Season Preview: Buffalo Sabres

(Editor’s note: Jon wrote most of this preview before the Buffalo-Anaheim game today. When reached for comment regarding Buffalo’s 4-1 win after the game Jon was quoted as saying “And I give a shit why? Anaheim has one line and a goalie with a scrambled eggs brain. Talk to me when they make the playoffs and beat a real team. Buffalo still sucks.” Okay then.)

We don’t hide our hate for Buffalo around here. If you need a reminder about how we feel about this team go here. And here.

There is a buzz in Buffalo this season though and for once it is not a flood alert because Ryan Miller and Lindy Ruff just gave a duel press conference and cried like a couple of chicks that got knocked up at prom.

Did Kaleta actually do something useful? Psh, no. If you answered yes go jump off the nearest bridge.

Did Lindy Ruff start using Johnson and Johnson No More Tears Shampoo? Recent flooding in New York says no.

Did Ryan Miller finally learn to close his legs when an important game is on the line? That baby bump indicates no as well.


No, Buffalo fans are excited because they got a new owner with deep pockets who went on a wild free agent spending spree, over paying for vastly overrated players.

But if you ask any Buffalo fan, the Stanley Cup is basically on the way there already and the NHL shouldn’t even bother playing the season. Never mind the fact that you can’t buy championships with a salary cap and that even Charlie Sheen won’t go to Buffalo because they have about a zero percent chance of winning. So how do the “new look” but same whiny pants attitude Sabres stack up against the rest of the Northeast Division and our dear beloved CHAMPION Bruins?

After the jump….. the Bruins still own you Buffalo…..

LAST SEASON

The Sabres finished third in the Northeast Division, after Montreal managed to scrape together one more win than Buffalo and get the tie breaker, and seventh in the Eastern Conference. They also let up 34 more goals during the regular season than the Bruins.

Like most seasons, Buffalo was one of those teams you certainly couldn’t look over because when he’s not crying or playing a high pressure game Ryan Miller can be pretty decent but they weren’t exactly a powerhouse. Any time you willingly sign Steve Montador and then actually give him ice time you should expect to get scored on a lot.

TOP FIVE SCORERS


Vanek is certainly a big threat when he is healthy. As much as we hate Buffalo we can’t deny that. The guy can score but if he goes down what does Buffalo really have? Fans are all excited about Leino but he is a very unproven, inconsistent commodity that your owner just paid $4 million a year to. They have some younger players that could contribute if they take a few steps forward. And Drew Stafford scored like 30 of his goals about the Bruins last year. That won’t happen again.

As the Bruins proved you don’t need a team full of 70-80 point scorers to win but the Sabres aren’t nearly as gritty as the Bruins either. You disrupt Vanek and you get a trickle down effect.

GOALTENDING

After a season where Tim Thomas had a bad hip and decided to let some other goalies get a bit of glory, Ryan Miller won the Tim Thomas Vezina Trophy in 2010. He followed that up with a stinker of a season.

He ranked 21st in the NHL in goals against. Here are some goalies ahead of Miller on that list (with at least 30 games played):

Johan Hedberg
Brian Boucher
Kari Lehtonen
Michal Neuvirth

HI-LARIOUS

Miller also ranked 17th in save percentage. Here are some goalies ahead of Miller on that list (with at least 30 games played):

Tomas Vokoun (and he played for Florida. FLORIDA!)
Semyon Varlamov
James Reimer (TORONTO?!)

HI-LARIOUS 2: THE SEQUEL


Scoring on Buffalo: So easy a Carcillo can do it!


Miller is so clutch his GAA average went up in the playoffs.

Look, we begrudingly admit Miller is a good goalie. He definitely stole Buffalo some games last year but if you’re a Buffalo fan we have no idea how you don’t wonder if this guy is mentally tough enough to make a good playoff run. He often throws his defensemen under the bus and seems to fall when the stakes are highest. Great regular season goalie. Playoffs? Eh, we’ll take Timmy T every day of the week.


COACHING

If you live in Buffalo (or outside Buffalo and for some reason like the Sabres), Lindy Ruff is known as the first coach to take the Sabres to the Finals since 1975. They ignore the fact that Hasek quite literally carried this team to the Finals and Ruff’s coaching had less to do with it.

Lindy Ruff takes the “crying and complaining” approach to coaching that trickles down to his team. Everything is always someone else’s fault and the Sabres never ever commit any penalties. Helen Keller and Stevie Wonder are just regular refs during Buffalo games. Not the sign of a champion. We view him like we view Miller… when Ruff’s eyes are not filled with tears he’s a capable coach but he comes up empty in big moments. Must be a theme for any one on any sports team in Buffalo.

If Ruff spent less time bitching about everything and more time instilling a winning attitude into his players rather than a “pass the blame” attitude this team might get out of the second rounds.

FAN BASE


This is a fan base of complete idiots, especially if they think this team is running away with the division. This team also thinks that just because the new owner is tossing around money that it automatically equals a Buffalo Cup. The only times “Buffalo” and “Cup” will be used in the same sentence this season is when some player travels to Buffalo for a game and then on the play ride home says “I’d rather drink a cup of acid than return to that putrid city.”

OFFSEASON ADDITIONS

Sabres fans are all jazzd up because the team signed Ville Leino and Christian Ehrhoff and traded for Robyn Regehr. Ehrhoff is making $10 million this year and failed miserably in the Finals against the Bruins. Excuse us for a second.

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

Phew, that feels better.

You think Ehrhoff is going to be a problem for other teams? Here’s the solution:



Sabres core: Leino, Myers, Ehrhoff, Ennis, Vanek, Pominville (all signed for roughly infinity billion dollars because apparently Scrooge McDuck got drunk, bought the Sabres and spent his fortune on some average players other than Vanek)

Bruins core: Seguin, Chara, Seidenberg, Marchand, Bergeron, Krejci

Yeah, we’ll take the Bruins. The fact that Ehrhoff is making more money than Chara this year is hilarious. Buffalo fans are pumped that their owner is on a spending spree but when your team is in salary cap hell and these guys with big contracts are way underperforming we promise not to laugh at you. Except we will laugh at you.


OFFSEASON SUBTRACTIONS

The most important one is Steve Montador. That guy is terrible. Buffalo is instantly better just because he is gone.

WHERE THEY FINISH

We’re saying the Sabres finish second in the division. We’re still not convinced Price can repeat the year he had last year and Montreal’s forwards are about as intimidating as Patrick Kaleta in a fight. Buffalo fans already planning a parade should be concerned about how the “new look” Sabres will perform together. Just because you spent a lot of money doesn’t mean you’re going to win. There is this little thing called “team chemistry.” They’re banking on Ville Leino being a superstar but outside of one good playoff run the guy has done nothing that comes close to deserving the contract.

We’re sure Buffalo will be a good team we’re just not buying into all this hype about them being the first seed in the Eastern Conference or winning the Northeast. They don’t have the fire power or the defense to compete with a healthy Capitals or Penguins team in a seven game series and outside of Vanek they don’t have anyone with the ability to step up in big moments.


We’re sure that if the Sabres beat the Bruins in a regular season game this year Buffalo fans will come back to chirp us and cite this preview. Just remember Buffalo… unless someone beats the Bruins in the playoffs and a new champion is crowned, we’re still the Stanley Cup Champions and you’re still… from Buffalo. Suck it.

About Jon

Jon loves Batman, The Joker, the Bruins and hates you. Especially you. He has a man crush on David Backes and hopes to someday be Mrs. Jon Boychuk.

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