January 6, 2010 - 7:18 PM
Wow. I sat down to begin a live blog from the Sabres and it was 3-0 before I even had time to post.
After today's morning skate, coach Lindy Ruff was asked if he was feeling better about his team's ability to avoid bad starts after the Montreal win. The Sabres had fallen behind 3-0 in their previous two games and suffered some horrid first periods in recent weeks.
"I feel better about our start," Ruff said. "I still think we can be stronger. By no means is the start going to be easy tonight."
So much for it not being easy. Now, wouldn't it be something if the Sabres actually blew a 3-0 lead?
8:38 left in the first period:
My column tomorrow is about Tim Connolly, who has now played 84 consecutive games without getting hurt (don't tell anyone. I wouldn't want to jinx him.) Connolly won a faceoff to set up the opening goal by Tyler Myers, extending his point streak to seven games.
Suddenly, it's 3-2. Before long, they're going to be comparing this to the world junior title game last night.
5:24 left in the first: I'm wondering if I have Tampa Bay in the WGR "anti-three goal deficit pool." Five of us each drafted six NHL teams. Your team survives until it falls behind by three goals in any game -- regardless of the outcome. I got first pick overall and took New Jersey. San Jose went second and promptly got eliminated last night. The Lightning -- gone.
End of second period:
Sorry, I was polishing up my Connolly column. I've never been a Connolly fan, but it was amazing to me that he wasn't seriously considered for the U.S. Olympic team. He's the No. 1 center and top scorer on a division leader in the NHL. We're talking about the American team here. I think it says a lot about his reputation around the league that he wasn't chosen. Apparently, Brian Burke doesn't feel Connolly plays the sort of tough, responsible game that he wants from his U.S. squad. You have to feel a player of Connolly's skill would be an asset, at least as a power play specialist.
Paul Gaustad would have been a nice addition to the U.S. team. If Burke wants tough, responsible team guys, it seems Gaustad would have fit the bill. He was philosophical about it when I talked to him Wednesday, but you could tell he was disappointed.
Anyway, the extra rest might do Connolly and Gaustad some good. They've been the Sabres' two most injury-prone players in recent years, so at least they won't have a chance of getting injured in Vancouver.
14:45 left in the game:
As it turns out, I didn't have Tampa Bay in the "anti-three goal deficit" pool. I didn't have Toronto, either. The Maple Leafs went down tonight. Again, a team is eliminated when it trails by three goals at any time in a game. My first two picks were the Devils and Kings.
Thomas Vanek hasn't scored a goal in consecutive games this season. I think you should expect more frm a $7 million player. Vanek is minus-2 tonight and hasn't been especially noticeable -- even when I haven't been busy typing and have actually been watching the ice.
Shame on ESPN. I watched the 11 p.m. SportsCenter last night and didn't hear a word about the world Junior championships. All right, so they don't carry NHL games anymore. But they have an obligation to acknowledge a major event in the sport. It kills me when ESPN bows to the mentality in America that hockey doesn't matter.
The Bills are 21-0-4 this season when tied or leading after two periods. I think they're in good shape here, up 5-3. Pretty amazing stat which shows how far this team has come in a year. Last year, you held your breath when they had a lead late.