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angryjay93

Buffalo Sabres

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Buffalo Sabres



Team Overview: With a top 5 player at every position, it would seem like a given that Buffalo would be included in the best team in the game discussion. It is true that Buffalo is a very good team, but they aren't in the best team discussion due to the extreme weakness of their #2 Defenseman and what is an apparent lack of team chemistry and identity on both sides of the puck.

Forwards: Blessed with the elite talent of Alexander Mogilny and a very solid complimentary player in Pat Lafontaine, the Sabres possess one of the more elite forward duos in the league. Aside from that, the Sabres own one of the most controversial players in the league and a plethora of various and somewhat useful role players who can fill in.

Offensive Stampede:

Hawerchuk-Mogilny-Lafontaine

Dale Hawerchuk: 6 weight, 5/4 skating, 3/1 shot, 5 sth & pass, 4/4 aware, Shoots: L

Here he is, one of the most controversial players in the entire game. First, let's go over Hawerchuk's strengths. He is an elite playmaker, this is because all of his playmaking puck skills and skating allow him to throw darts all over the ice to open teammates in scoring areas with great consistency. Aside from Wayne Gretzky, there may be no better pure playmaker. Defensively, Hawerchuk is very solid, he is mindful of his own end of the ice. He is light enough to abuse heavyweights with the body check, and has enough speed and ease of control with all that agility in which to apply the poke check with. Oh that bugaboo though, that painful shot rating. Among default starters, only Troy Loney, Wayne Gretzky, and Mikael Andersson have shooting ratings as bad or worse than Hawerchuk. This makes Hawerchuk pretty one dimensional on offense as he has been known to miss the yawning cage. This can easily infuriate some users and thus can find himself riding pine.

Alexander Mogilny: 7 weight, 6/6 skating, 4/5shot, 5/5 sth & pass, 6/3 aware, Shoots: L

After the holy trinity of Roenick, Yzerman, and Bure, we have Mogilny and Selanne rounding out the top 5 forwards in the league. Mogilny likely settles in at 4th as he is slightly more skilled in many attributes when compared to Selanne. Mogilny possess the lone perfect set of ratings in skating in the entire game. Despite being a little on the heavy side for a speedster, Mogilny still handles like a joy and can easily blow by many players and uses his powerful, accurate shot to take advantage of unsuspecting goalies. It's pretty easy to see what makes Mogilny so effective, but what keeps him out of the top 3 you ask? He's sort of one dimensional on offense, he isn't a consistent one timing threat because by the time the wingers lug the puck up the ice, he has already skated through the premium one timing areas and has to reset himself, thus delaying the offense. Secondly, Mogilny's weight can be a real issue against light weight teams as he can be knocked around fairly easily in comparison to other super stars. This is further complicated on defense as he is unable to body check anyone below a 9 weight with consistency, it isn't necessarily easy to harness all that speed and apply a swift poke check as it is to use all that speed in wrecking ball style. Despite all this though, Mogilny is a one-on -one offensive force that must be accounted for every time he steps on the ice.

Pat Lafontaine: 5 weight, 5/4 skating, 3/4 shot, 5 sth & pass, 6/4 aware, Shoots: R

There's no doubting Lafontaine is a very good player, light weight, a lot of very strong skills, it's hard to ask for much more. you just have to wonder if he's on the wrong team in which to utilize his skills. Lafontaine could be a pretty good center in which to use his deke ability, while he isn't blazing fast, he is more than able enough to wiggle free from a defense and make them pay. But, that's Mogilny's role because he's quite simply better at it. Lafontaine can also be an elite playmaker, he is much like Hawerchuk in that he possess all the elite skills in which to set up the most beautiful of plays. Here we go again though with Mogilny not being the best one timing center in the league and so who will Lafontaine set up? Hawerchuk, Errey, Audette? I think not. What to do with Lafontaine, well, when he has the puck, options are aplenty, he can bum rush it or he can try to set up the offense, it's just going to take a lot of patience and ability to read the play in order to decide which way to go. Defensively though, he is a stud, light weight, solid skater, he can really lay the lumber and he is especially good at pressuring the defense in their own zone. If only he were on a different team *sigh*.

Even with the perceived chemistry problems, this line can score a ton of goals because the individual skills are just too elite not too. If all else fails, this line should be able to D up fairly effectively with all the skating and checking ability available.

Note: Hawerchuk and Lafontaine are pretty interchangeable on the wings in this line.

Fan Favorite:

Lafontaine-Mogilny-Errey

Bob Errey: 6 weight, 4/4 skating, 2/2 shot, 3 sth, 2 pass, 2/4 aware, Shoots: L

Quite frankly, Bob Errey isn't very skilled, he's nothing more than a light weight with plus skating skills. Despite his limitations though, Errey does seem to have a following and often finds himself employed on either wing. Just don't expect much more than a gritty performance though because he isn't going to score or set up too many goals, he's mainly just out there to make the other teams life a living hell when they possess the puck.

I don't care for this line much, but I point it out anyway because Errey will be subbed over Hawerchuk in many instances. By keeping Lafontaine on the left, it keeps the best PK line on the ice without needing substitution. It also keeps a good forehand pass to forehand slap shot one timer opportunity available when it presents itself and it even opens up the door for the sneaky Lafontaine slapper since the opponent likely won't be guarding against that considering the other offensive weapons available.

Cold War No More:

Khmylev-Mogilny-Lafontaine

Yuri Khmylev: 7 weight, 4/3 skating, 4/4 shot, 3 sth & pass, 3/4 aware, Shoots: R

A low end sniper, Khmylev's presence allows for 3 pure goal scoring options on the ice. That's essentially the limitations of Khmylev's strengths though. Everything else is pretty average and he doesn't exactly mesh well with the other two forwards on this line, but if he can squeeze out a couple goals a game, then it's not too bad of a line.

A line with 3 shooters can always be pretty dangerous because it isn't easy to predict where the offense will come from. Also, with Khmylev on the left, he's got Svoboda to back him up on defense which limits his liabilities on that side of the puck. But this line loses a puck carrier, it really depends on what the user desires more.

Other Options: Plenty of usable spares here.

Donald Audette: 5 weight, 3/3 skating, 3/3 shot, 3 sth, 2 pass, 3/3 aware, Shoots: R

The main weight bugger on Buffalo, Audette brings average skills across the board to go with his checking, could be useful in a lightweight battle.

Wayne Presley: 6 weight, 3/3 skating, 4/3 shot, 2 sth & pass, 3/3 aware, Shoots: R

Brings a similar slap/one timer package that Khmylev brings, outside of that though, he's very Errey like.

Randy Wood: 8 weight, 1/5 skating, 2/2 shot, 2 sth & pass, 3/3 aware, Shoots: L

A sucker for speed are you? Well, that's all Wood's got.

Forward Rating: 9/10

Defense: Anchored by stalwart defenseman Petr Svoboda the Sabers have one defenseman that can be counted on in every game. If a second can be found, then the team should be in pretty good shape. If a second can't be found, we can then say hello to the weak link of the team.

Svoboda-Ledyard

Petr Svoboda: 5 weight, 4/4 skating, 3/0 shot, 4 sth, 3 pass, 3/4 aware, Shoots: L

After Don Sweeney, Petr Svoboda falls nicely into place as the second best defensive defenseman in the league. Svoboda's mobility and checking ability really set him apart from most other defenders. There isn't a much better feeling then knowing that after a failed attempt on offense, Svoboda will be lying in wait looking to crush the oncoming counter attack. As for when Svoboda has the puck, he's a pretty solid option. He distributes the puck well enough, can easily create space for himself with his skating, and he can withstand some good body checks. Sure, his shot rating is garbage, but when a guy does everything else so well, it's hard not to fall in love with him.

Grant Ledyard: 9 weight, 4/3 skating, 1/0 shot, 1 sth, 2 pass, 2/3 aware, Shoots: L

Ledyard for the most part, is the antithesis of what I look for in a D man. He is a poor passer, can't withstand pressure, and he has one of the most worthless shots in the game. But this is the state of the Sabres blue line. Ledyard is a plus skater and is one of the lighter options available, which makes him somewhat valuable. Hopefully his skating will allow him to apply the swift poke check and find the quick outlet pass.

This may be the only defensive pairing I suggest where the combined shot accuracy is 0. Take that out of the equation though, and this should be at the very least a mobile duo that will be carried by the defensive abilities of Svoboda

Svoboda-Smehlik

Richard Smehlik: 10 weight, 3/3 skating, 3/1 shot, 3 sth & pass, 3/ 4 aware, Shoots: L

Just a ho-hum average defenseman, Smehlik isn't going to impress anybody with his play. The only real issue with Smehlik is his gargantuan weight, he simply doesn't have enough skills to make up for that deficiency. But he can still prove useful in comparison to the rest of the options because he can move the puck around fairly decently and he shouldn't get lost in his own zone too often.

This pairing isn't necessarily any better or worse than the first, it just has a different set of strengths and weaknesses for the #2 d-man.

Other options:

Doug Bodger: 10 weight, 2/3 skating, 2/1 shot, 2 sth, 3 pass, 3/4 aware, Shoots: L

A watered down version of Smehlik, if an injury occurs, Bodger provides another similar option off the bench.

Defense Rating: 7/10

Goalie Zone: Rounding out the top 5 theme is Grant Fuhr. Fuhr finds himself cemented in the #3 goalie spot right behind Patrick Roy and Ed Belfour.

Grant Fuhr: 7 weight, 5/4 skating, 5/5 aware, 5 puck control, 4/4/5/5 save, Catch: R

Although a bit on the hefty side, Fuhr's agility more than makes up for that and allows him to be a great goalie in auto or manual mode. Often finding himself in the upper echelon of the goalie leader boards, Fuhr can really put on a show at times. Perhaps it's his unique right handed catching style that makes him difficult to score on?

Dominik Hasek: 4 weight, 3/3 skating, 5/5 aware, 2 puck control, 2/2/2/2 save, Catch: L

Dominik is only worth mentioning because he typically finds himself in the 22-26 goalie pick range which means he could be a starter in a 24 team draft league. He isn't very good and typically has poor stats, this likely attributed to his low save and high awareness ratings which artificially inflates his overall rating.

Goalie Rating: 8.5/10

Bottom Line: This team has all the potential in the world because of the talent of Mogilny, Lafontaine, Hawerchuk, Svoboda, and Fuhr. More often than not, users fail to get the most out of the lineup and ultimately fall short of the Cup. If anyone can put it together with this team though, they can finally be mentioned among the best teams of the game.

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It's a chore to find a decent partner for Svoboda because they're all rather heavy. Smehlik seems like the common option for those who use the Sabres, so there's something he has that they need. However, this also means you're going to have to use LaFontaine and the other lightweights to chime in during the defense since they'll knock other people over.

I haven't gotten that much experience in leagues with the Sabres, but... *Eyes being to twitch angrily* Uuuuugggh!! LaFontaine always seems to mess me up good. He's just rather underestimated when it comes to playmaking centers and his skills are pretty good. I think he's rated a little low because he had a monster season, his very best of his career, yet EA gave him ordinary shot raings. There's no justice for Pat.

Fuhr is remembered fondily because he was my first goalie in Blitz and he handles pretty well. I only regret that could have used him a little better and get more wins, but that's the past. Come to think of it, there aren't many right-handed goalies in '94 compared to now. The ones I can say off the top of my head are Fuhr, Barrasso and Leafs backup goalie Darren Puppa. That's it for the righties.

Edited by RedWingDevil

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great team on paper with loads of upfront talent

but they never come together as a team, chemistry is a helluva thing even in this 16 bit game

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great team on paper with loads of upfront talent

but they never come together as a team, chemistry is a helluva thing even in this 16 bit game

completely agree with that assessment. great read AJ

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where is weight-bug fix analysis for this team?

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I'm sure it'll come along soon enough. I'll bet anything heavy guys like Smehlik and a few others will find a bit more use. Although Bodger will still be slow as hell, though.

Edited by RedWingDevil

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When talking about chemistry, Buffalo has perhaps the best line when comparing rating/actual playability.

lw-Brad May c-Dave Hannan rw-Rob Ray

These guys are mesmerizing. Especially Hannan. I've beaten a bunch of guys when playing with Buffalo and mostly using my aforementioned checking line.

Movement compared to skill is just right, they can pass, and all go to the net. Easy to play with and can really find each other.

I recommend trying this line out. Guaranteed 2-4 goals/game.

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Weight Bug Fix Analysis

Buffalo probably takes a small hit in overall ability with the weight bug fix. The mid-to-light star forwards lose some defensive prowess, but will still be able to score in a slower weight-bug-free league. Their defense overall is probably not quite as good, but is still effective.

Forwards

There doesn't look like much reason to bench any of the usual starting lineup of Hawerchuk-Mogilny-Lafontaine, since all of them are good enough players to deserving starting positions despite being pretty light. Still, there are some decent replacement options available on Buffalo.

Alexnder Mogilny is a two-time member of the 100-goal club in the Blitz league (Yzerman and M.Lemieux are the only other players with multiple 100-goal seasons). At 7 weight, his effectiveness doesn't really change at all. He's actually first in both power-play and short-handed goals and points in Blitz, all-time. It appears that with a bit of open space on the ice, there's no one better than Mogilny.

Pat LaFontaine is 15th all-time in assists in Blitz. At 6 weight, not much changes for him, either.

Dale Hawerchuk is shunned a bit in Blitz, being a benchwarmer in seasons 1 and 3. Apparently his 5 weight and useless shot makes him too much of a liability, despite his skating and passing.

If you want to add some toughness, there are a few options to replace Hawerchuk, however, none of these players is a consistent starter in Blitz.

Bob Sweeney packs a 9/4 weight+checking combination (10.1 checking effectiveness, combined). He has a nice 3/5 in awareness, so could be helpful on defense, and actually has a respectable 3/4 shot and a 3 in passing. The problem with Sweeney, though, is his 4/2 skating. Being heavy to start with, and with 2 speed, he could have trouble using his checking effectively.

Yuri Khmylev is still an option, but with 3 speed, could be easy pickings for heavy defenders. Could be good for a one-timer by the post.

Bob Errey is the other forward on the Sabres with a 4 in checking. He only weighs 6, but with the 4 in checking, his overall checking effectiveness is 7.9, and with his 4/4 skating, he'll actually be able to deliver that 7.9 checking to your opponents' attacking forwards. Definitely a guy to ice against teams with light forward corps. His 2 passing could be frustrating, though.

Rob Ray Has 10/3 checking (9.6 combined) and 3/4 skating, but apparently all those fights have taken a toll on his head and hands, as evidenced by his 1/1 awareness, 1/2 shot, 2 StH, and 1 passing. Stone hands and stone head.

Defense

Richard Smehlik is now a solid defender: 10/4 checking (10.9 combined), 3/3 skating, 3 passing, and 3/4 awareness. Last season in Blitz, he had 41 points in 42 games and 217 checks, solid numbers.

Doug Bodger is a typical heavy D: 10/3 (9.6) checking, 2/3 skating, 3/4 awareness, 3 passing, no shot worth mentioning.

Petr Svoboda is still an option, due to his 4/4 mobility and decent puck skills.

Vladimir Konstantov is still

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:rolleyes: Smoz, it wasn't totally necessary to do a double post on the analysis. Minor browser problem?

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BOB SWEENEY FTW!

easily turns into best player on the team

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:rolleyes: Smoz, it wasn't totally necessary to do a double post on the analysis. Minor browser problem?

stumped. i clicked it once.

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CB Notes

Forwards

Dale Hawerchuk and Pat Lafontaine: Both of these play makers take a bit of a hit as both will have issues getting to the net. Having a weak shot along with being light and not having 5+ speed can make things a little tricky for them in the toughest of matchups. They will still be plenty useful as defensive options, especially against heavier teams and in getting the puck to Mogilny.

Alexander Mogilny: Not too much damage has been done to Mogilny's status as one of the elite goal scorers. 6/6 skating will solve a lot of the issues he could have had against back checking forwards or any big defenders laying in wait. More goal scoring pressure has been put on Mogilny as his support has taken a hit but he should be up to the task.

Bob Errey, Donald Audette, Wayne Presley: All of these guys were already pretty marginal and may have been reduced to pure bench roles with the CB check. Errey may still be an option if one of Hawerchuk or Lafontaine goes down, but it may be wise to ice someone with a bit more heft to them to get some worthwhile skills.

Yuri Khmylev: Yuri may seem like a bit of an awkward fit for the Sabers but he could be useful in a similar role that Craig Simpson has found in Edmonton. While not quite the accomplished sniper that Simpson is, Khmylev does have a knack for getting into the right spot in which to unleash his shot and he is still light enough to perhaps slip by an over aggressive 6 weight defender.

Bob Sweeney: 2 speed. Say what you want about his skill set or whatever, the fact of the matter is 2 speed and 9 weight dont make for a good combination. There are better options for role players on this roster.

Colin Patterson: 8 weight, 4/4 speed, 1/3 shot, 2/2 sth and pass, 2/3 aware, Shoots: R

If a CB option on the forward line is needed then look to the anemically skilled Patterson. His 4/4 skating and 8 weight will give Patterson a chance in chasing down some of the lighter and faster forwards in the game that Sweeney could only dream of catching. Mogilny is gonna be the main guy to score goals regardless of who is on the ice. Plopping Patterson right in front of Svoboda could give the Sabers a versatile checking presence on both sides of the ice.

Rob Ray: 10 weight, 3/4 speed, 1/2 shot, 2 sth, 1 pass, 1/1 aware, Shoots: L

If for whatever reason a super heavyweight is needed, Ray is ready on the bench to lay the smack down. Surprisingly speedy for a pure goon, Ray should be able to do an admirable job in his enforcer role. Just don't look to him for any offense and you wont be disappointed.

Defense

Petr Svoboda: Svoboda didn't have too much use as an attacking defenseman to begin with so I wouldn't expect his new found vulnerability to affect him negatively too much. He will still be a strong skating option for the Sabers who will take advantage of any heavier player who dares come into his zone. Just be careful with baiting fore checkers in the defensive zone and Svoboda should still be a top 5 defender.

Grant Ledyard, Richard Smehlik, Doug Bodger: Buffalo's plodding defenders should be better able to carry their own weight and thankfully so. Picking any of the three is a matter of preference as they are all fairly similar aside from Ledyard being the best skater, Smehlik the heaviest while having the most skill, and Bodger a nice mix of the other two.

Bottom Line

Buffalo always had some funky chemistry issues and the forward line looks to take a bit of a hit as Hawerchuk and Lafontaine could be limited to being effective players only from the perimeter. More patience on offense and greater use of Mogilny seems to be the only chance at having Buffalo score at a prolific rate. The defense should help out the forwards as they are now equipped to take down both light and heavy forwards alike and maintain superb balance on the wings in respect to weight if Patterson and to a lesser extent Khmylev is iced. While still an upper echelon team, Buffalo could be a bit more suspect in some of their tougher match ups.

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I am very surprised nobody has mentioned Ken Sutton as the 2nd defender on this loaded team. Ken Sutton 8 weight, 2/2 skating, 2/4 awareness, 2/2 shot, 1/3 sth/pass. He's reduced to poke checking and holding on defense but he's always in sound position to get in the way and hold the action up for a screaming LaFontaine to dump truck anybody on that side of the ice. When he does get the puck, he's adept at accurately passing the puck up to a darting Mogilny or LaLa. Ledyard's plus skating makes him appealing but at 2/3 awareness, I can't get him to consistently be in position to make a play. That's all you really need from the #2 defender on this loaded team. I also let 10 ride the pine and use Khymlev to pound slappers from the LW and use MoMo and LaLa to deke the lights out and set each other up for slam dunks. Fuhr is a beast and having Sutton plopped right in front of him at all times is pretty nice. Khymlev also tends to hang back on D when you aren't letting it fly from the top of the circle so that helps slow the opposing rush as well.

Khymlev-Mo-La Svoboda-Sutton

Edited by Brass Bonanza

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