Archive by Author | dfetes415

I Still Believe…


As the Bee Gee’s once said, “Staying alive.”

That seems to be the motto of this new second half Sabres team. My last post on here (granted it was a while ago) talked about not firing Lindy. Think back to the first half of the season… could anything else have gone wrong? Miller goes down with a concussion and, as we’re starting to find out, maybe they take longer to come back from than we may have originally thought. Myers breaks his wrist. Erhoff goes down. Gerbe goes down. Ennis is non existent. Boyes gets hurt. Kaleta is getting suspended. Leino couldn’t get anything going and the Sabres we’re pretty much playing as the Rochester Americans.

And with all that being said, Buffalo sits six points out of the last and final playoff spot. The Sabres are 7-3-2 in their last twelve games and this is nothing new for Buffalo to start turning it on this time of year. The last few years, the Sabres have needed a late  push to get them back in the hunt and coming out of the All Star break, the Sabres are doing just what the doctor prescribed. Take a point a game. Start there and see what happens next. A week ago, Buffalo was ten points out of first and in just eight days, have already trimmed the lead by four points.

You have to see the team on the ice now as a whole new lineup. Lindy now has healthy defense jumping in the play, which is something that Ruff has always stressed for his blueliners. Myers now has a four game point streak and Erhoff is racking up assists faster than Jeremy Lin. Derek Roy has now decided to finally play hockey, getting in the mix and Kaleta is now skating close to 25 minutes a game. With the new addiction of an aggressive defense and Roy starting to skate, it has only made Jason Poiminville and Thomas Vanek even better. I always over looked Poiminville as just a average second liner but he has proven me wrong this year playing the All Star he so rightfully deserved. Say all you want about Vanek being a little girl for not hitting anyone with his 6’4″ frame but this guy is as tough as nails in front of a net. Gaustad is winning every single face-off the Sabres need him to late in games and all that combine with the one piece we’ve been missing for the four months and the Sabres are once again a threat… Ryan Miller.

So guys, should we still trade Miller? Right? Enroth has proven he’s ready. ..ready to be a middle of the road back up. This is still Ryan Millers team, Ryan Miller’s town and Ryan Miller’s game. Right now this guy could stop an aspirin shot out of a gun from 20 feet away. Look, the guy got off to a rough start and then gets laid out by Lucic. Playing goalie is a lot like playing golf and Bobby Jones once said, ” golf is played mainly on a five-and-a-half-inch course, the space between your ears.” Try battling a 90 mph slap shot while everything around you seems fuzzy. When the Sabres front office went out and signed big named players to win a cup, they did it to surround Ryan Miller… not to surround Jhonas Enroth. With Miller starting to play like the best goalie in the World again there is hope.

.. I still believe

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[Also if you guys like what you see and want to read more,  please check out my other blog sports at www.facetofetes.wordpress.com]

Don’t Blame Lindy For This ‘Ruff’ Stretch


I know I know Buffalo, this season hasn’t gone quite the way we wanted it to go. What I once thought was a slow star,t has now started to linger almost half way into the year. To make matters worse the injury bug has infested the Sabres new locker room and players can’t walk anywhere without stubbing their toe and landing themselves on the shelf for weeks at a time.

With 35 points and in 10th place in the Eastern Conference, people around the city have been starting to call for people’s heads. Don’t be mad or upset at Lindy Ruff, this recent period of tough losses has less to do with Ruff then people think.

I’ve heard all the talk that Ruff’s time has run its course. I’ve heard people say that the team has stop responding to him and that his 13 year tenure as a coach in Buffalo should be over. The skeptics and doubters of Ruff look at his time with the Sabres and don’t see much. A few playoff appearances here and there but the big elephant in the room is that there is no Stanley Cup title in the resume.

I agree with some of the points that are floating around. I can’t dispute that he hasn’t won the Stanley Cup in 13 years but who has he actually had to coach in his career? When, before this year, has he been given the pieces by the front office to go after that holy grail. Besides the year with Briere and Drury who else have  we given Ruff to work with? Mike Grier? The other Niedermayer? Oh I’m sorry I’m forgetting about the stand out studs of Tim Connolly, and Ales Kotalik? All the elite defense we have given him like Craig Rivet, Toni Lydman and Jaroslav Spacek. Every year the Sabres NEVER go out after top of the line NHL talent and instead give Ruff, and the coaching staff, washed up players who have enough trouble tying their skates, let alone scoring. But what has Ruff still been able to do more years than not… still make the playoffs. With all the nobody players that have gotten dressed in Buffalo over the years, Ruff has continued to put out a competitive team. Do you think teams were mad or worried when Chris Gratton, Curtis Brown or Andrew Peters resigned with Buffalo?

But even the rag-tag bunch of hockey players, Lindy Ruff has kept his head above water somehow and made runs in the playoffs year after year. Also, you could make a case that Ruff would have a Stanley Cup in Buffalo if it wasn’t for a staph infection breaking out in the locker room during the Eastern Conference finals in 2006. But I digress

The point is, for the first time Terry Pegula rewarded Ruff with top of the line NHL talent. The Sabres went out and improved the team in a big way and even gave Ruff and extension to boot. Think about it, if Ruff can win with garbage he is going to be able to win with the new improvements. All of a sudden the Stanley Cup is a real possibility. But what happens… EVERYONE GETS HURT. Ruff isn’t coaching the new acquisitions he’s coaching the Rochester Amerks! How are you suppose to beat NHL talent with a minor league hockey team?

The Sabres injury report looks like a phone book: Myers, Boyes, Gerbe, Ennis, Miller, Leopold, Leino, Hecht, McCormick and Kaleta. Are you kidding me? And your going to blame the coach for why they are losing? Besides Kassian and Foligno had any Sabres fans heard of: Paul Szczechura, Brayden McCnab, TJ Brennan, Corey Tropp, Joe Finley or Derek Whitmore? Come on…

You have to let Ruff coach with a full, healthy line up for more than three weeks to see if he can get the job done! He’s won 500 games with Buffalo and he will win plenty more.

In Ruff I Trust…

{PS.. sorry for not posting for a while. I have been working on a new blog at: facetofetes.wordpress.com}

Play With Urgency… Not Panic


After cleaning up in Europe and starting off hot in the states the Sabres have cooled off in hockey heaven. It’s been the problem the last few years and I know it’s only a skid that has lost 3 out of 4 but there is starting to be cause for concern… maybe we should put ordering the Stanley Cup banner on hold for a little.

It’s such a weird feeling right now as a Sabres fan. This is the most complete team we’ve had since we won the President Cup in 2007 but somehow we find ourselves at 6-4. I beleive are top three lines have the most depth in the NHL and our new defensive core with Ehrhoff and Robyn Regehr has played solid. But it’s the same old same… you can’t win if you don’t score and finding the back of the net has been a problem lately.

I sit down and watch the Sabres out play team after team and then I look at the scoreboard midway through the 2nd period and realize we’re losing 1-0. How crazy is this! We’re having trouble scoring… we’ll everybody but Thomas Vanek and Jason Pominville. Things just don’t seem to add up.

Miller plays solid but still gives up just one goal to many. Vanek and Pominville will combine for 5 points and it’s still not enough some how. I still believe the Sabres are a top 5 team in the NHL and it will show as the season goes on but it’s time to start playing with urgency… not panic…yet.

Captain Pominville?


Sabres are over the pond and looking good!

After spanking Alder Manheim 8-3 on Tuesday, Buffalo held a team meeting on Wednesday we’re they announced this years captains.

Lindy Ruff gathered the team and passed out their jerseys. Vanek, Roy and Gaustad received ‘A’s and will serve as assistants too… Jason Pominville?

Okay okay I can see where Ruff is going and respect his decision. He’s been in Buffalo as long as anyone and seems to go about his buisness quietly. Everytime I think it’s time to get rid of him you look at his numbers and are pleasant surprised. Plus look at this:

“The Sabres were 16-5-0 when Pominville scored a goal last season and 22-9-4 when he collected a point. When the 28-year-old right wing was out of the lineup, the Sabres were 2-5-2 in the regular season and 0-2 in the playoffs.”

While I would have loved to see a defenseman with a letter I don’t think anyone has been there long enough to deserve it and I’m ecstatic that the team didn’t just hand a letter to the oldest guy that walks in the locker room… cough cough Craig Rivet cough cough. Pominville knows how things are suppose to be run in Buffalo and knowing he’s the full time captain gives me a sigh of relief.

I have a good feeling he will actually be good enough to make the starting line up and not get sat because he’s too old to make a boards to boards pass… but i digress. The Sabres brought in Leino, Ehrhoff and Regehr but besides that most of these players have been around for a while. This is the core of the team and a lot of the players have come through the system (Vanek, Roy, Stafford, Ennis, Gerbe, Miller, Pominville, Grags, Myers) and they have gone through the ups and downs.

Hats off to Ruff and the team and congrats to Pominville he’s survived the good and bad and this team is poised for big things. One more day everyone… Lets goooooo

Can’t We Just Be Happy…


With a new owner, a resurgent GM and money to spend the Buffalo Sabres made their fair share noise this off season. When all the dust had settle from the wildest, fastest, and craziest free agency I’d ever seen in a 24 hour period, I saw Buffalo as winners. I’m sitting there on my lunch break listening to WGR Friday afternoon and encouraged by what I was hearing. Players we’re flying off the market left and right, all the while, the Sabres were waiting to make their next move.

With a new tougher, experience defense core that has to please Ryan Miller, Buffalo looked for another offensive weapon. I think what is over looked was the fact that Drew Stafford was already resigned which is a HUGE boost. Stafford proved that talent may take some time and tallied 31 goals in only 62 games last season. He was on pace to score 40 plus goal this year people! But the front office wanted more and rightfully so. So the Sabres opened their checkbook and shot for the stars (no pun intended), going after Dallas’ Brad Richards.

I can’t even remember the last time the Buffalo Sabres went after a top 10 free agent, let alone the most sought after player on the market. But nonetheless the Sabres took of their gloves and threw their hat in the ring. I wasn’t sure that we would get such a high profile player in the first place but people around the area thought we had a chance. They had a point; we have great young talent in Gerbe, Myers and Ennis. Proven talent with Vanek, Roy, Pominville, and Stafford. Two veteran defenseman to solidify a blue line in front of arguably the best goalie in the world. There’s logic why Richards ‘might’ come here. But, and the biggest but out of them all is, Richards is single bachelor unlike Regehr and Erhoff. You see it all the time in the MLB, NBA and NFL, ‘single’ players want to go where there is nightlife and things to do and Buffalo, in all its glory, has failed at times to draw the big name bachelors. New York, LA, Dallas etc seem to get most of the big free agent signs for whatever reasons.

The Sabres stuck to their guns and went to plan B and pick up a second tier forward in Villie Leino. A fine deal, picking up a young (27 year old player) that in just his first four seasons he has shown a break out year, much like Stafford, and that he can perform in the postseason, where in 2010 had 21 points in 19 games in the playoffs. Sounds like a good player to me AND on top of it we DID NOT resign Tim Connolly so Leino is a HUGE upgrade as he will take Connolly spot as the 2nd line center.  But some Sabres fan just can’t be happy…

Listen to the radio again today all you start to hear is, ‘Well I think we might have over paid for Erhoff and Leino.” ARE YOU SERIOUS? Let me get this straight because blood wants to squirt out my ears. First when we had Golisano and every off season we didn’t make a move or we just resigned the same players over and over again, hence Connolly, Hecht, Pominville etc. nobody was happy.  Fans weren’t happy because, and I quote “we wouldn’t spend the money to bring players in.” Now… we have an owner who is willing to open his pockets and sign players BUT INSTEAD your upset or worried that we overpaid for a guy!? It drives me crazy sometimes.

Please please please Buffalo fans just take a step back and realize where we were last off season or even the one before that… we were signing Mike Grier, Rob Niedermayer, Tim Connolly and largely over paying for Thomas Vanek BECAUSE WE HAD TOO, TO MATCH THE OFFER FROM EDMONTON. That’s all I ask, just be happy and realize that this is a new era and Pegula is sticking to his word of spending money to bring a Stanley Cup to our beloved town.

Face to Fetes’- Hello Philly… Hello Second Round?


Our playoff prayers started about a month ago when the Sabres we’re looking up at the Hurricanes in 8th place… boy that seems like ages ago now. In their final 24 games the Sabres went 16-4-4 and finished with 96 points; which would have been good enough for 6th place if they hadn’t lost the tie breaker to the limping Habs. And now after, what I would call a heartless effort AT HOME with your season on the line, the ‘Canes find themselves watching on their couch this season. So not only did the Sabres make the playoffs, they made it by catching fire and skate into the post season red-hot. If that wasn’t enough they face Philadelphia in the first round… oddly enough, that was our best case scenario! I don’t wanna face Ovechkin, Semin and a veteran core in Washington. I didn’t wanna face Pittsburgh who knows how to win the playoffs; on top of that- they have 106 points and that’s WITHOUT Sid the Kid and Malkin… That’s correct. That’s no typo, the Pens our tied for third most points in the NHL and they’ve done it with… I don’t even know who? Besides Fleury name three more players on the Penguins…? Times up. Exactly I have no clue how they did it and that’s why I believe Dan Balysma deserves the Jack Adams award for Coach of the Year. I wouldn’t wanna face Boston in the first round. At times we have tough time scoring and throw in Tim Thomas and we could be in trouble. Out of the top four teams in the east I am LEAST afraid of the Flyers. And I’ll tell you why.

Here’s another trivia question, who is the Flyers starting goalie? Trick question, neither do they. They might give the nod to 22-year-old rookie Sergei Bobrovsky but he has been anything but solid in the net for Philly this year (including getting pulled after 3 goals on 10 shots in the season finale against the Islanders). Actually at times he’s been so bad, Coach Peter Laviolette has had to turn 33-year-old career back up Brian Boucher. OHHHH NOOOO I’m so scared of that two-headed monster… please give me a break. I wonder how the shaky rookie will hold up when he looks down the ice and sees Olympic Star and reigning Vezina trophy winner Ryan Miller. I think between the pipes Buffalo has a slight advantage.

There’s no getting around the depth that the Flyers have up front but Buffalo is playing well too. Gerbe looks like the Hobey Baker award winner we draft out of Boston College and Vanek and Stafford and now finding the back of the net on a routine basis. Brad Boyes has been the best mid-season pick up the Sabres have had in years and Tyler Ennis is playing like Maxim Afinogenov in his prime.  Pominville has seen some success and I have no idea how but Tim Connelly has even scored a few goals recently. They’re no Briere, Giroux, or Richards but they can be a solid core of young talent. Defense can be a toss-up too depending on the health of future Hall of Famer Chris Pronger. If Pronger is 100% then it would be hard to find a better defense group than Philadelphia. For Buffalo, Tyler Myers and Andrej Sekera will have to limit their careless mistakes to give Miller or Enroth (for the matter) a chance.

All in all I think it comes down to goal tending as so many playoff series often due and i see Buffalo having the advantage. Sabres in six?

Face to Fetes’: Controlling your own Fate…


With eight games remaining the Sabres hold a three point lead over the eighth and final playoff spot. It’s really not that complicated at this point… win the games you NEED to win and your golf clubs can stay in the closet a little longer. Carolina is on the outside looking in and they have the same number of games remaining as Buffalo. Buffalo don’t look at what Carolina is doing, it doesn’t matter! All you need to worry about is winning your games. YOU CONTROL YOUR POST SEASON DESTINY. It’s that simple.

With that being said. It’s our jobs as fans and journalists to worry about the stuff outside of the Sabres control (and people in Buffalo do that so well). Looking at both teams remaining schedule, Buffalo has a clear advantage with the easier opponeants. The next eight games the Sabres will play New Jersey on Saturday at home, and since the Devils have returned back from their unreal winning dream, have been 5-4-1 in their last ten. Then we take on the Maple Leafs, Rangers, Capitals before a big meeting with the ‘Canes in Raleigh. That’s not horrible. Then they finish with Tampa Bay, Philly and Columbus. I know right now that might not seem so easy and you may be asking how in the world can I say we have an advantage. Stay with me…

The Hurricans on the other hand have the Lightnight twice along with the Capitals, Habs, the Islanders, the already mentioned Sabres, the Red Wings and Thrashers. I like Buffalo’s schedule more. I wouldn’t want to play Lighting twice along with Washington, Montreal and Red Wings who are all battling close for playoff seeding.

The Sabres can be a dangerous and it’s no secret why… Ryan Miller. We’ve all seen it, every once in a while Miller goes unconcoius and just decided to not allow any goals. People have seemed to forget about him just because he wasn’t an All-Star this year (and as much as I loved the new format I think the NHL wanted to get new faces to the fans this year). He’s played 62 games (which seems fake) and he still has 32 wins, with a 2.62 GAA. Those numbers are even more impressive when you think at times his defense has look liked it couldn’t stop a pee wee hockey team. Ryan Miller can single handedly get hot and stop everything from pucks, traffic, and evil villians for two weeks and carry the Sabres to a deep play off run. He’s still the defending Vezina Trophy winner until someone takes it from him. Oh yeah and he’s played in some pretty big games before… and I don’t think whoever gets the number one seed in the east is better than team Canada… just saying watch out.

Hey Sabres… Keep your blinders on and take care of your business and you’ll be playing in mid-April.

Hello Terry…


With only a few days until Terry Pegula takes over ownership of the Buffalo Sabres, hopes around town are high. People are ecstatic that there is now an owner who loves hockey, has plenty of money and WANTS to spend it on big name players. I agree 100 percent and I’m as excited as the next person but don’t be so quick to forget about who saved the franchise just a few years ago.

In 2003, the founder of Paycheck and New York businessman, Tom Golisano purchased the Sabres and ultimately saved the team. The Franchise was a mess and finically they were in trouble with rumors of relocating were in the works. Golisano did not allow that to happen as he took a chance on an ‘ugly duckling.’ The three season prior to Golisano taking over the Sabres were 35-35-11, 27-37-10, and 37-34-7; never coming close to a playoff berth. On top of their dismal play on the ice, nobody was showing up to the HSBC Arena, hence ‘ugly duckling’.

Although his three bids for New York Governor failed, his savior of the Sabres was a success and with a new look starting after the ’05 lock out, Buffalo was once again a force to be reckoned with. New jersey’s, a new logo, new security and new hope helped propel, the once again blue and yellow, to deep playoff runs and the first President Cup Trophy in their history.

Golisano never claimed to be a Sabres fan… not even a hockey fan. But he knew what this team meant to a region in need. There was no money and no real outlook that there was going to be a lot of cash to be made. Even with their recent success since the lockout, reports came in that the Sabres were not even making a profit until the first round of the ’07 playoffs; four years after Golisano took over.  He’s a businessman and a politicians but he spent some of his own money to help Buffalo.

When Terry Pegula came into the mix, once again, Golisano did the right move…selling the team to someone who wants  to take the team to the next level. Pegula is a self proclaimed ‘die-hard’ Sabres fan with plenty of money to spend, and hopefully lift Lord Stanley’s Cup. Just don’t forget about all that Tom Golisano did for the team we all love. Golisano’s next stop… saving the Buffalo Bills?

 

The New Drew Stafford?


Greetings TRW fans,

I’m really glad to be a part of the family here and although this is my first post, I’m sure it wont be my last. I’ve been writing for sports websites now for three years mainly at (bylinesports.com) and as a journalist I believe in the Atlanta Braves, Tim Tebow and, of course, the Buffalo Sabres!

The New Drew Stafford?

While the Sabres post season hopes are dim but not out of the question, everyone can take solace in the outstanding play recently of Drew Stafford. I had never been a fan of the former North Dakota Fighting’ Sioux but it looks as though he has starting to settle into his role.

With Buffalo five points out of the 8th and final playoff spot, they can have some comfort knowing they do have two games in hand on the Carolina Hurricane. But if they want to make a late push in the second half of the season I believe Drew Stafford HAS TO continue to step up in big games down the stretch.

Look coming out of the pre-season where the Sabres went 4-2, the player, coaches and press were all talking about Derek Roy. Yet when asked who was the best playing in camp, Lindy Ruff said Drew Stafford. Stafford played well in the six games and found the back of the net fairly regularly… I didn’t think much of it. Still Ruff went on and talked about his progression over camp and said he was going to have to be a big player this year if the Sabres wanted to make some noise.

In 33 games this season the 5th year Sabre has 17 goals and 27 points, including two memorable hat tricks. To put that into perspective, Stafford has two more points than Niedermayer and Grier combined and they have played 60 more games. I know this is all hypothetical but I’m just saying 17 goals in 33 games is technically on pace to score 42 goals over an 82 game season… just saying. In the mean time, with the 60 extra games, Grier and Niedermayer have COMBINED for three goals total…all season… it amazes me how they are still on an NHL team. They would get cut from a travel hockey team… but I’ll save that for another post.

Back to the matter at hand… Drew Stafford.

Maybe his pre-season wasn’t a fluke? He’s already been a 20 goal scorer in his career back in 08-09 but he’s never stood out enough, in my eyes, to really grab attention away from Vanek and Roy with his play. My thoughts are slowly changing on that every time I’ve seen him skate this year. He’s shown me something this year that a lot of Sabres haven’t shown me… the ability to finish. He’s no Hecth or Connelly (even Pominville I feel misses some grade A chances at times). Stafford has had the killer instinct this year to find the back of the net. That’s what separates the Crobsy’s, Stamkos’s and Kessler’s this year from the rest of the pack.

Another thing to go along with his hands and scoring ability is this guys size. He is no Gerbe, Ennis or Roy. He is listed at 6’2” 214 but after sitting along the glass earlier in the year he looks bigger than that. I know the injury bug has bitten him this year (along with the rest of the team) but he hasn’t had a huge history of being on the shelf, as he has averaged 71 games over the last three seasons.

I’m not saying he is as good as Vanek or Roy, but not everyone comes into the league and tears it up right away like Crosby, Ovechkin or Stamkos. Some guys take a few years to adjust and find their role on their team. The Sabres have shown patience with Stafford and this season, when healthy, has been arguably the most dangerous and most productive.

The Sabres upcoming schedule is not the most challenging in the world but if they want to make a run a few things need to happen and a lot of that has to do with remaining healthy. At times, Buffalo’s power play has looked flawless and Stafford is second on the team with seven power play goals. I tell people all the time, that when a guy like Patrick Kaleta is in the line up the Sabres are a different team. This year Drew Stafford has been that catalyst.

In Drew Stafford I trust….