SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The Sabres will use this morning to meet and rest as they prepare to face Phoenix and attempt to close their road trip with a 2-0-1 record. There will be no morning skate.
Although there's a game, not many folks out here would notice. The painted desert has turned shades of orange and blue, and green, yellow and neon lime. The area is pigskin crazy as college football's national championship game is Monday between Oregon and Auburn (War Eagle! says the guy who spent 18 months just down the road from the Loveliest Village on the Plains and covered the Tigers for the Columbus (Ga.) Ledger-Enquirer in 2000).
It should be an interesting few days, for sure (and yes, I'm staying for the game). First, though, my fellow Frontier grad Tom Doody and I will climb Camelback Mountain for the third time in three years. Gotta love the NHL schedule makers!
As for other hockey news:
*Jochen Hecht will enter Jobing.com Arena on one of the best runs of his career, a six-game point streak that overlaps the Sabres' four-game unbeaten streak. He's been getting increased minutes in the middle with Roy gone, and for the most part he's making it work.
*Lindy Ruff would eventually like to be a general manager, but the short-term goal is to win No. 501 as a coach tonight against the Coyotes, which would push Ruff into a tie with Pat Burns for 14th place. Ruff reached 500 wins in 1,024 games, all with the Sabres.
"That longevity with one team speaks for itself; 500 wins speaks for itself," Phoenix coach Dave Tippett said to the Arizona Republic. "He's one of the top coaches in this league. The ability of a coach to change his message, make sure he's got all his players on board, that's a lot easier said than done.
"For one coach to stay in one place that long, deal with a lot of the same players over that length, that speaks volumes about his ability to a interact with people, to coach different kinds of people and find wins with people."
*Vancouver, which beat Edmonton, 6-1, set a franchise record by going unbeaten in regulation for 15 games (13-0-2), and established a new mark for its best 20-game stretch at 17-1-2. The Canucks remain first overall in the NHL with 59 points, and host Detroit (57 points) today with top spot on the line.
*Clarke MacArthur didn't want the game to end. He was having too much fun. "It was one of those games when every shot is going in," he said after the Toronto Maple Leafs' 9-3 rout of the Atlanta Thrashers on Friday night. "Everything worked against them."
*Although he traded his captain, Jamie Langenbrunner, to the Dallas Stars for a conditional second-round draft pick on Friday, New Jersey Devils general manager Lou Lamoriello dismissed talk that the last-place team is in a rebuilding phase.
"I despise the word 'rebuilding,'" Lamoriello said in a conference call. "We have to look at the reasons why we're in this position. Maybe it's talent. Maybe it's chemistry. We have to be very careful and look at the big picture."
Lamoriello did not rule out future deals, but did emphatically deny any thoughts of trading All-Star goaltender Martin Brodeur, who has been a careerlong Devil and led the franchise to three Stanley Cup titles.