World Cup of Eichel

It’s easy to dislike Team USA right now.  John Tortorella is an opinionated dip, Patrick Kane’s on the team, all that.  So it’s a good thing that Buffalo has an in with the actual fun team at the World Cup of Hockey: Team North America!  Jack Eichel scored their first goal in a rout of Finland, on a too good to be true line of Eichel, McDavid and Auston Matthews.  Who knows if they’ll struggle against stronger competition (they play Russia tonight) but they’re going to be fun to watch no matter what.

Toughness

With the deadline tomorrow, and the deals already made, I’ve been talking to my friends about the Sabres more – who should go, who should stay to build around, that sort of thing.  One thing that keeps coming up for a few of them is how Buffalo is not hard enough to play against – they need to be the Flyers or the Bruins! – but it rings hollow to me.

A year or two ago, the goal was ‘Team Toughness™’ and it involved moving out guys like Derek Roy and Chris Butler, and bringing in Steve Ott and Robyn Regehr.  It sounded great to use, and let’s face it, we love tough, physical hockey in these parts.  Does that actually mean tough to play against, though?  Looking at the Cup winners since the deadline, who is ‘tough’ to you?

  1. Kings
  2. Bruins
  3. Blackhawks
  4. Penguins
  5. Red Wings
  6. Ducks
  7. Hurricanes

How many of those were physically brutal teams to play?  Two?  If you expand the list to the losing teams, you really only add Philly to the list.  The thing is, you can be tough to play against without being punishing.  I’d much rather model the Sabres on Detroit (before this year) or Chicago.  When the Red Wings were playing the Penguins for the Cup, they weren’t bashing everybody through the end boards, they were outscoring them (1st in Goals for in 08-09, 3rd in 07-08).  “Get me Eric Lindros in his prime!” he says, well I counter with Patrick Kane in his prime.  Or Teemu.  Get me someone who will make a difference, and might avoid the worst of the physical damage.  Get me someone who can possess the puck and put it on net.  Those guys come in all shapes and sizes.

Doesn’t anyone remember how fun 05-07 was?

Gameday 2010-2011 – Blackhawks at Sabres

Patrick Kane and the defending Stanley Cup champs, here in Buffalo, TONIGHT.  This could be a good measuring stick for the Sabres, after an uneven first two games.  I’m still waffling about going tonight, as there are some good deals on tickets out there, and I would very much like to see Chicago.  I used to follow them pretty close back in the days of Roenick, Belfour, Amonte and so on.

As for changes tonight, Gerbe out, McCormick in.  Didn’t see anything about the goalie but I imagine Miller, since he had one whole night off.  Be interesting if Lalime got in there, he seems to hold his own (sometimes) against his former teams.

Congratulations to the Blackhawks!

Congratulations are in order to you 2009-2010 Stanley Cup Champion Chicago Blackhawks!  The OT winner was a Buffalo connection, with former Sabre Brian Campbell assisting on Buffalo native Patrick Kane’s goal, which slipped underneath Leighton somehow.  It was a great series, pretty darn good playoffs all around, save for the Sabres’ first round exit.  Now the retooling can begin in earnest.  Next season can’t begin soon enough.