I’m going to spend the next few weeks watching the ever exciting playoffs and pouring over minute details as to why the Sabres were bad this season. With Ron Rolston and Darcy Regeir back on board it will be up to the players, so why not take an obscenely close look at what they did this past season.
I will first take a look at some “intangible” stats that I find to be extremely important. I will start with Hits and Blocks. Blocks are pretty self-explanatory, any time a puck is traveling toward the net and a defensive player prevents it from getting to the net with a part of their body it counts as a block. Hits are a bit trickier to follow. A hit stat is counted as when a player forces an opposing player to lose the puck through physical contact. A hit only counts if it A. causes a turnover or B. makes opposing player lose control of the puck. For example, if a player hits an opposing player after he has passed the puck or shot it, it is not counted as a hit for statistical purposes.
I don’t necessarily agree with how either of these stats is counted and when I worked this season a coach part of my job was coordinating stats and doing analytics. I adjusted both stats to include key pass breakups to the center of the net or back post and stick blocks in the blocks category. For hits I truly believe that it should record when meaningful contact is initiated by the player. Obviously “meaningful” would be objective, but it would give you a bit better of an idea of who likes to hit and who shies away.
Regardless of all of that nonsense I obviously didn’t track my version of the stats, so I am left to analyze what the NHL has provided for me. Even just looking at these statistics there are many nuggets of truth you can glean. Let’s take a closer look.
While the playoffs rage on into May and June, Buffalo players and fans observe with only mild interest. We look forward to late June and early July when the summer will really get exciting. The upcoming draft is expected to be one of the more active Sabres' drafts in recent memory, and with free agency adopting some new rules due to the new CBA, it's bound to be different.
Personally, I'm more excited about the calibre of players that will be available heading into the offseason this year. The 2011 and 2012 summers have been fairly barren in terms of talent that Buffalo might be interested in. Many players who fit Buffalo's needs may be plausible acquisitions this summer if they don't re-sign with their current teams. Click "read more" for some players that I think could be Sabres come the 2013-2014 season.
The season is now officially over and the Buffalo Sabres suffered one of the most demoralizing seasons in recent memory. It was a pretty Buffalonian lockout season. The Sabres gave some hope to fans with a quick couple of wins. They then fell apart due to poor team defense. Head coach Lindy Ruff was fired and replaced by Ron Rolston. Eventually the Sabres began to turn things around, but it was too little, too late. Jason Pominville, Jordan Leopold and Robyn Regehr were shipped out at the deadline and the Sabres stuck around in the playoff race just long enough to ensure a mid-round draft position. Pretty typical.
I would like to take a larger picture view for my first postseason post. I’m going to take a look at the things that went wrong for Buffalo this year. I’m also going to look at the things that went right for the Sabres. Though these are just opinions and much of what I write can be interpreted differently by different fans, this is what I saw when I watched this year.
The trading deadline has passed. Gone are T.J. Brennan, Jordan Leopold, Robyn Regher and Jason Pominville. Next season's Buffalo Sabres will have a very different look than the team that started this season. In what direction will that change be? That is a very important question and one that will be difficult to answer right now; but isn’t it fun to speculate wildly?
The first decision will be the general manager of the team. Darcy Regier has been in Buffalo a long time. He has seen the Sabres through several rebuilds, and has a long term contract extension in his pocket. That doesn’t mean he will stay, but his track record says that if he is in charge he could do a very nice job.
If Terry Pegula decides to appease the uneducated masses (I’m looking at you Bucky), he would need to bring in a new general manager. The first name that should be tossed around is Brian Burke. He has put together some great teams in the past and is currently a free agent. Beyond Burke, it would be someone who Buffalo has faith in, but might not be a big name right now. They ultimately just need someone who will get the job done.
This is one of those times that, as a coach (albeit an inexperienced one,) I disagree with what another coach is doing with his/her system. I think that Ron Rolston has implemented some good things since he has taken the helm as Buffalo’s head coach. I just can't see any rational reason for leaving Jason Pominville on the point for the power play.
Here are my top-5 reasons to take Pommer off the point when Buffalo has the man advantage:
The Buffalo Sabres are in a transitionary period. What the front office’s vision for the success of this team has gone down the toilet with the team at this point and changes are being made. A lot has been made (mostly by me) about a lack of consistency in Buffalo’s lineup as a culprit for the team’s poor play this season. What does consistency mean for a team and is it really that important. I will try to explain that below.
Lindy Ruff is no longer the head coach of the Buffalo Sabres. That was a phrase that I'm still not entirely prepared to utter, much less comprehend. Lindy Ruff became the head coach of the Sabres when I was 8 years old. I can hardly remember any other coach for the Blue & Gold. Add to that the fact that I think Ruff is an excellent coach and you have a fan in disbelief that this step was taken at this point.
It was difficult for me to decide where to start this look at the firing of Lindy Ruff. Ultimately it comes down to this: I disagree with the decision. In some regards though, I agree with it. So that is how I will structure this blog, I'll catalogue my disagreements and then the reasons I agree.
The Buffalo Sabres need a change. Their roster isn't good enough right now to be considered a contender. Something needs to be shaken up. The question remains what will be the best move to create a better team in Buffalo. Ultimately it will be up to Darcy Regier to decide what needs to be done, but it is a blogger's job to speculate.
There are many ways to shake up a team. One way, and the current most popular plan, is to fire the coach. Another would be to make some roster moves or trades to bring in some fresh talent to the roster. There is also that concept of some internal changes that make the team better as a whole.
Buffalo isn’t starting the season too hot right now. So I think it is time for a complete overreaction. Let’s talk about getting rid of some veterans to pave the way for the rookies. Heck, forget it, let’s get rid of all of the veterans! Everyone over the age of 23 must go. That is the rule in this exercise. They must also all be replaced with players from within the Buffalo system. No outsiders.
The idea here is to look a bit into Buffalo’s prospect depth. It will also show how players will need to progress to make the team. There are an abundant number of players for certain roles on the team and not everyone will be able to have that type of chance. This will require players to step their game up in order to make the squad when their time comes. Now a look into the future.
So after an imaginary 2013 season in my mind the final 7 games are here. The Stanley cup finals and we have a great matchup:
St. Louis vs. New York Rangers
I think home ice is just too much for the Rangers to overcome and they lose to the Blues in 7. Andy MacDonald wins the Conn Smythe after a magical playoff run that see him seated atop the playoff scoring tables, with Henrik Lundqvist, Jaroslav Halak and Marian Gaborik being the other names mentioned in the conversation.