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Everything posted by nfreeman

  1. So, as I think @Brawndo pointed out in the GDT, Mitts’ line did much, much better in the fancystats last night with the insertion of Krebs at C. They had the vast majority of expected goals while they were on the ice. I think that may be overstating their performance, as Mitts in particular coughed it up a bunch of times and I don’t think the line had a ton of chances, but they also didn’t get brutally caved in like they have been recently. Cozens’ line, OTOH, didn’t do nearly as well despite scoring 2 goals. They were well in the minority in expected goals while on the ice and Cozens had a minus-2 while JJP and Quinn had minus-1. I think they were getting tougher matchups, and Colorado is really loaded, but they certainly had their hands full. I’m still deeply concerned about Mitts and VO, and very high on the Cozens line, but last night provided a glimmer of hope for Mitts, VO and Krebs and a cautionary note about the Cozens line.
  2. Well, they fell behind 2-0 to TB and 1-0 to Detroit and came back and had the better of the play in both games (until the late-game chokes, of course). And they didn't go to pieces after blowing the lead on the road in Detroit, either -- they dug deep, killed off a long 5-on-3 Detroit PP, controlled the play in OT and then won in the SO on an extremely sweet play by a prized rookie who is reputed to be a good leader/attitude guy. I get the pessimism and the "I'll believe it when I see it" perspective -- this franchise has earned that and then some. But I don't think they are quitters.
  3. Avs forward lines: (Does anyone know how to copy and paste the images from dailyfaceoff.com, which include the jersey numbers? This used to work last year but I can't seem to make it work now.) Artturi Lehkonen Nathan MacKinnon Mikko Rantanen Andrew Cogliano JT Compher Logan O'Connor Alex Galchenyuk Alex Newhook Jean-Luc Foudy Dryden Hunt Jayson Megna Anton Blidh Defensive Pairings Devon Toews Cale Makar Samuel Girard Josh Manson Jacob MacDonald Erik Johnson
  4. I generally agree, but in the curious case of Casey Mittelstadt, even though I'm pretty down on him at present, I'm also willing to go the rest of this season before making up my mind. His NHL career has been spent in a deeply dysfunctional environment. The franchise changed direction multiple times and he got bad coaching and a revolving door of JAG teammates. When you add injury (he was hurt most of last year and pretty clearly not at 100% when he returned), Covid, the Eichel saga, poor conditioning and immaturity early in his career, an unhappy fan base, etc., the net result is an environment where a young talented player is pretty unlikely to develop well. As I've said elsewhere, Mitts has good size and very good hands and is a decent skater. The big question is whether he has what is needed between the ears. Right now it looks like the answer is no, but the Sabres don't need to decide right now. He's under contract this year and next year for $2.5MM per year. If DG can turn TT into a franchise #1C, which he appears to have done, he might be able to turn Mitts into a solid NHL 3C. I wouldn't bet on it, and I'd include Mitts in a trade that brings back a good player, but if that trade doesn't happen I want to see what happens with him for the rest of this season.
  5. Well, that is a less terrible comparison, but I have much higher hopes for Quinn (which are starting to ripen into expectations) than Vanek 2.0. Vanek was talented and could light the lamp, but he was the kind of guy who brought his team down instead of lifting them up. He was an unpleasantly-natured scoring accessory, not a core guy -- kinda like Evander Kane albeit without the true dirtbag baggage. I see Quinn as a core guy who will lift up his teammates, never stop working his butt off and definitely never cause a problem.
  6. So last night, the 3 members of the Mitts/VO line again had the least ice time among Sabres forwards -- Mitts and Vinnie each had 9 min and change, while VO had just under 9 min. Interestingly, the "4th line" of Zemgus, Jost and KO all were around 18 min, making them the 2nd line in terms of ice time. I thought they were very effective last night, although more so in the O-zone than in the D-zone. I'll say it again: DG knows, just like everyone else knows, that Mitts/VO isn't working. He doesn't want to mess with the other 3 lines, which I get, but I don't see what his options are. It's not sustainable to have a line continuously getting caved in like this.
  7. Who? Cozens? If so, that is just a terrible comparison.
  8. Part of me wants DG to healthy-scratch Mitts and VO for the next 5 games and tell them that if they want to play in the NHL, they need to make it their business to learn how to forecheck, maintain possession and create chances in the O-zone and not smile at the opposition and serve them lemonade when the Sabres are in the D-zone and trying to close out a game with 5 minutes to go. The other part of me cannot see either of them getting healthy-scratched for even 1 game. I still think it's more realistic that DG will separate Mitts and VO and combine them in some manner with Zemgus, Jost and KO.
  9. Well, mitts and VO sure didn’t do anything tonight to dispel the growing doubts about their viability on this team. Their line was terrible again.
  10. Well, Quinn sure looks like the real deal. Well done by KA. Serious question: when was the last time the Sabres had three rookies that look as good as Quinn, Power and JJP?
  11. Yikes. I didn't know about the contract when I posted the thread. I think we're firmly in NFW territory on this one.
  12. Here's someone who definitely fails the "wants to be here" test. But he is a goalie who was 20-14-2 last year on a lousy Kings team, so...
  13. FWIW, DG was on WGR this AM and Jeremy White asked him several questions about the Mitts/VO line. DG, as might be expected, spoke supportively and positively about Mitts and VO. He pointed out that Mitts has been very productive on the PP, while admitting that the Mitts/VO line needs to improve at 5-on-5. DG also said that the other 3 lines are playing very well right now, noting that a couple of weeks ago only 1 line was playing well, and that Jost has fit in very well with Zemgus and KO. He said that he didn't want to change those 3 lines, and the solution would come from coaching plus improvement from Mitts, VO and Aspie, plus rotating Krebs and Vinnie into that line. He expressed confidence that they would get there. DG is certainly more confident about that than I am. We'll see.
  14. The Harrington tweet is interesting, but as it's just his guess, I don't think it means anything. I don't think Mitts has much trade value. AZ isn't trading Chychrun for a package where Mitts is the best or 2nd-best piece. Regarding VO being placed with Cozens and JJP -- I'm pretty sure they tried that about 5 games ago for 2-3 games and it didn't work.
  15. I've been thinking about this in the context of how bad the Mitts/VO line is at the possession game and I've come to the conclusion that a huge part of it is indeed mental/hockey IQ. Mitts has good size, decent skating and excellent hands, but I don't think his hockey IQ is particularly strong. In his first couple of seasons the characteristic about him that most stood out to me was that he consistently overestimated how much time and space he had to work with when trying to beat a defender. As a result, the defender took it away from him pretty much every time. Mitts doesn't make that mistake nearly as much, but as you point out he makes tons of other mistakes that indicate a low hockey IQ. I also don't see the innate sense of where the puck is going that guys like Quinn and Skinner seem to have. The result is that his line is terrible on the forecheck/possession game. I don't think VO is quite as bad as Mitts is at this, but I'm starting to think he isn't great at it either.
  16. One thing I worry about regarding Mitts is that I'm pretty confident that one of the franchise's objectives for this season is to figure out whether Mitts is a long-term building block -- so I think it's pretty likely that they are going to continue to feed him all-situations ice time, regardless of how much he's pooping the bed. Losses like the one last night are the inevitable collateral damage.
  17. I think Comrie's bad outings generally coincided with the injuries to the Sabres' D group. That, combined with lack of scoring from anyone other than TT, created a very difficult situation for him and the team. We'll see how it goes when he returns.
  18. Fair points. On the 1st goal, I suppose DG could've just not had Mitts' line on for any D-zone faceoffs, but that probably isn't realistic. On the 4th goal, I think I saw on twitter that Mitts' line hadn't been out for 6 minutes and had already been terrible for 55 minutes of the game. I think DG should've stapled them to the bench at that point.
  19. I'm no expert, but I think xGF% (expected goals for %) is generally regarded as a better metric than CF%, which is just a raw measure of shots and shot attempts. Among other factors, xGF% factors in quality of scoring chances. The Sabres are currently 17th in xGF%, after being 4th-worst in the NHL last season. I agree that the goaltending and PK are major issues right now. I don't think riding Anderson hard is a realistic solution though. I want to see how Comrie does when he returns. He was a bit inconsistent but overall I liked what I saw from him. For that matter, I want to see how UPL bounces back from a lousy outing last night. I'm not sure what the answer is on the PK.
  20. I had a bit of conversation about this last night in the GDT for the TB debacle and thought it merited its own thread. My eye test has been telling me, loudly and clearly, that the Mitts/VO line, regardless of who the 3rd member is, has been consistently getting caved in. In last night's debacle, that line was on for both of TB's 5-on-5 goals. In both cases, DG put them out for d-zone faceoffs vs. Stamkos' line (and before both faceoffs, I said to myself "DG -- WTF are you doing here?"), and both times, TB won the puck and scored pretty much effortlessly. Here's the Athletic on that line's performance last night: https://theathletic.com/3947612/2022/11/29/sabres-loss-lightning-tage-thompson/ Mitts, VO and Aspie got the least ice time on the team last night -- Mitts had just over 9 minutes and the other 2 had less than 9 minutes. So I think it's pretty clear that DG recognizes that this line is a train wreck. Mitts and VO both have offensive skills, but when their line is on, it is ridiculously easy for the opponent to clear the D-zone, and the puck usually stays in the Sabres' D-zone for most of the shift. IMHO the inescapable conclusion of the eye test plus fancystats results like last night's is that Mitts and VO are both lousy forecheck/possession players. I think each of them can play on a line with 2 linemates who are good possession players -- or at least I'd like to see DG try this approach for a few games -- but they cannot play together. It is clearly not working and it is hurting the team. Accordingly, I'd like DG to split up Mitts and VO and try the following 3rd/4th lines, with the idea of giving each of Mitts and VO 2 good possession linemates: Asplund-Jost-VO Zemgus-Mitts-KO FWIW, I was discussing this theory with another Sabres fan last night, and he mentioned that Chad D. has also been advocating for Mitts to play with Zemgus and KO. I'll note that @Brawndo, who knows quite a bit more than I do, mentioned in the GDT, in response to my suggested lines, that Jost is not a play driver. I may be misinterpreting, but I think the fancy stats indicate that he is leading the Sabres in expected goals %: https://www.naturalstattrick.com/playerteams.php?fromseason=20222023&thruseason=20222023&stype=2&sit=5v5&score=all&stdoi=oi&rate=n&team=BUF&pos=S&loc=B&toi=0&gpfilt=none&fd=&td=&tgp=410&lines=single&draftteam=ALL ...while Mitts and VO are DFL in that stat. Discuss.
  21. Respectfully, I don’t think it’s in the top 20.
  22. This IMHO is where the game was lost. As someone pointed out upthread, the Mitts-VO line was on for both 5 v 5 goals against, including the killer with five minutes left that changed the game from a 5-3 happy victory to a vulnerable 5-4 nail-biter. DG has to know that Mitts and VO get caved in consistently and cannot play together. It’s obvious to everyone here. He needs to swap Mitts and Jost, so that both Mitts and VO are playing with two guys whi can drive play. You sound insane and hostile. Chill out or keep quiet.
  23. OK, but then you’re not getting him — which is fine if you don’t want Chychrun enough to part with any real assets — but if you do, you know very well that “trade our lower tier assets for someone else’s really good player” isn’t reality.
  24. If you're talking about 6/7 defensemen, OK, but those aren't difference-makers. What do you think would've happened on the 8-game losing streak if they'd signed a Pysyk equivalent? Maybe 1-7 instead of 0-8? Regarding Comrie -- he is one of the limited pool of guys I referred to. You'll recall that he was their 2nd choice, after Matt Murray, who refused to come here. As for trades, the "guys who want to be here" applies there too. KA isn't going to trade for someone who doesn't want to be here.
  25. Indeed. I think TP has been trying to re-create the McD/BB magic with the Sabres with his last couple of GM hires in Botteril and KA. JB did some good things but at the end of the day was simply not good enough at evaluating NHL talent on the ice or behind the bench, plus he made multiple boneheaded moves that embarrassed the franchise, albeit not in the same way that guys like Tim Murray, Rex Ryan and Russ Brandon did. The jury is still very much out on KA. There are plenty of promising signs, but at the same time he is accountable for the results. The team needs to show real improvement on the ice and in the standings -- not just another modest garbage-time late-season winning streak. If Comrie washes out and/or the team doesn't come close to 88ish points this year and/or Dahlin doesn't want to sign an extension next summer, it will be more than fair to criticize KA.
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