Cody Hodgson, Thomas Vanek, Tyler Myers

Offseason Report: Buffalo Sabres

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From July 16-Aug 16, we’ll be profiling all 30 NHL teams by recapping what they did this offseason and previewing their upcoming campaigns.

2011-12 season

39-32-11, 89 points. Third in Northeast Division, ninth in Eastern Conference.

Additions

Steve Ott (via trade), Kevin Porter, John Scott, Adam Pardy (via trade)

Departures

Derek Roy (traded to Dallas), Jochen Hecht (not re-signed), Brad Boyes (signed with Islanders)

2012 Draft

12th overall — Mikhail Grigorenko (F – Quebec Remparts – QMJHL)

14th overall — Zemgus Girgensons (F – Dubuque – USHL)

Looking back

A season that had the highest of high hopes after an assortment of big moves got off to a thud of a start, burying the Sabres early on. High-paid guys like Ville Leino and Christian Ehrhoff didn’t quite have the impact Buffalo hoped for and Ryan Miller struggled with both net-crashing Bruins and stopping pucks. They rallied hard late in the season and came close to stealing a playoff spot but fell short by three points.

Looking forward

Swapping out Derek Roy for Steve Ott while adding tough guy John Scott certainly helps add a lot of sandpaper and physicality to a Sabres roster that needed it. Patrick Kaleta’s new three-year deal shows that they’re still in the business of irritating opponents as well. What will ultimately decide the Sabres’ hopes though is consistency. Sounds easy, right? It hasn’t been for Buffalo, especially last season.

Miller had his ups and downs, so did the defense in front of him. The offense would show flashes of brilliance with Thomas Vanek and Jason Pominville having great seasons, but even they weren’t immune. Another big season from (as yet unsigned RFA) Tyler Ennis, having Ott show he’s more than an abrasive forward and kids like Cody Hodgson and Luke Adam growing up a little, Buffalo could be right back in the postseason. Perhaps Grigorenko can be the secret weapon as a first-year player.

Have your say

Vote in our poll and let us know what you think of the Sabres’ 2012-13 outlook in the comments section.

Video: Penguins coach takes issue with late, high Orpik hit on Maatta

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The Pittsburgh Penguins have spoken out against a late, high hit that Washington Capitals defenseman Brooks Orpik threw on Olli Maatta early in the first period of an eventful Game 2 on Saturday.

Maatta left and didn’t return. He played only 31 seconds, and the Penguins were reduced to five defensemen for a large portion of the game. Orpik was given a minor penalty on the play, but the league’s Department of Player Safety may see it differently.

The hit occurred well after Maatta had gotten rid of the puck. He struggled on his way to the dressing room for further evaluation.

Based on multiple reports, Orpik wasn’t made available to the media following the game, which went to the Penguins as they earned the split on the road.

But the Penguins have taken issue with the hit.

“I thought it was a late hit,” said Penguins coach Mike Sullivan, as per CSN Mid-Atlantic. “I thought it was a target to his head. I think it’s the type of hit everyone in hockey is trying to remove from the game.”

Game on: Penguins even series with rival Capitals

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The Pittsburgh Penguins will head back home with a split of their second-round series with the rival Washington Capitals.

Former Capitals forward Eric Fehr came back to burn his hold team, as he scored with under five minutes remaining in regulation to help lift the Penguins over Washington with a 2-1 victory in an eventful Game 2 on Saturday. Evgeni Malkin threw the puck toward the net and Fehr was able to re-direct it by Braden Holtby.

Oh, this was an eventful game, indeed.

It started early in the first period with Capitals defenseman Brooks Orpik catching Penguins blue liner Olli Maatta with a late and high hit that warranted — at least for now — only a minor penalty for interference. Maatta, clearly in distress following the hit, didn’t play another shift and saw only 31 seconds of ice time in total, as Pittsburgh was reduced to five defensemen for the remainder of the game.

It continued in the third period. Kris Letang was furious after getting called for a trip on Justin Williams, and even more ticked off when the Capitals tied the game on the ensuing power play.

For two periods, the Capitals couldn’t get much going. Only four of their players had registered a shot on goal through 40 minutes, while the Penguins held the edge in that department and held the lead.

Washington came out with more jump in the third period, testing rookie netminder Matt Murray with 14 shots in the final 20 minutes. But the Penguins got the late goal to break the deadlock.

Video: Penguins’ Letang was furious after Capitals tie up Game 2 with power play goal

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Kris Letang watched from the penalty box as the Washington Capitals tied up Game 2 with a power play goal in the third period. The Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman was called for tripping after he appeared to muscle Justin Williams off the puck as he entered the zone.

Letang let his disagreement with the call be known at the time, and was furious after the Capitals capitalized on a goal from Marcus Johansson.

The Capitals started the period down a goal and being outshot 28-10 by the Penguins, who need a win to even the series.

Also, it seems this is worth mentioning:

Video: Hagelin goes top shelf to give Penguins the lead in Game 2

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In their quest to even the series, the Pittsburgh Penguins had done a nice job through two periods of suffocating the Washington Capitals, while gaining the lead on a beautiful goal.

Carl Hagelin took advantage of a vast amount of space that opened up in front of the Washington net, finishing off a nice pass from Nick Bonino, burying his shot just under the cross bar on the glove side of Braden Holtby.

Through two periods, the Penguins were outshooting Washington 28-10. Only four Capitals players — Alex Ovechkin, T.J. Oshie, Evgeny Kuznetsov and Matt Niskanen — had registered shots on goal.