3/20 Recap: Myers with strong start as Cup run begins

Tyler Myers opened the WHL playoffs with a power play goal and #1 star performance as Kelowna defeated Kamloops, 4-2. Working for over 24:00 of play, Myers was rock defensively while exhibiting his skating ability with several rushes up ice. In another first round opener, 43-goal scorer Tyler Ennis scored both Medicine Hat goals, but the Tigers gave up twice as many in their 4-2 loss to Swift Current. Drew Schiestel scored just :51 in to the opening period as Niagara defeated Ottawa 5-3 to take Game One of their OHL first-round series. The skating rearguard finished +2 in the win, while the goal was his first in 15 career playoff games. In opening night in the QMJHL playoffs, J.S. Allard had a power play goal and later added an assist as Quebec downed Baie-Comeau, 8-1. Jordon Southorn was -3 with a team-leading three hits as PEI was rubbed out by Moncton, 7-1. Wildcats UFA goaltender Nicola Riopel stood on his head to make 40 saves and earn the game's top star. Paul Byron set-up the overtime game winner as Gatineau defeated Bathurst, 5-4. The 5'9 dangler also added seven shots on goal as the 'Piques fired a total of 55 at Titan netminder Nicholas Champion. T.J. Brennan assisted on the game winner as Montreal defeated Rouyn-Noranda, 5-3. Just :10 into a 5-3 power play, Brennan started the play that resulted in Matt Fillier's third period tally that at the time put the Juniors ahead, 4-1. Jacob Lagacé was -3 as Chicoutimi was dominated by Rimouski, 8-2. At the WCHA Final Five, Brad Eidsness made 21 saves in North Dakota's 3-0 shutout loss to Duluth. Eidsness was caught playing the puck behind the net for the first goal against before a rebound to the left circle was pounced home for a two-goal deficit. An empty netter sealed the deal for the upset minded Bulldogs. The Sioux will face Wisconsin for third place. In the ECAC Tournament semifinals, Matt Generous returned from his MCL injury to assist on the first goal of the game as St. Lawrence lost to Yale, 4-3. Up 3-2 with entering the third, the Saints surrendered two goals in the final 1:34 to miss a chance at an NCAA bid. SLU will play Princeton in the third place game. At the Hockey East tourney, Andrew Orpik was even with two minors in his final NCAA contest as Boston College fell to Boston University, 3-2. With a 1-0 lead in the third, the senior forward looked like he was going to extend his collegiate career another day before BU scored a record three goals in :44 to snatch the win. The past week also saw the season end for defenseman Dennis Persson, as Timra lost a deciding game seven to HV71 in the first round of the SEL playoffs. Persson did not see the ice in the final three games of the series.
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Anonymous
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Saturday, March 21, 2009 ×

At least there are some exciting things going on at Sabresprospects because there certainly isn't anything exciting about the Sabres right now. What this team needs is some stud shutdown defensemen like Myers, Generous and Weber; and we need a little less 2-way forwards, and a little more offensively-gifted forwards with some size like Luke Adam. You said it yourself Bakes, grit on the blueline and bigger skilled guys up front. This should have been addressed a lot sooner.

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Mike
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Sunday, March 22, 2009 ×

Are we ready to call Persson a bust yet? What about Ezhov, Kruikov, and Buravchikov? Hell, why not throw in Hunter, Dennis, Card, Funk, and Bonneau (yes HF actually considers him a prospect, rather than an AHL vet)? Zagrapan and Gragnani are well on their way to busts in some peoples' estimations, as well. So why exactly did we trade draft picks, rather than stock up on draft picks? By my calculation, we have a 1st, 2 3rds, a 5th, a 6th, and a 7th. For a team that is beyond shallow in legitimate prospects, this seems to be unwise to say the least. Sorry for the rant in your comments section, but I am beyond fed up with the excuses. Buffalo has the most of their forwards, defense, and goalies locked up long term, so whatever this team is worth is what we'll get.

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Anonymous
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Sunday, March 22, 2009 ×

Kris: i caught the kelowna game on the internet last night. myers is a stud. the play by play guy said the kelowna fans should get out and see myers now cause there's no way he's back in junior next year, just too good. i hope he's right but i have no faith in buffalo's management and as much as i like ruff they need a change big time and every move regeir makes is about the dollar. i pray this team is sold !

thanks doug

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Anonymous
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Sunday, March 22, 2009 ×

Mike, I think Bakes even said it before in a comment, we are lacking the same thing among our prospects as we are on the current roster; the prospects are almost a reflection of what we currently have.

We can call Persson a bust maybe when he is in the AHL, is 23, and shows no sign of entering the NHL.

I think they learned the hard way and are steering away from Russian draftees, as seen over the past three years.

Funk is just what we could have used on this team minus the concussions; it's unfortunate injuries are ruining the 2nd rounder's chances, but it just depends if they'll even give him a chance with all the defensemen that will likely get signed soon.

Gragnani is only looking like a bust because he struggled his 1st year and got moved to wing, and now there are shutdown guys that are passing him like Weber and Butler. He's looking better at defense and still has potential as a winger.

Zagrapan is a real question mark. If he still can't do anything once he hits 23 then he'll likely be gone.

I know you compiled a list to make your point, but I wouldn't get too hung up on those late round picks in Card and Hunter, I'm sure the lack of success from 8th and 9th round picks are part of why they did away with those rounds. Some of our later round picks might be a surprise like Crawford, MacKenzie, and Generous.

We need to do a better job addressing our needs early on in the draft. Darcy either can't see what our problems are or just doesn't address them enough. He has trouble going out and getting the right guys and he has trouble keeping the right guys. I also really think Lindy freaked when they got pushed around and crushed by Ottawa in 2007, thinking we were giving up too many goals; then he started putting his 2-way hockey players up on a pedestal and really concentrated on that style of play, when the real problem was we lost or TOUGH shutdown players like Grier and McKee, and I'll also add Tallinder. We had the right mixture of guys, which was an explosive offense with enough shutdown tough guys thrown in there. We don't have the right mixture anymore and nothing's working.

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Anonymous
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Sunday, March 22, 2009 ×

...maybe also throw Jan Hejda in there too, he was a +18 with Columbus the last time I checked.

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Mike
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Monday, March 23, 2009 ×

Jan Hejda is now a solid all around player. My friend, who's an Edmonton fan, really misses him on Edmonton. In response to the previous anonymous post, I keep holding out hope for Persson, but I don't think he really has the self-confidence to be a good player. Everywhere I read says his game is filled with indecisiveness and that's why he's being buried as a 7th d-man. If Timra didn't have a Sabres-like rash of d-men injuries, he would've never seen the ice this season. I think the decision by him to come to Portland to finish out the year is a clear instance of him being afraid that he can't make it in Sweden.

Funk is the type of guy, that if he got a taste of Buffalo, like Butler has, and succeeded, fans would feel the same way about him as they do about Tim Connolly (to a lesser degree of course). He hasn't gotten a chance to stay healthy to prove himself and I honestly don't blame the Sabres for almost treating him like a first year signee.

Gragnani is a guy that I feel EXTREMELY highly about. I feel he has all the tools to be a solid bottom pairing, power play specialist. Yet, no one, including the Sabres themselves, wants to give him a chance, which in turn, I believe, is killing his confidence. The game he just played against Manchester, his head was elsewhere, he was a turnover machine and the announcers were all over him. Sometimes you just need to do a trial by fire introduction for a player and not criticize, but let him work things out. I would love to see him be the 6th or 7th d-man next year, depending on Paetsch's play, but I just don't see the Sabres making that kind of commitment. They would rather bring someone in similar to Nolan Pratt, then give a young guy, that doesn't have Butler-type hype, a chance.

Zagrapan should change his name to Afinogenov and call it a day. Yes I went there. The team is stigmatized by Max and that is likely why Zags hasn't gotten a chance. Had he been in the draft this year, they would pass on him, because of the way Max has played and you did point that out as well.

Later round picks, I think Crawford has some potential. What I'd like to understand is, why, if he has as many points as other offensive d-men like Schiestel and Brennan, is HF so down on him and already calling him a long shot to make it? Is there something I don't know? Lagace, I feel the same way, tons of potential, finally a late rounder that isn't doomed to failure. I wonder why Thomas Morrow wasn't given a chance, but I can accept the decision because I never saw him play. As for Generous, I would love to see him in Portland right now. He has some intelligence and leadership skills that make him an ideal Rivet-like player, minus the size. MacKenzie is a wait and see. I haven't heard anything too promising yet. I understand the Eno pick, but I see him as a number two in Portland at best. I read somewhere, think it was here, that the Sabres have a penchant for picking small and speedy QMJHL players at the end of drafts. I think this is not a wise decision. I would rather see them take a bigger OHL, WHL or college player that could be a find. One such player that jumps to mind is Gaustad, as well as Pat Kaleta.

As for the system and Regier's drafting MO, I could write a whole college dissertation on that, so I'll spare you the boredom. It definitely was a rant and was more a product of anger than actual thoughts, but I'm just missing the late round finds and early can't-miss prospects that other teams have developed. There are no players that jump out and say complete package. There's just guys with one skill such as Byron and Ennis. If these guys were 3 or 4 inches taller, 30 pounds heavier, and showed a willingness to mix it up, combined with their scoring talent, defensive prowess, and ability to do the little things well, we definitely wouldn't be having this discussion. Yet it is what it is.

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Anonymous
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Monday, March 23, 2009 ×

Well said Mike.

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Anonymous
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Monday, March 23, 2009 ×

Do not take HF serious, I don't. They read into everybodies press clippings and filter out what they think others want to here.

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Mike
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Monday, March 23, 2009 ×

I would definitely have to agree with that. It seems like their initial rating system pretty much follows the round in which they were drafted. It's only when the hype sets in that they rate them anything decent. Also, I haven't seen any Sabres prospect higher than 7.5 and that is reserved mostly for 1st rounders.

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