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Derrico

Fancy stat guys - should I be excited yet??

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3 minutes ago, ... said:

I think, at this point, the argument is pretty clear that even with Vlad's best years' stats plugged into that line's overall stats, if a better player were to replace Vlad, that line would very likely have even better stats than they do now.  The team's ceiling is only so high with players like a (historical) Vlad.  This is elementary.  I don't get the push-back on this basic point.

I’m not aware of anyone pushing back.

Certainly not me. I said pretty much exactly the same thing a few posts up.

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7 minutes ago, dudacek said:

I’m not aware of anyone pushing back.

Certainly not me. I said pretty much exactly the same thing a few posts up.

I would characterize your position in this thread as ambiguous.

Perhaps the question should be who, now, is the weakest link among the forward lines?  Assuming we have a trade-chip or two to play with from the D, how can this team be improved based on what we're seeing?  That reality will be upon us at some point in this season, although as things go on, my suspicion is that we're going to hold off until the trade deadline.  

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16 minutes ago, ... said:

I would characterize your position in this thread as ambiguous.

Perhaps the question should be who, now, is the weakest link among the forward lines?  Assuming we have a trade-chip or two to play with from the D, how can this team be improved based on what we're seeing?  That reality will be upon us at some point in this season, although as things go on, my suspicion is that we're going to hold off until the trade deadline.  

To hopefully remove any ambiguity from my recent posts:

  • I am in favour of adding another top six forward
  • I think Ralph has put together the best line configuration and player usage that I’ve seen in a decade in Buffalo
  • I hope he sticks with it until it stops working, or outside upgrades come
Edited by dudacek
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1 minute ago, dudacek said:

I think Ralph has put together the best line configuration and player usage wit what he’s got to work with I’ve seen in a decade in Buffalo

This seems very right.

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44 minutes ago, dudacek said:

Why break up one of three lines that are working to “fix” one that is essentially holding its own?

No idea why you’d do that. I’m not advocating that.

I think we’re all - in our own ways - hopeful that another top-6 forward comes in and succeeds to Vlad’s role.

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I'll play devil's advocate (out of sincerity, not as an exercise):

The laudable performance of Jojo's line makes me worry that tweaking it has just as much of a chance at messing it up, even if Sobotka's replacement is, on paper, a "better player"

Sometimes line chemistry works in strange ways. It might be a secret formula Krueger has come up with, and I'm all about "if it ain't broken, don't fix it"

 

I'm also curious if more definitive stats exist that prove Sobotka is "holding the line back," as many here assert. I don't think a stat showing him as "dull" necessarily proves this; the other two may need some "dullness" to even out their line. (and "dull" doesn't really mean anything in a strategic sense; it could actually point towards successful execution of a strategy. Goes back to Krueger's "you don't know what he's been asked to do")

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i always wonder how Fancy Stat guys would handle the Hasek years, would they sit back and enjoy watching one of the greatest goalies of all time or would they be too busy stressing out over Varada getting near 17mins a night and Smehlik getting more ice time that the smooth skating Woolley?

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Just now, Crusader1969 said:

i always wonder how Fancy Stat guys would handle the Hasek years, would they sit back and enjoy watching one of the greatest goalies of all time or would they be too busy stressing out over Varada getting near 17mins a night and Smehlik getting more ice time that the smooth skating Woolley?

I'd be stressed and frustrated we were wasting a HoF talent

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28 minutes ago, erickompositör72 said:

I'll play devil's advocate (out of sincerity, not as an exercise):

The laudable performance of Jojo's line makes me worry that tweaking it has just as much of a chance at messing it up, even if Sobotka's replacement is, on paper, a "better player"

Sometimes line chemistry works in strange ways. It might be a secret formula Krueger has come up with, and I'm all about "if it ain't broken, don't fix it"

 

I'm also curious if more definitive stats exist that prove Sobotka is "holding the line back," as many here assert. I don't think a stat showing him as "dull" necessarily proves this; the other two may need some "dullness" to even out their line. (and "dull" doesn't really mean anything in a strategic sense; it could actually point towards successful execution of a strategy. Goes back to Krueger's "you don't know what he's been asked to do")

Fair point. I think the team is just better off with a player who's as defensively responsible as Sobotka and has some more upside in the O-zone.

6 minutes ago, Crusader1969 said:

i always wonder how Fancy Stat guys would handle the Hasek years, would they sit back and enjoy watching one of the greatest goalies of all time or would they be too busy stressing out over Varada getting near 17mins a night and Smehlik getting more ice time that the smooth skating Woolley?

This made me chuckle. #Fancystatters likely would've gone hoarse declaring the Sabres' success unsustainable.

OTOH, the fact that the team didn't win a Cup with Hasek sorta proves the same point.

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24 minutes ago, That Aud Smell said:

Fair point. I think the team is just better off with a player who's as defensively responsible as Sobotka and has some more upside in the O-zone.

This made me chuckle. #Fancystatters likely would've gone hoarse declaring the Sabres' success unsustainable.

OTOH, the fact that the team didn't win a Cup with Hasek sorta proves the same point.

the fact that No Goal was allowed didn't help either

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46 minutes ago, Crusader1969 said:

the fact that No Goal was allowed didn't help either

Yeah. I was there. No Goal aside, that Sabres team's successes were ... incredible. Because Hasek was incredible. Had the team around Hasek been materially better, they could have had a dynasty. Whither "the tools to finish the job," Johnny Reegs? As it was, Hasek bolted, knowing he needed to leave to win a Cup.

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22 hours ago, dudacek said:

It’s OK to get the excited whenever your team wins.

Definitely. I loved the streak. That doesn't mean there is anything wrong with delving into the data to see if things seem sustainable. Luckily for us, signs are much more positive this season than last. 

4 hours ago, dudacek said:

The line that has outscored its opponents at even-strength by 6 or so over nine games?

I remember posing the line-stacking question several different ways, but doesn’t it all come down to setting a lineup in a way that puts each line in a position to win its matchup?

If the Eichel line is essentially playing the Crosby, Hall, Barkov, Kopitar, Couture...etc. lines straight up even and the other three lines are winning their matchups, what exactly is the problem?

It's not a problem so much as an avenue for improvement. How many playoff rounds are we going to win this year? If the answer isn't "we should have a good chance at winning a few", we can still look to areas where ideally we could find improvement. Sobotka has been fine. Not a Reinhart "fine", but more/less neutral. I'd like to see that line with a real second line talent on it, regardless. 

2 hours ago, darksabre said:

It's worth noting that the Skinner line is drawing massive amounts of d zone starts and is still producing.

 

2 hours ago, dudacek said:

Sobotka’s defensive acumen creating opportunities for Johansson’s transition skill, creating opportunities for Skinner’s finishing genius, according to design? Or luck based on unusual PDO?

Skinner's hockey acumen. I think he's actually underrated. I'll say it again, he's probably our best forward right now, full stop. I think he may of even had a bigger impact on Eichel last season than vice-versa. Scoring trends actually bear that out, points wise. 

Not for nothing, Krueger chose him to be the "drive your own line" player, over Reinhart. And the players Skinner is playing with are weaker overall than who Jack is, even. Sobotka and Johansson vs Olofsson and Reinhart. 

Sobotka has his contributions on that line, like you've outlined, but it's a mark of how good Skinner is (and MoJo, to an extent) that a player (Sobotka) can provide such a niche contribution and the line still be viable, which it definitely has been. 

Something tells me Eichel's line would be a mess if it was Olofsson - Eichel - Sobotka.  

Edited by Thorny
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30 minutes ago, Thorny said:

Definitely. I loved the streak. That doesn't mean there is anything wrong with delving into the data to see if things seem sustainable. Luckily for us, signs are much more positive this season than last. 

It's not a problem so much as an avenue for improvement. How many playoff rounds are we going to win this year? If the answer isn't "we should have a good chance at winning a few", we can still look to areas where ideally we could find improvement. Sobotka has been fine. Not a Reinhart "fine", but more/less neutral. I'd like to see that line with a real second line talent on it, regardless. 

 

Skinner's hockey acumen. I think he's actually underrated. I'll say it again, he's probably our best forward right now, full stop. I think he may of even had a bigger impact on Eichel last season than vice-versa. Scoring trends actually bear that out, points wise. 

Not for nothing, Krueger chose him to be the "drive your own line" player, over Reinhart. And the players Skinner is playing with are weaker overall than who Jack is, even. Sobotka and Johansson vs Olofsson and Reinhart. 

Sobotka has his contributions on that line, like you've outlined, but it's a mark of how good Skinner is (and MoJo, to an extent) that a player (Sobotka) can provide such a niche contribution and the line still be viable, which it definitely has been. 

Something tells me Eichel's line would be a mess if it was Olofsson - Eichel - Sobotka.  

It sometimes seems like if Jeff could pass, he’d be Kucherov

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Food for thought:

https://nhl.nbcsports.com/2019/10/21/nhl-power-rankings-fast-starts-most-likely-to-continue/

Quote

9. Buffalo Sabres. For the second year in a row the Sabres are one of the big stories in the NHL with a fast start, entering play on Monday with a 7-1-1 record. There is reason to believe they can avoid the total meltdown they experienced a year ago thanks to an improved roster (offseason additions of Colin Miller, Henri Jokiharju, Marcus Johansson, while Rasmus Dahlin has a full season in the NHL under his belt) and what seems to be a better coach. But there are also still some real concerns. Carter Hutton won’t keep stopping 95 percent of the shots he faces. Victor Olofsson won’t keep scoring on 30 percent of his shots. They still play in an extremely tough division. There is reason to expect some regression here as the season goes on.

While I'm not in total disagreement with his assessment, I will point out that Hutton posted a 931 with St Louis and our enhanced D group is looking much like the one in Stl.  I'm also going to point out that unlike Bos and Edm, the Sabres can now roll 4 lines that can score.

Even Strength Goals for the Sabres

Eichel Line - 5 

MoJo Line - 8

Mitts Line - 4

Larsson Line - 3 

D group - 2

What happens when the D starts scoring and the Eichel line starts getting some to go in at even strength?  We are scoring on pace for 226 goals just at even strength.  We scored 221 total last year (including 46 PP goals).

Edited by GASabresIUFAN
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It'll be interesting to see how quickly the conversation moves as a whole towards "why do we have play in such a ridiculous division". Because it's going to get there the better we get. 

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7 hours ago, WildCard said:

Anything to replace Sobotka on that line

This is an old tired narrative that fails to trust what is actually occurring on the ice this season.

Sobotka has led the team in hits, has cleared space for his linemates, has checked well and performed as a solid complimentary piece for that line. That is the reality of what has happened so far this year. On top of that, by looking at how they interact, he seems to have a good relationship with his linemates, which is also important.

Could we be a better team with better players (in his position or others), well sure. Nobody's going to claim he's an allstar, but he's doing good and Krueger is getting the most out of him. I'd rather we did not create another weakness on our team (like trading away a good D man) to upgrade a position on a line that is already playing well as is. 

As for the issue of "is it different this time" I say yes. This structure will insure it will endure and can be built on. It's a foundational approach that will allow us to get better and better as the kids mature and join the roster. About freakin' time!

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14 minutes ago, PerreaultForever said:

This is an old tired narrative that fails to trust what is actually occurring on the ice this season.

Sobotka has led the team in hits, has cleared space for his linemates, has checked well and performed as a solid complimentary piece for that line. That is the reality of what has happened so far this year. On top of that, by looking at how they interact, he seems to have a good relationship with his linemates, which is also important.

Could we be a better team with better players (in his position or others), well sure. Nobody's going to claim he's an allstar, but he's doing good and Krueger is getting the most out of him. I'd rather we did not create another weakness on our team (like trading away a good D man) to upgrade a position on a line that is already playing well as is. 

As for the issue of "is it different this time" I say yes. This structure will insure it will endure and can be built on. It's a foundational approach that will allow us to get better and better as the kids mature and join the roster. About freakin' time!

It's not an old tired narrative. Get the most out of him all you want but there is a clear deficiency on that line, and losing a position of surplus to fix one of weakness is a smart move. 

I feel like whenever people mention a move like this they think it's an attack on Krueger, or Botterill, or Risto. It's not. Sobotka simply is not a 2nd line player no matter how you slice it, and we can and should be aiming to be better there by using what assets we have available to us 

Edited by WildCard
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1 minute ago, WildCard said:

It's not an old tired narrative. Get the most out of him all you want but there is a clear deficiency on that line, and losing a position of surplus to fix one of weakness is a smart move. 

I feel like whenever people mention a move like this they think it's an attack ok Krueger, or Botterill, or Risto, it's not. Sobotka is simply not a 2nd line player no matter how you slice it, we can and should be aiming to be better there by using what assets we have available to us 

I can't agree with this. I get it, Sobotka's the whipping boy and he is going to be that for a lot of people as long as he's here. Right now though, I firmly disagree. He is playing like he belongs on that line. He fits. He's not what people want there, but unless you can get me a true power forward for that spot he helps make that line work.

The idea that we trade away our position of strength I think is the mistake. I remember last year Boston had a run of D injuries and at one point they only had 2 of their starting 6 in the lineup. Lots of depth got them through that. D depth is a new thing in Buffalo but is long overdue. I do not want to have to call up the kind of players we ended up relying on 2 years ago where you look at a Redmond and think how is this guy even in the ahl yet alone nhl?

To get the player you want, it means trading away Risto. It's simple as that. There is no other real option there. I don't want to do that. We are a soft team as shown in the Ducks game. I want more physicality in the lineup not less.

Next year that line could be Skinner-Cozens-Johanson, but for now you don't fix what ain't broke. 

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9 minutes ago, WildCard said:

It's not an old tired narrative. Get the most out of him all you want but there is a clear deficiency on that line, and losing a position of surplus to fix one of weakness is a smart move. 

I feel like whenever people mention a move like this they think it's an attack on Krueger, or Botterill, or Risto. It's not. Sobotka simply is not a 2nd line player no matter how you slice it, and we can and should be aiming to be better there by using what assets we have available to us 

Try this again after Sabres lose 3 out of 4, or the Skinner line goes 5 games without a goal.

Some people just don’t want to touch a thing because they are afraid that everything will crumble.

If the Sabres really are better and/or Krueger really is a very good coach, then everything will not crumble from changing one player.

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Sobotka seems to be playing a role the same was Vaclav Varada played a role.  Or Yuri Khemlev.  And it seems to be working.

Nonetheless, I certainly wouldn't complain if an upgrade were to fall in our laps.  In the meantime, I'm pretty damned pleased that they've found a way to make him useful on this roster.

Edited by Weave
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41 minutes ago, WildCard said:

It's not an old tired narrative. Get the most out of him all you want but there is a clear deficiency on that line, and losing a position of surplus to fix one of weakness is a smart move. 

I feel like whenever people mention a move like this they think it's an attack on Krueger, or Botterill, or Risto. It's not. Sobotka simply is not a 2nd line player no matter how you slice it, and we can and should be aiming to be better there by using what assets we have available to us 

There's a bit of a prevalent "tone" that, because we are winning, everything is beyond criticism. 

Edited by Thorny
Well except Dahlin. Kid's brutal
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18 minutes ago, Thorny said:

There's a bit of a prevalent "tone" that, because we are winning, everything is beyond criticism. 

Right. Just because we're 7-1-1 doesn't mean this team is anywhere near the goal.  Sure, let's make it into the first round, and we all should be happy?  We didn't wait this long to be 4 and out.  There is always a place to upgrade and prepare for the playoffs, just ask Tampa Bay.

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2 minutes ago, ... said:

Right. Just because we're 7-1-1 doesn't mean this team is anywhere near the goal.  Sure, let's make it into the first round, and we all should be happy?  We didn't wait this long to be 4 and out.  There is always a place to upgrade and prepare for the playoffs, just ask Tampa Bay.

It’s funny, cuz I hear their stats were, well, off the charts last year, too.

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2 minutes ago, ... said:

Right. Just because we're 7-1-1 doesn't mean this team is anywhere near the goal.  Sure, let's make it into the first round, and we all should be happy?  We didn't wait this long to be 4 and out.  There is always a place to upgrade and prepare for the playoffs, just ask Tampa Bay.

I agree with the spirit of this post, but even referencing Tampa here muddles the point. This isn't a powerhouse team that may get undone by the quality strategy of a well-coached Columbus unit. There are significant holes (It's not a "negative" opinion, I'm thrilled with the progress thus far). 

We deserve the record we have. But that's not the same as saying I believe it to be representative of the team we currently have, which cannot be judged in totality until we've played the season out. That is to say, I don't actually think we are going to win the Conference. 

If we do, I'll gladly eat my hat, and it'll taste awesome covered in champagne. 

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6 minutes ago, Thorny said:

There's a bit of a prevalent "tone" that, because we are winning, everything is beyond criticism. 

And there also might be a bit of a prevalent “tone” here that some criticisms should be beyond criticism.

I don’t think @PerreaultForever is saying Sobotka is beyond criticism, he’s saying he doesn’t think the criticism is warranted based on the season so far. I think Sobotka is a placeholder who will need to be upgraded if we want to compete with the big boys, based on what I saw from last year, but I can’t deny that the evidence so far this year supports his position more than mine.

I think @... has the right of it above in that the big picture matters most. It’s just that the picture is always changing. And every game we’re learning more about what the big picture actually is.

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