The Buffalo Sabres have already begun to rebuild just three days after they were upset by the Boston Bruins in the first round of the 2010 NHL playoffs.

The Sabres announced on Thursday that they would be picking up the one-year option to keep head coach Lindy Ruff in Buffalo for a 13th straight season.

Ruff and general manager Darcy Regier were both called into question by many of the Buffalo faithful after another promising season ended in disappointment.

“Any notion that they’re not going to be part of the process of us getting there, let’s dispel that now,” Sabres minority owner Larry Quinn told the Associated Press of Ruff and Regier.

In 12 seasons and 984 games with the Sabres, Ruff has a regular season record of 483-361-78-62. He has a playoff record of 54-40.

Buffalo has made the playoffs seven times during Ruff’s command, winning their division twice in the process, as well as the President’s Trophy as the league’s top team during the regular season in the 2006-07 season.

While the team has done fairly well under Ruff’s watch, there is still no Stanley Cup to show for it, and the Buffalo fans are becoming restless.

But Ruff is not completely to blame, as Regier has let several key components slip away from the organization over the last few seasons.

Chris Drury and Danny Briere left after Regier failed to offer them proper contracts during the successful 2007 campaign, and Brian Campbell was eventually traded the following season due to a similar situation.

However, as Quinn said, both Ruff and Regier will be around for the rebuilding process—a process which Regier has acknowledged.

“I will try to be busy, yes,” Regier told the Associated Press about his plans for the offseason. “Yes, I think we have to make some changes. What exactly they will consist of, it’s too early to know.”

There is a lot of speculation as to what Regier may do in the offseason, but only time will tell as the Sabres prepare for the future.

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The Boston Bruins without Marc Savard is a dream matchup for any team, but it quickly turned into a nightmare for the Buffalo Sabres. The Bruins, behind the incredible play of rookie goaltender Tuukka Rask, eliminated the Sabres in six games on Monday night. “It was an extremely tight series,” head coach Lindy Ruff told the Associated Press after Game Six. “The teams couldn’t separate. There wasn’t much breathing space the whole series. They scored two power-play goals, and we didn’t get any. We made some mistakes in the series, some mistakes we’d like to have back. Overall, it wasn’t good enough. That’s the bottom line.” So how did the Sabres manage to be upset so easily?

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It has been eight months since I wrote last, so I thought I would return with my favorite past time, predictions.

Yes, my predictions can sometimes be farfetched and, in some cases, just down right dumb, but they're always fun. It also gives the chance for others to voice their ideas, which is really what this site is about.

It's become something of a ritual to dream up ideas of how our beloved Leafs could somehow improve on yet another crushing season, so why stop now.

Before I get started, just let me say I in no way fancy myself an expert, I simply share my ideas of what I would try to accomplish as GM of the Leafs.

 

Trade One:

To Toronto:

Jordan Staal

To Pittsburgh:

Thomas Kaberle

John Mitchell

Kenny Ryan

 

Ah, yes another Kaberle trade scenario.

Well the benefit to Toronto is obvious in this trade —they get a more-than-capable first-line center who plays a "Burke" style.

Now, why would the Penguins do this?

Simple—there is no mistaking Sergei Gonchar is the Penguins puck mover. The trouble is that the majority of the Penguins are young. Gonchar not so much. At 36, Gonchar is coming ever so near to the end of his career. The Pens must ask themselves if they want to re-sign Gonchar to a one- or two-year deal, or bring in a younger version of Sergei in Kaberle (32).

The ability to give up Staal is there. Pittsburgh has two of the elite centers in all of hockey with Crosby and Malkin. In Mitchell, Pittsburgh gets a young player who has shown flashes of potential, while in Ryan, they get a decent prospect who could develop into anything from a third- to second-line winger.

 

Trade Two:

To Toronto:

The Rights to Dan Hamhuis

To Nashville:

Mikhail Grabovski

 

This trade would have to be done on Draft Day to give Burke the time to sway Hamhuis into signing with Toronto, but it could be done.

Grabovski is expendable because of the log jam of small centers in Toronto. In Nashville, he could look nice beside Martin Erat. Offense is Nashville's number one concern, as they have enough defensive prospects to start a small country. If this deal were to happen, the backend in Toronto would start to become something of a force.

 

Trade Three:

To Buffalo:

Francois Beauchemin

To Toronto:

Drew Stafford



Buffalo's defense has really been a problem, and Beauchemin could add some much needed reliability. Beauchemin's plus/minus is deceiving because he is given the job of shutting down teams' top players and does do a pretty good job of it.

As for Stafford he has never really lived up to his potential but still could become an effective third/second-line winger.

 

As for re-signing players, I say you let all the Leafs UFA's walk. That includes Primeau, Wallin, Exelby, Van Ryn, Frogren, and Lundmark. As for the RFA's, sign the two remaining. Sign Hanson to a reasonable deal (likely under $1 million) and Kulemin to something in the range of $2.75-$3 million (remember the KHL is still an option for Kulemin). Jeff Finger should also be made the highest paid player ever to play in the AHL.

When July 1 rolls around, I would like to see the Leafs pursue Nashville's Jordin Tootoo and Ottawa's Anton Volchenkov. In my rough estimations, the Leafs should be able to afford this (of course, math never was my strong suit).

In the end, the 2010/2011 Leafs would look something like this:

Forwards

Kessel-Staal-Kulemin

Stafford-Bozak-Stalberg

Caputi-Kadri-Sjostrom

Tootoo-Hanson-Orr

Defense

Phaneuf-Volchenkov

Hamhuis-Komisarek

Schenn-Gunnarsson

Goalies

Gustavsson

Giguere

 

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The second annual installment of NHL young guns features the top-10 rookies of 09-10 season. This year was arguably better then last, seeing a plethora of young talent hit the ice made for an exciting season. From all corners of the league the next crop of rookies really set the bar higher for future generations. The mix of forwards, defense and goalies was what really made this an excellent class. All styles of players were introduced and excelled. The following is a look at the top-10 rookies of this season.

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After a bad 3-2 double-overtime loss to the Boston Bruins on Wednesday night, the Buffalo Sabres are one game away from elimination in the first round of the 2010 Stanley Cup Playoffs, and there are plenty of people to blame.

The recent string of injuries is obviously hurting the Sabres, who have been without superstar Thomas Vanek for the last three games and defensive-forward Jochen Hecht for the whole series.

Buffalo normally relies on all four lines to do damage, but when certain pieces are taken out of the equation, it is much tougher for the team to succeed.

Tim Connolly has been a ghost against the Bruins. The 28-year-old has just one point and 10 shots in four games.

Derek Roy, the Sabres' leading scorer during the regular season, also has just one point and 11 shot in four games.

With Vanek out of the lineup, Connolly and Roy needed to pick their games up and carry the team, but they have done the exact opposite thus far.

Where the Sabres were solid in the regular season, they have somehow faltered in the playoffs.

Buffalo was 30-6-4 when scoring first in the regular season. So far in the playoffs, the team has scored first in all four games, but is just 1-3 overall.

“If they can win three we can win three. But it starts with just winning one, to get ourselves back on track,” Sabres goalie Ryan Miller told the Associated Press after the loss. “I don’t know, for whatever reason we need to protect the lead. Geez, it almost would be better if we got scored on first.”

Another big statistic heading into the postseason was that the Sabres were a perfect 30-0-0 when leading after two periods. They have blown two leads in the third period in this series—a big reason why the series is 3-1 Boston as opposed to 3-1 Buffalo.

Boston has also outscored Buffalo by a score of 6-0 in the third period.

The special teams are a whole other issue. Buffalo is now 0-14 on the power play and has surrendered three goals while on the penalty kill.

But the biggest problem for the Sabres in the postseason has been head coach Lindy Ruff.

After a disappointing Game Two, which saw the Sabres blow a two-goal lead and a third period lead, Ruff began to switch up the lines for Game Three.

The Sabres went up early in Game Three on a goal by Mike Grier, but after a long shot drought, Ruff lost faith in his newly constructed lines and began mixing things up again; this is never a good sign.

Mixing up lines in the middle of the game is the offensive equivalent to changing goalies—it just shows that Ruff did not have confidence in the lines he was putting on the ice.

Game Four was the same story for Ruff and the Sabres.

Ruff, the longest-tenured coach in the NHL, put center Paul Gaustad on a line with Connolly, who is also a center.

The idea of the Gaustad-Connolly combo was to add some size to Connolly’s line to give him more space. While the line did account for one of the Sabres’ goals, it was a major disappointment overall and had a lot of trouble getting into the Bruins’ zone.

Miller has been very good throughout the series, and although he did let in a “soft” goal to tie the game on Wednesday night, he made several unbelievable saves in overtime to keep Buffalo in it.

Despite the solid efforts of a few Sabres, it appears that this season will be another letdown in Buffalo.

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Buffalo Sabres’ star forward Thomas Vanek is doubtful for Monday’s Game Three against the Boston Bruins.

With the Sabres’ leading 2-0 in the first period of Game Two, Vanek tried to pull away on a breakaway when Boston’s Johnny Boychuk slashed Vanek across the knee, causing him to slam into the boards.

Vanek left the game and Buffalo eventually lost 5-3 to even the series at one.

“This morning I expected to be sore, which I am and I’ll just see how it feels tomorrow,” Vanek told the Buffalo News on Sunday. “I’m hoping to play...I’m still hoping for tomorrow even though I know deep-down it’s a stretch. I would say Wednesday then. If it’s not Wednesday then, I don’t know. Maybe the next game. But the good part is that I feel like and we feel like I’ll be back for the series.”

The Sabres are certainly no strangers to having injuries cost them seasons.

In their surprise 2006 playoff run, the Sabres lost four defensemen—including chief shot-blocker Jay McKee and current Sabre Henrik Tallinder—and seven players in total, before losing to the Carolina Hurricanes in Game Seven of the Eastern Conference Finals.

Last year, after putting up some of the best stats of his career, Ryan Miller’s season was cut short on Feb. 21 by Scott Gomez in a game against the New York Rangers.

Miller’s high ankle sprain ruined his chances at a potential first Vezina Trophy and ended the Sabres’ chances at making the playoffs. Buffalo went 4-7-2 without Miller between the pipes.

The Sabres were hit with a few injuries before the beginning of this year’s postseason as well.

Jochen Hecht had a setback with his finger injury before the playoffs and it was announced that he would miss “weeks” as opposed to the “days” he was supposed to miss.

Drew Stafford is going through a few last minute tests to see if he will be able to return from a late-season concussion for game three on Monday night.

It seemed things were getting better until Vanek went down in the first period of Saturday’s game two loss.

“The playoffs are about losing people, and people stepping in and playing bigger roles,” Ruff told the Associated Press on Thursday.

Vanek had five goals over the course of Buffalo’s last two regular season games. He also had two points in two playoffs games thus far.

So, which Sabre will step up in Vanek’s absence?

Tim Connolly will need to play better than his minus-two rating and zero points suggest.

Despite having one goal in two postseason games this year, Jason Pominville is playing just over 17 minutes of ice-time per game and is a team-worst minus-three.

Raffi Torres, whom the Sabres acquired on the March 3 trade deadline, has only one shot in the playoffs and has not scored since joining the team.

Someone needs to fills Vanek’s red-hot skates immediately, or it could be a very disappointing postseason for the Sabres.

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The Buffalo Sabres and the Boston Bruins are Northeast Division rivals and will be battling for what is sure to be a great first-round series, but the biggest part of this series will be played between veteran blue-liner Zdeno Chara and rookie Tyler Myers.

The two defensemen were not the factors they were expected in game one, but expect to be key components for the rest of the series.

The 6’9”, 260 pound Chara, last season’s Norris Trophy winner, will be an essential part of Boston’s first-round chances. He finished this season with 44 points in total, but just seven goals.

But anything Chara can do, Myers can do better.

While he stands an inch shorter than Chara, and weighs just 222 pounds, Myers finished his rookie season with 11 goals and 48 points. He also had 137 blocked shots compared with Chara’s 91.

Their rookie seasons are not even comparable. You’ve already seen Myers’ first-year numbers, but Chara’s were not as good.

Chara played just 25 games in his rookie year with the New York Islanders. He had just a single point in those 25 games.

Ice time is where Chara has the edge, as he should.

Chara averaged 25:22 on the ice this season, while Myers averaged 23:44—still a tremendous amount of time for a rookie.

Myers is not only a better skater than Chara was as a rookie, but his smooth motion and quick feet make him a better skater than Chara currently is.

The 20-year-old Myers may have the youth and the potential, but Chara has the experience and knows what it takes to win in the playoffs. Whether or not Chara’s experience translates to a first-round upset is a different story.

Judging from their play in game one, Myers looks to have the slight upper hand despite Chara playing over 27 minutes—but expect the series to really heat up for game two, and the two giants will be at the center of things.

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The Edge will break down the Buffalo Sabres and Boston Bruins to see which team has the advantage at each position. For a look at the defensive side of things, click here . For offense, click here http://bleacherreport.com/articles/378066-the-edge-buffalo-sabres-vs-boston-bruins-offense

Buffalo Sabres

When the Buffalo Sabres take on Northeast Division rival Boston in the first round of the postseason, three words will shine brighter than the Las Vegas strip.

It's Miller Time.

Buffalo's netminder, not only an American hero, is a Vezina Trophy favorite. He has been by far Buffalo's best player on the ice this season. Without Miller, the Sabres would probably not be Northeast Division champions–and maybe not even in the postseason.

But don't let those situations scare you, kiddies. Ryan Miller is here to save the day.

This season, Miller won a career-high 41 games (69 GP). The last time he won 40 games in a season, the Buffalo Sabres went to the Eastern Conference Finals.

With a 2.22 GAA and .929 save percentage on the season, he has continually shut the door on many of the league's superstars, including Crosby, Ovechkin, Gaborik, etc.

Miller is a stronger goaltender than Boston's upstart Tukkaa Rask because Miller has playoff experience. In 2005-06, Miller played in 18 games, had 11 wins, posted a 2.56 GAA and a .908 save percentage. In 06-07, he played in 16 games, won nine, improved his GAA to 2.22 with a .922 save percentage.

The numbers are good (scary good?!), but what is most important is that Miller has been to the Conference Finals twice in his young career. That experience is going to go a long way.

Boston Bruins

The Bruins' Tim Thomas, reigning Vezina winner, was supposed to be the goaltender to beat this season.

However, Thomas lost the starting job to young gunner Tukkaa Rask.

The Finland native sure is "Rasking" in the sunlight right now, ending the season leading the league in both GAA (1.97) and save percentage (.931).

Rask won 22 of the 45 games he played in. Pretty good for a second-year pro.

If Rask can continue his stellar performance into the postseason, he can give Buffalo some trouble. He went 4-0-1 against the Sabres this season with a 1.43 GAA and a .954 save percentage.

To keep Boston in this series, much depends on how well Rask can contain Buffalo's recent offensive explosion, as well as the return of playmaking center Tim Connolly.

Rask has played exceptionally well this season. He's going to do some real damage in this league in the years to come, but his lack of playoff experience and Buffalo's offense will eventually break him.

Ryan Miller has been here before. And that's why Buffalo has the Edge.

THE EDGE: BUFFALO

BUFFALO WINS SERIES IN 6

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After two straight seasons with no playoffs, the Buffalo Sabres have finally returned to the postseason and are primed for a Stanley Cup run.

The Sabres are being overlooked by a lot of teams and critics, which may bode well for the club.

“That’s kind of what we want, to come in and surprise teams,” Sabres’ leading-scorer Derek Roy told ESPN.com.

Buffalo has not been the roller coaster of a team it was known for being in the past two seasons. While the team did go on one or two lengthy losing streaks, they were fairly steady all season.

“We’ve tried to keep an even keel all year long and not let the highs get too high and the lows get too low,” Roy said. “We’ve had a consistent season, and we’re trying to bring that into the playoffs.”

Buffalo has been plagued by a few injuries as of late. Tim Connolly, Jochen Hecht, and Drew Stafford were all questionable at the end of the regular season.

Connolly will more than likely be ready to go for the first game of Buffalo’s first-round series against the Boston Bruins, but Hecht is still questionable and Stafford will likely miss the opening game.

“I want to make sure I’m 100 percent before I come back,” Stafford told the Associated Press on Wednesday.

Despite the injuries, the Sabres will be rolling all four lines as they normally would.

Rookie Tyler Ennis will fill in for Stafford and hopefully continue his hot streak. He has eight points in nine games since being recalled on March 27.

“I’d say we pretty much play all four lines more than any other team in the league,” said Roy. “We roll four lines really well. We get everyone playing and get everyone in the game. That shows how deep we are, and that’s going to be important at playoff time. Everybody feels rested and ready to go, and we're going to need a different hero every night. Everyone has to step up.”

Balance is definitely something the Sabres will be relying on throughout the postseason, which shouldn’t be a problem for the league’s most balanced team.

The Sabres did not have one player reach the 70-point plateau, yet they were 11th in the NHL in scoring and were the only team to have 12 players with at least 10 goals.

As most teams will tell you, the key to winning in the playoffs is depth—Buffalo has plenty of that, and is ready to go for a deep playoff run.

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Finally, the NHL playoffs are here, and the Boston Bruins have drawn the Northeast Division-leading Buffalo Sabres in the quarterfinal series that begins Thursday night at HSBC Arena.

On paper, this series looks like it will be a goalie duel, pitting the No. 1 and No. 2 goals against averages during the regular season against each other.

Boston’s Tuukka Rask finished with a league-best 1.97 GAA in 45 games played.

Buffalo’s Ryan Miller , who is a favorite to win the Vezina trophy as the league's best goaltender, was close behind the 23-year-old Rask with a 2.22 GAA. Miller was between the pipes for 69 of the Sabres' 82 games this season, as well as back-stopping Team USA to an Olympic Silver medal, bringing considerably more weight to his strong numbers.

The Bruins were able to defeat the Sabres in four of their six meetings this season, including a 3-1 victory last Thursday (Apr. 8) at the TD Garden. Even though things look optimistic, with the B’s taking the season series, the numbers don’t tell the whole story.

With Miller in net for the Sabres, which he is sure to be every game, the teams split four games, winning two each. Rask was the winning goalie in all four of Boston’s victories.

Boston did outscore Buffalo during the six meetings, 15-11, but produced a paltry 2-for-17 on the power play, which will have to improve exponentially if the Bruins hope to advance deeper into these playoffs.

To have success, Boston will need continued production from their top scorers. Patrice Bergeron (19G, 33A) and David Krejci (17G, 35A) led the Bruins’ offense with 52 points each. B’s captain Zdeno Chara (7G, 37A) was third on the team’s list with 44 points. His contributions, both on offense and defense, will be monumental in the Bruins’ success or failure this postseason.

The other Eastern Conference matchups are as follows: Washington Capitals-Montreal Canadiens, New Jersey Devils-Philadelphia Flyers, and Pittsburgh Penguins-Ottawa Senators.

In the West, the San Jose Sharks play the Colorado Avalanche, in addition to Chicago Blackhawks-Nashville Predators, Vancouver Canucks-LA Kings, and Phoenix Coyotes-Detroit Red Wings.

Let the quest for Lord Stanley’s Cup begin!

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