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Rochester Americans Clinch AHL Playoff Spot with Win Over Syracuse Crunch

April 19th, 2014 at 1:16 PM
By Paul Lane Sabres 101
The Rochester Americans clinched their third straight AHL playoff berth Friday night with a 5-1 win in their home finale over the Syracuse Crunch.
 
The Buffalo Sabres' top farm team scored three first-period goals to cruise to its seventh win in the last eight games. A season-high crowd of 9,518 also helped the Amerks secure a 22-10-3-3 home record.
 
'Luke Adam' photo (c) 2012, grilled cheese - license: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/
 
Tim Schaller, Luke Adam and Brayden Irwin scored the only goals Rochester would need to give the home team a 3-0 lead after one period. Adam's was his team-leading 29th goal, also a personal high. Nick Deslauriers added one goal in the second period, while Phil Varone scored the game's final tally after Syracuse broke the shutout in the third period.
 
Andrey Makarov made 22 saves to record the win in his 10th straight start. He's been buoyed by a lineup that's finally complete after the Sabres' injury woes forced constant call-ups much of the season.
"If we keep playing like we are, we should do a lot of good things for the team," Schaller said.
Rochester (37-27-6-5) is locked into seventh place in the Western Conference. They'll play the winner of the Midwest Division in the first round. Grand Rapids and Chicago are tied for the division lead at 98 points entering their respective season finales Saturday.
 
The Amerks end the regular season at 3 p.m. Saturday at the Toronto Marlies. They're expected to rest many regulars, including Makarov. The AHL playoffs will begin next weekend.
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Former Buffalo Sabres Shining on St. Louis Blues

April 18th, 2014 at 8:56 PM
By Richard N. Wade II

The Buffalo Sabres season ended a long time ago. Absent from the playoffs for the fifth time in seven seasons, the Sabres are looking forward to putting the 2013-2014 season in the rearview mirror.

'Ryan Miller' photo (c) 2007, kicksave2930 - license: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

Many former Sabres players are shining in roles on other National Hockey League teams, most notably the St. Louis Blues. The Sabres traded long-time goalie Ryan Miller along with team captain Steve Ott to St. Louis earlier this season. 

On Thursday night against the Chicago Blackhawks, several former Sabres led the Blues past the Blackhawks 4-3 win in triple overtime. Goaltender Ryan Miller made 39 saves, while forwards Steve Ott and Derek Roy both added assists in the winning effort. 

Despite the worst season in team history, fans can relish in the fact that their former favorite players are still performing at a top level. It may sting to see certain players in a different uniform, but fans should have a vesting interest in watching the St. Louis Blues. As a condition of the Ryan Miller trade to St. Louis, the Sabres are to receive a first round pick from the Blues if St. Louis reaches the Western Conference Finals, or if Miller resigns with the team.

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Buffalo Sabres Coaching Changes Allows Ted Nolan to Put His Stamp on the Team

April 17th, 2014 at 8:39 PM
By Anthony Custode Jr

When the Buffalo Sabres announced that changes to their coaching staff would take place this offseason, Ted Nolan made a statement that he will form the team to his liking.

'Ted Nolan' photo (c) 2009, Keith & Alyssa - license: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

When Nolan took the Sabres over, he inherited a team that was being laughed at with Ron Rolston and his staff at the helm. Nolan finished the season with Rolston's staff, but it didn't take long for him to make changes once the atrocious season ended.

Teppo Numminen will not be offered a contract extension. Assistant coaches Joe Sacco and Jerry Forton were both offered reassignments and the Corsi number will not be back next season, as Jim Corsi was let go from Nolan's staff.

It will be interesting to see who Nolan decides to add to his staff, while Tim Murray constructs next season's roster. The suffering for Sabres fans is likely not over yet, but with the team having the No. 2 pick in this year's draft, and Nolan being able to add the people he wants to add to his coaching staff, the suffering may be minimized.

 

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Buffalo Sabres Lose NHL Draft Lottery, Will Select at No. 2 Overall

April 15th, 2014 at 8:34 PM
By Anthony Custode Jr

The Buffalo Sabres have lost yet again, and though it wasn't a game at stake, the loss may have been a whole lot more.

'Ted Nolan' photo (c) 2009, Keith & Alyssa - license: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

Despite finishing dead-last in the NHL, the Sabres will not pick at the No. 1 overall slot in this year's upcoming draft. Instead, the Florida Panthers leapfrogged Buffalo at tonight's draft lottery, giving them possession of the No. 1 overall selection.

Losing is nothing new for Buffalo this season, as they've suffered plenty of it. Some may argue that they are the most deserving of the top pick, and that the lottery has proved to be a disservice to Buffalo. Yet, the fact remains that the Sabres will draft at the No. 2 slot.

Although Buffalo will miss out on the chance to pick first this season, the drama surrounding the Sabres and this year's draft has yet to completely unfold. The Sabres will receive a first-round pick from the New York Islanders, either in this draft or next. Should New York give Buffalo their selection this season, the Sabres will pick at No. 2 and No. 5 this season. Should the Islanders defer to next season, Buffalo could potentially have two top-10 picks next season, as both teams are expected to be in similar situations after next season.

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Buffalo Sabres Offense Never Showed up This Season

April 14th, 2014 at 7:28 PM
By Anthony Custode Jr

The Buffalo Sabres had a rough start to this season offensively, and after trading away Thomas Vanek, Matt Moulson and Steve Ott, they never found a way to get on track.

'Tyler Ennis' photo (c) 2011, grilled cheese - license: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/

Granted, Moulson was part of the return the Sabres received in Vanek, but he was one of Buffalo's more consistent goal scorers. Tyler Ennis finished as Buffalo's leading goal scorer with 21, and Cody Hodgson was behind him with 20. Drew Stafford was the only other player left on the roster who was in double-digits in the category, scoring 16 on the season. 

The Sabres scored a league-worst 157 goals on the year. Ville Leino, weighed down by his monster contract, finished the year with zero goals, but managed 15 assists. Leino did score one shootout goal that didn't count toward his total. However, he was by far the most disappointing player on Buffalo's roster. Even Mikhail Grigorenko, who played just 18 games before being demoted to the minors for good, had a better season than Leino. It's pretty safe to assume he will not be a member of the team come next season.

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