FLUBBER’S GAME OF THE WEEK: COLORADO VS BUFFALO

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Welcome back to Flubber’s Game of the Week, where we take a weekly look at the must see game to watch in the NHL.  What’s on tap for this week’s game?  Oh, it’s a doozy:

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Significance

This is the Stanley Cup Final matchup we were never given.  The Colorado Avalanche won the Cup in 1996 and 2001, while the Sabres appeared in the Final in 1999.  How great would it have been to see Peter Forsberg and Miro Satan go up against each other?  Joe Sakic vs. Michael Peca.  Adam Foote vs. Alexei Zhitnik.  Patrick Roy vs. Dominik Hasek…oh, I’ve said too much.

Instead we get one team finally trying to put years of rebuilding behind them, and another that needs to admit that it is indeed rebuilding and start trading away the remnants of their precious commodities.  The Avalanche are lead by youngsters Nathan MacKinnon, this year’s first overall draft pick who scored his first career goal a week ago, and Gabriel Landeskog, the number two overall pick in 2011 already with 32 career goals as a twenty year old.  On the Sabres side, they are lead by Director of Player Safety Ryan Miller and…Thomas Vanek, I guess. But more importantly, these are three of their last four first round picks:

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On the left, 2012 12th overall pick, center Mikhail Grigorenko from Russia.
In the middle, 2012 14th overall pick, center Zemgus Girgensons from Latvia.
And, on the right, 2013 8th overall pick, defenseman Ramus Ristolainen from Finland.

Drafting these players shows a definite change in direction for the Sabres.  I know what you’re thinking, and no, it’s not just to bring more female fans to the games.  This signals the Sabres’s desire to expand their brand to Eastern Europe and Scandinavia, because this team is becoming increasingly unwatchable in the Buffalo market.

 

What to Look For (or, learning things about the Sabres for the first time)

With any luck, we will get to see the great new Buffalo Sabres alternate jersey everyone was so excited about!

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Or, certainly, something like this could happen again, probably because of something Steve Ott did.

Full disclosure: I didn’t know who the Sabres current coach was (i.e. Roy’s next victim), nor did it even seem like they had a coach, so I went to Wikipedia for some help.

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The only person who will coach the Sabres is someone who was sentenced
to do so after being pulled over for drunk driving.  That sounds about right.

In case you were wondering, Don Tibbles is not the Sabres general manager either.  Even fuller disclosure: Mr. Tibbles is a character from D2: The Mighty Ducks, but I don’t remember him at all.  So, I reached out to an expert to give me some insight on the validity of this possible metaphor.

Eh, I think the Wikipedia author’s metaphor works regardless.  Oh, Mr. Tibbles!

Wikipedia also taught me something else about the Sabres: they have a captain for home games and one for aways games.  Thomas Vanek for home games, Steve Ott for away games.  Other than being slightly ridiculous and unnecessary, regardless this is a good move for the Sabres who didn’t want their own fans booing their captain at home.

 

Videos that Encapsulate Each Team’s Performance So Far

It’s time for the Buffalo Sabres annual “1-7-1 record to start the season” dance off!

And, here’s a video of Colorado’s Cody McLeod rearranging Niklas Kronwall’s face with the boards, and Avs announcer Mike Haynes loving every minute of it.

Oh, what the heck.  Here’s another Buffalo video.

 

Prediction

The Western Conference is 32-14-4 against the East so far this season, but the East has won three of the last four games.  The Sabres, on the other hand, have gone 1-1-4 against the Avs since the real lockout of 2004-05 (not the fake, half hearted half season variety), have lost the last five games, and have lost in OT or a shootout in the last four.  That’s still four points, and you have to remember that Robyn Regehr was on one of those Sabres teams.  Conclusion: the non-Regehr Sabres upset the future Western Conference champions in a very Western Conference-like game, 3-2 in a shootout.

Flubber McGee is TRH's resident Kansas City correspondent, and has survived as a Kings fan long before the dawn of Internet streaming sites. He has seen the Kings win exactly zero non-exhibition games in person. Have you ever achieved enlightenment? Flubber has, because he once witnessed Kevin and Brett Westgarth fight in, and get kicked out of, the same game (they didn't fight each other, unfortunately). In addition to being a part of TRH, Flubber runs a Kansas City hockey blog. It's exactly what you think it is. You can follow Flubber McGee on Twitter @FlubberMcGee.