they built during “The Streak” has evaporated quickly, and just as quickly have the fans begun the cries for Housley’s head. Why? Because that is what fans do. Must be the coaches fault. But is it?
Housley’s penchant to mix up the defensive pairings, especially after finding pairs that have shown success analytically, is mind boggling. That is a strike against him. Scandella staying in the line up while Pilut or Beaulieu have swapped in and out of the line up, is strike 2. But, other than that, there has not been a strike 3. So, he is not out. Housley is not the one making bad passes, whiffing on shots from the blue-line.
While the Sabres have struggled to land in the win column of late, their on ice play has been good, for the most part. They lost to the Islanders, but Sabres were the better team. We lost because our starting goalie flubbed a 55 wrist shot. We lost to the Capitals twice, one in overtime. The over time game should have never gotten to OT, as Reinhart hit the post with seconds left in the game, a yawning net. The other, well, lost late because our starting goalie played the back badly behind the net.
We were the better team against Carolina, Tampa, and even last night, in a 7-2 drubbing to the Oilers. We lost because a crazy number of bad bounces, so many you might not see in an entire season, have happened the last two weeks. Take way those crazy bounces, the outcomes very well could have been different.
Metrics are showing the Sabres are trending up. The wins should start coming. We need stronger play in the nets, and we need bad passes by Pilut and Scandella, and whiffed shots by Ristolainen, to stop happening. Can’t give the other team opportunities they do not deserve.
Fans point out “pace of play” is exactly same as last year, if you take out “The Streak”. Well, for one, the streak happened, so you don’t take it out. Two, the team is playing much better than last year, much fast, more exciting. We are losing game we deserve to win, just like we win games we probably deserved to lose. That is sports.
Sabres are coming up on an 11 day rest. Botterill and Housley will figure this out. Then, they come back and after two road games, play 7 straight games at home to start February. That is where the Sabres have to make hay. 30+ games in the season, where a winning streak quickly changes the outlook, once again.
RON’S RANT 1-02-19
SLUMP BETTER NOW THAN LATER, AND PROBABLY NEEDED
Sabres start off the New Year in a playoff spot, a 2 point lead over the NY Islanders. If we were told that in October, I believe we all would have been excited to hear that.
Sabres (and fans) enjoyed a 10 game win streak. It catapulted us in believing we were scary good. Playoff scenarios were dancing in our head. Jack Eichel for Hart Trophy and Phil Housley for Coach of the Year statements were the norm. Memories of 2005-06 came back in a rush.
Then, the unthinkable, the unfathomable happened. Over the next 15 games, the Sabres only have 4 victories. Their 9 point lead over the last non playoff team has evaporated to 2. The clamoring for Housley’s head has begun. Trades must be made. This team will not make the playoffs is now the cries of the fan. The mood in Sabreland has gotten ugly.
Well, I am here to tell you that it is not only ok this slump is happening now is better than later, when it is to late, but, probably needed. What? A slump is needed? Let me explain. Coming into the season, most expectations were a playoff bubble team. Be in it right until late March, and that will be progress. Early on, this team surpassed those expectations with the win streak. The slump has not only brought our expectations down, but has gone too far on the other side of the spectrum. This is a very young team, still developing. This slump should be a learning experience. Learn how to deal with adversity, learn how to get out of it. These are growing pains, for both the team and the fans.
As much as it is no fun, this was expected by many in the analytics world. Signs were showing during the streak that our play was probably not sustainable. This team has been carried by one line, while others like Sheary and Okposo are going through career slumps. Secondary scoring is not there. With that said, save for a period here and there, the Sabres play has been pretty good. Even their record over the last ten games is even at 4-4-2. Just so happened the Islanders went 7-2-1 over their last 10, closing the gap.
Reality is, Sabres will soon break out of their slump and the Islanders will hit a slump, and by the end of January, Sabres will most likely have a 7-9 point lead over the last non playoff team.
In closing, the Sabres are not as good as a 10 game win streak would make you think, and they are not as bad as a 4 wins in 15 games slump has you thinking now. We are a playoff bubble team that will be fun, or dare I say “should be fun” to watch grow the rest of the way. Don’t let your emotions get the best of you (although these emotions have not been felt in a long time and that alone makes this season great), and keep everything in perspective.
This is a young team with super star talent that is a playoff contender, but soon a Stanley Cup contender.
RON’S RANT 12-18-18
I made a comment the other day on here and on Twitter that seemed to be taken the wrong way:
“Sabres fans are struggling to believe in this team. Many waiting for the wheels to come off. You can tell by comments such as “we need secondary scoring” even though the top line is on fire. It doesn’t have to cool off. Talent is talent. I just feel too many are not enjoying this ride right now.”
One of the replies I received was, “Not complaining Ron. Not at all. Just trying to open your eyes to what it takes for long term success. You seem to thrive on debating. That’s fine. But you need to be realistic!”
Listen. My comment was about now. In the moment. Not long term success. I know this team is not complete nor do I believe it is a Stanley Cup contender. I do not need my eyes opened to anything. It’s hockey, I got this. My feeling really is people are too wrapped up with the future of winning a Cup (yes, I want a Cup too, been waiting over 40 years in my hockey life), that they are not enjoying the moment or moments like they could be.
Jack is having an MVP type season; Skinner is scoring goals at a rate we have not seen since Mogilny was here. Our goaltending has been really solid – both have been good, very good. What does this get you? “We need more secondary scoring!” Yes, we all know that.
Housley is having a Jack Adams (coach of the year) type season. The team is 13-3-3 in its last 19 games (that means only 3 regulation losses in 19 games, which really sounds more impressive when you say it that way), and currently sits in 2nd place in the division, 2nd place in the conference, and 5th overall in the league. What does that get you? “Not playing Skinner in OT is a fire-able offense!” Really??
Skinner has 3 OT goals this season. 2 of them were on a 4 on 3 PP. You know how many OT goals he had during his 8 year career in Carolina??? 2. One came in his 2nd season and the other in his 4th. He didnt get a lot of playing time in OT in Carolina, either. Housley was asked why Skinner didnt play in OT vs Caps, he said it was a personal decision. That seemed to get the ire up with fans and bloggers. He was asked about it again during his weekly morning radio segment, and he added when asked about it, “I go with a feel. How the game is going!” That was exactly my words over the weekend to those who complained about it.
Listen folks. I get it, we all want a championship. We are all dying to just have a winner in this town. Very few predicted the Sabres to make the playoffs this season and NO ONE predicted the team to have this first half. Skinner has 24 goals in his last 30 games, after scoring a total of 24 in 82 last season. Eichel is becoming a SUPER STAR before our very own eyes.
We have a GM who knows how to build a winner. He knows we need more scoring from others for “long term success”.
Enjoy the moment. Enjoy the now. The future will get here fast enough.
END OF RANT
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.
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.
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.