Monday, November 3, 2008

Inside the NHL for 10/30

2:30 Hello everyone. Sorry we had to push it back a few hours. I needed to be at the morning skate to make sure that Barry Melrose was, in fact, coaching the Tampa Bay Lightning. Fire away.

2:33 Well, it's still there. I thought that style disappeared in the 1980s. Actually, it did. Some people didn't get the message. Melrose is a good guy, though, mullet and all. We media types stick together ... until one of us decides to coach.

2:33 [Comment From Wayne and Garth]
How's Melrose's mullet?

Have you noticed lately that the mullet is quickly disappearing. Melrose's mullet is not as big as it was as early as last year. Brian Engblom cut his mullet back this season. Its sad that the mullet may just die.

2:34 sorry about that. I forgot to show the question. Let me just say I was having a Sully moment with the computer.

2:34 [Comment From Matt Ellis]
Am I not playing tonight since Goose is back?

2:35 That would be my guess. Hey, just think, you could have won a Cup last season with Detroit if they didn't bring McCarty back.

2:40 [Comment From Pat Kaleta]
Does Tampa have any goons I need to worry about having to fight tonight....or can I run wild and bash some heads into the boards?

2:41 Feel free to run wild, Patty, but don't bash any heads into the boards. See, that would be two minutes for roughing, and that's against the rules. You should play by the rules so other people don't get angry with you. That said, keep an eye out for Chris Gratton. Say what you will about him, but he can definitely throw 'em.

2:44 [Comment From real question this time]
What do you see happening when all of the injured guys are back...obviously Weber goes back down when Rivet/Tallinder are back...but what about he forward situation when Goose/TC/Hecht all return?

2:47 Goose and Hecht go back in the lineup, no questions asked. They need Gaustad's big body, especially with the way the game is being played these days. He can be a handful. Hecht does a good job on both ends of the ice. He's dependable and consistent. Connolly will need to work his way back in the lineup. I wouldn't take out Mair to make room for him. I also wouldn't play him just so he can play on the PP. His ice time should be earned. Again, the Sabres have been fine without them. They need Goose playing. I'm not sure they need Connolly unless he's ready to play every night.

Connolly has been a pleasant surprise in the last two games. He isn't fully into game shape but he almost seems that he has his special move back which means that if he ever gets fully healthy he may actually be an asset to this team. Right now, he is working his way up to that status.

2:47 [Comment From Mike Czerwonka]
Any chance Brendan Shanahan ending up in Buffalo?

2:50 sorry, I had another little glitch. Shanahan isn't signed, and I don't see him coming here. It is interesting, however, because he had 20-plus goals and 50 points or so last season with the NYR. I'm not sure Shanny would want to come here. He wants another Cup. I don't see the Sabres being in contention this year despite their strong start. He could wait to see what the interest is in other places, such as Detroit or Montreal.

We have a glut at forward, why would we want him.

2:51 [Comment From Chad Pennington]
Which weak defense will show up tonight against the team from Florida: The Bills or Sabres?

2:52 Well, considering the Bills aren't playing tonight, I would say the odds are on the Sabres' weak defense showing up. Actually, their defense hasn't been weak. It was dreadful against Ottawa. Spacek and Sekera had tough nights. Otherwise, it has been solid enough. Could it be better? Yes.

2:52 [Comment From terryray ft lauderdale]
my #1 roy,vanek,gaustad, #2 hecht, paille, pominville, 3# gerbe, afinogenov, kotalic, #4 mair, kaleta, mancari and if hecht is not healthy keep macarthur there what do you think about that?

2:55 I think you should reconsider before going into coaching.

2:55 [Comment From Bucky Gleason]
NO chance Shanahan ends up in Buffalo....this isn't a stupid rumor site like thanks for letting me answer that one for you Bucky!

2:55 No, really, thank you.

2:55 [Comment From Tom]
How are the young guys in Portland : Butler, Gerbe, Kennedy, Zagrapan, Mancari, etc. looking? After Weber, who is the next defenseman to come up? The first forward?

2:59 Mancari, Gerbe and Kennedy combined for 24 points in the first five games. I just looked it up yesterday. Mancari is doing most of the scoring for now, but Gerbe knows where the net is located. Kennedy has switched to center in a move I really like. He plays both ends of the rink, has very good vision and is a good passer. That's just putting things in simple terms, but I really do like him more in the middle than the wing at the professional level. Butler is learning the professional game down there. It could take a little while before he gets into the NHL, but I do expect to see him at some point this season. The first forward? It depends, but it would most likely be Gerbe. He has NHL speed and an NHL shot.

Wouldn't surprise me that the first forward called up would be Mancari. In 8 games this season in Portland, Mancari has 5 goals and 9 assists to a team leading 14 points. Gerbe has played fairly well in the early going of this season, having a team leading 7 goals and 2 assists in 8 games. With the Pirates tied for first in their division with the Providence Bruins, it only means that the team has good depth coming through the pipeline to help serve these players with long term contracts. Kennedy and Gerbe and Mancari will most likely fill the roles of Afinogenov, Connolly, and Kotalik coming this next season.

3:00 [Comment From terryray ft lauderdale]
Well Bucky that wasnt really an answer. I know the news and organization are in love with a player whose best games were his first four, and hasnt lived up to anything since. Plus since you already acknowledged we are not going to win the cup why not let some young players in and showcase others. Ps do you even know how to skate or are you another wgr schopp?

3:03 Terry, I'm not really sure what you're talking about. On your first line, you have Gaustad or Roy playing wing. Both are centers. On your third line, you have three wingers and no centers. On your fourth line, you have a player who isn't currently on the roster. Do want to just make room for Gerbe and Mancari? If so, you're going to need to make room. To make room, you need to waive some players or somehow get them into the minors.

You have to love Bucky throwing the beatdown on stupid people. It is definitely more entertaining when it is a reader rather than a member of the organization.

3:03 [Comment From Chris]
Will it ever be wise to field a team with Roy and Gerbe at the same time? Physically, can the Sabres afford it?

3:05 It depends on who they're matched up against and who plays the right side of that line. Neither is big, obviously, but they can create problems because both skate so well. I'm not sure I would do it for five games or even one entire game, but I wouldn't be afraid to throw them out there with another aggressive winger.

The question would be why not. Physicality should not be an issue with this question because if they can create scoring chances then why not field them on the same team. If a team continues to put the puck in the net, they will be successful. Needed to channel my inner Harry Neale for that one.

3:05 [Comment From Chad]
Bucky, play Darcy Regier: Florida GM Jacques Martin calls and offers you Jay Bouwmeester for Stafford + Paetsch OR 2nd rounder. Yay or nay and why?

3:10 That's a tough, tough question. I actually took a deep breath before answering. Yes, I would make the deal on the condition that I could keep him. And that's the biggest problem. He's an unrestricted free agent after this season and could command big bucks. He's already making close to $5 million this season. But he's also a young player that you know would be here for a while. Bouwmeester is a very good player on a terrible team. If I have reservations about him, it's that he doesn't have playoff experience. He's never played in a postseason game, which I mention Sunday in Inside the NHL -- cheap plug. I do think that Stafford will be a very good player some day.

Yes, Stafford is a player that is very streaky. He had two very pretty goals in two games and just when Sabres fans thought that he was going to perform well he lays an egg in the last two games and is now possibly looking at time on the bench. He played well in his first season and then not so well in the second. Not sure how to judge Stafford at this point.

3:10 [Comment From Tom]
Why play Peters ahead of Ellis tonight?

3:11 Peters is good to have in the lineup for what he does. Gaustad obviously shouldn't be fighting. Gratton can throw down with anybody in the league. Peters is the one guy who would make him think twice.

3:11 [Comment From Chad]
With Kotalik and MacArthur off to good starts, do you think Regier starts talking new contract with either before Kotalik becomes a UFA and Clarke becomes an RFA?

3:14 No and no. Kotalik is off to a good start, but he's still basically the same player that he's been for years. I'm not convinced the Sabres should keep him. If anything, I would be shopping him between now and the deadline and trying to get a good, young player in return. It depends on the package. MacArthur isn't Vanek. He's not going to draw a monster contract as a restricted free agent. They can deal with him now if they can keep him cheap. He's only making about $500,000 or $600,000. I don't think he's in a position where he's going to command big bucks as a restricted guy.

Contract years are those funny things. The player looks amazing by them and completely throws the GM off. In the case of Kotalik, it is definitely the case of contact year stud. Kotalik reminds me of Miro Satan. A very streaky player that was electric and could do no wrong when he was hot and could do nothing when he was cold. Stay away from him Darcy.

3:15 [Comment From joe, nyc]
why are people so in love with all these rookies we drafted?! dont people get that when it comes to nhl its the worse draft when it comes to finding good players, and it takes a good 2 years in the minors to do anything consistent...also sully in the earlier chat made a good point that this team is more about signing average players to long term deals your thoughts?

3:17 Sometimes it takes two years, but sometimes it doesn't. I don't look at Gerbe, Butler or Kennedy as being little kids. They've played big-time college hockey and won at the highest levels. They're in their early 20s, so it's not as if they're teenagers. Sam Gagner played in Edmonton last year as an 18-year-old. Paul Stastny played as a teeanager in Colorado. Jordan Staal in Pittsburgh came in as an 18-year-old. So it's different.

The rookies are good, there is no doubt about that. I would like to see them play in Portland for the full year and gel together as a cohesive group before they get brought up to Buffalo. If they can be like the current group that we have in Buffalo then this team will a dangerous team for some years to come.

3:20 Sorry, as for the Sabres signing average players to long-term deals ... They've locked up Vanek (by force), Roy, Miller, Pominville, Gaustad into long-term deals. All are good players. Vanek could be a superstar. Roy will be a bargain at the end of his deal. Miller could break into the upper echelon this season. He's off to a great start. He'll also be Team USA's goalie in the 2010 Olympics. Pominville is a scorer who also kills penalties. They're good players.

3:20 [Comment From joe, nyc]
whats your take on the juniors coming to buffalo, im not that amazed by it mainly cause i dont care about the juniors at all, and in all honesty 5% of the usa will know about. should i be jumping for joy?

3:22 Yes, you should be happy. It's a great, great tournament and should be good for the area. You're talking about many of the best players in the world at that age. It's a much bigger deal in Canada, where people call in sick to watch the tourney on TV. But if you love watching hockey the way it's designed to be played, you're going to love the WJC.

3:22 [Comment From Chad]
With the Lightning in town, was Thomas Vanek working on his Goal Celebrations today in practice?

3:23 Why, you don't think Mike Smith is a good goalie? Their defense is suspect, but Vanek shouldn't be working on anything in practice other than his shot and his defense.

3:23 [Comment From Steve, Detroit]
Where are we going to see the new third jerseys?

3:24 I'm not sure, Steve. I never really pay much attention to the third jersey or whatever jersey they're wearing. I'm not a big uniform guy. I am happy that they no longer wear the snorting goats, however. That was tough on the eyes.

3:25 [Comment From ralph]
please don't tell me that ales realizes its the last year of his contract and he has to play really hard and that darcy going to fall for it again and resign him

3:26 He wouldn't be the first. That's one thing you always need consider when re-signign someone. Look at his play during the entire time he was under contract, not the last season.

3:26 [Comment From Tom Golasano,]
why dont you like me bucky? maybe if you were a nice gentleman i would return your calls?

3:27 It would be nice if you at least spelled your own name right.

Some people are just idiots.

3:27 [Comment From Steve, Detroit]
Pominville is killing both my fantasy teams. When's he going to get the scoring going?

3:28 Good question. He's like many around the league who are off to slow starts. You just might read a story in The Buffalo News addressing the issue. Funny you ask. Were you in the Sabres' dressing room today?

3:29 [Comment From Chad]
The Vanek comment/question was more of a reference to how he's KILLED the Lightning in the past. It's ok, the humor must not have translated in this medium.

3:31 It didn't translate with me, but it should have, I guess. I just looked it up. Vanek has 11 goals and 15 points in 12 games against the Bolts. Good job, Chad, I didn't realize he had that many.

3:32 I'm pretty sure that Tallinder is playing.

3:32 [Comment From Steve, Detroit]
Am I the only person that isn't too impressed by the Sabres start? This whole coming back from two goals down thing makes me think this team is no more than a few bad bounces from 2-4.

3:34 You can look at two ways. The Sabres are 6-1-2 and can play much, much better. They've fallen behind in games and came back. Is it a bad sign that they fell behind or a good sign that they came back? I'm more impressed with the Sabres' start than I was the Bills when they were 3-0.

This team has one different twist from last year that has attributed to the good start they have had this season, leadership. Thats what was lacking from last years team that makes this years team so dangerous.

3:34 [Comment From joe, nyc]
which franchise do you think has bigger issues as far as being financial viable at how the run there business on and off the ice. the bills or sabers?

3:38 They're two entirely different beasts. I don't have the time or the space in this chat to break it down. In general, very general, I expect the Sabres to be here much longer than the Bills because the NHL is more suited to Buffalo's market than the NFL would be. The NFL has become an absolute giant that is driven by corporate money and a huge TV contract, not so much their fans. The Bills sell out every game and still have a difficult chore being competitive in terms of money. The Sabres are driven by their fan base.

The only thing that could be on Buffalo's side with the Bills is the fact that it costs so much money to move a team.

3:38 [Comment From B Nagy]
Please settle a longtime disagreement I have had with a friend. What is the most dangerous lead in hockey? Is it two or three goals?

3:41 I'm always wary when a team has a two-goal lead because it can turn around very quickly and get away from you. The opposing team is one shot from trailing by a goal and can gain momentum. Three goals has a way of making the losing team think that the mountain is too high to climb. Of course, then they're one shot from having a two-goal lead and the situation changes. Get me? That said, I'll take any lead when the clock reads 0:00.

3:41 [Comment From Steve, Detroit]
I didn't get to see the whole NHL franchise values list, but how did did the Sabres rank when compared to the other US teams? If I had to guess, I'd expect them to be right behind the US original 6 teams and maybe Philly.

3:43 Last question. The Sabres were ranked in the bottom third. I don't have the list in front of me, but I believe they were 23rd and worth $169 million. Not bad. Golisano pulled the team from bankruptcy for $60 million.

3:44 Thanks everyone. I'm hoping to be back in my regular time slot of 11 am next week, work permitting. Work gets in the way of a good time.

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