Because it's the Cap: Buffalo Sabres Offseason Preview

Adam Laskaris
May 26 2017 08:00AM

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Credit: Dan Hamilton / USA TODAY IMAGES

The Buffalo Sabres are uh... not a very good hockey team. Some would even describe them as trash.

Whatever the case, they finished with a -36 goal differential and ended up 17 points out of the playoffs. I'm not totally convinced they're in a worse position than the Detroit Red Wings who finished a point ahead of them in the divisional standings, but yeah, they weren't all that great either. They haven't been a playoff team "in a minute" as the kids say, and much of their fanbase is currently in a dilemma of when their rebuild actually started as well as what stage of the rebuild they're in.

Even though it seems like their push has always been to be better than the Toronto Maple Leafs basically since inception, they hit 47 years without a Stanley Cup this spring. Fans are getting a little restless, though the hiring of a new GM tends to cool some fears a little bit.

After ending a confusing three-year love affair with Tim "TMGM" Murray (who never bought them any real success besides finishing second in a draft lottery he spent the whole season planning for), the Sabres find themselves hitting the reset button. Dan Bylsma is gone, and despite being in an arena that changes its name about once every two months, it's a new era in Sabresville. And boy, has it been rough. Lost lotteries, losing better players in the draft, poor signings and one-sided trades aside, the on-ice Sabres product has been one of the league's worst going back longer than the most recent lockout.

The Sabres were the target of the most interesting offseason story we've had in a while, where Jack Eichel spoke out allegedly and then within the week the two most important front office staff were out the door.

Though they've replaced the GM, hiring a coach is a major next step for these folks, and may honestly be their most important decision of the summer. The Sabres this upcoming season either hit their seventh straight year without a playoff berth, or take a real step forward into their hopes of being competitive.

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NHL Conference Final Preview: Ottawa Senators vs. Pittsburgh Penguins

Adam Laskaris
May 13 2017 01:47PM

All aboard the Eastern Conference Final Choo-Choo!

One of these teams makes sense to be here, and the other is the Ottawa Senators. Sure, the boys from Canada's capital had a sensible enough path to make it through to the third round, but, really? How did we get here?

Credit where credit's due, Ottawa's come up clutch when it mattered and outlasted every other Canadian team this season. With fans dreaming of 2007 again, the stars just might be aligning for a miracle Cup run.

Pittsburgh, meanwhile, is in the Conference Final for the fifth time since 2008. They've won three of their previous four, being swept in 2013 by the Boston Bruins.   

Many Senators fans have claimed the team has been underrated by the media and public perception, but I really don't buy that argument. Not to go all "unsustainable success" and all, but their largest margin of victory these playoffs is one goal. They've scored 34 goals, and allowed 33. For comparison's sake, Washington scored 36 goals, and allowed 36 goals, and they're out. Edmonton scored 36 and allowed 35 (including a 7-0 outlier loss,) and they're out too.

Pittsburgh has scored 41 goals and allowed 31, Nashville has scored 31 and allowed just 16, while Anaheim is a closer comparable at 37 and 36 goals. What I'm trying to say is, another bounce here or there and maybe the Sens wouldn't even be here. Who knows?

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The Pavel Datsyuk contract dump trade was actually a big mistake for the Red Wings

Adam Laskaris
April 24 2017 05:00PM

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Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Arguably the biggest trade the Detroit Red Wings have made over the past few seasons came about 10 months ago, which is funny because nobody involved with the trade has played a game for the franchise since. 

With a quick hush coming over the Buffalo arena that finds a way to change its name just about every six months, Gary Bettman announced that the 16th overall selection and the cap hit associated with Pavel Datsyuk's contract would be moved from Detroit to the Arizona Coyotes for the 20th and 53rd overall selections. With those picks, the Arizona Coyotes selected Jakob Chychrun, while the Red Wings were able to land Dennis Cholowski and Filip Hronek with their spots in the draft.

The move was mostly praised at the time for being a moment of genius for Ken Holland. It's far from the worst deal he's ever pulled off, but here's 5 reasons why the trade shouldn't be viewed as a positive move for Detroit:

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NHL First Round Playoff Preview: Calgary Flames vs. Anaheim Ducks

Adam Laskaris
April 13 2017 08:00AM

The Flames and the Ducks! What a classic matchup! Right? Right?!

The Calgary Flames come in featuring a lineup of Johnny Gaudreau, Sean Monahan, and "18-year-old" Sam Bennett, while the Anaheim Ducks sport an older contingent of Ryan Getzlaf, Ryan Kesler, and Corey Perry as their core trio. 

While neither team gets their rival matchup in Edmonton and San Jose, the teams get to fight it out against one another in a season where both teams were quite uncertain of their expectations going into it.

The teams have no playoff history in recent times as they haven't played since 2005-06, when the Ducks were still going by the "Mighty" moniker. The Ducks won that series in seven games, that also took place in the first round. The Ducks lost to the Oilers, who then made it all the way to Game Seven of the Stanley Cup Finals. I'm not sure what happened, but I don't think they've won the Cup since 1990.

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Stat of the Union: A goaltending roundtable

Adam Laskaris
April 10 2017 09:27AM

With a few off days before the NHL playoffs start, we thought we'd give you a moment to check out the latest edition of Stat of the Union: an NHL analytics roundtable. Today, we're bringing in five of the best goalie enthusiasts out there to give you their takes, hot or not, on the current state of affairs with the last line of defence in today's NHL. On today's panel:

Cat Silverman (CS) 

I work for InGoal Magazine and FanRag Sports covering hockey with a specialty in goaltending. I used to coach with the Arizona Coyotes youth development program, before having my daughter this past September.

Ian Fleming (IF)

I am a writer for NHLNumbers.com and Hockey-Graphs.com with a focus on the statistical evaluation of goaltenders, a business analyst for an international, tech-centric legal services provider, and a former goaltender.

Emmanuel Perry (MP)

Creator of Corsica.Hockey and analyst for WinnersView.

Greg Balloch (GB)

Hey, I'm Greg Balloch! I am a writer for InGoal Magazine based out of Vancouver, BC. I also work as a private goaltending instructor, and with the Surrey Eagles of the BCHL as their video coach and goaltending consultant. I originally grew up in Hamilton, Ontario (where I played), but moved to BC in 2011 to cover the Vancouver Canucks for one of the local radio stations. I'm 26 years old, and spend most of my day on Twitter attempting to explain why goalies do what they do.

Nick Mercandte (NM)

I am an attorney and analyst/consultant. I have over 30 years of experience playing goalie and coaching goaltenders. I currently write for Hockey Graphs and have written in various other places in the past.

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