Reaction to Canucks/Sabres 3.4.12

Positives:

– Ville Leino played his best game as a Buffalo Sabre in the team’s 5-3 victory over the NHL’s number one overall team, the Vancouver Canucks. Not only did he notch two goals (his first multi-goal game in nearly one year), he looked incredibly comfortable at the center position. He won faceoffs and made all the “little” plays. Most important, he has found chemistry with Nathan Gerbe and Pat Kaleta, which leads me to my next point:

– Patrick Kaleta has found a way to be more than relevant again in the NHL. He is often penalized for otherwise legal play, with a large target on his back in the eyes of the NHL. He has found new life, playing more like Nathan Gerbe and making things happen in the offensive zone. His two assists were well deserved. Not to mention, he is playing well without friend and linemate Paul Gaustad (who had an assist in his debut as a Predator tonight).

– Ryan Miller looked great again. The goals against were not a result of poor play by any means.

– Matt Ellis, Corey Tropp, Mike Weber, Andrej Sekera, and Alexander Sulzer all had very solid games.

– The Sabres played incredibly well in the third period, despite giving up a few goals. Their work ethic was top notch and enabled the team to get a win. Short shifts were the key.

– Christian Ehrhoff scored in his return to Vancouver after last season’s Stanley Cup Finals run.

Negatives:

– Zack Kassian and Marc-Andre Gragnani decided to show up. Interesting, given their play was next to useless in Buffalo earlier this year.

– The Sabres almost blew an early 3-0 lead, but almost doesn’t count. They escaped this time.

– The officiating by tonight’s referees was brutal. Three debateable calls included two high-sticking penalties in which the sticks did not even touch the opposing player (very good acting on Vancouver’s part) and a penalty to Pat Kaleta in which his head was rammed into the crossbar by Alex Edler of the Canucks. This cost Ryan Miller his shutout streak in the second period.

– Kassian and Gragnani again. I’ve never seen two players play further from their regular games in order to prove a point to their old team. Vancouver fans will be severly disappointed if they expect to see the pair play that way every night.

Summary:

The Sabres are now just two points behind eighth place Winnipeg. This is incredible, considering this team was dead and in last place one month ago. They are 11-3-3 and have points in 8 straight games. Are we seeing a repeat of last year? Time will tell. Buffalo fans should be rooting for Philadelphia tomorrow (actually later today), as a Capitals win would place Buffalo three points out. The Sabres face the Jets monday in the most pivotal matchup of the season to date.

Follow Josiah LeRoy on Twitter @JosiahDLeRoy

What To Expect From The Gerbe Derby

Inspired by our frequent arguments about the Buffalo Sabres over Twitter, it was Josiah who asked me if we should expand from our normal 140 character bouts and move on to the blogosphere.  It made too much sense not to do it.

I’ve been a hockey fan ever since I was very little boy, when I started to actually play the game when I was 4-years-old, playing novice level ice hockey with the Buffalo Hornets organization of Cheektowaga, New York.  My first exposure to Sabres hockey was in around that same time, when they were still wearing the good old blue and gold, but being as young as I was, I don’t remember much about those teams.  My love for the Sabres never actually began until the 1997 playoffs, specifically Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals against the Ottawa Senators, when Derek Plante buried a heavy shot by goalie Ron Tugnutt, and the voice of Rick Jeanneret rang through my speakers:

“Scooooooooorees!  Are you ready legion of doom?  Here come the Buffalo Sabres!”

The crowd erupted, and I’ve been hooked ever since.  I’ve seen the highs, like the underdog 1999 team carried on the small, but flexible shoulders of Dominik Hasek.  I’ve seen the lows, like the dreadful 2002-03 season where it seemed like the Sabres could never win a game along some stretches.

In reality, while I am a huge Sabres supporter, I am extremely critical of them.  While I’m not a season ticket holder, I still consider myself a guy that knows what’s going on, and I feel as though I’ve sunk enough money into the team where I am able to make judgments about whether or not they’re doing things right or not.

I plan on posting as much as possible, and not just about the Sabres.  I watch as much hockey as I possibly can, thanks to the nifty NHL Gamecenter Live service from NHL.com.

One thing you should not expect from this blog: game previews, recaps, or anything that you’d find on an official website.  That’s not what blogs are for.   I’ll use this space as something to share my thoughts on certain situations revolving mostly around the Sabres, and I’ll also share my thoughts on certain things around the NHL, as well.  Each week, I’ll try to post five things about the NHL that I find interesting, that tick me off, or maybe things I think people should know.

Finally, one thing I’ve come to find out is that you can expect mine and Josiah’s opinions to differ.  It won’t be all the time, but most of the time when it comes to the Sabres, we view things slightly different, which is fine.  If you follow us on Twitter (@JosiahDLeRoy and @TJLuckman), you already know that we talk about hockey with each other.  A lot.  The only thing different about here is that we have a lot more space to put our thoughts than just 140 characters.

Now that we’ve got our formalities out of the way, let’s talk some hockey.

TJ Luckman
The Gerbe Derby