Thursday, October 30, 2008

Game 10: Sabres/Lightning Preview

“We don’t lose two at home,” center Derek Roy said. “That’s one of our mottos all season long.”

Thats basically all you have to know about the mindframe the Sabres are in heading into tonight's game against the Mulleted One. Coming off of last Monday's drubbing against the Senators, the Sabres have to focus on beating one of the worst teams to start the season this year. The Lightning are 2-3-3 starting the season, but have won 2 of their last three against Toronto and Atlanta. The main problem with the Lightning is that the team is still getting to know each other due to the massive lineup turnover the team saw. The Lightning this offseason brought in 16 or 17 new players, mostly on the offensive side, to bolster what was a bad team last year. This offense is averaging a minuscule 1.75 goals/game which is good for last in the league.

The Sabres are going to be ready to play this game. Game time is 7:00 pm at the Bank. Here are the stats


Stat Leaders
Goals - Vanek (8)
Assists - Afinogenov (7)
Points - Vanek (11)
Plus/Minus - Vanek (+5)
Penalty Minutes - Mair (35)
Shots - Vanek (43)

Special Teams
Power Play - 21.6% (7th in League)
Penalty Kill - 90.2% (4th in League)

Miller: 5-0-1, 1.60 GAA, .940 SV%
Lalime: 1-1-1, 2.59 GAA, .910 SV%

Tampa Bay

Stat Leaders
Goals - Lecavalier (5)
Assists - Prospal, St. Louis (4)
Points - Lecavalier, Prospal (6)
Plus/Minus - Prospal (+4)
Penalty Minutes - Malone (24)
Shots - Lecavalier (33)

Special Teams
Power Play - 10.8% (29th in League)
Penalty Kill - 84.3% (11th in League)

Smith: 2-2-2, 2.11 GAA, .942 SV%
Kolzig: 0-1-1, 3.00 GAA, .920 SV%

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Sean Avery Answers Your Fashion Questions

Since we are mainly a sports blog, it is nice to be able to inject a little class into this blog. Since I am probably as fashionable as Harold Green, we have found the solution to your fashion problems. Here is Sean Avery answering some of the tough questions.

In this cash-strapped period, who or what are the best "bang for your buck" designers/labels?

Yes, it's true that we are in a cash-strapped time in America, but you are always better spending more on quality clothes than buying the lower-end quality. I would say that Helmut Lang is your best choice for the best design and quality for your money. I am a big fan of this reformed label that has all the basics for a man’s wardrobe covered.

What should a normal person look for in a set of fall clothes without spending $500 on a shirt and $1,000 on a pair of pants?

Fall is my favorite time of the year for clothes. My essential wardrobe this time of year is a flannel Woolwich vest, long-sleeve black Henley, and PRPS jeans, which I'm obsessed with right now. You can also take this look to a night look by switching your Chucks to black boots, throwing a scarf on and switching your flannel vest for a black one. You can do three different looks along this line all for under $1,000.

Watches -- what’s your favorite? Is the big-watch craze overdone?

If you’re a big baller and you can handle the heat, then step up to a Audemars Piguet. If you want to still be a cool kid, then get a Panerai with a rubber and leather band that can go to football practice or the Oscars.

Was your father a good dresser?
- Marcus

I keep getting asked about my inspiration for style. I can tell you that my dad is 10 out of 10, but has no fashion sense at all. Love you big guy!

What’s your take on the pink-shirt debate?

I really think that unless it’s an Easter-egg hunt, you should not ever wear a pink shirt.

It’s getting cold out and I want to find a nice scarf to wear with my black leather jacket. What style do you recommend, and how should I wear it so I don’t look like a total knob?

The best scarves I have seen in stores the last two months are Gucci. They do three different plaids and "it's Gucci, son…"

Are there any good looks for facial hair right now? What would you recommend?

Facial hair is still going strong. I am rocking a really red beard that looks like sh*t right now, but I feel fall/winter is the time to do it. I think women like a man with a beard because it reminds them of their dads.

Article from

Mair Fined $2,500 for Ottawa Game Actions

This according to TSN. This could be much worse from the rumblings that we have heard but honestly it shouldn't have been that big of a deal. Here are some quotes from Mair about the situation:

When asked what he was trying to communicate to the Senators, he said, "We don't play those guys until January, so I wanted to wish them a Happy Halloween."

What did they say back?

"I think they said Merry Christmas."

The Buffalo News' John Vogl asked if Mair was trying to talk to Chris Neil or Jaarko Ruutu?

"It's Halloween for everybody, John."

Have to love Mair's sense of humor.

Other news coming from the Sabres, Gaustad was on the ice for practice today and may come back for the game on Thursday. He was centering a line with Peters and Kaleta. Ellis was playing backup with Connolly and Hecht.

Things Always Get Testy When Its Buffalo and Ottawa

This clip is from the hallways after the Sens/Sabres game on Monday Night.

I didn't think that this is a big deal but apparently the NHL is looking into the footage and Mair could very likely get suspended a handful of games for this. Another thing that the Sabres need is a center that will miss time. Hopeful Gaustad or Connolly will come back soon to relieve the lack of depth at center.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

This Game Does Not Exist

Lets just say that now. This game can be forgotten as quickly as it was played. Unfortunately we lost to the Senators which is always depressing but honestly after they went down 4-0 I started watching the Monday Night Football game.

Bucky has a great article out in the News today about the World Juniors. Here is the end of it:

Sen. Charles Schumer was quick to jump on board with the world juniors last week, evidenced by his office releasing a statement that broke a confidentiality agreement with USA Hockey and the Sabres about the announcement. Neither organization was too pleased, but he has time to make amends.

You want to jump on board, Chuck? Start using your influence to pool resources that can spruce up the downtown area in the next two years. Find a solution to the skeletal remains of a casino deal gone wrong. Help get money in here for the waterfront. Fix a few broken windows. Buy some paint and plant some bushes. That way, visitors don’t leave thinking New York in general and Buffalo in particular is a dump.

The Sabres stuck out their necks and guaranteed USA Hockey some $5 million. The 10-day tournament will pump an estimated $20 million, according to NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, into the local economy. The organizing committee in Ottawa was given $2 million by the provincial government. Canada’s federal government is coughing up $750,000 for three such events in the next four years.

For all the criticism in the recent past, the Sabres should be applauded for their work in landing this one without asking for a penny. In some ways, their work reflects hockey’s effect on Buffalo and Buffalo’s effect on hockey. It confirms what we’ve known for years. This is a true, blue hockey town. And it’s exciting.

I love the fact that Bucky is absolutely railing on Schumer and the fact that he always takes credit for everything good that happens here. Which most of the time isn't true. Schumer does this with the Bills as well just to shore up his image here. Its good to see Bucky actually complement management as well after he has relentlessly railed on them for the past two years.

Oh, the Blue Footed Booby is just going to the whole team. They just laid an egg as a whole tonight.

Monday, October 27, 2008

World Junior Championships Are Officially Coming to Buffalo

I know I am late to the game with this post but USA Hockey did officially announce that Buffalo will be hosting the 2010 World Junior Championships. This is great news for the Buffalo area because of the massive amount of people that will be visiting the area for all of the games in the two weeks that games are.

The main point to this post is the ticket information that was announced. Currently, there are three packages that have been announced for people to buy. There is a Gold Pack which includes tickets to all 31 games for the Juniors (17 at HSBC Arena and 14 at Dwyer Arena). That package is $1240, or $40 a game. The second package is the Silver pack which includes a lower bowl seat to all 17 games at HSBC Arena. That will run $833, or $49 a game. Finally there is a Bronze pack which will have an upper bowl seat to all 17 games at the Bank. That runs $493 a ticket, or $29 a game.

More information can be found at

Inside the NHL for 10/23

11:25 Good morning! The sun is shining, the Sabres are winning and the Bills are winning. Could this be the year one of them finally wins .... OK, I'll stop there.

11:27 [Comment From frank]
Nice and toasty here in south carolina

11:28 Good. I can stay at your house for three or four days of golf and a little R&R. Wait, there's nothing relaxing about golf.

11:29 [Comment From anxious fan]
When will the lack of scoring from the centers become an issue?

11:30 Anxious, the name certainly fits. I'm not one to fret over where the scoring comes from, as long as it's coming from somewhere. Derek Roy has been a little snakebitten so far, but he's playing extremely well. He was everywhere the other night against the Bruins. How many goals did he prevent, two or three? To me, it's like scoring two or three. It will come around. Plus, MacArthur has been pretty good, so far.

Granted having hindsight in doing these makes them more interesting. The total scoring from center positions so far this season has been 7-6-13. This includes Matt Ellis who has not registered a point this season. 7 goals coming from your five centers is not all that impressive but their play as of late has been getting better. Roy scored the game winner against the Wild and Clarke MacArthur has been playing well with 3 goals and 2 assists.

11:31 [Comment From frank]
I am concerned about the sabres slow starts in the last 2 games

11:32 Yeah, that shoud be a concern. The Sabres have a good, talented team but they aren't so loaded with talent that they can just throw their sticks out there. I'm a big effort guy. You would be surprised how little I look at the scores or the results of games before writing my columns. I check effort first, effort second and the result third. Usually, they jibe, but not always. They need to start realizing the game starts when the puck is dropped at 7:05 or 7:30 or whatever -- not at 8:15.

Slow starts seem to be the mantra for this team in the past few years. This is not new for this team seeing as they liked playing only when they needed to in 2006 and 2007. The leadership on this team can bring that around or in any case fire the team up to be able to turn the jets on when needed. That didn't exist in 2007.

11:33 [Comment From OriginalSix]
Bucky: Assuming it's short term, what's the impact with Rivet's injury and any idea when he got hurt?

11:35 I'm under the assumption it is a short-term, just a couple weeks. It sounds like he had swelling there and needed to relieve the pain early in the season rather than late. When did he get hurt? Good question. I'm not sure, but I do know how these guys think. I'm going to guess and say he had knee problems before arriving in Buffalo but thought he could play through them. Once the season started, it became increasingly painful. Then, he made the decision. These guys often think they can play through anything. He's a tough guy. I'm sure that was part of his thinking, too.

Surprisingly, this team has responded well with the absence of Rivet. Sekera and Spacek have stepped up as the prime defensive pairing and Nathan Paetsch has played well in replacing Rivet. That being said, this new injury to Tallinder may cause some issues on the blue line. Weber will most likely be called up and the lines will be shuffled around again.

11:35 [Comment From Ron]
Bucky: He'd cost a lot of money but might the Sabres make a play for Gaborik with all the money (Max and Connolly for starters) that might be coming off their books next year?

11:36 Gaborik was a big topic last week. I'm not big on them going after Gaborik. They already have an expensive forward in Vanek. Gaborik is a great, great player but I'm not sure he fits here. Montreal wants him, as I've stated in the past. Los Angeles needs him. I see a better fit for him elsewhere than I do here.

No, not worth the money to get him.

11:36 [Comment From David]
Injuries have to be the issue of the day- now that we add Rivet to the list that already includes Connolly, Hecht, and Gaustad. Who do you see stepping up on defense to fill Rivet's spot (especially on the PP and PK)? Will there be another captain while is out?

11:39 They're going to start with Paetsch, who is coming off a tough year. He's a better player than he showed last year. He's very good at getting pucks to the net. I said before the season that Mike Weber should be here. Now, they could use him more than ever. He's good on both ends of the ice. I don't see him helping the PP much, but they should have enough with Spacek and Numminen to run both units. Lindy always has the option of throwing a forward back there, so you could see Pominville back there again, bombing away.

Paetsch has looked really good in the past two games. He probably will have to stay there with the injury to Tallinder but he has shown his 2006 form which impressed most Sabres fans.

11:39 [Comment From frank]
regardless of who is shooting the puck left handed or right handed, there still has been too many desparate moments in the sabres end recently

11:41 It has been a little out of sorts at times, but that's just pressure that all teams need to handle on a given night. The Sabres are trying to pressure the other team and vice versa. I'm not telling you anything you didn't already know. Teppo has played well, better than I thought he would, but there have been times when things have been scattered. Tallinder needs to play better in his own end. It should get better, in terms of sloppiness, as the season rolls along. If it doesn't, they're going to have problems.

11:41 [Comment From anxious fan]
The good news is that the Flyers haven't won a game. What's their problem?

11:43 Defense. It has been horrrrrrrible. Last night was yet another disaster against San Jose. Marty Biron is also having a tough time. It's a bad combination, which makes for a bad record. And to think I picked them to win the division. That might be something I regret later.

11:43 [Comment From David]
How impressed are you with Miller's play so far this season and do you think he can keep it up all year? I thought he was awesome against Boston and the #1 reason why the Sabres pulled out that game.

11:45 Ryan has been great. Really, you couldn't ask for anything more after the start he had last season. He's won four games. He's won two shootouts. He's only allowed six goals. Yes, he was the biggest reason they beat the Bruins. Who was it Sturm? I think it was Sturm. He's still shaking his head over that glove save. Miller's play has been important, too, because he's giving his team time to make mistakes and get the kinks out. Lalime has been good, too, obviously.

The goaltending have held this team together. Miller has looked much much better to start this season than last season and much of that has to do with all of the distractions that occurred at the beginning of the season. Lalime has played well in relief as well. I don't have much of an opinion on the backup because of how Thibault played to start last season. But what I see now looks good.

11:45 [Comment From Snidder]
Bucky, I'm going to Tampa Bay for the Sabres game in early December. Any suggestions on a good Buffalo bar to go to down there?

11:47 Do have any idea who you're dealing with in that department? Of course, I know. There's a place right down the street from the rink, a couple blocks away, 10-minute walk, called Hat Tricks. Every time I walk in that place, there are Buffalo people in there. And that includes when the Sabres AREN'T in town. The last time I walked in there, I found my cousin working there. No kidding. I had no idea. The beer is cold, and the food is good enough. Just my style.

11:47 [Comment From Mike]
It seems to me that Tallinder is playing very tentatively, like he is afraid to make a play or carry the puck. Last game he threw the puck up the sideboards a number of times when there wasn't really any pressure on him. I also can't remember the last time he rushed the puck up ice. Has Lindy commented at all on his play?

11:50 Tallinder, to me, is tentative about the physical side. I'm not sure there he's thinking about it consciously or not, but somewhere in the back of his head it seems he's worried about getting hurt again. I've seen other players go through this. Sometimes, it takes a couple years to overcome that hurdle. But he needs to play better. Lindy has hinted that he's not happy with Tallinder. I'm not going to hint. I'll tell you straight out that he's been brutal. The good thing is, he's a much better player than he has shown. Basically, he can be fixed.

Tallinder is looking horrid and maybe the injury will clear his mind. He almost looks lost without Lydman though.

11:50 [Comment From Michael]
I think it's time to cut Tim Connolly loose. He's been nothing but hurt the last 2 seasons and isn't much of a star power to hang on to.

11:52 Agreed. I had my doubts when they signed him to that three-year deal that it was the wrong move. I regret not questioning the decision with more vigor. I should have been more skeptical and cynical, if you can imagine. Instead, I looked at the ONE year he had and overestimated his value. What can you do? It's all hindsight. I would have no problem with Buffalo cutting him loose, for a vareity of reasons.

Great start to the contract year for Connolly.

11:52 [Comment From WizzerdPot]
When are we going to see Gerbe in the bigs? Anytime this season?

11:53 Gerbe will be here at some point, I believe. Same with Kennedy. The Sabres want them to experience life in the minors, which is no picnic. Plus, they can make their mistakes in Portland, where it doesn't matter as much. I agree with teh philosophy because they're deep now. If they had less talent, I would say they needed to get him up here ASAP.

I hope not to see Gerbe in the majors this year. I would like to see him gel with his Portland teammates so it becomes another case of the Pominville crew who have grown together and want to play with each other. That would be an amazing case if that happened.

11:54 [Comment From frank in sc]
How long is this latest Connolly issue going to last.? This has been a real bust for the sabres

11:56 Who know how long it will last? OK, I need to say this in a delicate fashion. There are people in the organization who have grown tired of him. It's getting harder and harder for them to ignore that he's a persistent problem. Yes, I'm dancing around the question. In short, he needs to play and play well or he's a goner. And he might be a goner, anway.

11:56 [Comment From Geoff]
So what are we looking at, a 75/25 split between Miller and Lalime?

11:57 It's about right. I see Miller playing three or four games in a row and Lalime taking over. Lindy for years has gone with the hot goalie. I'm pretty sure, after what happened in past years, that he changed his approach. We'll see what happens after the first time Lalime has a bad game.

A 75/25 split for the goalies would work out well only if Lalime keeps the performance at the level it is now. As I have said before, if Miller plays more than 65 games this season the Sabres will not make the playoffs. Right now Miller is on pace for 51 games this season.

11:58 [Comment From Lot]
Miller referred to Lalime several times during the post game interviews following the victory against Boston. It seems to me that they have formed a fast friendship and look to learn from each other this season, different from Miller and Thibault last season. Is that an accurate representation of the feeling you get from the two in practice and the dressing room?

11:59 Ryan respects Lalime. FYI: I wasn't sold on Lalime when that move was made. I was unimpressed with him over the past few years. However, he's always been known as a very good guy and a great teammate. That's what Ryan needs, plus a little push from someone who has been a No. goalie in this league. They've built a pretty strong relationship in very little time.

11:59 [Comment From frank in sc]
I don't care how many ex-sabres are on Philly. Still always great to see them at the bottom. Old feelings don't die from the 70's

12:01 Hey, let it go. It was 33 years ago for heaven's sake. I lived in Philly and loved that town, by the way. But even now, when I see Bernie Parent, there's a part of me that wants to tackle him. I was a 8-year-old fan once, too. That changes when you have this job. You're no longer a fan, just an observer.

12:01 [Comment From tray32]
I know that Stafford had by far his best game of the year last game. But has he really deserved to be on the number one line, and when do you think they will call up, I think a future all-star in Gerbe. Thanks ps Lets Go Buffalo!!

12:03 Stafford was on the top line, in my opinion, because Lindy was looking for more balance among his top nine forwards. He needed someone who could bang on that line to help open up the ice for Vanek and Roy. The problem Stafford had, especially in the first few games, was that he wasn't hitting anybody. To me, that comes with effort, too. He's skating better, moving better, hitting more and obviously contributing on the offensive side.

This came before the Minnesota game in which he scored another highlight reel goal. Stafford is starting to become into his own and almost looks like a young Connolly with the ability to deke out anyone.

12:04 [Comment From Roch]
Why haven't the Sabres sold out? Do you think they have pushed prices too far given the current economy? Perhaps spending all the currency they built up with Fans prior to the "Black Sunday" from last summer?

12:04 Honestly, I didn't even realize that they didn't sell out. Is that true?

Well, technically yes. The first three home game attendances are as follows: 18,690, 18,449, 18,334. While they are not technically sell outs, they are close enough. The Sabres are still a good draw but there are going to be tickets available for every game. Much like the 2005-2006 season.

12:04 [Comment From Geoff]
I know I probably don't need to provoke you to pile on Max, but he hasn't been very effective yet this season. Do you think he has any trade value at this point?

12:07 You don't need to provoke me at all. I can usually get going on my own about him. I thought he should have been gone two years ago. That said, he played his best game in a long time against Boston. He was moving well, passing well and playing under control. Here's the problem: He'll return to the same style in which he's skating everywhere and accomplishing nothing. He does have trade value, however. He's still an electrifying player. There's always a team, a GM, a coach who thinks they can fix a player like him. Lindy has tried and mostly failed. Max is no better now than he was when he was 21 or 22 years old.

Max is just Max. Which is just a bad sign for this team. If Afinogenov was a better passer and had more of a team first mentality he probably would be a very good player. But his me first mentality when it comes to puck handling makes him very prone to turning over the puck. Which he does very, very well. Afinogenov leads the team with 8 giveaways. This means that Max is good for one giveaway a game. That's just plain ugly.

12:07 [Comment From TC]
What are your early feelings on Ellis? Do you think he was a good aquisition?

12:08 My early feelings on Ellis is that he reminds me of Adam Mair. He's not overflowing with talent but he's an honest player.

Ellis is playing his role well. The fourth line of this team is not giving up goals which is what they are meant to do. The fourth line as a whole is a -1 through eight games. None of the players on that line have scored a goal but they really haven't given up a goal.

12:08 [Comment From greginva]
Stafford; was about time he showed up the other night. That was a big time move to the net he made on his goal. He was mentioned as eventual captain material his rookie season. Do you see him progressing to that level of play and leadership?

12:11 I was the one who suggested he was captain materal someday. We'll see. He had a very good head on his shoulders for a young player, and that's what impressed me about him. Now, he needs to continue to evolve as a professional, which means doing all the right things on and off the ice, becoming a stronger leader. It's hard to be a leader unless you're a good player, in my opinion. He should concentrate on his play, let that do the talking for him for a while and become more comfortable with his own voice. It takes time.

12:11 [Comment From Jim]
Do you think the absence of Hecht is a factor in Pominville's lack of goal production??

12:12 Yes, but it's not something to get overly concerned about. Hecht and Pommer have really good chemistry. They can communicate throughout the game without talking. Hecht will make them better when he returns. The goals will come. The key for now is to keep winning without them.

12:12 [Comment From Nick in NC]
Do you think Buffalo will be taking a look at Gaborik tonight. He would sure look pretty with Roy and Vanek.

12:14 Buffalo is looking at all players every night. Lindy watches an amazing number of games for someone who spends so much time coaching them. Darcy is watching what's happening around the league. As for Gaborik, he would look pretty with me and your next-door neighbor -- unless your next-door neighbor is Max.

12:14 [Comment From Jim in SC]
I know we're very early in the season, but do you anticipate the sabres trying to make some moves via trade to improve their club??

12:16 Teams generally wait for the first 20 games or so. Darcy generally waits for the trade deadline. He has made very few moves over the years before they were absolutely necessary. If something falls on his lap that's utterly ridiculous, such as Gaborik for Peters, yeah, he'll make that move. Otherwise, I don't see them doing much until the pressure gets turned up a few notches.

No, why fix something that right now isn't broken.

12:16 [Comment From Wayne Kovach]
Bucky, do you think Montreal will make any significant moves to help bolster their already good chances at a Cup run this year?

12:19 I've said before that the Habs have their eye on Gaborik. I can see them making such a bold move. It was interesting last week when the story came out of Minnesota that the Wild were shopping him and had spoken to one team. I wondered if the one team was the Habs. By the way, the fact Minny was shopping him wasn't overly shocking despite how it was played on a national scale. Most people paying attention knew that was the case for several weeks or more. It just took a while for the club to acknowledge as much.

Gaborik should bolster the Canadians offense very well. But by the way the numbers look, the Canadians do not have the cap space to get Gaborik at this point. Minnesota will hold on to Gaborik for as long as they can and he will become a good trade deadline guy. Then more teams will be interested.

12:19 [Comment From Mike]
I know this is off the topic but here's my cynical side: Do you set up a Tiki Bar next to your rink? If so how about inviting McCargo and some neighbors over so we can shoot pucks at him for being the defense's version of Mike Williams.

12:20 No Tiki Bar or Tiki Kane or Tiki Barber.

A tiki kane should be a small statue I think. But it is good to know that Patrick Kane's father's nickname was Tiki. So he could be referring to that as well. Not exactly sure.

12:20 [Comment From Don]
Who would you rather see in the lineup on D, Paeche oe Webber?

12:21 I would rather see Paetsch for a couple games, but I wouldn't waste too much time before turning to Weber. It could mean sitting Teppo down for a game or two to keep him fresh. He is 40, after all.

Tonight is the night that we can better make that comparison.

12:22 [Comment From tray32 from Ft Lauderdale]
I know that Lydman and Tallinder for some reason are Darcy's boys, but Cmon! The giveaways by both together tonite will cost atleast two goals. Dont you think teaming them up would be a terrible idea?

12:23 They had great chemistry two years ago, when they won the Presidents' Trophy and the previous year. Putting them together is hardly a reach. There once was a time when Lydman played poorly whenever he was with anybody BUT Tallinder.

12:23 [Comment From Kevin]
Bucky, do you think Sarah Palin will be dropping the first puck at a Sabres game next week? She's making the circuit from Philly to St. Louis...

12:24 Doesn't she have more important items on her agenda?

12:24 [Comment From Geoff]
Out of curiosity, do you or any other News Sports dept. staffers play hockey?

12:26 I would last about three shifts before begging for Mommy. I'm not sure who plays and who doesn't play, although I would like to see Sully on double-runners. I'm no Katarina Witt, but at least I can stand up and skate a round for a little while.

12:26 [Comment From TC]
It looks like to me that Peters is actually trying to be a hockey player this year. Yes, he still likes to mix it up, but seems to be jumping into the play more. Your thoughts on him, please.

12:28 Peters has done a better job of being a hockey player, yes. It's almost required these days because roster spots are so valuable. The days of having guys who only fight are just about over. You have to play a little bit to stick around. Remember, he was a second-round pick based on his potential, not because he was a fighter.

Peters will probably double his goal total from last year if he keeps on playing at the level he is playing at. He has not been bad at all playing the puck and his backchecking as been pretty good this season.

12:28 [Comment From Jay from Tampa]
Hey Bucky. Love your chats. I'm still wondering what Max is still doing here too. My guess is that the Sabres haven't received any good offers that were worth what they would call of value. My question is about the hurt though. When is Hecht scheduled to come back and Connolly? I think Hecht isn't a flashy player but he provides leadership that could assist this team with getting quicker and better starts.

12:30 My guess is that the Sabres didn't get any offers that they considered good enough for Max. They wanted to move him, and he wanted to be moved. But you don't just trade a guy. Darcy is a very patient guy and, at times, too patient. Hecht should be back in the next week or so. Connolly, who knows?

12:30 [Comment From Rick in Poughkeepsie]
Forget that we like to see Philly at the bottom of the standings, how about cheap shOttawa? They've been terrible starting mid-last season and nothing makes me happier than to see that team suffer. I figure the end this season in 10th place, what do you think?

12:32 I picked Ottawa behind Buffalo, for what it's worth. They have three great players in Spezza (good quote, by the way), Alfie and Heatley. They're also gobbling up a boatload of money under the cap. That has created a trickle-down effect on their roster, which is thin on their bottom two lines and the blue line.

12:33 [Comment From David]
I am very excited about tonight's contest in Minnesota- this game will tell us a lot about how the Sabres' respond after a lackluster outing- especially considering they have to face an undefeated team on the road. They really can't afford to have another slow start tonight. Do you believe the Wild are true contenders this year and how well do you think the Sabres match up against them?

12:35 You can never count out the Wild because they play such great defense under Lemaire. It's not exciting by any means, but it works. The Sabres patience will be tested tonight playing against those guys. It's going to be an interesting game. Buffalo has more talent, in my opinion, but Minny is better than most people think. It should be a good game, but it has the potential to be boring.

12:35 [Comment From Zach]
Are you getting sick of answering the same questions over and over again?

12:36 Not really, because they're not all the same. I see reporters asking the same questions every day. If the players can handle it, I'm pretty sure I can. Good question, by the way, and original.

12:36 [Comment From greginva]
enough about Gaborik please!! he is the last thing this team needs. a strong tough leader up front will fill out this team nicely. other than that this team has the talent.

12:36 see my previous answer.

12:36 [Comment From arturs irbe]
any chance we'll see weber called up soon? paestch looked really rough last year and in the pre-season...

12:37 Weber could get a call in the next two weeks. He's ready, but my thinking is that he's not going to replace Paetsch. My guess is Weber would play for Rivet and Paetsch would give Teppo a breather. We'll see.

12:37 [Comment From Hools in DC]
Do you see any similarity between Kaleta and Roy from the standpoint that Roy developed a diving reputation that refs jumped on and that Kaleta's ease in the early season of drawing penalities by chirping but not fighting may become similar (diving penality vs. Vancouver as an example)?

12:39 The only similarities I see between Kaleta and Roy is that they're rooting for the same team. Roy was a diver, plain and simple. Kaleta isn't a diver. He's an instigator who took a diving penalty. Big difference.

12:39 [Comment From Aaron]
Bucky, what's your prediction on the average auction price for 2 seats from The Aud?

12:40 I'm not sure, really. It will be interesting. I said in a column a few years ago that I want a few oranges for my basement. Best seats in professional sports were first row oranges, center ice, at the Aud. That's assuming you didn't kill yourself after falling down the stairs and flying over the railing into the upper golds.

I would imagine that the first sets of seats are going to be more expensive than the last sets. As soon as most of the memorabilia guys get their seats then the auction price should decrease. Unless there is an attachment to a certain group of seats.

12:40 [Comment From Soupy]
Bucky play? anything? NO WAY!

12:42 Soupy, I've seen you on the golf course. It's not pretty. You sat the bench for Lackawanna hoops. And if I was on that team, well, I would have been sitting right next to you.

12:42 [Comment From Matt]
How many goals do you think MacArthur can end up with? I know he has started fast in the past and trailed off but do you think he can be a 20 goal scorer?

12:43 He's capable of scoring 20 goals. I'm not sure that he'll score that many because he's going to be playing with different teammates when Hecht comes back. It depends on linemates, ice time, etc. But he's done a good job this season, especially round the net.

Right now he is filling his role really well. Without Hecht, MacArthur has stepped in nicely to fill that role and be able to handle the second line status. It is going to be really hard to demote him when Hecht comes back.

12:43 [Comment From Snidder]
Hey Bucky...If you were the Sabres GM and could go out and pick someone up...who would it be?

12:44 Alex Ovechkin. He scores, he hits and he shows up every night.

12:44 [Comment From Brian (Albany, NY)]
Connolly, Max and a draft pick for Marion Gaborik. Discuss.

12:44 [Comment From Brian (Albany, NY)]
The Sabres are in Minnesota tonight, any chance they depart with Marion Gaborik and leave Max and Connolly in the Twin Cities?

12:46 Brian, you showed up for the game midway through the second period. I don't see it happening any time soon or any time, period. I just don't see Gaborik winding up in Buffalo, but it's OK to dream. I've been wrong before, once or twice.

12:46 [Comment From Mo]
Tastes Great or Less Filling?

12:46 Tastes great.

12:46 [Comment From put em up]
what does Kaleta have to do to shed his fast-growing image as the pest who wont duke? I know he went in Atlanta, but he got the dive call against Vancouver and its gonna keep happening...

12:48 Kaleta is more than willing to fight. He'll shed his image when the players he plays against realize that they're doing all the fighting for him. He doesn't care about his image. He cares about winning, and he's done his share to contribute so far this season.

See Matt Barnaby

12:48 [Comment From eric]
At the game the other night I observed something about Max...he's always liked to go wide, so the D generally compresses and forces him that way. However, now it seems to be about avoiding contact. The one time I saw him cut to the middle it was because he didn't want to get rubbed out on the boards. He had another amazing opportunity to split the D but had his head down and I don't think he even noticed. He played much better when he skated with his head up and initiated contact. He's not a big guy but certainly isn't a small guy...does he have Tallinder's I-Don't-Want-to-Get-Hurt-Again disease?

12:51 Max in recent years has been easy to defend for the reasons you gave. He skates wide and, assuming he didn't draw his teammates offside on the way to the zone, stays on the perimeter. The two defensemen play below the faceoff dots, two forwards help create the box and they wait for him to make a mistake. The last thing you want to do is caught chasing Max because that's where he can hurt you. Most goals are scored around the crease. If he wants to score, he need to get closer than 20 feet from the net.

12:51 [Comment From eric]
If you actually had to spend $ from the hard-earned Gleason family till on hockey, which five players would you pay to watch?

12:53 Ovechkin, Crosby, Zetterberg up front with Scott Niedermayer and Phaneuf on the back end.

12:53 [Comment From Soupy]
Factual correction: I started every game and was co-captain my senior year. & former10 handicap until childrens! See you at Christmas!

12:54 In my next life, I want to dream like Soupy.

12:55 Couple more questions, preferably not about Gaborik.

12:55 [Comment From TC]
When is Derek Roy going to quit being the hockey version of Scott Norwood and score a few instead of shooting wide right or left of the open net. This has to be frustrating for him, it is for me to watch.

12:57 Sorry, I somehow missed this question a few minutes ago. Roy is going to be fine so long as he keeps his feet moving. The guy never gets tired. If anything, he's trying to be too precise. The scoring will come around with all the chances that line creates. And then people will wonder why Vanek isn't scoring as much.

12:57 [Comment From Chris]
I think its great that Kaleta draws PP and doesn't fight if he doesn't have to. How long can he keep this up without someone eventually taking a nasty cheap shot. Doesn't the league still have the good ol boy mentality where they conspire to hurt a player like him?

1:00 Certain players want a piece of him, definitely. What they haven't realized is that Kaleta has been baiting them into penalties while they're trying to bait him. He's been the same since he was in the OHL. He keeps on coming, and he's a punshing hitter, one of the better hitters in the league. Whether someone will go out of his way to attempt to hurt him, I'm not sure. I am sure that Kaleta knows what he's doing out there and will continue watching the parade to the penalty box for as long as it lasts. And he enjoys every minute of it.

1:00 [Comment From jqinpdx]
Micros or domestic beer? Hot wings or mild?

1:00 Great question. Labatt Blue and hot.

1:01 [Comment From eric]
Will Mats Sundin return to the NHL this year? Will it matter? I could see the Caps making a play for him given their relative youth

1:05 Last one, folks. Sundin seems to be in a strange place mentally right now -- not sure if he wants to play. From here, it looks like he's keeping close watch on the league and trying to figure out where he can have the best chance to win a Stanley Cup before making a commitment. Clearly, it's not all about money because Vancouver offered him a two-year deal for $20 million. He's never really had a sniff at the Cup. You just might see him in Montreal. My guess, and it is a guess, will be that he waits until there's about 60 games left in the season before making a decision. That way, he'll have enough time to adjust to his new team without getting overly taxed from a full season. Thanks for all the questions, see you next week. One more thing -- cheap plug -- you'll love what Rivet has to say in Inside the NHL about his first two months in Buffalo.

No Sundin will not come back. If he does it just looks bad for him plus he hasn't been working out all that much. Vancouver or Montreal seem to be likely places for him to fall if he decides to come back but I really don't see that happening. The longer a player decides the less likely he is to come back.

Game 9: Sabres/Senators Preview

The Sabres face off at the Bank tonight against the much hated Senators. The Senators come into this game struggling going 2-5-1 in their first eight games. The main problem with this team is they have issues on both offense and defense. Their offense is scoring 2.75 goals per game which is 19th in the league while they allow 3.12 goals per game which is 16th in the league. Goalie Martin Gerber has been anything but spectacular with a 3.39 GAA and .891 SV%. The backup Alex Auld has been better with a 2.70 GAA and .921 SV%.

The Sabres have their fair share of issues in the injury department. Defenseman Henrik Tallinder went down in the game against the Avalanche and is still having trouble skating. At this time it is not known whether the Sabres will call up Mike Weber but if Tallinder is a no go for this game then expect Weber to be in the lineup. Paul Gaustad and Tim Connolly are progressing well but probably will not see action tonight. I would expect to see Gaustad in the lineup sometime this week but Connolly should sit on the bench until warranted. This team is playing well and MacArthur and Ellis are playing well as backups in the center position. Also expect Lalime in net for the Sabres tonight.

The Senators are always a team that cannot be taken lightly and the rivalry between these two teams always makes for a good game. Action starts at 7pm on MSG. Here are the stats.


Stat Leaders
Goals - Vanek (8)
Assists - Afinogenov (5)
Points - Vanek (11)
Plus/Minus - Vanek (+6)
Penalty Minutes - Kaleta (32)
Shots - Vanek (39)

Special Teams
Power Play - 22.7% (5th in League)
Penalty Kill - 94.3% (2nd in League)

Miller: 5-0-1, 1.60 GAA, .940 SV%
Lalime: 1-0-1, 1.44 GAA, .951 SV%


Stat Leaders
Goals - Heatley (4)
Assists - Kuba (11)
Points - Kuba (11)
Plus/Minus - McAmmond, Ruutu, Donovan (+4)
Penalty Minutes - Neal (26)
Shots - Vermette (28)

Special Teams
Power Play - 23.7% (4th in League)
Penalty Kill - 88.2% (5th in League)

Gerber: 1-3-1, 3.39 GAA, .891 SV%
Auld: 1-2, 2.70 GAA, .921 SV%

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Game 8: Sabres/Avalanche Preview

The Sabres travel into Denver tonight to take on the suddenly hot Avalanche at the Pepsi Center. The Avalanche have gotten on a hot streak as of late, winning their last four after dropping their first three. The main reason for this streak is the solidified play of their goaltending. After having their top goaltender, Jose Theodore, leave for free agency they promote backup goaltender Peter Budaj to the top spot. From there, they sign Leaf wonder Andrew Raycroft to backup up Budaj. While Budaj and Raycroft do not scare anyone they can play a good game every once in a while. In the Western Conference there needs to be good goaltending for a team to be able to compete.

The Sabres are still rolling behind their ability to step up their play when needed. The Sabres have found themselves in a two-goal deficit in the past two games. From there they have been able to score quickly to tie the game and actually win the game in overtime or a shootout. The Roy/Vanek/Stafford line has been the stud line for the Sabres. Combined they have 11 goals and 8 assists which accounts for about half of the goals for the team. Vanek has been the hot hand on that line but Stafford and Roy have been able to find the scoring touch as of late. Stafford has shown signs of being a play maker, scoring highlight reel goals in his last two. Right now, you could compare his scoring ability to a healthy Tim Connolly when he was able to deke defensemen out of their skates to score goals.

This game will definitely not be a snooze fest as the Sabres and Avalanche are each in the top 5 in scoring. Colorado averages 4 goals a game while the Sabres are averaging 3.43 goals per game. Game time is 9pm. Here are the stats.


Stat Leaders
Goals - Vanek (8)
Assists - Afinogenov (5)
Points - Vanek (11)
Plus/Minus -Vanek (+6)
Penalty Minutes - Kaleta (32)
Shots - Vanek (35)

Special Teams
Power Play: 23.1% (Tied for 5th in League)
Penalty Kill: 93.9% (3rd in League)

Miller: 5-0, 1.74 GAA, .935 SV%
Lalime: 1-0-1, 1.44 GAA, .951 SV%


Stat Leaders
Goals - Hejduk (6)
Assists - Stastny (9)
Points - Stastny (11)
Plus/Minus - Stastny, Hejduk (+3)
Penalty Minutes - Laperriere (33)
Shots - Hejduk (29)

Special Teams
Power Play: 20.9% (8th in League)
Penalty Kill: 71% (Last in League)

Budaj: 2-3, 3.42 GAA, .868 SV%
Raycroft: 2-0, 3.00 GAA, .875 SV%

Friday, October 24, 2008

Sabres and Wild Still Unbeaten in Regulation

The Sabres ended pulling another game out of their asses with a Derek Roy overtime winner last night in Minnesota. The Sabres came from two goals down again to beat the Wild 4-3. The Sabres dug another hole in Minnesota in almost the same way they dug a hole against the Bruins on Tuesday. The Sabres jumped out to an early one goal lead on an another pretty goal by Drew Stafford. The Wild came back and scored three more, one with the help by Ryan Miller scoring on his own net. The Sabres woke back up, scored two late in the third 46 seconds apart and then finished the game off in overtime.

All in all, the effort put forth by the Sabres was not half bad. The Wild caught them off guard in the second by pressing the trap more which created more odd-man rushes for the Wild. And according to Harry Neale last night, the more odd-man rushes you give up to a team, the more likely they are to score on them. Go figure. Drew Stafford impressed me the most coming into this game with his much improved game play over last season. Stafford has two goals and one assist in the first seven games but looks more relaxed playing the right wing with Roy and Vanek. Stafford looked nervous and out of place most of last season and he might have the perfect fit on that line.

We are introducing a new feature to our game reviews.If the Goose's Roost can give out the Ferruginous Pygmy Owl, we can do the Blue-footed Booby. This award will go out to the biggest bonehead of the game. The Booby prize goes to Ryan Miller. While he looked pretty good in net all net you can't overlook the fact that he scored on his own net. You just can't.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Game 7: Sabres/Wild Preview

The Sabres faceoff with the Wild tonight at the Xcel Center in St. Paul. The Sabres will be missing captain Craig Rivet who will be out of the lineup for at least two weeks with minor knee surgery. This means that seventh defenseman Nathan Paetsch will be in the lineup to replace Rivet. Paestch has been a streaky player in his time in Buffalo. His rookie season in 2006 was his standout season with the Sabres. He played with an intensity that he lacked in the 2007 season. According to Vogl at Sabres Edge, the lines for defensemen should look some like this:


These lines have the resurrection of the Tallinder/Lydman pairing that was bipolar much of last season. Tallinder's play this season has been short of inspiring. Tallinder seems to be play more cautious than he has in the past few years most likely due to a fear of getting injured. The play of this pairing has to be the best it can for this game because of the trap that Jacques Lemaire likes to play.

The Wild are having their fair share of issues that just may distract them heading into this game. The issues surrounding Marion Gaborik have reached critical status with the Wild starting to shop him around instead of dealing with his contract that expires at the end of the season. Gaborik is looking for a long-term contract, somewhere in the seven to eight year range around $50 million while the Wild do not really want to pony up that kind of deal for so long. Gaborik has been an oft injured player. In his eight years in Minnesota, he has never played a full 82 game season and has had three seasons with less than 70 games. Currently, Gaborik is out with a lower body injury. On the other hand, Gaborik is a very good goal scorer when he is healthy, putting up 207 goals in 487 career games, including 42 goals in 77 games last season. Does Gaborik deserve the money that he asking for, probably not. But there are teams out there with the cap space that do need him that may give out that type of contract. The Sabres are not one of those teams.

Game time is 8 pm on MSG. Here are the stats


Stat Leaders
Goals - Vanek (7)
Assists - Pominville, Numminen, Afinogenov (4)
Points - Vanek (9)
Plus/Minus - Vanek, Spacek (+3)
Penalty Minutes - Kaleta (32)
Shots - Vanek (34)

Special Teams
Power Play - 24.3% (4th in League)
Penalty Kill - 96.7% (3rd in League)

Miller: 4-0, 1.45 GAA, .945 SV%
Lalime: 1-0-1, 1.44 GAA, .951 SV%


Stat Leaders
Goals - Miettinen (5)
Assists - Koivu (8)
Points - Koivu (9)
Plus/Minus - Koivu (+4)
Penalty Minutes - Boogaard (9)
Shots - Koivu, Miettinen (12)

Special Teams
Power Play - 28.6% (3rd in League)
Penalty Kill - 100.0% (Tied for 1st in League)

Backstrom: 4-0, 1.71 GAA, .942 SV%

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The Captain is Down

The Sabres have announced that captain Craig Rivet is going to be out for the next two weeks after having arthroscopic knee surgery today. This could be a huge blow for the Sabres as Rivet was the heart of this team. Between his play during the first six game and the Islanders fight, Rivet put it all on the line in the first six games and his presence will probably be missed.

Most likely, Jason Pominville will be the replacement captain while Rivet is out.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Forbes Releases List of Top 10 Richest Sports Owners

The L.A. Times put out the list of the Top 10 Richest Sports Owners. The data came from the Forbes 400 list so these owners would be of American Teams.

1. E. Stanley Kroenke and Ann Walton Kroenke. Stan owns the Avalanche and Nuggets
2. Mark Cuban. Owner of the Dallas Mavericks
3. Malcolm Glazer. Owner of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers
4. H. Wayne Huizenga. Owner of the Miami Dolphins
5. Michael E. Heisley Sr., Owner of the Memphis Grizzlies
6. B. Thomas Golisano, Owner of the Buffalo Sabres
7. Michael Illitch, Owner of the Detroit Red Wings and Detroit Tigers
8. Drayton McLane Jr., Owner of the Houston Astros
9. Jeremy Jacobs. Owner of the Boston Bruins
10. Robert Kraft. Owner of the New England Patriots.

Four of the top 10 American Owners own an NHL franchise of some sort. Maybe the league is not in such a bad situation after all.

Game 6: Sabres/Bruins Preview

The Sabres take on the Bruins tonight at the Bank after coming off a disappointing shootout loss against the Thrashers on Saturday. The Bruins travel here after losing to the Penguins last night in a shootout 2-1. The Sabres have to have a good effort here tonight because they play a brutal stretch of 4 games in 7 days which sees them traveling to Minnesota and Colorado Thursday and Saturday before coming back home to play the Senators on Monday.

Thomas Vanek has been the star of this team so far and the league has noticed giving him the NHL First Star of the Week. Vanek has 7 goals and 2 assists in four games for the Sabres. Noticeably absent from the score sheet for the Sabres has been Derek Roy who has no goals and 2 assists for the team. On the Bruins side, Savard and Kessel lead the team with 5 goals but they have been the only scorers for the Bruins. The rest of the team has 6 goals total.

This game should be a defensive one because that is the style of play for the Bruins. Ryan Miller should start tonight and facing him will be Manny Fernandez. The game can be seen on the network Roland Martin made famous. Here are the stats.


Stat Leaders
Goals - Vanek (7)
Assists - Pominville, Numminen (4)
Points - Vanek (9)
Plus/Minus - Spacek (+4)
Penalty Minutes - Kaleta (32)
Shots - Vanek (32)

Special Teams
Power Play: 24.2% (6th in League)
Penalty Kill: 100.0% (Tied for 1st in League)

Miller: 3-0, 1.30 GAA, .945 SV%
Lalime: 1-0-1, 1.44 GAA, .951 SV%


Stat Leaders
Goals - Kessel, Savard (5)
Assists - Savard, Ryder (4)
Points - Savard (9)
Plus/Minus - Wideman, Ference (+5)
Penalty Minutes - Lucic (16)
Shots - Kessel, Savard (20)

Special Teams
Power Play: 22.2% (8th in League)
Penalty Kill: 75.0% (24th in League)

Thomas: 1-0-2, 2.54 GAA, .919 SV%
Fernandez: 1-1, 3.03 GAA, .878 SV%

Globe and Mail: Informal Talk about another Expansion Team in Toronto

The NHL governors are kicking around an idea to put another franchise in Toronto with Jim Balsillie being the owner of the team. The new team would share the Air Canada Center with the Leafs. Here is the article from the Globe and Mail.

The Sabres would be fine with another team in Toronto. There are fears among the governors that a second team might hurt the Sabres attendance especially if the team was in Hamilton. If the team was in Toronto, the attendance issues would not be that bad.

A second team in Toronto has some pros and cons. First, a new rivalry would be instantly born. The second team in Toronto would have the same quality of fan that the Leafs have and that would instantly create a hatred for them as well. Second, it gives another reason to road trip to Toronto. Unfortunately, it likely would mean a reshuffling of the divisions and the Sabres would most likely be the odd team out in the reshuffle. With two teams in Toronto, the Northeast would have Toronto (1), Toronto (2), Ottawa, Montreal, Boston. The Sabres would probably be shifted to the Atlantic. Therefore, the rivalries between the Canadian teams would lack.

A second team in Toronto should also not be an expansion team. With the Predators and the Coyotes seriously needing help to keep their teams afloat, if the NHL is considering this proposition moving one of these teams would be a better option for the viability of the league rather than bringing a new team into the league.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Thrashers Give Sabres First Loss

The Sabres came into Saturday night's game rather exhausted after arriving into Atlanta at 1:30 am from the Vancouver game. And boy did it show. The Thrashers piled 19 shots in the first period and converted on two of them. The Sabres eventually tied the game and lost the game 3-2 in a shootout.

Patrick Lalime probably had the best game he is going to have as a Sabre. He looked spectacular for the Sabres especially in the first and kept the Sabres in the game long enough to get at least one point. He does have a tell in the shootout though. Both Kozlov and Kovalchuk had the same move on Lalime which was high glove side. It almost looked like he was handcuffed by the shots.

The Sabres themselves looked very tired going into the game, not being able to get themselves out of the defensive zone. They only got 6 shots on net in the first and scored their first goal in the second. The fatigue is going to be an issue going into this schedule. They play the Bruins at home on Tuesday and then they travel again to face Minnesota and Colorado Thursday and Saturday. Taking two of three this week will solidfy this team's position as an elite team in the league this year.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Canucks Game Review and Game Preview for Thrashers

The Sabres beat the Canucks last night 5-2 at the Bank. The main achilles heel for the Canucks was backup goalie Curtis Sanford who basically looked outmatched all night. Main stars for the Sabres were Ales Kotalik and Thomas Vanek. Kotalik had two goals on the night which doubled his goal total for the year while Vanek had three points on the night with one goal and two assists.

The Sabres special teams looked really good again last night as well going 2 for 6 on the powerplay and holding the Canucks scoreless on their 5 powerplay shifts. The penalty kill so far on the year has been perfect while the powerplay has converted on 26% of their chances this year.

One issue that has come up in the last two games has been the play of Patrick Kaleta. Kaleta against the Rangers basically turtled against Mara and drew a five minute powerplay that produced the game winning goal. Again in the Canucks game, Shane O'Brien jumped Kaleta and didnt really give Kaleta a chance to throw a punch which drew a double major for O'Brien that led to the second goal of the game. While I was critical of Kaleta's actions in the Rangers game, the fact that he has drawn two powerplays that the Sabres have been able to convert on means that drawing the penalties have actually worked.

The Sabres play again against the Atlanta Thrashers who have struggled in their first four games. The Sabres may fall into a hard time with the first back-to-back game of the season. The Sabres travel down to Atlanta last night and may be a little fatigued from the Canucks game. A quick start for the Sabres will help here. Patrick Lalime should be in net for tonight. Here are stats for the game.


Stat Leaders
Goals - Vanek (6)
Assists - Numminen (4)
Points - Vanek (8)
Plus/Minus - (+4)
Penalty Minutes - Rivet (29)
Shots - Vanek (25)

Special Teams
Power play - 25.9% (7th in League)
Penalty Kill - 100.0% (Tied for 1st in League)

Miller: 3-0, 1.30 GAA, .945 SV%
Lalime: 1-0, 1.00 GAA, .958 SV%


Stat Leaders
Goals - Little (3)
Assists - Havelid (4)
Points - Little (5)
Plus/Minus - Exelby, Hainsey (+4)
Penalty Minutes - Boulton (22)
Shots - Schneider (14)

Special Teams
Powerplay - 13.0% (21st in League)
Penalty Kill - 80.0% (17th in League)

Lehtonen: 1-2, 3.04 GAA, .915 SV%
Hedberg: 0-0, 0.00 GAA, 1.000 SV%

Friday, October 17, 2008

Game 4: Sabres/Canucks Preview

Quick preview as I head out the door for the day. Canucks come into Buffalo after beating Detroit last night 4-3 in overtime. Should mean that they are fatigued from playing such a difficult game against the world champs. Sanford in net for the Canucks due to the back-to-back. No real Sabres changes. I will have more on this game tomorrow. Here are the stats.


Stat Leaders
Goals - Vanek (5)
Assists - Paille, Numminen (3)
Points - Vanek (5)
Plus/Minus - Vanek (+2)
Penalty Minutes - Rivet (29)
Shots - Vanek (18)

Special Teams
Power Play - 22.7% (9th in League)
Penalty Kill - 100.0% (Tied for 1st in League)

Miller: 2-0, .96 GAA, .958 SV%
Lalime: 1-0, 1.00 GAA, .958 SV%


Stat Leaders
Goals - Burrows (3)
Assists - H. Sedin (4)
Points - H. Sedin, D. Sedin, Burrows (5)
Plus/Minus - Burrows, Edler (+5)
Penalty Minutes - H. Sedin (8)
Shots - Burrows (14)

Special Teams
Power Play - 9.1% (28th in League)
Penalty Kill - 81.8% (16th in League)

Luongo: 3-1, 3.21 GAA, .895 SV%

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Tavares Excited About Gait's Return

Brian Shanahan of NLL Insider has an interview up with John Tavares on his thoughts of Gait's return.

”Gary’s in great shape and I think he’ll do really well. Besides, he’s making me feel like a young guy”

Tavares became the all-time record holder of all of Gait's records last season with his 597th goal. Here is the rest of the article.

Blackhawks Fire Coach Denis Savard

The first week into the season and we have our first coaching casualty. The Blackhawks announced today that they have fired Denis Savard and replaced him with former Avalanche coach Joel Quennville.

While the Blackhawks have looked bad in their first four games, did the change need to be made. More importantly, the change is not going to make much of a difference. The coaching might have been bad, but I think that the players cannot just handle the pressure of being under the spotlight. Led be Captain Choker himself, Brian Campbell, this clubhouse may not have the right type of leadership to be able to handle the issues that happen when things go bad and when things go well. This Blackhawk team is a young team that may have some more growing up to do before they actually hit the big time.

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.