NHL.com has linked to a video collection of some of the year's best fights, so it seems like a perfect time to segue to this ...
February 18, 2010 - 1:48 PM
NHL.com has linked to a video collection of some of the year's best fights, so it seems like a perfect time to segue to this ...
February 17, 2010 - 3:44 PM
Chris Drury's time on Broadway has not been a smash hit. The former Sabres center has just 10 goals and 22 points this season, so it was a surprise to some that the Rangers forward was named to the U.S. Olympic team.
But when you think about the clutch performances throughout his life, he's exactly the type of player you want in an important game. USA coach Ron Wilson echoed those thoughts after Tuesday's 3-1 victory over Switzerland.
"Throughout his career and actually his whole life, the bigger the moment, the better Chris Drury plays. Everybody knows that," Wilson said. "At some point in this tournament, I think he's going to be a hero for us in one of these games. I know this is going to be corny, but he reminds me of a Mike Eruzione-type player. I'm not saying if we get to the gold-medal [game] that it's going to be Dru who is going to score, but he's that type of person. The glue in the room."
ESPN.com's Pierre LeBrun tells the story of Drury's new role, which has him killing penalties and skating as the 13th forward.
"Dru will do anything to help your team win," Wilson said. "We talked yesterday at practice that I saw his role as a primary penalty killer and then I would fit him in and keep him involved. He's accepting of that. He's the one guy that, almost to a man, you guys [the media] have questioned as to why he's on the team. He's there because of the way he played today. He's going to do the little detailed grunt work.
"We've got plenty guys that can score, and he can still score. But we need people dedicated to being on the right side of the puck 100 percent of the time and to lead by example. We've got so many young guys, having his voice and experience in the room is huge."
February 9, 2010 - 7:03 PM
Greetings from HSBC Arena as the Sabres try to end this ugly four-game losing streak against the Bruins. A note on streaks: Several of you complained we've written this is their first four-game skid of the season even though they've completed their West Coast trip with one. Au contraire, sports fans. The Sabres got a shootout point in Los Angeles so the NHL considers that an 0-3-1 winless streak and not a four-game losing streak. Just like the 10-game slide the Bruins ended Sunday in Montreal was a 10-game winless streak because they were 0-6-4.
As for tonight's game, you would have thought back in the fall that Ryan Miller and Tim Thomas might be battling for No. 1 on the U.S. Olympic team tonight. Not. Thomas isn't even in net, languishing as the clear No. 2 in Boston behind Tuukka Rask. He didn't have much to say about his status here after practice Monday,as this Boston Globe story reports.
Some pregame ceremonies tonight to induct Jim Lorentz and Joe Crozier into the Sabres Hall of Fame and then we'll get to the action. Huge roar when the French Connection came on to the ice to join the ceremony.
Shootout: Sabres are 3-5 in them this year while Boston is 6-9 (15 of them? Wow). Boston has lost four straight. Sabres are 12 for 40 this year (Hecht is 3 for 3) and the goalies have allowed 14 goals on 38 shots (Miller has stopped 16 of 25). Boston shooters are 11 for 48. Rask has stopped 14 of 21.
Bruins win: Boston gets credit for a 3-2 victory. Pominville scored for Buffalo but Hecht, Connolly and Stafford were all stopped. Krejci got the winner for the Bruins. Winless streak hits five, division lead is gone as Ottawa pulls into tie with 3-2 win over Calgary.
4:35 left: Miller keeps the game alive by robbing Matt Hunwick on a 2-on-1.
3:33 left: Bruins to the power play as Michael Ryder cuts in front by Butler and Vanek has to take a hooking penalty.
On to the shootout: The Sabres survive as Miller makes a couple key saves on the power play and Connolly takes one from the point on the foot. Shots were 4-2 for Boston and it finished 45-34 for Buffalo.
14:08 left: Not much going on until Miller stoned Marco Strum twice on one shift. Shots are 4-2 for Boston.
12:35 left: Another huge save by Miller on Marc Savard keeps things tied. Sabres starting to give the puck away again in this period, much as they did in the first. Out of town, Ottawa takes 3-2 lead over Calgary after two. An Ottawa win and Buffalo loss in regulation knocks the Sabres out of first place in the Northeast Division.
8:52 left: Wideman goes for cross checking, giving Buffalo a huge chance to take the lead.
6:40 left: Four great saves by Rask -- two on Roy and one each on Myers and Vanek -- deny Buffalo on the power play and keep things even. That's another PP that goes down as another chance without a goal but that's one the Sabres want to duplicate at almost every chance. Sabres have a 40-28 edge in shots, 9-6 in this period.
5:44 left: Huge battle between Mair and Lucic won by Mair early and Lucic at the end. That's two fights tonight (would have been three if Chara answered Gaustad's challenge). About time we saw some spunk from this club. I'd say some of this goes back to Stafford saying enough was enough Saturday in Columbus with R.J. Umberger. Mair went off the ice, probably with a sore hand after cracking Lucic on the helmet.
42.1 left: A big scare as Myers goes down like a shot after deflecting Paille's slapper into his face. He skates off to the dressing room.
21.8 left: Pominville nearly steals a win from Wideman, taking the puck behind the net and getting stopped by Rask on the wraparound.
On to OT: Shots were 12-8 for the Sabres and 43-30 through regulation. That's two shy of Buffalo's season high of 45 set in the loss to Anaheim.
Of note: More ex-Sabres indignity as Miro Satan was plus-2 in that period and got one of the assists on Paille's wraparound goal. Satan had no points in his last eight games and Paille had none in his last seven. Yeesh.
18:13 left: Much better start as Hecht and Vanek have in-tight chances in the first 90 seconds that Rask stops. Better than any chance Buffalo had in the first period.
17:06 left: Rivet has apparently had enough, starting a scrap with Shawn Thornton. The captain had good intentions but the decision goes to Thornton. Milan Lucic gets a hooking penalty so Buffalo goes to the power play. Lately, that's been no help.
16:14 left: A two-man edge for 1:08 as Steve Begin goes for holding Myers. He had been driving the rookie crazy in the Buffalo zone but got a little too overzealous. Lindy Ruff calls timeout here, sensing this is a big moment.
15:25 left: Roy finally snaps the ice with a wicked snapshot top shelf over Rask's glove on a Connolly feed. And still 1:12 left in Begin's penalty. Roy's 14th.
15:19 left: MacArthur breaks in alone but Rask makes the save.
13:14 left: Bruins' first two shots are tough saves for Miller, including a rebound stop on Blake Wheeler.
10:08 left: Gaustad challenges Chara and the big guy refuses to drop the gloves. Lucic comes in and tries to take up the case but gets nothing?? Gaustad goes for unsportsmanlike conduct. Ridiculous. Lucic could have gotten a game misconduct for crying out loud.
9:09 left: Chara really-really-really getting the boos from the crowd now.
3:46 left: Good pad save by Miller on David Krejci. Miller has been very sharp in this period. The Sabres have an 11-9 edge in shots and it's 28-20 for the game.
1:25 left: HUGE turn of events there as Miller stones Wheeler and Gaustad just clears the rebound away from the empt cage. He gets it to Myers, who skates away and fires a wicked wrister past Rask to tie it at 2-2 on Buffalo's 30th shot of the night. That was a vintage goal, one you'd see from an all-star in the Larry Robinson vain. Awesome. His eighth of the year and his 32nd point, tied for third among NHL rookies.
End-2nd: Much better. Shots were 14-11 for the Sabres and 31-22 for the game.
Of note: We face off at 7:21 after the HOF ceremonies and Ronan Tynan doing God Bless America.
18:29 left: Interesting start as Gaustad drills Dennis Wideman behind the net and draws plenty of attention from Zdeno Chara the rest of the shift. Bruins will have No. 28 on their minds. Sabres already guilty of two giveaways in their end. That can't continue.
15:09 left: Old friend Daniel Paille gives the Bruins a 1-0 lead on a wraparound that Miller simply didn't react to. Roy got screened by the referee to Miller's right and Paille came out untouched to the goalie's left as Butler and Rivet were caught napping. Bad start. Seven straight goals against Buffalo.
11:27 left: I thought Lindy Ruff said today he wanted to see his team attack more? Other than the Gaustad hit, pretty lame effort so far.
8:02 left: You gotta be kidding. Paille tips a Chara point shot past Miller for a 2-0 lead. His first two-goal game as a Bruin. Now I gotta look up when he last did that for Buffalo.
7:05 left: Just looked it up -- Paille's fifth career two-goal game and first since Buffalo's 7-3 loss at Pittsburgh on March 12, 2008. Eight straight for the opponents.
6:31 left: Unreal. Miller just stopped Paille cold on a clear break in the Buffalo zone. Paille, by the way, has never had a hat trick. Shots are 10-9 for the Sabres but they've hardly had a huge chance.
3:00 left: More on Paille -- he entered this one with no goals in his last seven games and just three in his last 21. Came real close to having three in an 8 1/2-minute span here.
End-1st: Sabres leave to richly deserved boos in a 2-0 hole. They have a 17-11 edge in shots but there's a classic case of a period where the SOG total explains nothing. Buffalo might have had one or two quality chances while Boston had six or seven.
February 5, 2010 - 2:51 PM
The Sabres have announced that studio analyst Mike Robitaille was in a "minor car accident" Wednesday evening and will not return to the team's television broadcasts until after the Olympic break. Rob Ray will move into Robitaille's role during intermissions and after the games.
"Mike is doing well and everybody in the Sabres organization wishes him a quick recovery," the team said in a statement.
January 31, 2010 - 9:48 PM
Watching the Rangers' game at Colorado and Ales Kotalik is more than just a healthy scratch as he's been for the last couple weeks. He's apparently about to become an ex-Ranger, according to this story tonight from the New York Post.
(11 p.m. update: TSN reports Kotalik is going to Calgary as part of a deal for Olli Jokinen)
Kotalik has been sent home off the trip but there's some hangup in the deal. No one seems to say what that is. Wondered if Kotalik was going back to Edmonton in some deal for Sheldon Souray, but Souray broke his hand in a fight late Saturday night with Calgary's Jarome Iginla as the Oilers finished 0-for-January with a 6-1 loss to a team that had been winless in nine.
Second thought was Toronto, which needs some offense after giving up plenty in today's deals for Dion Phaneuf and J.S. Giguere. The Kotalik deal (three years, $9M) is the kind of silliness that should get Glen Sather fired as Rangers GM. Anyone here could have said Kotalik is a soft 5-on-5 player who fires away on the power play with mediocre results and would drive coach John Tortorella crazy.
Didn't the Rangers have a single scout proffer that opinion? Jeez.
January 16, 2010 - 6:56 PM
UNIONDALE -- I'm not going to spend too much time and space here crabbing about the Nassau Coliseum, easily the biggest dump in the National Hockey League. This massive Lighthouse project they keep talking about here to renovate the place better get a move on, or it would make more sense for us to be eating bar-b-q in Kansas City, seafood in Seattle or whatever they specialize in in Winnipeg than to keep this franchise here.
The Islanders are coming off a 6-0 drubbing of Detroit and playing very well (7-2-1 in their last 10), but it's doubtful there will be a full house or close to it here. More people than we saw Thursday in Atlanta but certainly not a jammed crowd either. The poor fans don't have too many nice touches either.
The place has hideously tiny concourses. Walking through the stands at the morning skate, seats are flimsy, steel rows are uneven. Whole sections of seats are different colored. The press box is a tight shack with those old school chairs that swing out bbefore you can sit down. But I will admit it is low and one of the better views for us in the league. Go to a place like the Prudential Center and the game is in Newark but the press box is in Passaic.
OK. Three paragraphs are enough. Let's get to the game. As we learned this morning, Rick DiPietro will be in goal for the Islanders for his first appearance here in nearly 13 months. Ryan Miller for Buffalo. The Sabres can pull into a first-place tie in the East with a win tonight as the Devils have already lost at Colorado, 3-1. yes, the twice-in-a-row-outta-the-playoffs Sabres could end the night atop the East. Crazy. The Sabres can also push their Northeast Division lead to 11 points over Boston, which just dropped a 4-3 shootout decision at Los Angeles.
The game will be shown in HD on MSG but remember that Rick Jeanneret has taken his vacation and Kevin Sylvester will do the play-by-play with Harry Neale. I thought I saw Darryl Strawberry this afternoon in the lobby of the Long Island Marriott across the street. Nah, couldn't be. Turns out it was. He's here for a ceremonial puck drop for autism awareness.
Shootout numbers: The Isles won it, 4-3, on Trent Hunter's goal in the eighth round. Seven tallies tied the NHL record which Buffalo and Colorado equaled with their 11-rounder last Saturday. The Sabres are just 2-4 in shootouts this year and are 9-34 on their attempts. Miller had given up just three goals on 12 previous attempts before yielding four this time.
14:36 left: Sabres nearly tied it early in the period on Butler's wrist shot that deflected off the goal post. The teams are now four-on-four after scrum behind the Buffalo net resulted in roughing penalties on Tallinder and Mark Streit, who shut the puck at Miller after a whistle for offside.
13:36 left: Richard Park scores on a wrist shot from the right but it's waved off immediately for goaltender interference because of a skate in the crease by Andy Sutton. No penalty on the play, just a faceoff outside the zone. Looked like the Sabres got a huuuuuuuuuuuuuuge break there.
10:25 left: And the disallowed goal rates huuuuuuuuuuuuge for Buffalo as the Sabres tie it up. Stafford gets the goal, as Butler's shot leaks through DiPietro and Stafford has an easy tap for his team-high 12th, neatly kicking the puck to his stick just before he put it in the net.
5:22 left: Still tied. The Isles goal was wiped out on a high stick is the explanation on TV? Then how was there not a penalty. We're going to have to sort this out afterward. No official explanation.
On to OT: Shots are 35-29 for the Isles -- meaning it was 12-4 for Buffalo in the third. Clutch.
18:51 left: Ruff's outrage apparently didn't help. Myers gone for cross checking. Ticky-tack stuff.
16:35 left: Josh Bailey cranks a rebound off the post behind Miller, who is struggling to control rebounds in this one.
14:21 left: Miller stops Vogl's Isles buddy Sean Bergenheim from in front after a long, bad shift from the Roy line as well as Butler and Rivet.
11:00 left: DiPietro stops Vanek on a 30-foot slapshot on a 4-on-2. I griped Thursday that Vanek was passing and not shooting. Here was one he might have considered using his mates.
10:30 left: Another penalty. Hecht for slashing. That's four for Buffalo and none on the Islanders.
8:51 left: Miraculous save by Miller on Frans Nielsen who had a tap-in on Matt Moulson's great pass and shot it into Miller's leg. Josh Bailey already had his arms up to celebrate a goal.
8:30 left: Penalties have worn down Buffalo's offensive chances. Shots are 24-13 for the Islanders -- and that means it's 14-2 in this period.
8:02 left: The count is up to 16-2. And that's 10 shots in the last three minutes. The Sabres have been giving them up in bunches lately. Remember the Leafs' 22-shot third in HSBC Arena last week? Fifteen of those were in the last eight minutes.
7:32 left: Freddy Meyer goes for cross-checking for the Isles' first penalty. And that was a cheapie too, just for the record.
6:25 left: DiPietro's best save of the night? A glove grab off Myers via a great cross-ice pass from Stafford. Watching Connolly on the bench. Looked like he got hit in the face on the PP's first faceoff.
5:05 left: Penalty over. Not much action on the PP for the Sabres other than Myers' chance.
4:27 left: There's that man Bergenheim again. Tips home a great feed from Andrew MacDonald to make it 2-0 on the Isles' 28th shot of the night.
4:06 left: The Sabres get right back in it as Connolly's shot from the left circle is tipped in by Mike Grier, his ninth of the season, to make it 2-1. Connolly extends his point streak to 11 games, the longest-current run in the NHL. Ends nearly eight scoreless periods in this building for Buffalo. The other assist went to Tallinder, and it was his 100th NHL point.
2:08 left: Miller stones Blake Comeau on a 2-on-1 that produces the Isles' 30th shot of the game and 20th of the period. Awful giveaway by Montador set up the chance.
End-2nd: It's 2-1 through two and shots are 31-17 for the Islanders (21-6 in that period. Yikes). But Buffalo has been coming on. DiPietro made a great save on Pominville in the final minute to keep his team in front.
15:00 left: The Sabres tested DiPietro early, getting four shots in the first 70 seconds and the first six of the game before Jon Sim got the Islanders' first, a good chance on Miller with 15:45 left. DiPietro is getting a few "Dee-pee, Dee-pee" chants from the crowd, but it's not a huge response to his home return. Really liked the first shift from the Gaustad-Kaleta-Mair line as it created plenty of chances. Hated the first shift from Butler and Rivet, who were running around the whole time in their end.
14:22 left: The Islanders take a 1-0 lead as rookie John Tavares gets his 17th of the year -- and first in 10 games on a rebound of Kyle Okposo's shot on a 2-on-1. Tyler Myers got caught up ice and Tavares potted the rebound ahead of Myers and Pominville.
12:00 left: Sorry for the delayed posts. I must be so flummoxed by this place I forgot to hit "Publish". Cardinal sin of blogging.
10:36 left: Islanders really skating after the goal. Miller had to make a couple great saves on one flurry to keep the hosts from scoring again.
9:16 left: Kennedy goes for hooking to put the Islanders on the power play. No changes on the lines tonight: It was Hecht-Connolly-Pominville, followed by Mair-Gaustad-Kaleta, Vanek-Roy-Stafford and MacArthur-Kennedy-Hecht. Tallinder-Myers, Butler-Rivet and Lydman-Montador on defense. Wonder how close Butler is to being scratched on this trip for Sekera. Butler is a team-worst minus-12 and struggling in his own end. That's a move to watch for the rest of this trip.
5:21 left: Sabres' PK was solid again and Buffalo should be on the PP now. Kaleta drilled Jack Hillen behind the net with a clean hit and Sim then took Kaleta out up ice when he was nowhere near the puck. That was interference for sure and the Buffalo bench was irate. Reputation again hurts Kaleta. Terrible.
4:05 left: MacArthur for tripping behind the Isles net. This team has to stop taking penalties early in games. An epidemic of late.
2:05 left: Isles' PP is worst in the league at home. Maybe Buffalo should keep taking penalties. Only one shot in two chances so far.
End-1st: It remains 1-0 and shots were 11-10 for the Sabres (after they were once 6-0 and 8-1). Lindy Ruff not happy with the officiating. He stormed off the ice barking at Ian Walsh and Chris Lee. Sabres have given up eight unanswered goals in this building in the last seven periods they've played here.
January 14, 2010 - 3:00 PM
ATLANTA -- Ilya Kovalchuk is the Atlanta Thrashers' franchise player but he could be the No. 1 prize for other teams at the trade deadline if he can't hammer out a new deal with the team. Kovalchuk told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution in a story for today's editions that he's not frustrated with the pace of talks -- yet. Still, it seems more and more unlikely that Thrashers can meet his price and other teams have to be looking at the Russian Olympian as a rental for the playoff run and perhaps as a guy they could try to sign longterm.
That said, you wonder how it's impacting the Thrashers. Until Tuesday's 6-1 win over reeling Ottawa, Atlanta had not won in regulation since Nov. 30 -- a span of 21 games! Kovalchuk was scoreless for three straight games before collecting three points Tuesday. GM Don Waddell insists he's not actively seeking a trade but the Thrashers can't afford to let Kovalchuk walk for nothing as a UFA after the season either.
For that reason, a Kovalchuk deal might become a necessity. Just like it was for the Sabres two years ago in dealing Brian Campbell to San Jose. Buffalo couldn't afford to get nothing for Campbell and made its deal for Steve Bernier, which eventually turned into Craig Rivet. The Campbell saga became quite a distraction in the Buffalo locker room. This one could turn out the same.
"Quite honestly, it hasn't been a distraction,"Atlanta coach John Anderson told me today. "Ilya has still been scoring. He had a couple games where he didn't but really that was bizarre to us. It has not been an issue. Both parties have been very good in negotiating in the boardroom and not in the paper. They've done a wonderful job of it and hopefully it can get done soon."
Don't hold your breath. By the way, I'm with Bucky, who spent a lot of time on this topic in today's chat: Don't start the Kovalchuk-to-Buffalo talk. Yes, he's a wondrous offensive talent but he plays no defense and the first time he took a shift that went into the 90-second range, Lindy Ruff would blow a gasket. Kovy wouldn't fit this system at all. No way.
January 14, 2010 - 1:02 PM
ATLANTA -- Hope the boards in Philips Arena are bolted down good because Patrick Kaleta's six-game wait to get back on the ice is over.
Coach Lindy Ruff said the physical winger will be back in the lineup tonight against the Atlanta Thrashers after being in the press box since suffering a leg injury Dec. 27 against St. Louis. Matt Ellis will join Nathan Paetsch and Andrej Sekera on the scratch list. Kaleta will be in Ellis' spot on the fourth line with Paul Gaustad and Adam Mair.
"We want to get Pat going," Ruff said after the Sabres' pregame skate ended early this afternoon. "He had played really well before he went out. I think we can use his speed, we can use his physicality. We'll have to look at rotating a couple guys (as scratches) because it's a pretty group up front that's worked hard."
Kaleta has played a total of just 16 minutes, 59 seconds in the last 13 games. He was felled by Jarkko Ruutu's hit Dec. 16 in Ottawa and missed the last two periods of that game as well as the next one. He returned to play just 4:57 Dec. 19 against Pittsburgh but his sore neck wasn't healed enough to continue. He sat out three more and played just 6:46 Dec. 27 in St. Louis before injuring his leg in a collision with the net. He hasn't played since and really has been healthy for at least the last three games.
"It's been pretty tough," Kaleta said . "I'm glad the team has been playing the way they have and getting wins but on a personal level I want to be in there and helping out this team. Sitting in the press box, you feel pretty secluded from everyone else. I'm just happy to get back in the lineup. ... Tonight, I'm feeling good and raring to go."
It will be Ryan Miller (25-8-3, 2.04, .935) in goal for Buffalo against Atlanta's Ondrej Pavelec (10-12-3, 3.55, .902). Nik Antropov (hip) has missed four games for Atlanta and is questionable. Ex-Sabre Maxim Afinogenov, who has 16 goals on the season but just five in the last 21 games, is no longer playing with star Ilya Kovalchuk. He's on a line with Marty Reasoner and Colby Armstrong.
Stat to note: The Thrashers are 12-3-3 here all-time against Buffalo and the Sabres haven't won in this building since a 4-3 shootout win on Feb. 6, 2007. Their last regulation win here was Jan. 31, 2006.
January 12, 2010 - 10:00 PM
Please tell me you didn't miss the Devils-Rangers game on Versus (sorry, DirecTV people). Had to be the greatest scoreless tie through OT in history. Martin Brodeur and Henrik Lundqvist combined to make 96 saves through regulation and OT (51 by Brodeur), and seven more in the shootout before Patrik Elias beat Lundqvist to give the Devils the win. Ales Kotalik was one of the Rangers foiled by Brodeur in the shootout.
Brodeur's 51 saves are the most in his career among his 107 shutouts. It was just the second scoreless tie he's been involved with; the other was against Dominik Hasek and the Sabres in the Meadowlands in 1996. That game ended 0-0 as there were no shootouts back then.
Check out the highlights here. Plenty of saves to watch.
January 8, 2010 - 6:43 PM
Here's some great news out of Phoenix for a great guy, former Sabres defenseman Teppo Numminen: The Coyotes are going to induct him into their Ring of Honor Jan. 30 in a pregame ceremony prior to their game against the New York Rangers. Numminen will become the first Coyotes-era player in the team's Ring, joining former Winnipeg Jets Bobby Hull (No. 9), Dale Hawerchuk (10) and Thomas Steen (25).
Numminen was a second-round choice of Winnipeg in 1986 and played with the team for 15 years (eight in Winnipeg and seven in Phoenix). Numminen appeared in a franchise record 1,098 games with the Jets and Coyotes, and ranks as the Jets/Coyotes’ all-time leader in goals, assists and points among defensemen. He was captain in 2001-02 and 2002-03, making him the last Coyotes player to wear the “C” prior to Shane Doan.
“Teppo Numminen was a true professional and a player I looked up to my entire career,” said Doan. “He played the game with a quiet confidence and at an elite level consistently during his career while always displaying his incredible shot. This is a tremendous honor for him and I am proud to have been his teammate and his friend."
Numminen announced his retirement Aug. 5 after returning to the Sabres last year following open-heart surgery that limited him to just the final game of the 2007-08 season. His 1,372 games are the most ever by a European-trained NHL player.
January 1, 2010 - 5:13 PM
For 40 minutes, I thought today's Winter Classic in Fenway Park was a pretty nondescript affair. But it heated up in the third period and the Boston Bruins eventually beat the Philadelphia Flyers in overtime, 2-1. Boston won it on Marco Sturm's goal at 1:57 of OT after tying it on Mark Recchi's power-play goal with 2:18 left in regulation.
Just before the game-winning goal, the Flyers had a couple good chances to score but Boston goalie Tim Thomas held off ex-Sabre Daniel Briere.
The ice seemed decent and the weather was cold but snow-free. Great setting overall. Neat to see "Buffalo" atop the Northeast Division standings on the Green Monster, the spot where the AL East standings are put during baseball season.
After the game, Ryan Miller got his expected nod on the U.S. Olympic team and was joined by WNY natives Patrick Kane and Brooks Orpik. Sabres forward Paul Gaustad was not chosen.
Be sure to join me later this evening for tonight's Sabres-Thrashers live blog. For now, here's your spot to chat up all things Winter Classic and the Olympics. What did you think of the game and the choices for the U.S. team?
January 1, 2010 - 11:42 AM
The Sabres will have an unusual fourth line for tonight's game against Atlanta in HSBC Arena, as Derek Roy will skate with Matt Ellis and Adam Mair after missing two games following a shot to the head last Saturday from Ottawa's Jesse Winchester. The No. 1 center and leading score on the fourth line? What gives?
"That should be a heck of a line is the way I look at it. Get back in and work you way back up," Lindy Ruff said this morning "Matty and Adam have been probably our two hardest workers. Adam has really worked hard and skated well. He can't complain about playing those guys. I might be giving him the two guys working the hardest. They may turn out to be our best line tonight."
The other lines will remain the same: Gaustad centering MacArthur and Stafford, Connolly centering Pominville and Hecht and Kennedy centering Vanek and Grier. Paetsch and Sekera will be scratches.
Ryan Miller will be back in net after enduring his first home yanking of the season in Tuesday's 4-3 win over Pittsburgh. The Sabres are 0-1-5 in their last six against Atlanta and haven't beaten the Thrashers since a 10-1 win here on Jan. 18, 2008. Atlanta won the only meeting so far this season by a 4-2 count on Oct. 17.
The Sabres will also be paying close attention to the Team USA Olympic announcement, scheduled for after today's Winter Classic in Boston between the Bruins and Flyers. Miller will have his berth on the team made official while Paul Gaustad remains on the bubble.
In other Olympic news, Jochen Hecht said he talked to Germany coach and ex-Sabre Uwe Krupp on Thursday and Krupp said Hecht is still alive for consideration. According to Hecht, Krupp said the Germans are still working off a 35-man roster and will finalize it on Jan. 20. Hecht was not named Wednesday when Germany issued its first draft of its roster, which Krupp told him was a requirement from Vancouver organizers (and likely, the International Ice Hockey Federation).
December 29, 2009 - 6:42 PM
Greetings from HSBC Arena as the Pittsburgh Penguins are back in town for the second time in 11 days. They won here in a shootout, 2-1, on Dec. 19 by beating Patrick Lalime. Ryan Miller will be in goal for Buffalo tonight
The Penguins head from Buffalo to New Jersey for an Atlantic Division showdown with the first-place Devils tomorrow night. Looks like backup goalie Brent Johnson will play in that one. Coach Dan Bylsma floated using Johnson to tonight but must have looked at his horrendous stats against the Sabres since the lockout (0-4, 7.79 GAA, .809 save percentage) and decided against it. Marc-Andre Fleury will get the start, his seventh straight.
Speaking of the Devils, old friend Andrew Peters has run afoul of coach Jacques Lemaire for getting ejected Monday against Atlanta for not having his jersey tied down as he fought former Sabre Eric Boulton. Peters, who had been a healthy scratch for 10 of the previous 11 games, was on the ice for just 13 seconds before getting tossed. He sounds pretty apologetic in the story linked above and he better be because Lemaire was not amused.
In the cheap plug alert column, I had some good talks after today's morning skate with Sidney Crosby and East Amherst native Brooks Orpik about the upcoming Olympics. Crosby will be officially named to Team Canada when its roster is revealed today at noon. Orpik is on the bubble for a call from Team USA, which will announce its team during Friday's Winter Classic from Boston. That's if the classic goes on -- rain is in the forecast for Fenway Park and a one-day postponement could certainly be in the offing there.
16:26 left: Things are pretty tight so far. Both teams have just one shot on goal.
15:34 left: Keep an eye on Fleury. He just got crunched by Vanek who was pushed on top of him by Brooks Orpik. Few seconds later, Fleury threw a glove into the chest of Grier after freezing the puck.
12:32 left: Guess that seat in the press box did wonders for Stafford. He drives to the net, cuts to the front and gets it to Gaustad, who taps it home on the backhand to tie the game at 3-3. Wild momentum switch. Stafford's first three-point game since his hat trick at Edmonton on Jan. 27.
10:13 left: I think Stafford should do his post-game presser with the Festivus pole next to his locker. Lalime, by the way, has stopped all 20 shots he's faced in this one.
9:55 left: Craig Adams gone for charging on Tim Kennedy.
9:05 left: And the power play comes through for the third game in a row. Pominville pots a Connolly feed just to Fleury's right. The Population hits 10 and the Sabres take a stunning 4-3 lead.
8:45 left: Montador goes for hooking. But even with all their talent, Pens are 28th in the NHL in road power plays. Bizarre.
7:52 left: Lalime makes save No. 23 on Kunitz from a few feet out and chirps at the Pen as he gets too close to him after the whistle.
6:33 left: Lalime stops Malkin from in tight just as the penalty expires. Shots are 7-5 for Pittsburgh (36-24 overall) and Lalime has made 25 saves.
23.5 seconds left: Net emtpy. Pens buzzing. Crowd buzzing. Staal and Gaustad go for slashing.
It's over: A HUUUUUGE 4-3 win. Final shots were 38-24 (9-5 in 3rd). That means Lalime blanked the Pens by making 27 saves. Wow.
18:32 left: Mike Grier is stopped and Miller is gone for the first time this season at home after Chris Kunitz blasts home a Crosby pass from the slot to make it 3-0. Miller just plain beaten on the glove. Miller tosses his stick, blocker and helmet down the tunnel behind the bench and takes a seat. OK, he's not laughing but that was pretty darned funny (Kudos to the comments section for pointing out Miller's yanking on Halloween on Long Island).
18:08 left: It gets worse as Hecht goes for hooking. By the way, it was three goals on 11 shots against Miller. That will do damage to the save percentage.
13:00 left: Just a thought -- how exactly did the Laffs win in the Igloo the other night?
11:00 left: Brutal shift by the Connolly line as it gets dominated for nearly a minute inside the Buffalo zone by the Crosby line. Lalime doing a good job holding the fort so far -- neat pokecheck in front on an open Crosby -- and the crowd gives a Bronx cheer as the puck finally gets out.
10:33 left: Godard in the box again for holding.
7:14 left: The Pens somehow kept the puck out of the net, with old friend Jay McKee covering it in the crease as Fleury was out of position -- but it was only a temporary repreive. That resulted in a penalty shot for Drew Stafford and he beats Fleury with a quick snap shot to make it 3-1 and break his 15-game drought. A Festivus miracle indeed. Stafford shoots his arms in the air in obvious relief after the puck went in.
6:42 left: Lalime makes a great glove grab on Matt Cooke's laser from the top of the slot.
5:05 left: Hold the phone. Festivus Miracle II as Stafford cuts to the slot, takes a MacArthur pass and pots his own rebound to suddenly make it 3-2. His ninth of the year.
3:46 left: Staal goes for tripping and the Sabres go for the tie. This baby has turned around quick.
2:30 left: The Sabres get a break literally as Maxime Talbot has a 2-on-1 -- and snaps his stick trying to shoot on Lalime. Weird.
End-2nd: It's 3-2 for the Pens and shots were 19-15 for Pittsburgh in that period (29-19 overall). That means Lalime made 18 straight saves after relieving Miller. Wow.
15:52 left: The Pens strike first as Jordan Staal scoops up a fat rebound Miller let bounce off his chest on a routine shot by Tyler Kennedy. Staal beat Henrik Tallinder to the puck, just as Chris Neil did for Ottawa on the Sentaors' second goal here Saturday. Bad news for the Sabres: The Penguins are 15-2-0 when scoring first this year and 29-2-2 since Dan Bylsma took over as coach in February.
14:12 left: No surprises on the Buffalo lines. Gaustad started between Clarke MacArthur and a back-from-the-press-box Drew Stafford. Then it was Grier-Kennedy-Vanek, Hecht-Connolly-Pominville and Mair-Ellis-Paetsch. Defense pairs are Butler-Rivet, Tallinder-Myers and Lydman-Montador.
9:18 left: Sabres generating little offense thus far as Pens have a 6-3 edge in shots and have had solid chances by Crosby and Tyler Kennedy since the Staal goal. The building is full and this will be the 12th sellout in 22 home games. But the place is dead-dead-dead. And it was that way even before Buffalo got down by a goal. First-place team. Cup champions in town. What gives?
8:00 left: The place woke up with groans as Hecht and Pominville both put a puck through the crease behind Fleury -- but past an open net. Great setup from Connolly to Montador got the flurry going.
5:58 left: Eric Godard goes for slashing the stick out of Butler's hands, a foolish penalty behind the Buffalo net in the offensive zone. Some girl named Heather Morris from some Fox show called "Glee" is in the house and in charge of the T-shirt launcher. Ridiculous how loud people will yell for a stupid free shirt. Am I supposed to have heard of her?
1:29 left: Haven't seen Miller give up two iffy goals like this too often this year. Bill Guerin makes it 2-0 with a floater from the right boards that the Buffalo goaltender simply didn't make a play on.
End-1st: Pens lead 2-0 through one and have a 10-4 edge in shots. Third time in four games Sabres have been pretty brutal in the opening 20 minutes -- and Vogl aptly points out shots are 44-9 against Buffalo in those three contests (at Washington, home to Ottawa and tonight). I'm sure we'll have a slew of comments requesting the callup of Jeff Cowan or Cody McCormick from Portland at any moment. People, people, people.
December 18, 2009 - 5:27 PM
Alyonka Larionov, the daughter of former Red Wings star Igor Larionov, was a guest on NHL Live this afternoon.
Alyonka -- one of the hosts of "NHL in Russian," a radio show -- spoke about the music video she and her sister, Diana, have put out in an attempt to raise money for Hockey Fights Cancer. A portion of the proceeds from the sale of the single benefit the charity.
The song is called "What Christmas Means to Me." The sisters convinced a number of NHLers to appear in the video, holding signs indicating what Christmas means to them.
Three with Buffalo connections include East Amherst's Brooks Orpik (2:36, Snowed in in Buffalo), former Sabre Brian Campbell (3:50, Seeing Kids Smile!) and South Buffalo's Patrick Kane (3:51, Going home to Buffalo).
Remember, the only reason you are watching this video is to check out the Buffalo references.
December 17, 2009 - 3:33 PM
Former Sabre Ales Kotalik and ex-Ottawa defenseman Wade Redden, a pair of big-ticket busts, are going to be healthy scratches for the Rangers tonight in their rematch tonight against the Islanders in Nassau Coliseum.
Kotalik is a great guy but anyone who watched the Sabres over the years knew the Rangers were making a huge mistake by giving him three years and $9 million and thinking they were getting a power forward. Great on shootouts, great blasting away on the power play from the point but what else? Didn't any of Glen Sather's scouts point that out? Maybe that's why the Rangers are where they are.
Coach John Tortorella went nuclear as only he can after Wednesday's 2-1 loss to the Isles at Madison Square Garden, with a press conference that included a string of f-bombs capped by the typical coach walkout. He promised changes today. And he apparently had a heated exchange today with Redden, a scratch for the first time in his 13-year career.
The Rangers are 7-15-3 since a 7-1 start. They've won just once in their last nine games (yep, the one was Dec. 5 in HSBC Arena). They're tied for 11th in the East and just one point away from being in 14th. They're getting nothing from Chris Drury. And as New York Post columnist Larry Brooks wrote today, "Now is the time for the head coach to justify the badge on his chest by figuring out how to reduce Chris Drury's minutes and responsibility without embarrassing the earnest but painfully ineffective captain, no easy task at all."
It's a good thing for this league that the Rangers, Flyers and Canadiens are going in the tank this season. Just shows you can't buy success. You still have to buy the right players, not just any big names.
Here's Tortorella's presser from Wednesday night. The guy is a piece of work.
December 6, 2009 - 9:00 PM
Attention under-30 crowd: Gilbert Perreault was spectacular on the ice and did a lot more for the Sabres than just sing a mean Elvis "Wonder of You" impersonation that you see on the HD board after every Buffalo win. I had a great chat with No. 11 that you'll see in Monday's paper. He's bullish on this year's team, especially the play of Ryan Miller.
Here's a great video compilation of Perreault highlights. Required viewing if you didn't live the Sabres' golden era of the 70s.
And here's perhaps his most ridiculous goal ever, a slo-mo replay of a one-hander he pulled one night in the mid-70s in Los Angeles (love those old gold Kings unis). Of course, back then it took us about two days to finally see a replay of it!
December 5, 2009 - 12:31 PM
The New York Rangers are finding out first-hand what everyone around the Sabres has long known about Ales Kotalik: Great guy, rocket on the power play, super on shootouts but leaving you wanting more in five-on-five play. Kotalik hits town for tonight's game, his first in HSBC Arena since he was traded to Edmonton in March, with six goals and 12 assists. But he has a team-worst minus-12 rating and a nine-game goalless streak.
(Cheap plug alert: Read plenty of Kotalik's thoughts in Sunday's Sabres notebook)
Kotalik signed a three-year, $9-million deal with the Rangers over the summer but his recent struggles led Tortorella to bench him from the power play in the Rangers' last game. He'll be back on it tonight. Tortorella said Friday, "Now is the time for him to jam it to me. I know he's not happy but don't make faces and don't tell me. Show me. Show us."
When I asked Tortorella about those comments Saturday morning, he didn't back down a bit.
"It's easy to bench a player as a coach but I think you need to go through the other processes of trying to get through to a player," Tortorella said. "We've done that. We've tried a lot of different ways to get him going. He's been good on our power play. I just haven't seen consistency in five-on-five. That's why he didn't play.
"We want to get him into a situation where he's one of our top nine and produces for us. We need that. We're not scoring goals but it's got to be a two-way street away from the puck and all that. We've gone through a number of different ways to get him going. Hopefully, he'll answer. That's what we're looking for. We want him to be part of us offensively and defensively in a more consistent manner."
Kotalik has been the face of plenty of the Rangers' problems. He had three goals in the first five games and the Rangers were once 7-1. He has just three goals since as the Rangers have gone just 6-12-1 and scored two goals or less in 11 of the last 15 games.
Kotalik insists he has no problems with his new coach's in-your-face style.
"I feel myself I can be better and I will be better," he said. "There's no better way than to work through it and stay positive. I have no problems with him. It's not about the coach or whoever else. It's up on us and me to get back to where we were at the start of the season."
October 28, 2009 - 11:37 AM
NEWARK, N.J. -- Andrew Peters' first game against his former team will have to wait.
New Jersey coach Jacques Lemaire has elected not to dress Peters for tonight's game against the Buffalo Sabres in Prudential Center. Peters played 200 games for the Sabres before signing a two-year deal with the Devils in September.
"I'm disappointed when I don't play. I'm not angry," Peters said this morning. "You want to play every game, no more today than any other day, to be quite honest with you. All the games you sit you always want to be in but I don't look at this game any differently than any other game."
John Vogl has been covering the Sabres since 2002-03, an era that has included playoff runs, last-place finishes and three ownership changes. The award-winning writer is the Buffalo chapter chairman for the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association.
Mike Harrington, a Canisius College graduate who began his career as a News reporter in 1987, has been covering the Buffalo Sabres since 2007. He is a member of the Professional Hockey Writers' Association and can vouch that exposed flesh freezes instantly when walking in downtown Winnipeg in January.
Amy Moritz, a native of Lockport, has a bachelor’s degree in journalism/mass communication from St. Bonaventure University and a master’s degree in humanities from the University at Buffalo. An endurance athlete, she has completed several triathlons, half marathons and marathons.