Tag Archives: Buffalo Sabres

Two Games For Tootoo? Good Call

Sabreland patiently awaited word from the NHL’s hearing about Jordin Tootoo’s charging penalty against Ryan Miller on Saturday night in Nashville. The league took it’s time with this one, announcing this afternoon that Tootoo will be suspended for the next two games without pay.

Since WordPress won’t allow me to post Shanahan’s explanation, here is a statement handed down from the league office:

Nashville Predators forward Jordin Tootoo has been suspended, without pay, for two games for charging Buffalo goaltender Ryan Miller during NHL Game #379 Saturday night, Dec. 3, in Nashville, the National Hockey League’s Department of Player Safety announced today.
Under the terms of the Collective Bargaining Agreement, and based on his average annual salary, Tootoo will forfeit $13,513.52. The money goes to the Players’ Emergency Assistance Fund.
The incident occurred at 15:54 of the second period. Tootoo was assessed a major penalty for charging and game misconduct on the play.
Tootoo will miss games tonight vs. Phoenix and Dec. 8 at Columbus. He will be eligible to return Dec. 10 vs. Anaheim.

In Shanahan’s explanation, Tootoo is driving to the net with the puck, but loses it before he is able to make a play. Tootoo had enough time to avoid Miller even though Sabres defenseman Christian Ehrhoff was making body contact with Tootoo. Another thing Shanahan nitpicks about is the fact that Tootoo jumped into Miller. While Shanahan understands the claim that Tootoo jumped to avoid contact, it actually made the play more dangerous, resulting in contact with Miller’s head. As you can see:

The result of the play was a massive scrum by the net, which included Paul Gaustad involving his fists, as well as Miller taking matters into his own hands, throwing blockers at Tootoo’s face. Furthermore, Tootoo was penalized with a five minute major for charging.

First of all, that’s already a lot more than what Milan Lucic got for running Miller outside of his crease. Lucic, if you remember, was given two minutes for that particular incident. The call on the ice was suitable for what Tootoo did. He was also ejected from the game.

When word came from the NHL yesterday that Tootoo was going to have a phone hearing with Shanahan, many were worried that the league might not come down on Tootoo at all, as the maximum suspension Tootoo could have gotten from a phone hearing is just five games.

Tootoo was given two games, though, and that seems good enough. Frankly, we shouldn’t even compare this to the Lucic incident, which was completely different from the way Tootoo ran the net.

In Lucic’s case, Miller went to make a play on a loose puck out of his crease, standing upright. Miller wasn’t “fair game” in this case, but he certainly put himself in a position to get severely hurt, which is what ended up happening, as Miller suffered a concussion from this play. While Miller was in a position in which he could get hurt, though, Lucic had plenty of time to steer clear of any sort of accident. The league really screwed that call up.

In this case, Tootoo was driving with the puck to the net, with Miller in his crease making sure the puck stays out. Tootoo loses the puck, yet still keeps barreling into Miller. Unfortunately for Tootoo, his trying to avoid hitting the goalie by jumping only made matters worse. Hitting the goalie like that, whether a player meant it or not, is a big no-no.

While Tootoo is what many fans are considering a “repeat offender”, keep in mind that Tootoo has been in the league eight years, and the last time he was suspended was when he sucker punched Stephan Robidas of the Dallas Stars almost four years ago. For reference:

Yeah, that was pretty blatant. The charging call on Miller didn’t seem as blatant. If anything, Sabres fans should be more appalled that Lucic got nothing for a more vicious hit on Miller than Tootoo did on a routine drive to the net. It looked more like Tootoo was trying to avoid the contact by jumping over Ryan Miller rather than just barrel into him. Not every player can think like Ryan Kesler and just jump on top of the net:

It’s basically the exact same thing. Kesler just made a much better choice and tried hopping over the net instead, while still making contact with the goalie.

Frankly, two games is enough for this incident, considering Tootoo was given a major penalty and was ejected from the game. There was no way this would get anything more than that. Again, it was a routine drive to the net in which Tootoo lost control of the puck, and himself. Nothing more. Jumping into Miller doesn’t seem like the best call to make, but perhaps Tootoo was a great long-jumper back in high school and thought he might try to put that to good use. Better luck next time, bud.

Honestly, there is no reason to believe that it’s going to be open-season on goalies from this point forward. How many other incidents have we had this year where the goalie was completely run over and nothing was done about it? Just that one from Boston game? Miller is the only goalie that has been viciously hit, and now that it’s happened twice, it obviously leads to the conclusion that Lindy Ruff was right, that it truly is going to be open-season on goalies. However, in reality, this seems to be a huge coincidence that just happened to involve the same goalie twice in a row, and the likelihood of it happening again seems fairly slim.


Trade Rumors: Why They’re Fun and Why They Suck

I love when the trade winds start rocking the boat in November. It’s the beginning of the season, and teams are supposed to be feeling out where they’ll be by mid-season in January. Some teams are doing really well, like Boston, who went 12-0-1 in November. Naturally, fans and media alike wouldn’t think to mess with the mojo of a team by talking trades. Of course, there are those anomalies like Vancouver, who are playing well in front of backup goalie Cory Schneider, who in the month of November had a save percentage of .942 along with 2 shutouts. Roberto Luongo isn’t doing too hot, so naturally, fans are thinking it’s time to trade franchise goalie Roberto Luongo.

I stress that we are only two months into hockey season.

Of course, all hell broke loose this past week when a rumor was floated out through the hockey world: the Anaheim Ducks had made Bobby Ryan available by trade. The Ducks were a mess in November, winning only 2 of their 13 games. It made sense that the Ducks were looking for a shake-up. Everybody and their mother was trying to figure out the right trade to bring Bobby Ryan to [insert team name here]. For a while, it seemed like the New York Rangers and the Philadelphia Flyers were the teams most likely to get Ryan to play for their respective squads. Status quo.

Along the way, Hall of Fame hockey writer Jim Matheson of the Edmonton Journal reported that Ryan Miller may not consider it the worst thing to be traded out of Buffalo. This one picked up a ton of steam simply because of the amount of respect Matheson has from the hockey world.

It was Tuesday night that things started to get really interesting. Ducks GM Bob Murray and two Anaheim scouts paid a visit to Buffalo to watch the Sabres play the Islanders. Twitter erupted shortly afterwards, trying to figure out why a hockey GM would ever decide to go to an opposing team’s arena to watch an NHL hockey game.

Who would have thought that it’s more or less because they can?

The hockey world was a mad-house on Wednesday. WGR was talking about trade ideas with Anaheim for the entirety of Schopp and the Bulldog. Reports were coming in and out all day that team A was out, team B was in on Bobby Ryan. Ryan referred to the trade rumors as “a nightmare.” His coach, Randy Carlisle, pretty much told him to deal with it.

This went on all day until around 10:00 Eastern time, when the Ducks and the Montreal Canadiens got things going in Anaheim, with Bobby Ryan skating on Anaheim’s second line. That’s when things started dying down.

Where does Ryan Miller fit into all this? Obviously, the Ducks were looking for a big piece back in order to ship out a player as talented as Ryan. The only explanation was that the Sabres and Ducks were talking about a trade for the two players.

Unfortunately in the hockey world, trades aren’t that simple. Besides, the Ducks are set at goalie with Jonas Hiller. Trading Miller for Ryan didn’t make sense, in any respect imaginable.

If Ryan Miller was going to be traded, it would have been news to him, which is news in itself. Miller has a no-trade clause, where he’d have to submit a list of eight teams he does not want to play for.

It is awesome that we have something like this to talk about in the month of November. Year in and year out, we as fans wait for the trade deadline in order to discuss ridiculous deals that (probably) aren’t going to happen. To have something like that to talk about in November is awesome for hockey fans who aren’t especially fond of the first part of the regular season.

Of course, the bad part about a rumor in November is that it makes the entire hockey world crazy about just that one rumor, until it’s over-hyped so much that every single team’s fans think that their team can get the guy that’s being hung out like bait for other teams to grab a hold of. Fans dream up every single possible (or impossible) way in order to satisfy their urge to make that player a member of his or her favorite team’s roster.

The point of this story is that when a star player’s name is floated out like Bobby Ryan’s, the entire hockey world stops in awe of who might actually pick up a guy with his caliber. He’s a decent sized forward with a ton of skill that can help any hockey team in the scoring department. There’s not a team in the NHL that doesn’t want Bobby Ryan, except for the Anaheim Ducks, seemingly.

In the end, the Ducks just did what every other team does when their team needs to be re-energized. They fired their coach.


The Injury Bug Strikes Again

So, while we head into the month of December, the Sabres find themselves with a slew of injuries, which even the best of teams would have a hard time overcoming. Let’s take a look at those injuries who is injured:

Ryan Miller – Concussion
Tyler Myers – Wrist
Robyn Regehr – Upper Body
Mike Weber – Upper Body
Brad Boyes – Lower Body
Tyler Ennis – Ankel
Cody McCormick- Upper Body
Patrick Kaleta – Lower Body
and following last nights loss to Columbus its being reported that a mystery forward is hurt and might miss tonight’s games. (UPDATE: Drew Stafford is reported to have a groin injury, according to WGR’s Paul Hamilton.)

Day-to-day injuries happen, and they are expected over the grueling 82-game season. The Sabres’ injuries fall mostly into the “wait and see what happens” category, with no real timetables for any player’s return. The only two players from the above list that have been skating in no contact drills are winger Tyler Ennis and defenseman Mike Weber.

To try to alleviate the pain from these injuries, the Sabres were forced to call up many players from the Rochester Americans. The Sabres must be relieved that they remade this partnership with the Amerks before the start of the season. So in case you’re having trouble matching the numbers to the names in tonight’s game here is a list of those players who were called-up:

54 – Zack Kassian – 1 NHL GAME – RW
58 – Paul Szczechura – 83 NHL GAMES – C
78 – Corey Tropp – 9 NHL GAMES – RW
33 – T.J. Brennan – 2 NHL Games – D
81 – Brayden Mcnabb – 0 NHL GAMES – D
31 – Drew Macintyre – 4 NHL GAMES – G

Hopefully the injured mystery player doesn’t prove to be too costly, and the Sabres can find a way to battle hard and pull out what should be a tough 2 points against a Washington team that is also in need of an important 2 points.


Things I Think: Did You Hear Sidney Crosby’s Back?

(This is a weekly segment at Hockey Heaven, New York. It features TJ Luckman’s thoughts on the Sabres, the NHL and other things that tickle his fancy.)

1) The Sabres have called up the Chosen One, Zack Kassian, due to Brad Boyes’ injury against Boston on Wednesday night. John Vogl of the Buffalo News picked up some tweets from Kassian’s teammates indicating Kassian was on his way to play in the Sabres’ next game against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Friday. The Sabres later confirmed that news through their website. While many fans have been calling for this move to be made since the Sabres’ debacle in Boston nearly two weeks ago, I don’t think this is the right move for Buffalo. WGR 550’s Matthew Coller says that Kassian hasn’t exactly been the physical force the Sabres might be looking for, but he’s certainly helping in the points department, leading the AHL’s Rochester Americans with 14 points in 18 games.

Speaking of call-ups, T.J. Brennan had a memorable debut in his first NHL game, scoring in his first NHL game to put the Sabres ahead 3-1 against the Bruins on Wednesday night. Of course, the Sabres couldn’t hold on, losing 4-3 in a shootout, which Puck Daddy’s Harrison Mooney finds pretty ironic.

2) You don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone. All the while, I kept telling myself that hockey was fine without Sidney Crosby. The Penguins are still good with Malkin, and Dan Bylsma is one Hell of a coach. I wasn’t looking at this past Monday with as much fanfare as NBC Sports was when they decided that Crosby’s return was much more important than the rivalry game between the Montreal Canadiens and the Boston Bruins.

And then it happened.

Sid the Kid (is he ever going to be the Man? We need a new idiom for when he finally grows up, if he ever does) exploded on the scene against the New York Islanders, collecting four points in a 6-0 beat down on the Island. As much as I can’t stand the guy, everything he does is pure magic. He instantly transforms the Pens into a Stanley Cup contender. Of course, Sid was held scoreless against the St. Louis Blues the following game, so maybe he just took advantage of a cake matchup…

3) Since Jeff Carter’s return from injury to the Blue Jackets, Columbus has grabbed points in five of the last six games (3-1-2). Depending on what you think about overtime losses, that’s not bad. Perhaps he’s more important to the BJ’s success than anyone actually realized. Or maybe that’s just good timing. Who knows.

4) Thanksgiving is a bad day for a hockey fan. I can’t wait for Christmas.

5) Movember is the coolest thing ever. As a participant in the more laid-back (read: lazier) “No-Shave November”, I’m jealous of the mustaches that NHL players can grow. I never saw Thomas Vanek as a facial hair grower, but his mustache is very impressive. George Parros of the Anaheim Ducks always shaves his epic mustache for the month in order to grow it back for charity. Bruins goalie Tim Thomas created a new goalie mask design to show his support for the month, not to mention show off his great ‘stache. Ducks goalie Jonas Hiller did the same, only his design is slightly more creepy.

Movember benefits those who suffer from prostrate cancer, or other problems in men’s health. Go to the website here to donate to the cause, if you can.


The Road to Redemption

There is no better may to combat a tough game than to comeback in the next and make everyone forget that last one ever happened.  Tonight the Sabres will try and do just that with the visiting Calgary Flames in town.  The team will look to rookie goaltender Jhonas Enroth to steady the ship tonight.  Coming off a game where he held the Philadelphia Flyers scoreless for roughly 53 minuets.

Its no surprise that Lindy Ruff is giving Enroth the nod for tonight.  Even though he might just be sticking to the schedule like he says, when a goaltender puts up a shutout the majority of the time the coach will ride that goalie.  In my eyes this is the right decision to make for several reason.  The first being is that in protects Ryan Miller for the time being.  It is well advertised that Miller plays an emotional game, just look at his reactions when there is a missed call or something he disagrees with.  Even though Miller would like to make you think otherwise I for one believe that the boos get to him, and not in a good way.  Having Miller most likely go on Saturday night in Ottawa at this point is the better scenario to put Miller into to get his confidence built back up and return him to that passionate goalie we all at some point have loved.  With that all being said the other reason i support this as i stated above Enroth is the hot hand, during his relief stint he was a perfect 15 for 15 against the Flyers bringing him to a .955 save percentage in his three appearances on the young season.

Missing from the Sabres lineup tonight will be Buffalo native Patrick Kaleta.  Kaleta was suspended 4 games by Brendan Shanahan and the NHL for a headbutt he landed on Flyers foward Jakub Voracek.  While at the game I initially did no see the headbutt, upon watching the reply of the incident I have to say the NHL made the right call on this one.  Don’t get me wrong I love a Kaleta hit has much as the next Sabres fan, but there is a difference between a nice clean hit and ramming your helmet into the jaw of an opponent.  If this was a first time offender the NHL most likely would of let the player off with a warning, but since Kaleta is a repeat offender of the offense the 4 game suspension is a fair ruling in my eyes.

Taking the spot of Kaleta in tonight’s lineup will be Sabres prospect Corey Tropp, who will be making his NHL debut.  This call makes sense since Tropp plays a physical game much like Kaleta.  During his 2011-2012 campaign so far  Tropp has notched 4 goals and 3 assist while compiling 16 penalty minuets in 10 games played, while playing for the Rochester Americans, the Sabres farm team.If I had to guess where Tropp will be inserted into the lineup, it would be on the 4th line with veterans Matt Ellis and Cody Mccormick.  This would move Brad Boyes onto a line with Paul Gaustad and Nathan Gerbe and leave the top two lines alone.

Despite what people might think the Sabres besides the first seven minuets of the game played a solid game.  The Lenio-Roy-Stafford showed some sign of chemistry and where creating chances and pressure throughout the rest of the game.  Even though they didn’t find the score sheet I think if you keep this line together for some more time then 1 game you could see some great things from them down the line.  The top line up Vanek-Adam-Pominville continued there hot start of the season and will be looked at to continue it while the rest of the team has yet to hit there stride.

Players to Watch

Buffalo Sabres:

Robyn Regehr:  Regehr will get the chance to play his former team tonight for the first time.  Like most players he is probably excited to get out there and play against the team he spent his whole 11 year NHL career with before being traded over to the Sabres this past summer.  While Regehr has yet to find the score sheet as a Sabres he has brought something much more important to this team, and that is grit and determination.  Ask any player who has tried to squick past Regehr while entering the offensive zone, and they will tell you how hard he hits.

Calgary Flames:

Olli Jokinen/Jarome Iginla: Both Jokinen and Iginla are entering tonight game on high points.  In there last 4 games both Iginla(2G, 2A) and Jokinen(2G, 2A) have 4 points during this stretch.  Look for these line mates to try and continue there game from last night against Detroit today against the Sabres.  Combined the two forwards tallied 3 goals and 2 assists in the Flames 4-1 win.

Between the Pipes:

Tonight’s match up will feature two goalie seeing there 4th appearance of the season.  The Sabres will send out rookie Jhonas Enroth(2-0-0), while the Flames will feature Henrik Karlsson(0-1-1).  The advantage tonight has to go to Enroth who is posting a .955 save percentage in his 3 appearances thus far, while Karlsson has struggled posting a measly .881 save percentage to date.  If Enroth can continue his solid play the Sabres should skate away with the W aginst a less talented Flames Squad.


Here we go Again

Tonight the Sabres will take on the conference rival, Philadelphia Flyers.  This game has importance for several reason, mainly showing that they can indeed play at home.  Since i last wrote (sorry got busy)  the Sabres have returned home for a stretch that has them play 7 out of 8 games inside the confines of  the First Niagara Center.  On the season the Sabres are a abysmal 1-3 at home, not only losing but looking terrible in doing so.

The Sabres will be looking to come out strong and put this behind them.  The Flyers are not in anyway a give me game, but the players should have the motivation to come out and beat the team that ousted them from the postseason last year.  An added bonus will be the abscencse of Daniel Briere from the Flyers lineup as he is out with an Upper-Body injury.  Briere has generally been the biggest problem for the Sabres since hes relocation to the Philadelphia, so this should help the Sabres in defending the Flyers offense.

Beyond the Flyers the Sabres should be looking to make a statement to the home crowd that will attend the game tonight.  The fans are not asking the team to win every game at home, we are just asking that you put the effort out there and play the game we know your capable of.  This is the earliest I can remember the team being booed at home in a long time.If the effort is put in and the team does not try to over do it on the flashiness there is no reason this team shouldn’t be winning at home like they are on the road.  Granted this has been a same sampling of the season thus far, but as everyone knows every singal point out there is important when it comes to the end of the season.

With all this in mind Lindy Ruff made some much needed changes to the lineup in hopes of creating a new spark in this team.  Marc-Andre Gragnani will take to the press box tonight and Mike Weber will take over for him on the blueline.  I have been asking for Weber to get his chance from the start, going back to last years playoffs he has been one of out better defense man.  From what i understand Weber will be pairing with Robyn Regehr.  All i can say is Philly forwards i hope you wear some extra padding tonight, this pair should hit everything in site and look for Weber to come out hungry after sitting in the press box since the start of the year.

Up front Ruff will be moving Ville Leino back to pivot where he will join the top line with Thomas Vanek and Jason Pominville.  Not to say Luke Adam was doing a bad job on this line,  this move is clearly just trying to get Lenio going and no better way then to put him on a line with your two highest scorers this season.  When asked about Lenio, Ruff had this to say:

“We’re trying to be patient, let him try to make some plays and it doesn’t mean he’s going to fit right where I’ve got him, right now, but I know he’ll fit. It’s no different from when Danny Briere got here and Danny didn’t want to play center, he felt wing would be his best spot and I thought it would be center and eventually he ended up and center and that would be his position so I’ve got lots of experience to rely on.”

Look for the rest of the lineup to stay pretty much the same, except for the powerplay which will now be sans Gragnani and see Derek Roy take over the point on one of the units.

Players to Watch

Buffalo:

Matt Ellis: During his 3 games with the Sabres thus far,Ellis has been one of the Sabres few bright spots during that stint.  Hes hard work earned him a spot on a line with Roy and Drew Stafford midway through the Panthers game.  While registering 1 assist this season Ellis wont dazzle you with his point production, but will with ability to play Ruffs system almost to a tee.

Philadelphia:

Scott Hartnell:  Hartnell is on a real hot streak as of late, During his last 4 games he has amassed 9 points( 4G, 5A).  Hartnell is not afraid to play the body physical in both the offensive and defensive zone.  He is well know as being one of those players you love on your team and hate on the other team.  Defenseman should be on the look out and ready whenever Hartnell is on the ice because he is as much a physical threat as he is a offensive threat.

Between the Pipes:

Tonight’s Goaltending  matchup will find Ryan Miller(4-4-0) vs. Ilya Bryzgalov(4-4-1).  Both former Vezina finalist will be looking to get there season back on track after facing early struggles.  How these goalies play tonight will go a long way in determining which of there teams will be leaving the First Niagara Center tonight with the W and the important 2 points.


Who is Luke Adam?

After his hot start (2G, 2A) to the young 2011-2012 season, many people might find themselves asking: “Who is Luke Adam?”

Adam joined the Sabres organization back in 2008 where he was taken in the 2nd round, 44th overall in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft. Adam’s route to the NHL started via the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.  During his time there Adam produced at nearly a point a game pace accumulating 220 points (113G, 107A) in 236 games playing for the St. John’s Fog Devils, Montreal Juniors, and the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles.

Adam’s first professional experience came when he joined the Portland Pirates in the 2009-2010 AHL playoffs.  During this three-game stint, Adam registered two assists.

The 2010-2011 season saw Adam split time with both the Sabres and the Pirates.  For the Sabres last season, Adam played in 19 games across several stints, in which he scored three goals and added an assist.  In his time with the Pirates, Adam impressed. Adam lead all rookies in scoring, putting up 62 points (29G, 33A).  This lead Adam to being selected to the AHL Eastern Conference All-Star team. Adam also went on to win the Dudley “Red” Garrett Memorial Award, which is awarded to the rookie of the year in the AHL each season.

At first glance, it looked as though Adam was going to find himself starting the season with the Rochester Americans, Buffalo’s new AHL affiliate club.  Adam, however, must not have gotten the message, because he has played his way onto the Sabres’ top line.  An injury to veteran Jochen Hecht, and the waiving of Ales Kotalik might have helped in Adam earning his current spot, but his play has spoken volumes about himself.

From the start of the Sabres’ rookie camp, all Adam has done is impress.  This all started with Adam joining other Sabres’ prospect to take on other prospect teams in the Traverse City Tournament, a prospect tournament held every season in Traverse City, Michigan that is hosted by the Detroit Red Wings.  Adam, along with line-mates Zack Kassian and Marcus Foligno, lead the Sabres’ prospects to the title.  Adam and his line-mates often looked a notch above most of the competition that they faced,  which was expected from the top 3 forward prospects within the organization.  Adam was named the MVP of the entire tournament.

Adam continued his success into the preseason, where he found himself playing with some more experienced talent.  During his four games played with the team, Adam put up 1 goal and 3 assists with his goal coming via the power play.  This lead to Adam getting the nod to stay with the team and travel along with them to Europe.  Some thought this was an insurance move since teams traveling to Europe were allowed to travel with and extra player and goaltender on the roster.  Since Jochen Hecht was injured and deemed unavailable for the games, Lindy turned to the rookie to take his spot over veteran Matt Ellis, who has filled in nicely when the Sabres have called on him in the past.

Adam took this role and went with it.  Many were surprised when Adam was seen centering a line consisting of leading scorer Thomas Vanek and veteran winger Jason Pominville.  To say that Adam has succeeded so far would be an understatement.

So far during this young season, Adam has amassed two goals and two assists in two games.  The Vanek-Adam-Pominville line has tallied 13 points thus far.  It is safe to say that if this line stays in tact and continues to click, you will being seeing Luke Adam for years to come sporting his Buffalo Sabres jersey.

Adam could just be the number one offensive center the team has been looking for since the departure of Daniel Briere.  Only time will tell if Adam can continue this pace of production.  If he does, a shot at the Calder trophy is not out of the question, along with the possibility of Adam putting up numbers in the range of 25 goals 60 points.

Of course, it’s only been two games. Sabres fans can’t get ahead of themselves just yet.


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