Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Two Big Bodies Stick With the Sabres, A Huge Body Gets His NHL Contract

Of the five youngin's who were with the team in Saturday's 5-1 win vs. the no-show Washington Capitals, two are still with the team--Brayden McNabb and  Zack Kassian--while  RW Corey Tropp (10 games, 1 goal, 1 assist, minus-2,) TJ Brennan (3 games, 1 goal, 0 assists, zero plus/minus,) and Paul Szczechura (1 game, 0 goals, 2 assists, plus-two) were sent back to Rochester.

They were sent down because a trio of walking wounded--Robyn Regehr, Drew Stafford and Patrick Kaleta--will all get back into action tonight vs. the NY Islanders.

A quick note on the Capitals. The players, led by Alexander Ovechkin, were successful in ousting their coach, Bruce Boudreau, as he was fired yesterday. GM George McPhee had this to say, "The reason for the change was we weren't winning obviously, This wasn't a slump. You can ride out slumps. This was simply a case of the players no longer responding to Bruce.

"When you see that, as much as you don't want to make a change, you have to make a change." (for more, click here.)

Boudreau was replaced by Dale Hunter.

Another note (part 2):  The Carolina Hurricanes fired Paul Maurice (for the second time) replacing him with Kirk Muller the same day.

OK. Back to the Sabres.

We all know what happened with Milan Lucic and Ryan Miller. We also know about the rematch. As Sabres fans we've also seen a parade of smaller, skilled players in the 2000/2010's and the transition to a bigger team seems to be gaining traction.

The decision to keep McNabb (6'4", 205 lbs.) and Kassian (6'3", 215 lbs.) is based, in large part, upon size and, to an extent, attitude. Both used their size and showed glimpses of ferocity on Saturday and will have the opportunity to get more of a taste of the NHL.

They join  2007 draftee Luke Adam (6'2", 203 lbs,) and 2008 draftee Tyler Myers (6'8", 227 lbs.) on a Sabres team intent upon getting bigger.

Yesterday, the team announced that they signed defenseman Joe Finley to a three-year, two-way contract worth $1.575M.

Recent-signee, Joe Finley may be
on hisway to bringing that snarl,
not to mention his size, to the
Buffalo Sabres
Finley is a huge specimen at 6'8", 260 lbs, and adds even more size to the Sabres organization, an organization who has the Boston Bruins to look at six times per year. Lindy Ruff on the Howard Simon Show today, while talking about the Sabres/Bruins rematch last week, talked about matching up with the Bruins in the physicality department saying, "It's gonna be a war when we play 'em." (12:51-mark)

Ironically enough, Finley was drafted by the Washington Capitals with the 27th overall pick in the 2005 draft. He left high school after his junior year and played in the USHL in 2004/05, the year before the draft. Finley attended the University of North Dakota afterwards playing for the Fighting Sioux. In his four years there he played in 154 games scoring seven goals, adding 28 assists and finishing his career plus-66.

For Finely, though, injuries started to creep in. He played in only 27 games his senior year at North Dakota due to concussion. He played in a mere 15 games in 2009/10 for Washington's ECHL affiliate in South Carolina due to a deep hand bruise. Last season he ruptured an artery in his hand and appeared in only 26 games for the Stingrays.

The Capitals opted not to resign Finley after his two year entry-level contract was up. Darcy Regier and the Buffalo Sabres invited him to camp and he was eventually signed to an AHL contract.

You can't teach size, nor can you teach work ethic and Finley has both. Hockey's Future had this to say about him, "Finley has an enormous frame with tremendous focus and a strong work ethic."

The size is obvious, but when he was injured kingsofleonis.com pointed out that he "took a positive approach regarding the time missed due to his injury." Finley put it this way, “Looking back I am just thankful that it wasn’t a lower body injury that would have kept me from skating and doing lower body exercises. It just means that I’ve had more time to work hard and get better at specific areas of my game."

That's where Ron Rolston, Jay McKee and "Sabres University" comes into play.

Finley had acquitted himself well in the previous pro seasons with the South Carolina Stingrays and the AHL's Hershey Bears. In fact only once was he a minus-player. But it's a big jump from the ECHL to the AHL, and there's an even bigger jump to the NHL.

Surprisingly, for a player that big, skating isn't the issue. He can play the role of defensive-defenseman using his size and girth, he's not afraid of hitting people, nor is he afraid of dropping the gloves. Injuries and opportunity were his biggest hurdles up until this point. Being big and tough, as well as being able to skate, and play top-pairing minutes in the AHL is a big advantage for Finley with the way the NHL has changed over the last decade and a half.

Joe Finley (L) goes at it with
Paul Bissonette
The days of Dave Semenko protecting Wayne Gretzky or the late Bob Probert protecting Steve Yzerman are fading away. Any enforcer-type needs to be able to play solid minutes. The latest enforcer for the Sabres was Andrew Peters. The organization rid themselves of his 2 minutes per game preferring an "enforcer by committee
" approach.

And it worked for a little while, that was until Milan Lucic took out Ryan Miller.

That hit may have changed the whole thought-process of the organization. It showed that Regier's "soft-but-skilled" players are still easy to push around in the post-"New-NHL" era.

So it's not surprising that the Sabres signed big Joe Finley to a three-year NHL contract.

And he's doing his part by putting in the work and playing his game. Letsgoameriks.dom did a piece on Finley. The author of the article, Keith Wozniak, asked Rolston about Finley during the Sabres training camp. Here's what Rolston had to say, “Joe came in and really impressed a lot of people there (in Buffalo). The way he moves, his size, it’s the first thing you see.” He continued, “Watch him skate and his hands, he has a lot of things there. He wasn’t put into any game situations, playing will give him that opportunity to show this is the place to play.” (this Wozniak piece is a great read)

From there to the Amerks where he is paired in a shutdown role with with Shaone Morrisonn. His plus-10 rating, which is consistent with his hockey career, is tops on the team and proves he can play the pro game.

Can he eventually bring his size and brawn to the Sabres? He's definitely out to prove it. The Sabres organization is loaded with puck-movers on the back-end, so Finley stands out. "A guy like (Sabres defenseman) Robyn Regehr, he's obviously someone you want to pattern your game after," Finley said. "But there really isn't any other defenseman that really fits that mold."

If he could get himself into a #6 role playing 10-12 minutes on the NHL level, I'm pretty sure the Sabres would be ecstatic. But he still has some work to do.

For now, Finley is a project that could pay big dividends should he continue to thrive in Rochester. Former Bears coach, Bob Woods, mentioned his sheer size but also mentioned his desire to learn, "His stick's taller than I am," he joked. "He's a big boy, great kid. You can tell he really wants to learn. He's looked good. He moves well for a big boy."

With his size and desire to grow as a player, as well as Rolston's player development acumen and McKee's NHL insight on defense, Joe Finley could be the guy that brings the organization's vision of a "Sabres University" to life.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Washington, Somehow, Comes Up With An Effort More Lame Than Buffalo In Columbus

The Columbus game two nights ago was about as pitiful as it gets. It was the most pathetic display of hockey I've ever had the displeasure of witnessing. The 5-1 loss at Columbus was distressing enough, but I brought a friend to the game, his first NHL game. The only redeeming quality was the AC/DC "For those about to rock! (cannon fires) We salute you" goal celebration. He's a huge AC/DC fan.

It's a good thing that the Sabres played the Washington Capitals last night. They might be the only team in the league right now that will put on a pathetic display of hockey that's worse than the Sabres did in Columbus the previous night. And, if you factor in the pure talent-level, the Caps probably put on the worst showing of any team in the NHL this season.

(from l-r) Marc-Andre Gragnani, Brayden McNabb,
and TJ Brennan suit up for the game vs.
the Washington Capitals
Thanks, Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, Alexander Semin, Dennis Wideman and Co. Without your lousy performance last night, the Sabres would be looking at a 0-3-1 record in the last four, a F'N Center home record of 4-7-1, and a spot outside of the top-eight in the Eastern Conference.

And it wouldn't have been surprising to see the Sabres take another hit at home at the hands of the uber-talented Capitals. The Sabres had the ready-made exuse--an inordinate number of injuries.

The Sabres were missing eight regulars and one #7 d-man.

Let's go down the list:
  • Tyler Ennis (F,) Injured Reserve, 10-25-11--sprained ankle
  • Ryan Miller (G,) IR, 11-14-11--concussion
  • Cody McCormick (F,) IR, 11-16-11--"upper body"
  • Mike Weber (D,) IR, 11-18-11--"upper body"
  • Tyler Myers (D,) IR, 11-23-11--broken wrist
  • Pat Kaleta (F,) day-to-day, 11-23-11--"lower body"
  • Brad Boyes (F,) IR, 11-25-11--knee
  • Robyn Regehr (D,) day-to-day, 11-26-11--"upper body"
  • Drew Stafford (F,) day-to-day, 11-26--11--"undisclosed"
Rookie Zack Kassian and
journeyman Paul Szczechura
suit up for the Caps game.
That list includes the starting goalie (Miller,) two top-four d-men (Regehr and Myers) and three top-nine forwards (Ennis, Stafford, Boyes.)

Taking their place (not including journeyman, Matt Ellis and Jochen Hecht, who returned from injury):
  • Drew MacIntyre (G,) journeyman goalie--recalled11-14-11
  • Corey Tropp (F,) one full AHL season--11-16-11
  • TJ Brennan (D,) two full AHL seasons--11-21-11
  • Zack Kassian (F,) 21 AHL games (three in 2011 post-season)--11-24-11
  • Brayden McNabb (D,) 19 AHL games--11-26-11
  • Paul Szczechura (F,) journeyman forward with 83 NHL and 214 AHL games in five seasons--11-26-11
Also in the lineup:
  • Luke Adam (C,) 21 yrs. old, second NHL season--rookie
  • Jhonas Enroth (G,) 23 yrs. old, second NHL season--rookie
  • Marc-Andre Gragnani (D,) 24 yrs. old, first full NHL season
  • Nathan Gerbe (F,) 24 yrs. old, second full NHL season
Szczechura started things off when he went full-bore in the the corner and got former Sabres draft pick Dennis Wideman (8th-round, 2002) to freak out (see video below.) Wideman sent a blind feed off of "Chewy's" stick that went right to Luke Adam who one-timed it past Thomas Vokoun. He also worked the corner and fed Adam for his second goal as the big Sabres center waltzed in on Vokoun with four Caps--including a pylon named Oveckin--merely watching and blasted one by.

Brayden McNabb levels Jason
Chimera in his 1st NHL game.
McNabb lead the team with six hits, a couple of doozies, and cleared the crease with attitude. He replaced Regehr and played a stand-up, defensive d-man role in his first NHL game.

Kassian scored his first NHL goal (in his second game) and proceeded to hit like the player the team envisioned when he was drafted with the 13th overall pick in the 2009 draft. The gap-toothed power forward scored on a weak goal, five-hole just :27 seconds after Jason Chimera pulled the Caps within one.

Zack Kassian celebrates his
first NHL goal. Derek Roy retrieved
the puck.
Tropp continued to be a nuisance and continues to make a strong push to stick once the walking wounded return. Brennan has played solid in his three games

In a tribute to the continuity of the Sabres system, Rochester coach Ron Rolston has prepared the youngsters well for the NHL game played by Buffalo. Enroth was rarely tested as the team played a simple "road game" at home. Nothing fancy, just solid d and smart decisions.

Luke Adam puts up his bear-claw
to high-five his teammates as
an obviously disenchanted
Alex Ovechin of the Caps
heads to the bench.
 If this is "the year of the core"--veterans who've played together for years leading the team this season--last night showed us a glimpse of "the new core." All of these players will have the opportunity to develop further in Rochester this season hoping to someday join the likes of Myers, Ennis and Gerbe as well as Adam, Enroth and Gragnani as the future of the Blue and Gold.

And thanks to the Washington Capitals last night, they got off to a rollicking start.

edit: TJ Brennan, Paul "Chewy" Szczechura and Corey Tropp were all sent down yesterday (Nov. 28.) Zack Kassian and Brayden McNabb have stuck with the team with their size factoring in on the decision.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

A Valiant Effort

Paul Gaustad knew what needed to be done. Or felt that he needed to challenge Milan Lucic. And he did on their first shift. And he took a pretty good beating. Good thing it was real early, Lucic wasn't warmed up yet, “It was my first shift, you know,’’ he said. “It’s kinda tough to get angry.’’

The girls' reaction in the second row says it all.
Everyone knew what Gaustad was in for
tangling with Milan Lucic, but it didn't matter.
The effort was appreciated
througout Buffalo.

Gaustad earned some respect, though. As did the Sabres even though they eventually dropped a 4-3 decision to Boston in a shootout.

After the game, Lucic was asked about Gaustad and the fight, "It was straight to the point," he said. Teammate Chara gave props to Goose, "You have to give Gaustad credit," Chara said. "He's a stand-up guy and he did a good job for his team. So did Looch."

Gaustad and the team earned back the respect of their fans as well. The 18,690 in attendance and those of us watching loved it, even though they knew the outcome of the Goose/Looch fight. As John Vogl of the Buffalo News put it, "What mattered was their team was back from the land of kittens and custard."

Goose also came in mid-way through the first to pound Brad Marchand into the boards after Marchand nailed Nathan Gerbe with a check. The B's descended upon Goose and Corey Tropp like a pack of wolves with fists flying. Amongst the Bruins on the ice were some pretty tough customers like Adam McQuaid and Johnny Boychuk.

Out of the melee' came Zdeno Chara and Robyn Regehr. Regehr, who's not the greatest fighter took some lumps from the 6'9" Chara, but managed to sneak in a punch or two himself.

Regehr has always been well respected throughout the league, and it's a good thing he was out there.

The Sabres as a team acquitted themselves very well in what turned out to be an old-school, Adams Division-type rumble for a period and a half. The played some pretty inspired hockey and they didn't back down despite the fact that they were clearly outnumbered in the manly-man category.

For as small as he is,
Nathan Gerbe's heart can
fill the entire F'N Center.
Gerbe, the shortest player in the ice, had eight hits on the game, which isn't all that surprising considering that's the game he plays, "That's fun to play, I'll tell you that much," said the Sabres forward. "Those games are awesome. It's fun to play. It's fun to compete."

That attitude, along with Gaustad manning up early, got their blood pumping to the point where they lead the game by two goals twice, 2-0 and 3-1, but just couldn't bury the defending Stanley Cup Champions with that third one.

Nor could they protect a one-goal lead in the third. Nor could they score in overtime or the shootout.

But all-in-all they played one of their best games of the season, especially in the first period.

For all the purported skill Darcy Regier was supposed to have stocked the team with, they're still not quite as skilled as he believes them to be.

Thomas Vanek scored on a wicked wrist shot to put the Sabres up 2-0. He's got mad skills, although he'd love to have the shot that Chara blocked back. Maybe put some air under it.

Christian Ehrhoff showed why the Sabres went after him. His game-opening goal was a blast from the point through a thick screen in front of Tim Thomas.

Other than that, lack of finish still seems to haunt this team.

The Bruins are a tough match-up for the Sabres. The B's beat them the first time with intimidation and the second time with just a little more skill and finish.

It's not an egregious mismatch, by any stretch, but a tweak or two may be in order if they want to match up with the champs.

The Sabres should in no way hang their heads after their defeat. They gave it all they had, and now need to find it within themselves to sustain that level of play they showed in the first period and a half throughout an entire game.
Although Brad Marchand got leveled
by Thomas Vanek on this play,
he got up and scored seconds later.
The mark of a champion.

There's no better team than the Boston Bruins to emulate now. They had their Lucic/Ryan Miller moment when Marc Savard was nailed by Matt Cooke and there was no response. Eventually they did with Shawn Thorton going after Cooke. And from then on they built themselves into a Stanley Cup Champion.

It's a long way to Tipperary, and these two games with the Bruins showed just how far the Sabres need to go. The team has some really solid pieces, strong goaltending and some skill up-front. They proved last night, as they've proven on more than one occasion before, that they can play a physical game.

They just need a piece or two to be able to come out on top in an Adams Division-type rumble.


Jochen Hecht made his debut last night and showed his savvy. He had Mike Grier-like moments last night where he somehow got in on Thomas only to be denied.

Sabres d-man TJ Brennan
celebrates his first goal in
his first NHL game.
TJ Brennan got thrown into the fire and played a real strong game. He was strong on the puck in his own end and moved the puck out of trouble on a number of occasions. His goal, in his first NHL game, was a combination of savvy and skill as he jumped into an opening and buried his shot from the slot.


From bostonherald.com:

If Lucic-Miller was the big story of the previous Bruins-Sabres meeting in Boston, Brad Marchand’s interactions with Sabres forward Derek Roy was an interesting sub-plot. Throughout that game, Marchand pestered Roy with little shoves and hooks before and after the whistle, and non-stop trash talk.

“He does a good job at it,” said Roy. “There are only a few guys in the league who can do what he does.

“It doesn’t bother me. People have being doing that stuff to me since was a kid. You’re used to it and you just shrug it off. You can’t worry about what he’s doing on the ice, just what you’re trying to do.”

It should be interesting to note that with the Sabres up 3-2 early in the third period, Roy was called for hooking behind the Buffalo net. Zdeno Chara scored on the ensuing powerplay to tie up the game.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The Hype-Machine Is Starting To Get Cranked Up

The 2011 version of the Big Bad Boston Bruins comes rolling into the F'N Center tonight.

The spoked B's are red-hot having won nine in a row and they're looking to make it 10 vs. a team that they smoked less than two weeks ago.

We all remember the game, we all remember the Milan Lucic hit on Ryan Miller. We also remember how the Sabres reacted, or more precisely, failed to react. Every team in the NHL knows that the Sabres can be thrown off of their game. They know that they can get inside of Miller's head, and the collective Sabres head, with some old-school intimidation.

In defense of Lindy Ruffs club, they're not total pantie-waists. They've managed, on a few occasions, to stand up for themselves to various degrees. But the epic fail in the first Bruins/Sabres meeting furthers the point that the Sabres are merely a soft-but-skilled team lacking the proper amount of testosterone to be anything more than a pretender.

So how do the Sabres approach this game?

Quite the quandary for Ruff. He does not have the tools with which to pull off a UFC-style grudge match. The closest thing he has to an enforcer would be Cody McCormick, and he's out with an injury as is another no-nonsense guy, Mike Weber.

There's mention of Paul Gaustad. He, like the team, shows up on occasion to drop the gloves and basically take one for the team. He was disappointed with his own reaction to the events that occurred previously and surely would like to show that he actually has a set.

With all due respect to "Goose," I'm not sure that he has enough internal fury to look at Lucic with shear hatred and embark on a "knock-down-drag 'em-out" with one of the toughest customers in the league. Being infuriated and fighting Lucic would probably mean a sound ass-kicking for Gaustad, but fans would give him props for the effort.

Patrick Kaleta might engage. But, Lucic would like nothing more than to put a severe beating on a player like Kaleta who's universally hated outside of Buffalo for his style of play.

Let's face it, the Sabres can't even come close to matching what Lucic, Shawn Thorton, Adam McQuaid and even Zdeno Chara bring to the cage-match.

So if you can't beat them down, what's the next approach?

How about trying to play your game? How about going for the two points playing an up-tempo game in attack-mode?

That could work. But the Sabres would need to show that they can beat a hot goalie. And Tim Thomas is red-hot with three shutouts in his last five starts.

Even so. Let's say the Sabres do manage to pot a few goals early. There's always the original premise of the Lucic hit:  the Sabres can be thrown off of their game with some brute physicality.

To say the Bruins are a tough team would be putting it mildly. And not only that, they are the king of the hill, the defending Stanley Cup Champions. They have all the tools to repeat and the confidence that goes along with being champion.

The Sabres, on the other hand, have 13 playoff games to their resume' in the last four years.

It's a daunting task in front of the Sabres, so maybe it would be best if they forget the hype, forget about the token fight to start the game, and just lay the body on the B's when the opportunity arises.

Physicality has a way of bringing out a fire within that normally lays dormant in passive play. It also has a way of getting the adrenaline pumping which is a good thing on both ends of the ice.

A player that has gotten little print in this whole thing, Robyn Regehr, put it this way, "There's certain things that happen spontaneously and so be it. It happens when you're playing a good hard physical aggressive game. I don't think there's going to be any sort of premeditated stuff."

Regehr is not a fighter, per se, but he's never backed down from fisticuffs. And although he doesn't have a letter stitched to his jersey in Buffalo, he is a leader and will do what's necessary for the team.

Even though the hype-machine will be cranking, and the call will be for Buffalo to go old-school and show their manhood, in the end the Sabres need to score one more goal than the Bruins.

After all, that's what it comes down to. It's a four-point game for the division lead tonight, and a victory against a red-hot division rival can only be a good thing.

Eventually, the opportunity for redemption will reveal itself. Whether it's tonight or in any of the remaining games between the clubs the rest of the season.

One can only hope that when the opportunity arises, the team will show it has the courage to stand up for themselves and their teammates. They're not going to wipe the collective smirk off of the Bruins face tonight, but a hard-fought win will at least garner them some respect and give a boost to their confidence.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Lucic and Shanahan, Two "Original-Six-Style" Players Expose the Buffalo Sabres

Buffalo Sabres fans should thank Milan Lucic and Brendan Shanahan for what has transpired over the course of the last few days.

With all due respect to Ryan Miller, who I hope is not seriously injured, the pair exposed the Sabres for what they are--a very talented, very soft team.

It's been that way for years as the John Muckler era gave way to the Darcy Regier era for Buffalo.

The Boston Bruins are one of the Original Six teams in the NHL, as a team they've been through all of the NHL-era's. In the 70's they were the Big Bad Bruins. A donnybrook was common place in that "Slapshot" era where benches cleared, you grabbed a partner and danced amidst the gloves, sticks, sweaters and wild punches being thrown.

As an Original Six team, the Bruins still have that old-school intimidation factor ingrained deep within their psyche. Lucic embraces that. As do teammates, Zdeno Chara, Shawn Thorton and Adam McQuaid. Even diminutive Brad Marchand has a serious edge to his game.

This edition of the Buffaol Sabres? Meh. The Lucic hit proved that they do not.

The 2011/12 Sabres are eerily similar to another Sabres team that played in a different era, that of the Scotty Bowman years.

Bowman took over the team and proceed to move aging vets for high draft picks.

The team he built was high on skill, or supposedly highly skilled, with a few "tough guys" throw in for backbone. But that team proved that they didn't have Original Six sensibilities.

The Detroit Red Wings are another Original Six team who had of one of the greatest hockey players ever, Gordie Howe. Howe was as old-school as they came and he's immortalized with "the Gordie Howe Hat Trick":  a goal, and assist and a fight.

During the 80's the Wings were slowly coming out of the "Dead Wings" era of the previous decade with the Steve Yzerman leading the way. Yzerman, by the way was drafted 4th overall in 1983, one spot ahead of Buffalo Sabres goalie, Tom Barrasso. Those two would be a part of a melee four years later as Yzerman would define himself as a leader.

Another quick note on Yzerman, he took over the captaincy of the Wings from former Sabre Danny Gare. The diminutive Gare hit the 50-goal mark twice for the Sabres and once jumped out of the penalty box to join a melee, was in the mold of Wings legend "Terrible Ted" Lindsay who was also small, but old-school tough with a mean-streak.

Bowman had loaded his team with highly touted, skill players taken in the first round. Players like Norm Lacombe, Adam Creighton, Paul Cyr and Phil Housley.

In 1987, those players along with the likes of rookie #1 overall pick Pierre Turgeon, Christian Ruutu, Dave Andreychuk, John Tucker and Uwe Krupp formed "the core" of Scotty Bowman's Buffalo Sabres. That "soft-but-skilled" core was balanced by "tough-guys" Lindy Ruff and waiver acquisition, Kevin Macguire.

Yzerman, Barrasso, Macguire and legendary Wings tough-guy Bob Probert, all came together in a game between the Wings and the Sabres back in 1987. And it starts with this hit.

Bob Probert nails Sabres goaltender Tom Barrasso behind the net. Sabres color-commentator Mike Robitaille sheds light on the subject when he says "Somebody's got to jump in there...it happened the other night with [Jacques] Cloutier when everybody looked the other way."

"When everybody looked the other way." Sound familiar?

Unlike the recent Lucic-on-Miller hit, one Sabre came back and pulled a little old-school payback on Red Wings goalie Greg Stephan. Kevin Macguire proceeded to run Stephan:

Four Red Wings jump Macguire behind the net for his "payback."

One of the defining moments was Steve Yzerman, a player not known for fighting, goes after Macguire in defense of his teammates. This from NHL.com fan blog: "A big melee ensues on the ice. Battles with goalies going head to head. Bob Probert being restrained by the referees, all the players are tied up except Stevie Y and Kevin Maguire; the Sabres heavyweight (aka Buffalo's answer to Probert). Not to be outdone and give Maguire a chance of hurting one of his players, the selfless Yzerman charges Maguire and starts a fight; a fight Maguire clearly finishes. But kudos to Yzerman because he wasn't about to let Maguire contribute to a gang up on one of his teammates. Team first."

Probert knew his role as well. He was the enforcer, there to protect his teammates, especially his captain, Steve Yzerman. The reckless abandon with which he pursues Macguire from start to finish is something to be seen. The cheap-shot he delivered to the restrained Macguire was a payback for running his goalie and fighting his ill-equipped captain. He would not be denied and no Sabres player denied him.

The NHL is different these days. But there are still players who eschew personal safety in defense of their players, especially their goaltenders. It's woven into the fabric of their hockey existence.

Nearly every team, it seems, has these moments where another team exerts their will through intimidation, and dominates them. A moment where they realize they aren't as tough as they thought they might be and/or they'll need to dig deeper in order to beat the big kid on the block.

Take the Red Wings.

In a most unusual rivalry, the Wings and the Colorado Avalanche, two teams with no history and no proximity to speak of, grew to hate each other to the point where it was the toughest, meanest rivalry in hockey during the mid to late 90's and into the 2000's.

In 1996, the Avs, who had just been relocated from Quebec, played the Wings, the President's Trophy winner for best record in the NHL, in the Western Conference Finals.

The Avs boasted some highly skilled players like Joe Sakic, Peter Forsberg, Valerie Kamensky and Sandis Ozolinsh. But they also tough-players like Adam Foote and Mike Keane along with legendary uber-pest (and recognized cheap-shot artist) Claude Lemieux.

The 1996 Western Conference Finals between the Red Wings and the Avalanche represented the Avs casting the Wings aside to claim king of the hill. In game six, Claude Lemieux took a cheap shot on the Wings Kris Draper that sent him to the hospital with a broken jaw (1:20-mark):

With that hit the rivalry was on.

It took a little while for the Wings to establish their machismo vs. the Avalanche. They had played three times prior to March 26, 1997, but not much happened. With the playoffs on the horizon, and an eventual Wings/Avs playoff series pretty much a formality, two unlikely candidates, the Wings Igor Larionov and the Avs Peter Forsberg, started what has become and NHL classic brawl (interesting to note that former Sabres coach and GM, Scotty Bowman was behind the Wings bench):

Wings enforcer Darren McCarty saw the opportunity to exact some revenge upon Claude Lemieux for his cheap-shot on Draper. And Brendan Shanahan provided one of the all-time great goalie checks as the Avs Patrick Roy came flying up ice to defend his teammate only to be hit by a full-speed Shanahan.

Shanahan, not known for his fighting, dropped the gloves with Foote, a player who has held his own on many occasions, four seconds after play resumed.

So what does this all mean? Well we do know one thing. The Red Wings ended a 42-year cup drought that year by sweeping Philadelphia in the Finals. They repeated the next season sweeping the Washington Capitals in the Finals as well.

Hockey is the only of the four major professional sports in America where your manhood can be challenged and you can answer the bell immediately as part of "the code." Or, in some cases, injustices and stupidity can be addressed further down the road. But you have the opportunity to answer it.

The Boston Briuns were challenged by the Stanley Cup Champion Pittsburgh Penguins in 2010. Milan Lucic was on the ice when the Pens' Matt Cooke flatten unsuspecting Bruins center Mark Savard with an elbow to the head. The Bruins did nothing immediately after the hit, much like the Sabres after the Lucic hit on Miller:

Over the course of the last two post-seasons after the Cooke/Savard incident, the Boston Bruins have developed an "Original Six" mentality in that they play that old-school, intimidating brand of "man-hockey." Hockey that Gordie Howe and Terry O'Reilly would be proud of. A sense of team is more important than self-preservation. Hockey that would eventually end a 39-year Stanley Cup drought in 2011.

After his hit on Miller, Lucic summed up where the Bruins mentality was when saying, "Definitely," when asked if the response would have been different if Thomas had been hit like that. "We wouldn't accept anything like that. We would have taken care of business, but we're a different team than they are."

They are a different team than they once were only a year and a half ago.

Looking back on history, it's no wonder that Shanahan did not suspend Lucic. He's seen enough to know that it should have been taken care of on the ice (or eventually will be) and he's smart enough to know the there was no iron-clad case for a suspension. In fact, I could probably see those two talking more about old-school hockey than the hit.

The fact that there was no suspension is a good thing for the Sabres and even though the NHL GM's are in their annual meetings with goalie protection in the forefront, not too much will happen except some more definition. So, in reality, this Sabres team will need to fend for themselves. And if the desired goal is the Stanley Cup, they'll need much more than NHL-intervention to protect their manhood.

For the Sabres, or any Eastern Conference team, the road to the Stanley Cup Finals will probably go through either Boston or Philadelphia, both of whom know how to intimidate. And if they even want a chance to make it there, much less win the Cup itself, they need to reach deep down to find that intestinal fire. That's if they even have it.

The bullying of Lucic is nothing new, and the only way the victim will get any respect is to fight back. What it takes to bring out that inner fury is something only the individual knows. But there comes a time where you say enough is enough and the inner warrior comes out with a vengeance. The pain of humiliation is much worse than a punch to the face. And usually good things follow.

Darcy Regier and other GM's of his ilk are having their Tipper Gore/PMRC-moment trying to protect their players (children.) Go ahead. But bullies will always remain and be a threat until the players themselves--individually--man-up and do something about it.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Sabres Are "Gutless" In (non) Reaction To Lucic Bowling Miller Over

Back in November of last year, when rumors that were once swirling about a billionaire Sabre-fan interested in buying the team, Bucky Gleason did a background piece on said billionaire, Terry Pegula.

Everyone wanted to know about this guy and Gleason gathered as much info as he could--second-hand, third-hand, whatever.

Seems as if Pegula fell in love with hockey in the early-mid Seventies and was torn between the Broadstreet Bullies and the French Connection, especially in the 1975 Stanley Cup Finals when the Flyers and the Sabres met.

WBEN once quoted Pegula as saying that "It was the Philadelphia Flyers style of hockey that got me into it."

Did he mean stuff like this?


Probably the fact that those Flyers were a tough bunch who never backed down from a fight, a group that always stuck up for each other.

The Boston Bruins/Buffalo Sabres rivalry goes back to that era when a fledgling Sabres club was trying to earn some respect against their divisional rival. The Bruins were two-time Cup winners in the early 70's (1970, 1972,) and the Sabres didn't care.

Sabres d-man Jim Schoenfeld was a rookie in 1972. In December he got into three fights with the Big Bad Bruins. He fought Bobby Orr, Carol Vandais and had this legendary go with Wayne Cashman:

The "Slapshot-era" for hockey is long gone. No longer do we see thuggery and donnybrooks on a nightly basis. You know, the old cliche', "I went to a fight and a hockey game broke out."

But, there's still that intensity, that unbridled anger and ferocity that manifests itself on the ice in the heat of the moment. There are still thugs on the ice and they're still doing things that thugs have always done, namely, intimidating the opponent.

What took place last night in the Bruins 6-2 manhandling of the Buffalo Sabres was just that, a big, bad-ass player intimidating the Sabres by taking out Ryan Miller. And the most distressing part is that this Sabres team, perhaps just like the Sabres teams of the last five or six years, did nothing to protect their goalie.

To this blogger who has been wanting some ferocity and pure anger for a number of years, it was no surprise. To Milan Lucic, the Bruin who made the hit, it came as a surprise that no one on the Sabres meaningfully defended their goalie. He had this to say, on how the Bruins would react, ""Definitely," Lucic said when asked if the response would have been different if Thomas had been hit like that. "We wouldn't accept anything like that. We would have taken care of business, but we're a different team than they are."

The above quote was taken from nesn.com and they also pointed out that the Bruins were once a team like Buffalo, in that no one defended Pittsburgh forward Matt Cooke's hit on Marc Savard. It's a blistering article lambasting the Sabres for being gutless. Goalie Tim Thomas said he was "on his toes" for retaliation, calling it an "old-school way." The author, Douglas Flynn, uses that to set this up, "But the Sabres are a new school type of team. They tucked their tails between their legs and let themselves be run out of the building."

Lucic was smirking all the way into the post-game interviews which can be found here in a Jon Vogl piece that is right on with the way I see it. Vogl adds a couple of video clips, some old-school hockey where the goalie was protected at all costs.

The Sabres are known for wilting when the hitting and intensity-level rises, teams have known that for years, and they also know that the team Darcy Regier built will not defend their goalie with meaning, it's just not in their character.

I'd assume that Pegula's initiation via the Broadstreet Bullies is ingrained in his hockey being. As a fan he's watched the game evolve into a more skillful game, and he's watched the NHL attempt to weed out intimidation and unnecessary thuggery. But hockey is hockey, and plays like the one Lucic pulled on Miller will always be around.

One would also think that he's not thrilled with what his team did not do following the hit.

Pegula has some very sharp hockey minds surrounding him and, to my knowledge, has kept his hands off of the day-to-day operations. He has given them all free-reign to do what it takes to win the Stanley Cup. But, it's pretty plain to see that no matter how good this Sabres team is, teams like the Bruins and the Flyers know how to get them off of their game, simply get physical and harass and/or hit Miller to the point where he loses focus.

It would be welcomed if Pegula demanded some old-school toughness to balance out the vanilla group of skill-players that the Sabres ice. Robyn Regehr was a good addition. Mike Weber should be looked to as another one. And Zack Kassian is having a real good season in Rochester thus-far. He was drafted for his skill and toughness (a Lucic-type power forward.)

Yet they may need to look outside for that savvy veteran with the balls to stand up to a player like Lucic. They may need to add a tough guy sometime during the season so that hits like Lucic on Miller and the Bruins Johnny Boychuk on Thomas Vanek in the 2010 playoffs will be answered.

Peugula has tens of millions of dollars invested in those two players and he can use that as the impetus for directing his hockey men to toughen up the team.

Not that he really needs anything to direct the likes of Ted Black and Regier to make a move. He's the owner, he can do as he sees fit. And if he really did fall in love with hockey because of the Broad Street Bullies, and believes that there needs to be more "old-school" and less "new-age/new-NHL," methinks we'll see a team heading in that direction.

It's a long year, but one thing Pegula should never want to here is that the Sabres are "gutless."

After all, you never heard that about the Broadstreet Bullies. Nor did you here that about the French Connection-era Sabres either.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Nate Gerbe Abuses the Sens Stephane DaCosta


Nathan Gerbe takes Sens forward Stephane DaCosta's lunch-money.

Not a bad baseball swing by Jordan Leopold either.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Rex Ryan Loves the Leaves

Just something I came across with an extra hour on my hands.

From the Toronto Sun, "Rex Ryan Bleeds Blue and White."

Yet another reason for Buffalo fans to hate the Jets.

NY Jets head coach Rex Ryan is all giddy
as he proudly displays his signed
Daryl Sittler hockey stick.

Gotta love the hockey promotion, though.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Lindy Ruff Needs To Take This Goalie "Controversy" Upon His Shoulders

The numbers:

Ryan Miller--4 wins, 5 losses, 2.48 gaa, .922 sv%
Jhonas Enroth--3 wins, zero losses, 1.29 gaa, .958 sv%

The rumblings have been going on for nearly a year, and an impatient, unsympathetic fan base is fast approaching a mob mentality with pitchforks in hand and a match to the torches.

Not that this all really matters to the Buffalo Sabres brain-trust. Can they really afford to have their #1 goalie face a hostile environment on home ice, though? This is something that happens in Montreal, but at the foot of Washington Street?

Whoda thunk it?

For years the fan-base, not to mention everyone within the Sabres organization, has been clamoring for a dependable back-up goalie. We know the names of Enroth's predecessors post Martin Biron and what they did not do for the team, and how the Sabres missed the playoffs two out of three seasons.

The Sabres finally have a capable--outstanding--back up and within 20 game span, Enroth is being anointed starter and Miller is being shipped out by fans.

Not that the fans pointing out various flaws are baseless. What's baseless is anointing Enroth the starter, shipping out Miller and bringing in the Rochester Americans David Leggio or Drew MacIntyre as a back-up.

Regardless, fact of the matter is, this is getting way out of hand and Lindy Ruff needs to place this one squarely upon his shoulders and work it out.

And he needs to do this through his skaters.

As evidenced by the Philly game where the team tightened up after Miller was pulled, the players must take care of their own end while cutting back on the "high-risk" part of the equation.

When Miller has been in net, dating back to the days of Drury and Briere--save for the 2009/10 season and the second half of last season--the team has had a "high-risk, high-reward" approach to the game. Too many mistakes and too much cheating have ended up in odd-man rushes the other way and pucks ending up in their own net.

That approach stretched into the early part of last season, especially at home, and reared it's ugly head this season, at home

There's no reason for this team to play that loose, especially when they still have trouble finishing.

The whole team plays different on the road, in fact it plays different when Enroth is in net. They keep it simple, play good team defense, get the puck up ice in transition and generally work hard at both ends of the ice.

Lindy Ruff needs pull back on his d-men joining the rush and have his players be more conscious of playing a complete game. And he needs them to do it consistently for a prolonged period. They will eventually return to that high-risk, high-reward style, but they'll do it smarter.

That should help Miller get out of his home funk and it should keep Enroth and his numbers where they presently are.

Secondly, Ruff said that he gave each goalie their games at the beginning of the week and that he would not alter it. As far as we know, he did not. But it would make sense that he'd have Enroth vs. the western Conference and Miller vs. a division foe.

He should do the same thing for this upcoming stretch of games which, starting with Winnipeg on Nov. 8, will end up being seven games in 12 nights.

He doesn't need to reveal the starter before the actual game, no matter how much the media and/or fans want to know. If things get unravelled on a particular night, then he should shoulder the blame and stick to his guns.

My guess is that there won't be a lot to worry about if the skaters play a smart game, play sound defense and continue to work their butts off for a goal.

Should this occur, the entire team should be able to get into a rhythm, including one particular goalie.

Just for fun, I'd like to play the "Guess What Lindy Will Do" game.

Goalies for the seven games after tonight:
  • Nov. 8 vs. Winnipeg--Miller
  • Nov. 11 vs. Ottawa--Enroth
  • Nov. 12 @ Boston--Miller
  • Nov. 14 @ Montreal--Miller
  • Nov. 16 vs. Devils--Miller
  • Nov. 18 @ Carolina--Enroth
  • Nov. 19 vs. Phoenix--Miller

Friday, November 4, 2011

When In Doubt, Drop Back Ten Yards And Punt

That first seven minutes at First Niagara Center was about as ugly as it gets.

You could tell that it was gonna be that way. Lindy Ruff trotted out Luke Adam flanked by Nathan Gerbe and Drew Stafford and for 1:13 seconds they, along with defensemen Tyler Myers and Andrej Sekera represented the Keystone Cops. Although Philly didn't score, they certainly set the tone.

Thirty seconds later Ryan Miller serves up a juicy rebound which Flyer rookie Sean Couturier buries. On the play, Patrick Kaleta loses his man on he back-check, and Brad Boyes is caught cheating a bit up-ice on the weak side leaving Couturier wide open.

OK, fine. It was not a very good way to start. You can trust that vets Paul Gaustad, Cody McCormick and Matt Ellis will at least hold the fort for a shift. Right?

Ummm. Well...no.

Couturier is still on the ice, so is young stud James van Riemsdyk. The duo end up with a two on one a mere seconds later and van Riemsdyk rifles one top-shelf, glove-side. Christian Ehrhoff was back on the play and was in no-man's land as he neither played the shooter or the pass definitively. Miller was stuck back deeper in his net than he shoulda been. Pow! 2-0 Philly.

It doesn't get better over the next five minutes either as the Flyers completely dominate and score their third goal as Scott Hartnell blasts one past Miller with just 6:23 gone in the game.

The damage card? Philadelphia-3, Buffalo-0. Shots on goal, Philadelpia-11, Buffalo-2. Miller out, back-up Jhonas Enroth in.

The Sabres settled down and got back to basics the rest of the game to make it interesting scoring two goals, but, as they say, the damage was done.

Everything was a complete disaster from the get-go. From Ruff's line combinations, to his defense pairings, to his match-ups, to his goalie. Everything imploded.

Probably the best thing to happen to this team. The Flyers blew the fairy dust off of Pegulaville and left it standing there naked and exposed.

I've heard the term "Sabres-hockey" thrown around often. Just what is, "Sabres-hockey?" What defines this team?

Well it's changed over the last 14 years under Ruff. In '99 it was "the hardest working team in hockey." In 2006 it was "the team built for the new NHL."

Since the summer of 2007 this core of players has yet to define itself, except for the second half of last season. That was a hard-working bunch who battled hard to get into the playoffs after an atrocious start. They played solid d, and although they had some trouble finishing, they still made it work. They were relatively young, especially on the back end which was ultimately exposed in their hard-fought playoff loss to the same Flyers.

This new group started off strong looking fast and focused. Wednesday night at the F'N Center they looked like crap for the first seven minutes and failed in their comeback bid.

So now what?

Drop back ten yards and punt and play defense.

It's back to basics and this team from the coach on down should have learned a few things.

Lindy Ruff needs to realize that no matter how much firepower, either perceived or real, he has on the wings, the center position still has holes. And centers drive the team. He can't open things up like he did back in 2006.

As much as he wants his d to pinch and join the rush, they can't. They're giving up way too many odd man rushes with ill-advised pinches. And they're leaving Ryan Miller hung out to dry too much. High-risk, high-reward is a good concept, if you have three lines like they once did, but they don't. They cannot comeback from any deficit at any time like they did in 2006.

Miller is not a Dominic Hasek or Martin Brodeur. When he's in his zone, like many goalies, nothin' will get by him. But more often than not, his positional, butterfly style is more suited to a team concept where the defense limits angles and he's out there challenging shooters.

All-in-all this team needs to get back to basics. Play good, solid defense, collapse, get the puck and move it up ice. Each player must take responsibility for that. No cheating.

It was a humbling game vs. Philly the other night. Lindy Ruff chastised himself for juggling the lines unnecessarily and hopefully he had an epiphany. One of his weaknesses has been line-juggling. Maybe he'll chill on that and allow players to develop chemistry.

Sometimes a humbling experience that leaves you exposed is a good thing.

We'll see what happens.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

2011/12 Team Stats--October

At 6-4 on the season, the Buffalo Sabres sit in third place in the N.E. division, 7th in the Eastern Conference and 12th in the league with 12 points.

After a very hot start which saw them go 3-0 then 5-1, the team took a bit of a nose-dive by going 1-3 to finish off the month.

Overall, though, the team has shown a marked increase over last season in all areas. Perhaps the most definitive improvement has been on the faceoff dot. Last season they never ended the month higher than 26th in the league and finished 27th at 47.7%. This year they're over 50% and sit at #11 in the league.

Another area to look at is shots against/goals against. It would seem as if the they're playing a pretty good team defense keeping teams to the perimeter. And when their d breaks down they have a pretty good goaltending tandem as the last line of defense. They rank 22nd in the league in shots against but are tied for 5th in goals against. In addition, the penalty has been helped immensely by the addition of defenseman Robyn Regehr. They are presently 2nd in the league.

The Sabres shots per game total last season never dipped out of the top-five at the end of any month, yet this season they end October 18th in the league. But on the positive side, while last year they were doing a whole lot of shooting with not much scoring until the 2011 calendar year, this season they're already 8th. 
Lindy Ruff has had to integrate three new players into his system. It will take some time to get them playing as they should, but the 6-4 record and marked improvement across the board point to a pretty solid season.

Their Premier Series debut vs. Anaheim in Finland was about as complete a game as they've played all season. The Sabres haven't really come close to that as evidenced by their Jekyll/Hyde performance thus far. But that game vs. Anaheim shows how dominant this team can be.

It's a long hockey season, and invariably there will be ups and downs, but the key for this team will be to use the overall speed up-front to generate quality shots--and finish--while on the back-end they'll need to continue to force a perimeter game.

Here's how the Sabres fare league wide after the month of October.

  • October--6 (T-9th)

  • October--12 (12th)

Eastern Conference Standing:
  • October--7th

Northeast Division Standing:
  • October--3rd

  • October--2.90 (8th)...(#1, Wash-3.78)

  • October--29.4 (18th)...(#1, Det-35.7)

Goals Against/Game:
  • October--2.20 (T-5th)...(#1, Edm-1.46)

Shots Against/Game:
  • October--31.9 (22nd)...(#1, Stl-25.9)

Five-On-Five GF/GA Ratio:
  • October--1.43 (2nd)...(#1, Wash-1.64)

  • October--21.9% (8th)...(#1, Ott-31.0%)

Penalty Kill:
  • October--91.9% (2nd)...(#1, Pit-92.3%)

  • October--50.8% (11th)...(#1, Col-54.7%)

2011/12 Individual Stats--October

The Buffalo Sabres left the month of October in markedly better shape this year as opposed to last season. Of course we all should remember the horror that was last season, the team went 3-7-2 for the month and were at or near the bottom of the eastern conference.

This season, though, the team is off to a 6-4 start. Not bad overall, but pretty sad considering that they were 5-1 before a homestand that saw them go 1-3.

Individually, Thomas Vanek and Jason Pominville are smokin' hot. Vanek is second in the league in points (15) and fourth in goals (8) while Pominville is tied for sixth in points (14) and tied for fifth in assists (9.) They've been playing so well that rookie Luke Adam, who was centering their line for the month, is tied for second in rookie points with nine and tied for first in assists with six.

All that will be changing, at least to start the new month, as it's been reported that Ville Leino will be centering Vanek and Pominville in order to jumpstart his poor production (1g, 1a.) Adam, for his part will be heading over to the left wing with Derek Roy and Drew Stafford, both of whom have gotten off to slow starts.

Lindy Ruff has some work to do as he sorts out his lines to get things going for certain individuals (Leino.) He already worked a little magic with Brad Boyes. Since Ruff put Boyes on the first unit PP three games ago, the forward has responded with a goal and two assists on that unit.

Nathan Gerbe is off to a much better start this year over last. Tyler Ennis did not register a point in the seven games he played in before being injured. Oddly enough, the Sabres went 5-2 with him in the line-up and he seems to have leaned towards the Selke Trophy end of the equation by registering a +2.

On defense, Christian Ehrhoff is working on getting his shot off while missing asignments on d. He has one goal and is a team-worst minus-6. Tyler Myers has not gotten off of the schneid, although this seaason he's clocking in with a plus-1. Last season he was scraping the bottom and ended the month of October a minus-10.

Robyn Regehr was brought in for a little stay-at-home stabilization. He's done that going zero's across the board including the +/-. He was also brought in to rattle some opposition bones with thundering checks and my oh my, has he done that.

Interesting to note that the not one defensman was named one of the game's 3-stars yet.

Goaltending has been very solid. Ryan Miller is ahead of his Vezina-2010 pace, and back-up Jhonas Enroth has given Ruff the opportunity to focus on other areas as the second-year netminder has worked a little magic on his way to a 2-0 start.

It's a long 82-game hockey season, but 10 games in here are the Sabres individual stats leaders for the month of October.

  • October--Thomas Vanek, 15...Jason Pominville, 14...Luke Adam, 9

  • October--Vanek, 8...Pominville, 5...Drew Stafford, Adam, 3

PP Goals:
  • October--Vanek, 3...Pominville, 2...Brad Boyes, Stafford, 1

  • October--Pominville, 9...Vanek, 7...Christian Ehrhoff, Adam, 6

PP Assists:
  • October--Pominville, 4...Vanek, Boyes, 2

Primary Assists:
  • October--Vanek, 6...Pominville, 5...Gerbe, 4

  • October--Andrej Sekera, +6...Nathan Gerbe, +5...Vanek,+4

Plus/Minus (bottom):
  • October--Ehrhoff, -6...Ville Leino, -4...Cody McCormick...-2

3-Stars (1st=5 points, 2nd=3 points, 3rd=1 point):
  • October--Vanek, 16...Pominville, Adam, 10

Time On Ice/Game-Forwards

  • October--Pominville, 18:00...Vanek, 17:42...Roy, 16:54

Even Strength:
  • October--Vanek, 13:47...Gerbe, 13:33...Roy, 13:30

  • October--Vanek, 3:12...Pominville, 2:57...Adam, 2:16

Penalty Kill:
  • October--Paul Gaustad, 2:56...Patrick Kaleta, 2:40...Pominville, 2:13

Time On Ice/Game-Defensman

  • October--Ehrhoff, 24:32...Myers, 21:28...Jordan Leopold, 21:06

Even Strength:
  • October--Ehrhoff, 19:21...Leopold, 17:12...Myers, 16:21

  • October--Marc-Andre Gragnani, 3:03...Ehrhoff, 2:59...Myers, 1:57

Penalty Kill:
  • October--Robyn Regehr, 3:12...Myers, 3:09...Ehrhoff, 2:12


Ryan Miller:
  • October--4 wins, 4 losses, .930 sv.% (ranked 9th,) 2.14 gaa (ranked 21st,) 1 shutout

Jhonas Enroth:
  • October--2-0, .946 sv % (8th,) 2.00 gaa (13th,) 0 shutouts