EDMONTON -- High-high-high atop another Canadian arena, get ready for what might be another ugly Sabres live blog as they get set to meet the Edmonton Oilers. The view is a little lower than last night in Calgary. The way to get into the press box was worse. Two rickety metal staircases, then a catwalk, then a looooong walk around the hanging basket of a box. Hey, Canada: You can build a press box that's part of the arena instead of just hung from the roof. It's OK.
Now that I have that out of my system .....
It is cold here. Really cold. Freezing. Temperatures in the single digits. It was bright and sunny all afternoon and then it suddenly got ridiculously foggy as I was driving back for the game. Coming down the hill on Wayne Gretzky Drive, you couldn't even see the rink on your right. Crazy.
I checked out the West Edmonton Mall, the largest in North America. I am not a mall person but this place was ridiculous. Its wiki page does an amazing job of detailing the history and such. Water parks (left), sea lion shows, themed areas like Bourbon Street and Chinatown and an indoor rink that the Oilers once used for practice. You could spend an entire day there easy. Or a couple.
But here's my warning: You'll never find your car. My rental was in area 32. After a couple hours of walking around the mall, I was hopelessly lost. How big is this place? I got a cab outside to drive me around to area 32 and the fare was in the $10 range. Think the bosses at TBN will let that one slide on the ol' expense account?
I've been trying to get my early edition story on Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle done and it's complete (be sure to check it out in the paper tomorrow). Maybe in the first intermission I'll post a couple pictures of the view or the mall water park. There is a game to talk about here. I hear you out there: Do we have to? Yes people, we do. That's what I'm here for.
The Sabres are 1-5-2 in their last eight on the road. They're decimated by injuries and Tyler Myers' illness. They're closer to a top-five draft pick than the playoffs. How ugly might Saturday night in HSBC Arena be if this one is ugly tonight? Let's wait and see. And yep, Ryan Miller is again going for win No. 200.
Sabres starters: Stafford-Hecht-Pominville-Sekera-Leopold (change in pairings). Goal: Miller
Oilers starters: Hall-Gagner-Eberle-Peckham-Gilbert. Goal: Khabibulin.
10:46 p.m.: (killer for reporter deadlines): The puck is dropped.
17:15 left: Buffalo gets the breathing room tally it needs from Hecht, who breaks down the left wing and beats Khabibulin between the legs after taking a backhand pass from Gerbe. (Bad goal there). An assist from Weber on the play as well. Hecht has been much better tonight than last night's disaster. Sabres lead, 3-1.
15:22 left: Great save from Miller on Eberle, who has been dangerous.
13:42 left: Ryan Jones puts home Tom Gilbert's pass. Or did the pass go in off Rivet? Either way, Sabres lead 3-2. Play is under review. Goal stands. Goes to Gilbert as ruled in off Rivet.
13:00 left: They switched the goal and gave it to Jones.
12:49 left: Miller smothers Smid's shot from the left circle.
8:54 left: McCormick for slashing in the offensive zone. Smacked the stick right out of Penner's hands. No reason.
2;53 left: Great glvoe save by Miller on Hemsky.
2:00 left: Miller close to No. 200. Holding on.
It's Over: A 4-2 win as Weber hits the empty net with a 180-footer at 19:08. No. 200 for Miller and he shares a bearhug with Lalime as they're the last two off the ice.
9:56 p.m.: The puck is dropped. Scroll up and check out the picture I posted of the waterpark inside the mall. Filled with people on the slides and the rapids on a 0-degree day. How cool is that?
16:27 left: Sabres take the 2-1 lead as Weber snaps one from the point and it goes all the way in over Khabibulin's glove. Weber's first NHL goal.
15:44 left: Stafford for hooking. This note just in on my cell phone: A voicemail from United that my flights home tomorrow are canceled and they "hope" to be able to rebook me on Thursday. Wonderful. I'll be working that issue after the game.
11:00 left: The Oilers had plenty of jump at the start of this game and they are dead-dead-dead now. They had some early chances to convert and take a 2-0 lead and didn't. Now the Sabres are controlling play. Of course, controlling play against the 15th place team in the West is hardly cause for celebration. Small victories at this point.
9:58 left: McCormick for slashing a few seconds after a brutal giveaway by Montador, who sent the puck in the slot in front of his net.
6:39 left: Sabres doing a great job on the PK tonight. Now they have a power play as Hemsky goes for hooking.
2:53 left: Rivet goes for cross checking Jean-Francois Jacque. An obvious call but it was the retaliation, which is what officials always see. Do they really think a guy just blatantly drills somebody at center ice for no reason without provocation?
43.4 left: Rivet breakaway out of the box, pulled down by Smid and they knock the net off. No call. Sabres looking for the penalty shot and got nothing. That said, Rivet got too close and needed to shoot.
End-2nd: Sabres lead 2-1. Edmonton had a 7-5 edge in shots and it's 18-16 for the Oilers through two.
9:08 p.m.: Puck is dropped.
18:33 left: An early disaster. Tyler Ennis stripped right in front by Ales Hemsky. Dustin Penner walks in alone on Miller and beats him between the legs. 1-0 Oilers on the game's first shot. Forwards were terrible last night, giving the puck away ad nauseum. It continues. And it would be nice if Miller would make a stop too.
14:30 left: Lindy Ruff is pretty much out of ideas with this team. What to do? Trash everything, lines and defense pairings. The only line that's status quo is Stafford-Hecht-Pominville. After that, it's Vanek-McCormick-Gerbe, Niedermayer-Adam-Kaleta and Ennis-Gaustad-Grier. On defense, Leopold and Montador, who have been slumping for a few weeks, are no longer together. Leopold is with Sekera in Myers' spot while Montador is with Weber and Rivet is with Morrisonn.
13:07 left: Glad to see the Sabres conserved energy by having an optional morning skate. Shots are 4-0 for the Oilers so far. Puck has hardly been in the Edmonton zone. Memo to Terry Pegula: If this keeps up, the expectation is that you will back up the truck and start shipping out everything.
10:32 left: Buffalo's first shot, a routine flip shot from the left point by Leopold.
8:55 left: Holy moly, a real scoring chance. A great save by Khabibulin denies Grier on the wraparound attempt. Looked like Grier had the post but the Oilers' goalie got back quickly. Shots are 6-3 for Edmonton.
6:56 left: Sabres finally woke up. Great shift by Adam keyed his line and Buffalo actually leads in shots at 7-6.
4:29 left: Mr. Vogl would be happy. They have cheerleaders here, which should be considered blasphemous in Canada. They're called the Octane. Get it? Oil, octane. These jokesters. You want a link? Not on my blog, people. Go find it yourself!
3:24 left: It is very, very quiet here. HSBC-level quiet. Nothing like Calgary, where there was quite a buzz all night. Maybe everyone is fronzen in their seats. It's FREEZING in here. I can feel a breeze on my neck. What's up with that?
2:12 left: Sabres tie it at 1-1. Kaleta does the dirty work behind the net and gets it out front to Adam, whose 5-footer is tipped by and Edmonton defenseman but still has the mustard to make the net. Game tied, 1-1. Adam's second of the year. Sabres have been the better team last 10 minutes.
1:25 left: Gerbe foiled on clear break on 2-on-0 with Vanek. Hmmm. Vanek 13 goals, Gerbe one goal. Pass? Maybe?
End-1st: We're tied at 1-1 and shots are 11-11. Sabres, remember, had no shots for first 9:28 of the period.
taggedSabres game day