Thursday, April 22, 2010

What is Behind the Sabres Lack of Production in the Playoffs?

The Sabres are one game away from elimination after former Sabre Miro Satan scored the game winner in Double Overtime last night in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals at TD Garden in Boston. The Sabres led after 2 periods 2-0 on goals by Steve Montador and Tim Kennedy. But that was suppost to be all the support that Ryan Miller would need but in Buffalo playoff fashion, the Sabres blow the 2-0 lead in the first half of the third period when Boston scored two goals on the powerplay before netting in the game winner in the second Overtime period.

Where have the Sabres gone? Buffalo won the Northeast Division by putting the puck in the net, playing good defense and having the goalie that saves everything and then some. So far this post season the "real" Sabres have only been out once and that was in Game 1 back at HSBC Arena. Game 2 had its moments as well as Game 3 but the Sabres have failed to put the puck in the net and also fail to clear the puck away from the net. Some say that the reason behind the Sabres demise this post-season is due to the lack of offensive production and also the bad calls made by the referees. Lets talk about the refs for a minute... Yes Matt Ellis told the Buffalo media after Game 3 that the hit he took was a clean hit and yes it was to a point... the point being that his head was down and we know that when someone's head is down, you will be punnished for it... Just ask RJ Umberger after Brian Campbell hit him back in the 2005-2006 playoffs

So the hit was clean but the calls in Game 4 was absolutely terrible. I mean come on a bad call when Patrick Kaleta took Lucic to the boards and after Lucic fell to the ice, the refs called it boarding and as a result, Boston scored on the powerplay. And then the too-many men pelenty gave the Bruins the win in OT.

But lets move on to the lack of offensive production that is produced by the Sabres offense. The Sabres have scored 8 goals so far this postseason and that is not high enough to win a series and let alone, win a hockey game. The Sabres are averaging two goals a game and that is definitely not high enough to win a playoff game. Jason Pominville, Thomas Vanek, Derek Roy plus others have failed in my eyes to produce this postseason. If the goal productions are coming from Craig Rivet, Steve Montador, Tim Kennedy and Mike Grier, you are not going to win hockey games I am sorry. Buffalo needs a goal scorer who can put the puck in the net and they also need someone to stand infront of the net in order to get a rebound or two and that creates offensive opportunities and they need them in order to score and to win.

Teams have trailed 3-1 in a best-of-seven series a total of 220 times and have come back to win the series on 20 of those occasions or 9.1% of the time.  The last time it happened was back in 2004 as the Montreal Canadians came back in the Conference Quarters and defeat the Boston Bruins. So it can be done Buffalo sports fans but it is along road ahead and it starts with Game 5 Friday night at HSBC Arena.

Amerks in Complete Control after 6-1 Win

The Rochester Americans used another four-goal second period to cruise to a 6-1 win in Game 4 tonight over the Abbotsford Heat and take a 3-1 series lead in the best-of-seven North Division semifinals. With its third straight win, Rochester now needs just one more victory to win the series and advance to the second round (North Division Finals) of the 2010 Calder Cup Playoffs. The game was also the second of three straight this week from the Abbotsford Entertainment and Sports Centre.

Defenseman Jordan Henry scored twice, Jeff Taffe assisted on three goals and four others each tallied a goal and an assist as Tyler Plante earned his third straight win with a 46-save effort. Josh Meyers was the lone scorer for the hometown Heat and ex-Amerk David Shantz dropped his third straight game with 16 saves.

The Heat outshot the Amerks 47-22 in the contest, including 23-4 in the first period alone. Rochester, however, made up for it on the power-play, converting on four of six opportunities, while holding Abbotsford scoreless on its six man-up situations. For the second straight game, the Amerks scored four unanswered goals in the second and five straight as Rochester has now outscored Abbotsford 20-9 through the first four games of the series.

Despite being outshot 23-4 in the opening period, the Amerks were able to jump out to a 1-0 lead and maintain it throughout the frame. For the first time in the series, Rochester opened the scoring in the contest, on its very first shot, midway through the first period as Jamie Johnson beat Shantz low glove-side for his first of the postseason the power-play. Jason Garrison beamed his notorious slap shot from the center of the blueline into traffic, and after Shawn Matthias’ first attempt was denied, Johnson picked up the loose puck and tucked it just inside the far post at the 8:49 mark. With the assists, Garrison extended his point streak to four games and Matthias established his first three-game point string of the playoffs.

Abbotsford knotted the game at one courtesy of Meyers’ first of the playoffs at 4:14 of the second stanza. Mikael Backlund led his team into Rochester’s zone along the right-wing boards and found a breaking Meyers in the slot, who’s quick shot eluded Plante with enough force to slide past the goal line. The goal would stand as the only one for the Heat, as Plante was impenetrable for the next 35:46 of play.
The game remained tied for just a short period of time, however, as Henry potted back-to-back goals, including one on the power-play, 78 seconds apart to give the Amerks a 3-1 lead. His first at 7:03 gave him his league-leading third power-play tally before his team-leading fourth goal at 8:21. With the goals, Henry, who has four goals in as many games, now ranks second among the league’s top goal-scorers and moved into sixth in scoring among AHL defenseman.

Rochester quickly extended its lead to 5-1 with goals just 32 seconds apart from Garrison and Michal Repik. Garrison banked one off the post on the power-play at 18:22 and Repik scored his first career playoff goal at 18:50 from Evgeny Dadonov and David Brine.
The Amerks’ power-play struck again at 4:43 of the final frame as Chris Taylor collected a goal-mouth rebound and lifted it into the top of the net for his first of the playoffs. Repik picked up his second point of the night with an assist on the play, and Taffe tabbed his third helper of the game to help Rochester to a 6-1 cushion and its fifth straight goal.

Rochester looks to capture the series on Friday, April 23rd in Game 5 of the North Division semifinals at the Abbotsford Entertainment and Sports Centre. The 10:00 p.m. EST contest will be broadcast live on SportsRadio 1280 WHTK and FM 107.3, Rochester’s Sports Talk. The Amerks will return home to The Blue Cross Arena for Games 6 and 7, if necessary, on Sunday, April 25th and Tuesday, April 27th.

From the Rochester Americans 

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Sabres Playoffs Videos

This video is played at every Sabres home game during the 2010 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

So this brings me back to the last Playoff video open that the Sabres had... 2007 Better Days

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Amerks Try to Even Series at Home in Game 2

Tonight, the Rochester Americans remain home for Game 2 of their 2010 Calder Cup Playoffs North Division semifinals with the Abbotsford Heat. The 7:05 p.m. matchup will be broadcast live on SportsRadio 1280 WHTK and FM 107.3, Rochester’s Sports Talk. Fans can also tune in to watch live on Time Warner Cable SportsNet Channel 26. The Heat currently lead the best-of-seven series 1-0 following their 3-2 win Thursday night in Game 1.

The playoff series marks the Amerks’ return to the postseason for the first time in three years and the 40th playoff appearance overall in the 54-year history of the franchise. Rochester has been a part of 77 playoff series over the years, in which it compiled a 205-182 record in 387 games during that time. Rochester finished its season series with Abbotsford with a 1-3-0-0 record, including back-to-back losses at home against the Heat.

The 2009-10 regular season saw four different Amerks players reach the 20-goal plateau, a feat that was last accomplished by the 1996-97 team. Veteran forward Jeff Taffe finished with a team and career-high 28 goals, while team MVP Jamie Johnson came in a close second with 27. Second-year forward Michal Repik potted 22 goals for his first 20-goal campaign and two-time Calder Cup champ Graham Mink netted his 20th in the last game of the season.
Following his 71-point season, Johnson became the first player to reach the 70-point benchmark since Chris Taylor last accomplished the feat during the 2004-05 campaign.

The Amerks come into Game 2 looking to even things up at one game apiece before journeying cross-country for Games 3, 4 and 5 (if necessary) in Abbotsford. Veteran forward Mike York (1+1) and Mink (0+2) each collected two points in Rochester’s Game 1 loss, while goaltenders Alexander Salak and Tyler Plante combined for 26 saves. Plante stopped all 20 shots he faced in relief effort. Both of Mink’s assists came on the power-play, where he is presently tied for first. Defenseman Jordan Henry, coming off his most productive season in his three-year pro career, continued to showcase his offensive side with a power-play goal Thursday night. Defenseman Keith Seabrook led the Heat with a pair of goals, including the eventual game-winner on the power-play, to help his team take Game 1 and a 1-0 lead in the series. Seabrook, a rookie who hadn’t registered a single multiple-goal game during the entire regular season, currently sits second among league defenseman in scoring in the 2010 Calder Cup Playoffs. He also already ranks second in goals scored for the postseason. Staffan Kronwall notched two assists in Game 1, good enough for fourth in that category. Former Amerks netminder David Shantz earned his first win of the postseason, stopping 30 of 32 shots for his first AHL playoff victory.

Rochester saw several of its team members officially make their American Hockey League playoff debuts in Game 1 Thursday night, including Head Coach Benoit Groulx, while others entered the postseason for the first time in an Amerk uniform. Groulx led his team to a 44-33-2-1 record (91 points), a 25-point spike from last season, and his offense was the second best in the North Division, scoring a total of 253 goals. In fact, no current member of the Amerks active roster was on the 2006-07 team that played in the 2007 Calder Cup Playoffs. Johnson led the way offensively with a team-high 71 points and was one of just two skaters to play in all 80 games throughout the regular season. A three-time Amerks player of the month, Johnson performed at under a point-per-game pace, en route to earning team MVP honors and the Amerks scoring champion award. The seventh-year pro finished 12th among the AHL’s top scorers, while his 44 assists were 14th best in the league. Taffe paced Rochester’s offense with a team-high 28 goals, good enough for 14th in the AHL, and captured personal bests in that category. He also finished second among Rochester’s active roster with seven power-play goals. Veteran defenseman Clay Wilson, who made his Panthers debut this season, had the best offensive performance of his five-year professional career this season with the Amerks, one that earned him a spot on the 2009-10 AHL Second All-Star Team. Wilson captured career-highs in all offensive categories in goals (14), assists (46), points (60), penalty minutes (58) and games played (75), finishing second on the team and second among league blueliners in scoring. His 46 helpers were also a team-best. Further, he led the Amerks with 191 shots on goal and was fourth in the league with 24 power-play assists.
Salak completed his first professional season with a 29-14-0 record with a 2.89 goals-against average and a .910 save percentage in 48 games. The 2009-10 AHL All-Star finished his rookie campaign with 29 wins to finish fourth among league netminders. Salak also posted a career-best nine-game winning streak earlier in the season and was the recipient of three league awards. For his efforts, he was named the Amerks’ 2009-10 Rookie of the Year. Plante also had a banner year between the pipes for the Amerks, collecting a career-best in all goaltending categories in wins (12), saves (701), shutouts (3), goals-against average (2.66), save percentage (.914) and games played (27). He also finished 13th among league goaltenders with three shutouts and was named the AHL Goaltender of the Month for March.

Abbotsford, who finished the regular season as the third-seeded team in North Division with a 39-29-5-7 (90 points) record, earns its first trip to the postseason after only its first season as a member in the American Hockey League. Fifth-year pro Jason Jaffray led the Heat in every offensive category in goals (25), assists (29) and points (54), in addition to owning the team’s best on-ice rating with a plus-24 through 72 games. The 2010 AHL All-Star also finished the campaign first on the team and fourth in the league with four shorthanded goals. As a team, the Heat racked up a league-high 1,796 penalty minutes, including 267 from J.D. Watt, who finished the season first on the team and fourth in the league in that category. Shantz finished the season with a 15-10-4 record with a 2.75 goals-against average and a .908 save percentage in 32 games. His 15 wins were the most among Abbotsford’s goaltending depth chart. Second-year netminder Leland Irving saw the most time between the pipes, however, posting a 14-17-2 record with a 2.76 goals-against average and a .905 save percentage.

North Division Semifinal – Series “F” (best-of-7):
N2-Rochester Americans vs. N3-Abbotsford Heat

Game 1: Thursday, April 15th at 7:05 p.m. at The Blue Cross Arena (ABB Leads 1-0)
Game 2: Saturday, April 17th at 7:05 p.m. at The Blue Cross Arena
Game 3: Monday, April 19th at 10:00 p.m. (EST) at Abbotsford Sports and Entertainment Centre
Game 4: Wednesday, April 21st at 10:00 p.m. (EST) at Abbotsford Sports and Entertainment Centre
*Game 5: Friday, April 23rd at 10:00 p.m. (EST) at Abbotsford Sports and Entertainment Centre
*Game 6: Sunday, April 25th at 5:05 p.m. at The Blue Cross Arena
*Game 7: Tuesday, April 27th at 7:05 p.m. at The Blue Cross Arena

*if necessary

Story Courtesy of the Rochester Americans

Friday, April 9, 2010

Raceday in Fulton: Super DIRTcar Series 100

Round two of the Super DIRTcar Series is right on schedule at Fulton Speedway. Just ask second-year track owner John Wight as he anxiously awaits his headline ‘VP Racing Fuels Spring Fever 100’ slated for April 10 at the Oswego County clay oval.

“We’re set to run, wish we would’ve picked this weekend for our opener,” smiled Wight, alluding to the forecast of 70-degree temperatures predicted the first week of April. A special Test & Tune practice session for all classes will still take place April 3 at 12noon with pit gates opening at 11:30 a.m. “You just never know this time of year.”

“I live five miles from the track and know we had about 160 inches of snow this winter. The rain finally got rid of the last pile a week ago and we were able to dig up and grade the track over the weekend. I’m counting on the weather staying good, then we’ll have everything ready to go for all the fans and racers coming in,” Wight confirmed.

Wight will be smiling even more when all the stars from the Super DIRTcar Series converge on Fulton for round two of the annual tour, each looking for the $6,000 winner’s check in the much anticipated season-opener at the Route 57 speedplant. Not only is Wight the track owner, he presides over one of the top teams on the circuit today, and his first-string driver Billy Decker captured the recent Series lid-lifter at Hagerstown (Md.) Speedway in pursuit of a third overall Hoosier Tire-VP Racing Fuels Mr. DIRTcar Championship.

“I don’t think there’s any added pressure for Billy, he’s the kind of guy that wants to win every race no matter where he goes,” added Wight, whose Gypsum Wholesalers-Stadium International monikers join Quality Hardwoods on Decker’s no. 91 Bicknell entry. Teammates Larry Wight, Pat Ward and Ryan Phelps will be among the familiar sea of red Gypsum rides helping make up the stellar field on race day when Fulton stages the Central New York opener for Big-Block Modifieds.

Race time is 6 p.m., pit gates are scheduled to unlock at 3 o’clock with grandstands opening at 4. Warm-ups start at 5 p.m. followed immediately by time trials and the first heat race green-flagged at 6 o’clock. Modified teams are encouraged to arrive early as pre-race technical inspection will begin as early as 1 o’clock before the pits are initially cleared at 2:30 p.m.

Still in search of his first Fulton victory, all-time Series winner and defending Mr. DIRTcar champion Brett Hearn will make another visit attempting to hold off the Gypsum gang along with two-time and defending track tour winner Alan Johnson. With registered Series racers Jimmy Phelps, Michael Storms, Dale Planck, Tom Sears Jr. and Billy Dunn also ’09 Fulton regulars, the competition should be even stiffer when top travelers Matt Sheppard, Danny Johnson, Justin Haers, Gary Tomkins and Steve Paine are thrown in the mix on April 10.

Jim Witko, Chuck Bower, Mike Bowman and Mike Mahaney are more of the Fulton notables that will be in contention, joining several other invading race teams that are expected to take part in the special spring show at the home of the Fulton 200 presented by SUNY Canton in October.

When trucking magnate Wight and his wife Laura began a new era at Fulton Speedway last year, their first official order of business was to name former owner Harvey Fink as promoter. Joined today by GM Bob Connelly, Marketing Director Mike Fabery and most recently his son Larry Fink in charge of track maintenance, the elder Fink is back at the helm overseeing every aspect of the operation in 2010.

“Last year when John took over we had somewhere around three weeks to get everything in place,” recalled Fink, who sparked Fulton’s gradual climb back to prominence when he first took over the deed in 1998. Also beginning promotions at sister track Brewerton Speedway in 1991, Fulton became a member of the DIRTcar NE Racing fraternity in 1999 with the Fink family in charge. “So everything was new, even some of the faces, and everybody had a fresh, new attitude.”

“All new equipment, new track surface and new grandstands gave us a solid start. Right now we have more new plans but I don’t like to talk about things until they’re done. There’s always a lot of ideas going around, I’m more focused on what’s been accomplished. Just want to get the first race in and we’ll have a lot more to say,” remarked Fink, who along with his wife Joan, received the Leonard J. Sammons, Jr. Memorial Award recognizing outstanding contributions to auto racing during the 2006 Northeast Modified Hall of Fame ceremonies on the Cayuga County Fairgrounds.

For more information, the speedway office can be reached by phoning 315/593-6531 and the track website remains Contact DIRTcar Racing Northeast Director of Competition & Track Sanctioning Joe Skotnicki (704/796-4566) or log into for additional news & notes. Be sure to sign up on and receive updates throughout the season.

Story Provided by Tom Skibinski - DIRTcar NE PR Director