WASHINGTON -- This has been quite a day already as we get set for the Sabres' final pre-Christmas game, a battle here in the Verizon Center against the Washington Capitals. As you may have read earlier, I walked into the building for the morning skate and there were no hockey players, just a Georgetown basketball game about to break out. It's cold. There's tons of snow still around from the weekend. Ice and cobblestone don't mix, as I took a header near the rink walking back from the practice I didn't see.
And now, to top all that, comes word that Nuke LaLoosh and Annie Savoy are kaput.
(No, I don't normally read People.com. It was linked from USA Today). Excuse this baseball guy while I mourn that one. Would love to post my favorite "Bull Durham" video here but can't find one without any R-rated stuff in it. 'Tis a family blog, remember.
So with some extra time on my hands this afternoon, I made my first trip to the Newseum. It's the wondrous, 2-year-old museum that tells the story of the press. And it should be a must-see for any DC visitor. The place is huge, six soaring floors high. There's a great view of the Capitol and Pennsylvania Avenue from the top-floor balcony. Videos and interactive exhibits all over the place. One highlight was an entire gallery on 9/11, featuring front pages from around the world and a portion of the antenna mast from atop the World Trade Center.
Above right, you can see the centerpiece of a new exhibit replicating the office of Buffalo native Tim Russert, the moderator of "Meet the Press." Featured many of his old books that were around his office, plus family momentos. There was a Bills pennant (it's on the far left of the shot -- click to blow it up), a Bisons baseball, a book on the Rockpile. Great stuff Russert's son, Luke, now an MSNBC correspondent, had several school projects on display. The display was tastefully done, with a video running in the background, and it was fascinating.
There was also a personal element to the trip as I visted the third-floorJournalists Memorial, which included a display on our beloved late colleague Tom Borrelli. A victim of a fall down a staircase at All High Stadium, Borrelli died 12 days after his accident in Nov., 2008. He has a plaque in his honor here in DC (click picture at left for a better view), his name is etched in a glass wall and a video kiosk shows a picture of him at work covering the Bandits. Awesome stuff and an awesome tribute.
But I have a hockey game to cover and Borrelli would have already complained that I spent the last paragraph on him. So it's on to that, and to the work that would lead with that trademark Borrelli "we got your story" note over the phone at the end of the night.
A word of advice if watching this one on MSG: Don't leave your TV during the first intermission. Be sure to watch the main feature. The good folks in the broadcasting department have sworm me to secrecy -- after giving me a sneak peak. It's worth your time. Trust me. We'll have updates from the warmup when the teams take the ice
Pregame: Same lineup as Monday in Toronto. That means Miller in goal, Vanek and Kaleta scratched and Paetsch in.
Postgame: You can't shy away from what happened in the first period and the Sabres didn't
Miller: "You can't spot a team a period. We didn't come out the way we need to. We want to run with the big dogs, we're going to have to show a lot more composure and a lot more attention to detail. Just call it like it is."
Ruff: "We didn't go to work. You play like that, you've got no chance of winning in this league. We weren't on the puck, we didn't compete for pucks, We just decided not to show up the first period. That was shocking. Can't hide it."
18:11 left: Another good start from the Sabres as Kennedy misses an open chance from in front after a great backhand feed from MacArthur.
17:31 left: Neuvirth robs Roy alone from in front after a Hecht feed.
10:40 left: Caps maintaining their lead and get a power play as Rivet goes for hooking. A much tighter period with the Sabres holding a 4-2 edge in shots.
9:31 left: Here comes trouble. Gaustad goes for tripping and the Caps have a two-man advantage for 51 seconds.
9:05 left: Trouble arrives as Backstrom bangs home a Semin pass to Miller's left to make it 4-2.
7:50 left: And there's a coup de grace as Ovechkin pounds home his 24th to make it 5-2 and this place just explodes.
A 5-2 final: Shots were 38-34 for the Capitals.
17:08 left: A much better start. Knuble off for interference as Sabres already have four shots. The Roy line, which was on the ice for both first-period goals, had two great chances on its first shift, by Stafford and Hecht.
16:39 left: Stafford goes for roughing as he crashed Neuvirth while going to the net. Dubious call and Lindy Ruff was not happy. We've seen Miller bowled over plenty of times this year with much more contact than that and nothing gets called.
15:52 left: Brendan Morris goes for interference. So it's 4-on-3.
14:56 left: The Sabres make it 2-1 as Gaustad converts a 2-on-1 on a neat Roy feed. Shot trickled through the five-hole on Neuvirth, who looks pretty shaky. Ten seconds earlier, Roy had him beat but the shot hit the post.
13:02 left: Sabres stay close as Green's floater hits the post behind a beaten Miller. Sabres have 9-4 edge in shots in this period. Guess there was some talking inside that locker room -- as there should have been.
9:58 left: Gaustad stopped by Neuvirth after great work by Montador and Sekera to get the puck up ice. Also great work here on the scoreboard. They put up replays almost instantaneously on a big save right while the play is going on. Don't have to wait for a faceoff and other assorted silliness minutes later.
9:12 left: Goal of the night by Brendan Morrison, who flips one over Miller to the left of the crease with a sensational between-the-legs flip with the puck behind him. Miller had stopped Tomas Fleischmann but couldn't corral the rebound and Morrison got a hold of it before Miller or Tallinder could. Look for that one on SportsCenter.
7:08 left: The Sabres get back within a goal as Tim Connolly -- yes, Tim Connolly deflects Montador's drive from the right point out of mid-air. Bucky Gleason chronicled Connolly's troubles today: No goals since Nov. 27 and that was the only time in 25 games since Halloween he had scored.
4:28 left: How different is this period? Shots are 18-11 for Buffalo.
End-2nd: Big saves by Neuvirth on Grier and Pominville in the final 10 seconds keep the Caps in front. Sabres had a 20-14 edge in shots in a wild period. It's 29-24 for Washington through two.
18:42 left: Roy-Hecht-Stafford-Sekera-Montador have a brutal shift and the puck is in the Buffalo net. Nicklas Backstrom does the honors with a one-timer from the slot on a beautiful pass from Alex Ovechkin. Backstrom had been stopped a few seconds earlier. Miller threw his arms in the air as if to say, "faceoff already happened, boys."
14:56 left: It's only five minutes in and I'm already sick of the guy blaring the trumpet leading the "Let's Go, Caps" chant. Fine for everybody else but dude sits right below press box. Ear-ringer.
13:13 left: Green makes it 2-0 from the point as his slapshot hits the shaft of Roy's stick and flutters past Miller. Great crossice pass from Eric Fehr set it up. That's two goals on three shots. That will do damage to Miller's save percentage.
11:56 left: Sabres go to the power play as Alexander Semin goes off for tripping Ellis. Of course, that may not help as the Sabres are just 3 for 46 on the PP in the last 12 games.
9:48 left: Make that 3 for 47. The Sabres had some good possession in the Caps' zone as Pominville and MacArthur did some work holding the puck in. But no shots on goal. You don't get the point shots through and not much happens. Shots are 6-1 for the Caps thus far.
7:36 left: Forgot the lines. It's been Connolly-Gaustad-Grier, Stafford-Roy-Hecht, MacArthur-Kennedy-Pominville and Mair-Ellis-Paetsch. Defense pairs unchanged: Tallinder-Myers, Sekera-Montador and Lydman-Rivet.
3:22 left: Miller makes two saves, including a highway robbery job on the doorstep on Chris Clark. It's 14-1 on the shot counter and that reflects how this one has gone. Sabres haven't shown up.
End-1st: Thanks to Miller, the Sabres do well to only be down, 2-0, after what ranks as one of their uglier periods all season. Shots are 15-4. Connolly had Buffalo's first one 31 seconds into the period -- and the Sabres didn't get another for nearly 17 minutes. Remember to watch that intermission feature to soothe that period!