We all know the Sabres made it to the playoffs this season after going golfing early two years in a row. While the Sabres playoff teams of years past consisted of speed and scoring, this year’s team was based on… Ryan Miller.
This worked well enough during the regular season, where the Sabres won the division and finished third in the Eastern Conference with 100 points. But once the playoffs came around, that same pass-the-blame mentality didn’t cut it, and the Sabres were bounced faster than a New York State tax refund check.
While Big Bird could have only counted a handful of Sabres who had a good post-season, there were several other players familiar to Buffalo fans who tore it up in the playoffs (or are currently in the act of tearing). While the current Sabres made like Fosbury, several ex-Sabres instead went on a roll.
Marty Biron may still be the fan favorite Sabre of years past, this all-star team of former Sabres consists of those who excelled in this year’s Stanley Cup Playoffs:
Danny Briere, Philadelphia Flyers
Danny, I want to apologize for wanting to resign Chris Drury instead of you a few years back.
Truth is Briere has played some of the best hockey of his life this past month. With at least two more games to be played, he has 24 points (2nd in the league), a new career best higher than any of his seasons in Buffalo. Briere’s 11 playoff goals put him second scoring, and his 15 even-strength points lead the league. He also has co-ownership of the lead for game-winning goals with Chicago’s Dustin Byfuglien, both of whom have four.
Briere is also becoming a more complete player for the Flyers. In his three years with the team he is yet to finish a regular or post-season with a positive plus/minus, but currently stands at plus-6. He’s winning a higher percentage of faceoffs than he did during the regular season, and 18 of his points have come when Philadelphia is behind or tied in the series. His streak of six consecutive games with a point in the playoffs was his longest of the season.
Danny averages a point every 16:11 on the ice. He gets 19:26 a game.
Coming up with clutch scoring has become a habit for Briere this post-season, and he is giving opposing players nightmares. Shutting him down will be a key for Chicago in the final, as three of Philly’s five playoff losses have come when Briere was held pointless (stat for before the series).
Buffalo could have used a guy like Briere this year. At times, it seems like he’s two people at once. It’s almost like you could put 19 and 29 together to come up with 48.
Miroslav Satan, Boston Bruins
Sabres fans have some fond memories of Miro Satan in the red and black. He recorded 75 points for us in 2002-03, and he netted 40 goals in 1998-99. But this year… he killed us. I died a little inside when he slid the winner past Miller in double overtime, but I’m not hanging on to that or anything.
As far as the playoffs go, he played very well. He scored the second most goals for Boston and led the team in plus/minus. He recorded 10 post-season points, which is great considering he only had 14 in the regular season.
Okay, that last stat comes with an asterisk. Miro signed on January 2 and only appeared in 38 games. But still, his production level was down: he played 15:46 a game, but averaged nearly 43 minutes of ice time between points. Come playoff time, he produced nearly twice as frequently (24:04).
Remember how Briere and Byfuglien are 1-2 in GWG? Satan is third, with three. That means Satan accounted for 43 percent of the Bruin’s game winners.
I still feel some sense of attachment to this guy because I once walked past him in the concourse after a game and he gave me a nod, but this season, he was a bona-fide Sabre killer. I think he just needs to sign with New Jersey once and for all and get it over with. Ha. Satan on the Devils.
J P Dumont, Nashville Predators
Before we talk about Dumont, we have to talk about his name. Every site seems to spell it J.P., except for nhl.com and the Predators website. His full name is Jean-Pierre, so technically his name should be J-P; but people like periods, not hyphens, so we get J.P. Nonetheless, nhl.com prefers “J P” with a space in between, so I guess we’ll take them at their word.
Anyway, you kind of forgot about this guy, huh? Last time he was a Sabre, Maxim Afinogenov led the team in points and Mika Noronen picked up a win. This season, Nashville was shown a first round exit by Chicago, so it’s easy for Dumont to slip under the radar.
His playoff numbers aren’t spectacular, but every time I flipped on that series it seemed like Dumont was making play after play. He was part of a four-way tie for second on his team in goals (2), was second in plus/minus at 3, and was third in points with four.
Nashville’s big guns didn’t play well in the series—their top two scorers in the regular season didn’t have a goal in the playoffs—but that allowed other players an opportunity to step up. I mean honestly, when was the last time David Legwand mattered?
Dumont was not the greatest on paper this post-season, but like they say, that’s why they play the games on ice.
Brian Campbell, Chicago Blackhawks
Make no doubt about it, Campbell does not look like the all-star puck handler of year’s pasts. But keep in mind he came back to the playoffs after missing nearly a month and a half after getting scummed by Alex Ovechkin on March 14.
He has only three points but is a plus-6 and has more time on ice per game than Pat Kane. With Campbell in the lineup, Chicago hasn’t lost back-to-back games since February 5 (excluding the game in which he was injured). Campbell took some heat after Game One of the finals for his play, yet Jonathan Toews, Byfuglien and Kane were all held pointless and were all minus-3 on the night.
Soupy won’t be logging the minutes he used to get with the Sabres, but he still looks like a quality NHL defensemen to me. He has been passed by the likes of Duncan and Brent Seabrook (maybe even Niklas Hjalmarsson too), but he’s still getting the job done. There are better guys out there for the money he’s getting, but as far as his play goes this post-season, I’m giving Campbell the nod.
Jaroslav Spacek, Montreal Canadians
Jaro might be a little bit of a reach here, but the list was getting thin. He played in only 10 playoff games due to what Fox Sports reported as an “illness” (4/21), but he recorded four points and averaged nearly 18 minutes a game when he played. Despite missing time, he still managed to block 25 shots and dish out 11 hits.
Several Sabres fans cheered last summer when they found out Spacek would not be returning for this year, but truth be told, we probably could have used him. He still had moments that made us shake our heads and wonder what he was thinking, but for the most part he stuck his nose in there and looked like a competent NHL defensemen.
You may not think much about “Spachoman” after his tenure in Buffalo, but he is a guy with over 300 career points, two Olympic medals, and came within one win of a Stanley Cup. That’s a lot more than most of our current Sabres can say.