Thursday, October 16, 2008

Inside the NHL for 10/16

Its that time for another Bucky Gleason chat.

10:50 Hello everybody. The line at Dunkin Donuts was shorter than usual, so I'm ready when you're ready. I'm hoping all the kinks are worked out on my computer after last week, although I fear that it could slow again. I might need to invite a computer whiz from the chat to my home. You supply the brains, I'll supply the beer. Any takers?

10:59 [Comment From Rick]
Bucky.....thoughts on the Sharks' fast start -- no Soupy, no Rivet but they've been ok so far...

11:01 Yeah, the Sharks are rolling along. I had a coversation yesterday with a friend of mine who covers them. The first thing he said was that they were going to miss Rivet. Really, though, Rob Blake can still play. They added Dan Boyle, who is among the elite defensemen. And their forwards were always solid.

The San Jose Sharks are going to be a good team in the Western Conference. With the way the Pacific Division is shaking at this point, they look like the overall favorites. But it is the first week into a six-month season. Boyle is a much better addition to the Sharks blueline than Campbell would have been. Campbell has shown here, in San Jose, and now in Chicago that when crunch time starts he just struggles.

11:02 [Comment From Tom-Tonawanda]
Should Kaleta have dropped the gloves last night? Sure, he got us a five-minute major but aren't other players in the league gonna target him as a sissy-like guy.....A more physical Ken Linesman type?

11:05 Don't worry about Kaleta's reputation so much as his effectiveness. He obviously knew the guy had snapped and kept his head. Some people would say he needs to drop his gloves and prove himself as a fighter. Others would say it was a smart play. The Sabres scored the go-ahead goal on the ensuing PP. That makes it a smart play. Now, at some point, he will need to drop them. Trust me, he's aware of it and willing. But fighting is a timing thing. If you're able to take a few punches and send the other guy to the box, all the power to you. Matthew Barnaby did it all the time.

11:07 One other thing about Kaleta, by the way, is that he has more skill than he has shown so far. He understands his role and does it well. If he starts fighting, and he starts winning fights, he'll be around for a long time.

I like the comparison to Barnaby because that was what I was thinking when I saw it last night. Barnaby and Kaleta are two players out of the same mold. People who you love to have on your team but when you have to face them you want nothing to do with them.

11:07 [Comment From Rufus]
Hey, Bucky. When are the Toronto Maple Leafs going to win another Stanley Cup:

11:09 Well, it has been 41 years already. After this season, it will be 42. After next year, it will be 43. OK, I'm trying my best not to get obnoxious. Toronto is in a rebuilding mode that could take years. The Leafs had their chances pre-salary cap and didn't get the job done. They could need three years just to clean up their salary mess and have their young players develop. It means drafting well and developing well. They haven't done either particularly well. My guess they will win the Cup, oh, about 2032 or so.

The Leafs are just well the Leafs, enough said.

11:09 [Comment From Tom]
Agree or disagree - Next to Vanek, the best player for the Sabres so far this season is Paille.

11:11 Agreed. Paille really impressed me in the opener. I wrote at the time that he was the best player on the ice. I should have actually said even more after watching the replay. He was terrific against the Habs on both ends of the ice. He came to camp stronger. It's obvious when you see him in a T-shirt and no shoulder pads. He's skating well. He's becoming a very, very good two-way player.

I second that. Paille is definitely growing into his role on this team as a two-way player. When he first started with the Sabres it was a final roster spot competition between him and banger Chris Thorburn. At the time, Thorburn was playing better but Paille had more promise. Paille now is an established two-way player while Thorburn is still a fourth-line grinder in Atlanta.

11:11 [Comment From Rufus]
Is it possible Kevin Lowe did the Sabres a favor with that offer sheet to Vanek? Otherwise, he's probably be in the second year of a three-year deal and one year away from becoming a restricted free agent able to command a contract close to what he's getting now. And the Sabres might not have gone there. They had little choice when Lowe struck because they'd already lost Drury and Briere

11:13 Funny that you said that because, at the time, when I was ripping the Sabres for getting themselves in that position, I asked Darcy that question. Basically, is it possible that you could be thanking them in a few years when his salary comes down and the market changes. At the time, he said "no." My guess is he'll be changing his answer in the next couple years. Four years from now, based on his salary, he could wind up being a bargain. And to think they could have had him for much less if they did things right the first time.

Of course you think that way now, where was that optimism last year.

11:13 [Comment From Rufus]
How come teams don't paint the lines on the ice more often

11:14 Rufus, I don't have a clue. Next week, we'll call all the ice doctors around the league and see what they say.


11:15 [Comment From Tom]
Is there anything new on Timmy? When (if?) he comes back along with Hecht and Gaustad, who sits?

11:18 I assume you mean Tim Connolly and not Kennedy. Connolly sitting out was a total surprise to the media, to some of the players, to many in the organization. From everything we were told, he would be ready to play. He even said there was a 100 percent chance. Obviously, he was 100 percent wrong. I'm not sure what happened between the morning skate at the Habs game, but apparently he has back problems. That's what we've been told. Who sits? Tim Connolly. The Sabres have played well without him. Hecht is a better two-way player. Gaustad adds toughness. Lindy would ve crazy to take out Mair.

And to think this is Connolly's contract year. Something is telling me that there is not going to be a massive market for him this Summer.

11:18 [Comment From Rufus]
Why was San Jose willing to get rid of Rivet anyway? The guy seems stand-up all the way? That's it for me. I'll hang up and listen

11:19 The only reason they traded Rivet was money. They were in a salary-cap crunch and had to make decisions after signing Blake and Boyle. Together, they make almost $12 million, I believe. It's a lot of money for two defensemen. But I also know they liked him. It was a decision they did not want to make.

11:19 [Comment From Mike]
Does Lindy have a set calendar of when Lalime is playing?

11:22 Lindy has a flexible schedule on his backup. I ask him about it every year and tease him often about being tough on backup goaltenders. It's my one criticism of Lindy. There's a long list of guys in whom he lost confidence and wound up being pretty good. Dwayne Roloson comes to mind. Ty Conklin was another. For whatever reason, he has them on a short leash. He insisted he was sticking to the plan this year. Lalime has no idea how much that first start meant. It was huge, in terms of confidence from his coach.

Ty Conkline was not a good goaltender when he was in Buffalo. But Lalime should play well, he is a proven backup that can handle 25-30 games a season which is what Buffalo and Ryan Miller needs. If Miller plays over 65 games this season, they won't make the playoffs.

11:22 [Comment From Lot]
The Rangers loss last night, due to being out-played by a balanced Sabres team or to fatigue from a busier schedule requiring them to travel across the pond?

11:24 The Sabres outplayed the Rangers, plain and simple. Buffalo was smarter and very disciiplined on the defensive end. They also confused the Rangers at times with different approaches. You would see an aggressive forecheck one shift and the trap the next. I was trying to figure out what was going on. Lindy was pushing the right buttons. Plus, the Rangers might have underestimated the Sabres. They were undefeated and playing well. Buffalo missed the playoffs. I said in my first column of the season, look out for the Sabres. They're making me look smart for a change. That's not easy, ask my wife.

The Sabres looked really good last night. If this effort can continue throughout the season, they will look like the 2005 Sabres, a team that was able to dominate in all three aspects of the game.

11:24 [Comment From Tom]
My only problem with sitting Connolly is how effective he is on the PP. But even with just the other two coming back they still need to sit two forwards. Ellis and Peters I would guess, but there is still the roster issue. Mac won't clear waivers. Would Ellis? Or is that when Max/Kotalik/Mac gets traded? Nice problem to have.

11:26 It's a great problem to have. My thinking is that you play the players who are going to play both ends of the rink. Connolly is very good on the PP. But why put him out there if he has defensive flaws or he's not right or not in shape or whatever. Paille has been great, for example. He deserves more ice time. Connolly, in my opinion, needs to earn his ice time again.

Connolly will never be the player he once was. That was then this is now.

11:26 [Comment From Dan]
Rumors have the Sabres interested in Gaborik. Do you have any insight on that?

11:28 Rumor has it Montreal is interested in Gaborik. I have heard that one. Gaborik would be great for any team. The Sabres aren't one to throw off their salary structure for one guy. They were forced into it with Vanek. Gaborik is looking at $8 million, $9 million a year on a long-term deal. It's not the right fit. But he's terrific.

Would never happen. Cannot see Gaborik wanting to play here. Jordan Stall probably, Gaborik no.

11:28 [Comment From Joe Grand Island]
Are the Sabres for real this year. Will the Sabres be the team to beat and how far do you see them going this year?

11:29 The Sabres are for real in the sense that they can compete and make the playoffs. They're not an elite team in my opinion. I've said it many times and I'll say it again: Check back in two years. They're going to among the best teams in the league.

I think that this team is for real now. But that could be the endless optimism from the last three games.

11:29 [Comment From Michael]
What do you anticipate from the Canucks Friday? Anything the Sabres have to watch out for (besides the obvious letdown)?

11:31 The Canucks are an interesting team in the sense that they're going through an adjustment period now that Naslund is gone and Demitra is there. The Sedin twins have been solid for years. I believe Steve Bernier (remember him?) is playing on their line. Their defense is suspect. They had high hopes for Luc Bourdon before he died in the motorcycle accident. It was a double whammy. They lost a teammate everybody liked, and they lost a good defenseman.

The Canucks could win this game on Friday just by riding the back of Luongo. He is just that good.

11:32 [Comment From Sam]
It looks like Paile is the latest young Sabre coming into his own. Ruff looks like a genius putting him and Vanik out on the ice together killing penalties. In addition, he has been great fighting for the puck in the other teams end. Can this team keep up the intensity or will at some point they revert back to their reckless and loose style of play?

11:34 Yes, as was mentioned before, Paille has been really solid. Ruff looks like a genius for putting Vanek out there, period. Paille should be on the PK because he's solid on both ends, a good skater and smart. Vanek has two shorties already after last night, right? Whudda thunk? The fact he's out there on the PK is news in itself. Ruff's message must be getting across.

Vanek on the penalty kill makes absolute sense. Vanek's defensive role is starting to progress in his third year in the NHL and is starting to live up to that massive contract we had to give him.

11:35 [Comment From Jay from Tampa]
I think it is great that the Sabres have a reliable backup in Lalime. How many games are they looking to start him in? We need to keep Miller fresh for that long playoff run.

11:37 My guess is Laline will play 20-25 games this season. It depends on how well he plays early in the season. The Sabres have a tough road schedule at various points in the season, so they need the guy. It would leave Miller with 57-62 games. That sounds about right. Ryan is most effective when he's getting rest and being pushed, the way Marty Biron did a few years ago. You could see Lalime play two or three in a row at certain points.

As I said, Miller plays more than 65 games, the Sabres do not make he playoffs.

11:37 [Comment From Rufus]
I think Lindy's using reverse psychology on Vanek. Instead of waiting for him to become responsible, he's forcing him to become responsible

11:39 There could be some truth to that, especially early in the season. One thing about Lindy is that he's constantly evaluating, even more than most coaches. He'll put players in certain situations to see how they react. He had Kaleta on the PK, too, and he handled it well. Once he gains confidence, he'll keep throwing them into the same situation. It makes for a better, more balanced lineup. That's what you need these days.

The nice thing about these young players is that they have the confidence in their games now and are ready to shine. Last year they were starting to progress into the roles that they have now and this team could be ready to take off sooner rather than later.

11:39 [Comment From Jay from Tampa]
It is amazing how Vanek has matured from last year to this year. That salary was too much for him last year but he seems to be playing up to it. He may be a sleeper for the Maurice Richard Award.

11:41 Last year was difficult on many fronts, the money, the slow start, the pressure from both, the pressure on himself, his increased role. But it also was a learning year for him. He's not going to be a sleeper for long. Other teams know he's a good player and a scorer. The word is already out on him. Now, can he win the Rocket trophy? I'm not sure. He's on pace for 136 goals or whatever. My guess is he'll slow down after teams adjust to him yet again. But you never know.

11:42 [Comment From Tom]
Miller looks like he added about ten pounds from the end of last year. Is it just me or is that accurate? He was way too thin last year.

11:43 Miller could have fit under the basement door at the end of last season. He was whipped mentally and physically. I'm not sure if he gained weight, but I'm positive that he's stronger. It should help him this season.

11:43 [Comment From Juan]
I am impressed with the "team defense" concept that Lindy has impressed upon the players. They haven't (yet) given very many odd man rushes and everyone is committed to helping out the defensemen. It isn't a suffocating trap defense and it still leaves open space to make plays on the puck in the defensive zone. What do you attribute this to...the return of Numinen, balance and leadership of Rivet, maturity, coaching?

11:45 The thing that has impressed me most about Lindy is that he coaches what he has on his roster. Once upon a time, he had a reputation for killing offensive players and being a defensive coach. Well, that's what he had. He had fast, skilled teams after the lockout and was accused of not coaching defense enough. Are you kidding? The guy coaches what he has as well as anybody in the league. What he has now is a group of guys who are willing to play together, share the puck and play both ends. They've bought into his ever-evolving system. Right now, it's working.

I think it is a mixture of everything. It didnt hurt to bring back Numminen and Rivet is taking his captaincy personally. This team has just grown and added the right pieces to be able to compete now.

11:45 [Comment From Henri]
What's noteworthy about this 3-0 start is that they've beaten two good teams in my Habs and the Rangers. But Montreal's been unstoppable since the opener. They have to be the conference favorite, right?

11:47 Montreal is the conference favorite in my mind. They're loaded up front with Kovalev, Plekanec, plus they added Tanguay and Lang. I really like Carey Price, their young goalie. He's very quiet in the net for a young goaltender. They're good.

Montreal will have a lot of distractions that may affect this young team and their young goalie. If they can handle those, they will be the team to beat in the East.

11:47 [Comment From Kevin]
Hey, didn't Ricky J hint a retirement a couple years back?

11:50 Every year there's talk that he's going to retire. Every year, he keeps coming back. I've come to know him well over the years. He's a great guy away from the game, too. He's passionate about the game and he's among the best in the biz. Plus, and I really think this is a factor, we wants to call the game for a Stanley Cup champion. My guess is his wife, Cupcake, doesn't mind him getting out of the house. He has too much energy to be bottled up under one roof.

11:50 [Comment From Tommy]
Hey Buck. Do you get a sense with this year's team that last year's plummet from first to 10th was a valuable humbling experience? It seemed like the Prez Trophy year, they didn't really learn "how to lose", and last year, with no real leadership, they got kicked around.

11:52 My sense was that they had a gaping hole after the previous summer, and it was trumped by Campbell's contract being unsettled. The fact they had two loooong seasons also contributed in some ways. The fact they had to overcome all that should make them a little stronger, a little tougher. Various players emerged with leadership qualities, and they added a good one in Rivet. I think last year also made them much closer.

I think this team being humbled will help them this year. They should know that coasting is not an option like we have seen in the prior two years where they would play one good period of hockey and expect to win. In the first three games this season, that quality has not shown.

11:52 [Comment From Ken]
speaking of what is on the reoster, it becomes more and more onvious to me that Peters is of little value, especially since Rovet is willing to go and Kaleta seems t o have become a willing participant (last night noteithstanding. Any chance that the Sabres will waive Peters to make room for a more rounded player?

11:53 Peters is in a tough situation, mainly because he's not an effective player when he's not fighting. In today's game, even the fighters need to play well on the fourth line. Kaleta could negate the need for Peters, a great guy by the way, if he starts fighting more and winning those fights.

Peters is in the last year of his contract. He probably will be shown the door after this season with the progression of Kaleta.

11:53 [Comment From Shannon]
What are your thoughts on Chicago's slow start? (although I hear they won last night)...are they just getting the kinks out...or has all the outside pressure of the marketing and team hype gotten to them...or are they just too young?

11:55 Chicago is already getting a dose of what it's like to play under high expectations. They had success last season and are viewed as a young, up-and-coming team. Now, they need to get over the hump. It's not going to be easy at times. Their slow start, in my opinion, is just a slow start. It's not indicative of their potential.

I think that this years Blackhawks team is a lot like the 2006 Sabres team. Except they may not have the proper leadership to get them to where they need to be with all the expectations.

11:55 [Comment From Sid in Sardinia]
Are you done working for the day when this chat is over?

11:57 Yeah, I wish. I'll be busy today gettiing ready for Inside the NHL on Sunday (cheap plug). It's days like this one that I look at my wife and say, "Do we have any beer in the fridge?"

11:57 [Comment From alton ellis]
i'll be at the sabres/avs game next weekend. is the colorado goaltending as weak as i think it is?

11:58 It's certainly something to watch. Budaj and Raycroft are suspect, at best.

11:58 [Comment From Kevin L.]
Will we contend for the Cup, I believe we will get in the playoffs...I look at the West and see some tough teams but when I look at the East, and I know its early, I see a chance that the Sabres could contend for a Cup, do you agree?

12:01 The Cup? Maybe it's from being around the players all these years, but I can't even think about the Cup in October. A couple years ago, maybe that was the case. Let's get through the first 40 games before anyone starts thinking about them contending for the division title. The Cup is the most difficult trophy to win in professional sports. Detroit wil be involved in every Cup conversation. Otherwise, it's a crap shoot for most teams.

12:01 [Comment From Mike R]
Just saw this on the ranger site. Thoughts on "late hit" The critical play occurred as Mara reached high to keep the puck in the Sabres zone at the right point. After making the play, Mara objected to an attempted high, and late, hit delivered by Buffalo’s Patrick Kaleta, whose late hit in a game in Buffalo late last season had sidelined Mara with an injury.

12:03 I'm not sticking up for Kaleta, who can stand on his own two feet, but I'm not even sure that Kaleta made contact with him. I thought he went for the big check and whiffed. Mara can think about settling old scores if it makes him feel better, but his lack of discipline led to an important goal. In the big picture, who won?

12:03 [Comment From curious g.]
I can sum that comment up for you, Mike R - "boo hoo hoo"

12:04 Agreed. More than anything, Mara snapped.

12:04 [Comment From TIM]
What are the chances of Gaborlik coming to the Sabres?

12:05 There chances are slim and none. I just don't see it happening. Now, you want to wheel Max for Gabby straight up -- two unrestricted guys? OK, I;m adding fuel to the fire. I don't see it happening.

12:05 [Comment From Mike R]
Mike R, O dont get me wrong I thought the coment was funny and sour grapes by the rangers, I am a Sabres season ticket holder ;-)

12:06 You two can slug it out in the Sabres Edge blog after this is over. My money is on Curious.

12:06 [Comment From curious g.]
holy cow, if you don't think max fits in the sabres system, imagine him in minnesota...can't see that happening.

12:07 Me either. Jacques Lemaire would quit coaching.

12:07 [Comment From Geoff]
Do you think Gerbe will be in Buffalo by Christmas?

12:07 It depends on what happens. He's on a line with Kennedy. They had a good start in the season opener.

Gerbe probably will be in the AHL all season to groom his game. He may look ready but I think one year in Portland will just make him that much better.

12:08 [Comment From Lot]
Also from the the Rangers site: “They played just a little bit better than us tonight, especially on the power play, that was the difference,” said Lundqvist. “They crashed the net really well. They had guys around me all night.” This is something I really noticed in the Islander game and last night. It seems that the Sabres are going to the net much better this year.

12:09 I agree with Lundqvist. The Sabres have obviously made a stronger effort to go to the net. That's just effort and grit. If they have it, look out.

12:09 [Comment From curious g.]
my comment was actually directed at the rangers themselves. i read that mara lost his cool because kaleta asked him how his face was earlier in the game. if kaleta played for anyone else, i would hate him profoundly. because he's on the sabres, i love him.

12:09 See: Barnaby, Matthew. It's a shame I can't share with you some of the stuff that players say on the ice. This is a family blog.

12:10 [Comment From John]
Not sure if this was address already but i thought Rivet was handed a two game suspension for 3rd man in. Why was he playing last night? I expected to see him in the press box?

12:11 Rivet was given a double-game misconduct. If you get three game misconducts, you get suspended. They nailed him with two game misconducts at the same time. Think of it as Delta House being on double-secret probation.

12:11 [Comment From curious g.]
and fyi, i am the kimbo slice of sabres edge!

12:11 So you're grossly overrated?

12:12 [Comment From Tommy]
Part of the Gaborik rumors seem to suggest that he's upped his price with the Wild to ensure he's shopped out of Minnesota, but would sign for a reasonable price once he's traded. Make sense? or should we just stop talking about this...

12:13 I never say never, but it's probably not worth your time. However, you can read about a juicy trade rumor on Sunday in Inside the NHL involving the Sabres. Sorry, but you'll have to wait. Until we meet again next week, thank you and good afternoon.

All in all, this was a very tame chat transcript. Not a lot out there to disagree with but that happens when the team is playing well.

No comments:

Post a Comment