Tag Archives: Paul Gaustad

Thus Ended

The Sabres can no longer make the playoffs, and have one more meaningless game.  In the short term, I was ticked about it last night, but today, not so much.  It was a very difficult season in many ways, with injuries, underachievement, and media sniping.  The highs were really high, and the lows were rock-bottom.  We saw veterans and prospects leave (Gaustad, Gragnani, Kassian) and got a few new contributors (Hodgson, Sulzer).

How do I feel about this season?  I’m disappointed that it won’t be going on to the playoffs, for sure.  There is talent here – and I think the deadline improved that overall – but injuries and some questionable play overrode that.  Next year’s roster won’t be that different, barring trades, as there are already 20 players under contract.  Hecht, Boyes, and the surprising Sulzer are UFAs, with TJ Brennan, Tyler Ennis and Patrick Kaleta as RFAs.  I can’t imagine either Hecht or Boyes being back.  Sulzer is interesting, though.  I’d love to keep him, as he showed some decent skills and kind of took that 6/7 D spot from Weber.  Ennis is a no-brainer, and I imagine Kaleta gets a deal.  That’s 13 forwards, including Marcus Foligno and Corey Tropp.  If Brennan and McNabb start with Rochester, that leaves Regehr, Ehrhoff, Myers, Leopold, Sekera, and Weber as the D pending something with Sulzer.  Of course, Miller/Enroth in the net.

Do I think that’s where we end up?  I do not.  The Pegula era Sabres have already shown they are willing to deal guys to get guys, and we have parts and pieces other teams would covet.  July 1 is going to be interesting.  Buffalo will be a player again, a destination for players who hopefully see the improvements and potential here.

I might post about the draft, and July 1, but expect this space to be fairly quiet in the offseason.  I’m planning on blog maintenance, such as trying different themes, stuff like that.  Might post up about the playoffs if the mood strikes, too.  I’ll still be on Twitter, and please check out my non-hockey gadget/movie/TV/book talk at Honk if you Love Justice.

Sabres at Ducks and Derek Roy

A west coast swing with late start times, just when we get a new toy to play with??  UGH.  I can’t wait to see how Cody Hodgson does tonight, even if I might fall asleep by the third period.  The first game with a new player is always fun, even if it sometimes goes downhill after that (*cough*Bernier*cough).  Hodgson will start out on a line with Ennis and Stafford, but we’ll see how that goes as the game wears on.

On the Miller comments.  Sounds like a guy tired of being asked about personnel decisions he has no say in.  Mountain out of a molehill, indeed.  Kind of wish Miller was Russian so he could only give quotes when a Russian reporter rolls through town.

Speaking of the Buffalo News…I read a comment there again.  STUPID.  It’s this:

I have been silent for awhile. I can’t believe I am reading the comments by Lindy. He stated Roy will now be his last minute center. Roy is the WORST defensive center in the league.

*facepalm*  I know there are those of you not happy that Roy is still here, but let’s see if this is actually true.  Of players that Behind the Net registers as centers, with more than 40 games played, Roy is 36th as far as Quality of Competition (Sami Pahlsson, another C coveted at the deadline, is right below him).  That’s out of 148, by the way.  He’s not getting nutty zone starts either, with offensive zone starts about 51% of the time.  That’s on par with Henrik Zetterberg and Brad Richards.  To contrast, Henrik Sedin starts in the offensive zone a staggering 77.5% of the time!  It’s obvious that Buffalo doesn’t ‘optimize’ zone starts the way some teams do.   Looking pretty good for Roy, whose stats are colored by his low offensive output this year (possibly still recovering from his injury early).

As I look at the stats, it’s clear that Roy has grown into being at least a solid defensive player, middle of the road to a bit better in most areas.  You may not like him as a person, or just think ‘he sucks’, but it’s really not true.

Feeling Relevant

These were my thoughts as the NHL Trade Deadline coverage got rolling this morning.  Gaustad and Roy had both been involved in the rumors, so no huge surprise when that broke.  The return was surprising, even with the 4th rounder going the other way, but still, we knew he was the sort of guy playoff teams love to add at the deadline.  You know, that intangible-laden 3rd-liner, to win face-offs and ‘battles’ and all that other stuff pundits like to say.  When the official deadline was passing, though, people were disappointed.  “That’s it?” you heard.  Then you started to hear “Vancouver has another deal yet to come”, and then “They’re getting Kassian”.  We all sat up and took notice, and then when we heard Cody Hodgson was the guy coming back…wow.  That’s a great return, giving up Kassian and Gragnani, and getting Hodgson and Alexander Sulzer.  I love these deals.

As I was thinking about these since they went down, I decided this is basically a win-win-win for the teams involved.  Buffalo is a win both for now – Hodgson has more offensive upside than Goose, and is a lot younger – and in the future, getting Nashville’s first rounder next year in addition to the players from Vancouver.  Nashville gets the vet C that teams love for the playoffs, and Vancouver gets a couple of guys that might fit better on their team than ours.  Kassian needs to prove himself in the NHL, and Gragnani might work best for the Canucks where he can just be a power play QB and get the softest minutes otherwise.

I’m genuinely interested in seeing what Hodgson can do for Buffalo.  I’m sorry to see Gaustad go, as I had hopes for him…but it was pretty obvious that what he is now, is all he’ll ever be.  And if you turn Goose and a 4th into a 1st, you do it.  Gragnani was expendable…McNabb, and soon, other D-men in Rochester were pushing him from below, but he couldn’t move up any higher than 7th on the depth chart when everyone is healthy.  And all of this happened without crippling the Sabres’ cap situation any more than it already is.  Good job, Darcy.  Is it Wednesday yet?

Gameday 2011-2012 – Senators at Sabres

The moderately disliked Ottawa Senators visit Buffalo tonight for a 7pm game against the Sabres.  The Senators currently sit in 12th place in the East, though that’s only 2 points behind Buffalo.  Ottawa has lost 3 straight games, giving up 14 goals in the process.  Buffalo, of course, has been treading water of late, alternating wins and losses while dealing with a ton of injuries.  There are some improvements in that regard, with Gaustad, Kaleta and Weber all practicing and possibly playing tonight.

Paul Szczechura has been a good story over the past few games, and John Vogl at the Buffalo News has it laid out here.  He gets to center the top line again most likely, which is nice work for a callup to get.  I may not be able to watch tonight as I may be looking at a new vehicle, but I’ll be checking Twitter (as usual).

Head Games

The plot, it does thicken.  After a resounding win over the Senators, Buffalo went to Boston and let the Bruins run roughshod over them (literally).  A lot has already been said about Lucic and Miller and responses.  I think Nick Mendola summed up the immediate reaction best for me:

The Sabres immediate response to the offense was mostly fine in my book, given their personnel. Miller tried a blind baseball swing back at Lucic. Thomas Vanek tried to knock the train over. No dice. Andrej Sekera shoved Lucic and looked around for reinforcements. Not seeing any coming, he buried his head and hoped for the least beating possible. I’d like Paul Gaustad to look more interested in getting to Lucic, and maybe it’s above Tyler Myers’ weight class right now.

While I did wonder where the Gaustad is that came off the bench to attack Ovechkin for cheap-shotting Briere, but the officials got their arms on guys as quick as they could and Goose apparently didn’t see it happen.  As for not taking care of Lucic later, well, for the rest of the 1st and 2nd periods, the game wasn’t out of reach (though those two goals later in the 2nd off stupid defense AGAIN had to drive even a concussed Miller crazy).  Would I want a full-on brawl to develop?  Would I have wanted Kaleta to run Tim Thomas?  Or the usual suspects to charge Lucic whenever they could, late/dirty or not?  I might’ve had a positive visceral reaction to events like that at the time, but after the fact, I’d be a bit disappointed.  I like Tim Thomas, and I wouldn’t like to see him get hurt, even in retaliation for a stupid shot on a Sabre.

So, what happens next week when these two teams meet again, here?  There are a few scenarios:

  • Scenario One – The Sabres call up Kassian, roll out a line featuring Cody McCormick, Gaustad and BZK (backed by Regehr and Weber), and they brawl with whoever they are on the ice with, Neil/Drury game style.  EXTREMELY UNLIKELY.
  • Scenario Two – Cody McCormick fights Lucic, Kaleta hits him a few times.  Beyond that, a normal game.  MORE LIKELY.
  • Scenario Three – Gary Bettman or Colin Campbell attend the game, and the teams are on their best behavior.  SOMEWHAT LIKELY.

There is one wild card in this – a Sabres player truly running a Bruins player.  Maybe Myers bounces Horton’s head off the boards accidently with his elbow.  Maybe Kaleta does the usual Carubba worthy hit near the boards on a guy in an awkward position.  It might even be an accident, and have nothing to do with the recent history.  But that’s the one thing that will kick that next game into clownshoes territory.  Still, the most likely one is the ‘one fight and done’ thing.  ‘The next game’ is always a disappointment.

Miller is concussed, and Drew McIntyre will be the door opener for however long that lasts.  Jhonas Enroth is the man now, and it’s no easy stretch coming up, in Montreal tonight, home for NJ Wednesday, then another set of back to backs this weekend (Friday in Carolina, Saturday here for Phoenix).  You have to think Darcy and Lindy are hoping Miller is ready for the weekend but with a concussion, you just can’t know.  The team needs to pull together here and rally.

Will “The Schedule” Become the Next Great Lindy Ruff Meme?

We’ve all had fun with Lindy Ruff and the players and their constant use of ‘The System”.  “We didn’t play the system tonight” or “We’ve got to get back to playing our system”.  Now, with the goalie stuff going on, we have ‘The Schedule’.  Which goalie is playing tonight?  It’s Scheduled.  Who does Ruff consider his number 1(A?) right now?  You’d know, if only you could see The Schedule.  Is The Schedule a physical construct?  Or just a metaphysical one inside Ruff’s mind?

The Sabres play the Senators tonight, and I heard that Chris Neil might not play.  That’s too bad, because I wanted Cody McCormick or Paul Gaustad to beat the snot out of him.  I think I’ll be home tonight barring anything strange happening.  But I have a wife and kids, so strange is possible…

The New Boss

The Sabres won last night, though it still wasn’t pretty and took overtime and stupid penalties by the Thrasherjets to do it.  So it pretty much ‘solves’ nothing about the Miller/Enroth debate.  As I was watching the game last night, I think I came up with a good analogy for what is happening.  It’s like when your boss retires, and some new guy comes in from another department to take over.  You stop surfing the net, or goofing with your phone, or flirting with the hottie that sits a few cubes behind you.  Look at ME, you are saying, this company is my LIFE.

But after a few weeks, you ease the throttle back a notch.  Your work’s getting done, so there’s no harm in checking those NFL injury reports.  You find yourself standing next to the hottie’s desk chatting away after you get coffee.  It happens, you’re human.  That’s where the Sabres are with Enroth, though.  It’s still New Boss Mode.  They sit up straight and pay attention for Jhonas in a way they don’t for Miller right now, and make no mistake, Miller needs the D to do just that.  He needs to find his game, so they need to quit cheating, making bad passes, and generally expecting Miller to make the save.  He isn’t right now, so they need to put their phones away, leave the hottie alone (she’s got a boyfriend anyway guys) and get to work.  In the long run it’ll make them a better team when Ryan does get his game back on track.

Cody damaged Glass's hand WITH HIS FACE

As for the game last night, I missed the first period, and when I saw the score I thought “darn, I missed all the fun”.  Yeah, not so much.  Thomas Vanek scored twice (although the second one was ricocheting a goal in off him in his office), and Roy had two goals, including the one that tied the game late to send it to overtime.  It was a penalty-filled affair, with the Jets taking some dumb penalties in particular.  I thought Gerbe embellished to get the penalty in the OT.  Pominville played half the game.  A special nod to Gaustad for the super-sweet pass, and Cody McCormick for the epic bout with Tanner Glass.  Commander Cody got cut, possibly by Glass hitting his helmet as Tanner had to ice his hand in the penalty box afterwards.  Oh, and congratulations to Corey Tropp for his first NHL goal.

See you Friday when the Sens come to town.  May be in the pressbox for that one.

A Fighting-Friendly Visor Solution

Thanks to Chris Pronger nearly getting his eye popped out of it’s socket, the mandatory visor debate has started up again full force.  Fighting always gets lumped into this argument at some point, since fighting with a visor is considered by many as unseemly.  You can have the pugilists doff their caps before the bout, but that removes an important layer of protection for when one or both combatants fall to the ice.  I imagine orthopedists recommend not punching a hard plastic face shield with your fist also.

ANOTHER TIME, GAUSTAD!

So what’s the solution?  I say go ahead and make visors mandatory…and replace fistfights with stick battles.  Now, you’d still have to have a rule against striking someone in the head with your stick, but imagine the sight of Zdeno Chara skating in on his target, holding his monstrous stick in front of him like a broadsword. His opponent (Paul Gaustad, let’s say) deftly deflects Chara’s first few swings but is hard pressed.  However, a wild swing from the brute leaves him exposed, and Goose knocks the stick from the Kurgan – er, Chara’s hands and wins the day.  You can’t tell me you wouldn’t want to see that.

In all seriousness, I don’t know how much longer fighting will be considered compatible with a league lurching toward caring about player safety.  I enjoy a good hockey fight that happens for a reason other than “well, I’m a good and you’re a goon, and we’re both out here, so…”, but if it were decided that the game would be better without it, I would be fine with it.

Miller Thievery

There used to be a vocal minority of Miller detractors, and one of their favorite songs to sing was “Miller never steals games!”.  And while the rest of us know that this isn’t the first game he’s stolen, it’s one of the most obvious.  The Sabres slept-walked through the first and most of the second, lucky that Ryan only allowed the one goal.  Jordan Leopold evened the score for them, cleaning up a Stafford rebound.  Montreal shot themselves in the foot, however, icing the puck with 6 seconds left in the second period.  Goose won the draw, a couple of quick passes and Vanek blasts it home for the eventual game winner.  Christian Ehrhoff added an empty netter.

You can be sure Lindy will be pressing the boys on the importance of a 60 minute effort, but it sure is nice to have the real Ryan Miller back there as a safety net against those 20 minute ones.

Sabres Win Pre-Season Opener

It wasn’t pretty, but the Sabres got the win last night against the Carolina Hurricanes 3-1.  Gaustad and Gerbe scored in the third to take the lead and assisted on the other two goals, and Kaleta added an empty netter to seal it.  Brandon Sutter was your Canes goal scorer.  It definitely looked like a pre-season game for most of the first two periods, with Buffalo giving up chance after chance.  Jhonas Enroth (playing the second half) made some fantastic saves, and new guy Drew MacIntyre was solid.  We also had our first look at Leino in a Sabres uniform, and he looked pretty good.

The Sabres play the Habs tomorrow night, possibly with some more of the regulars in the lineup.  I know some of the junior players are returning to their respective teams.  Hockey is back, and it feels great!