Kukla's Korner Hockey
from the Buffalo News,
The Eastern Conference semifinal between the Sabres and New York Rangers will start Wednesday, and both teams have a player who fills an important niche. The Rangers have Jagr, one of the most potent offensive players of his generation. The Sabres have Chris Drury, who earned Selke Trophy votes this season as the NHL’s best defensive forward.
It would seem logical for the Sabres to make sure Drury is on the ice whenever Jagr is. But the Sabres enjoy making other teams adapt to them, so coach Lindy Ruff said Monday he will not alter his game plans just to make sure Drury and his wingers shadow Jagr and his linemates.
“No. No,” Ruff said. “We didn’t do any changing on the fly this year. We didn’t pour anybody over the boards. We’ll get matchups that we like.”
from the New York Times,
“I don’t know if they’re the cream of the crop right now,” Rangers Coach Tom Renney said of the Sabres. “They’re certainly one of eight teams left, and a good one. I’m not going to suggest I don’t want to give them credit, but we’re where we are because we belong here, too.
“One thing I will say is we are a different team than we were three months ago. Buffalo is what they are. Maybe we’re a little less familiar to them than they are to us. They are a good team. I’m not going to take anything away from them, but I’m not going to pump their tires, either.”
from the Buffalo News,
“They’re a balanced attack,” Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said Sunday. “It’s come from a lot of different places. They’ve got younger guys that have been in the scoring department, but I think it’s overall balance. They’ve played sound defensively, and their goaltender has been very good.”
The sixth-seeded Rangers are paced by Jagr, who figures to be a first-ballot Hall of Famer when he hangs up his skates. The 35-year-old won back-to-back Stanley Cups with Pittsburgh during his first two seasons. Mario Lemieux did the bulk of that work, and Jagr wants to return the favor to the youngsters on his team.
“I love the players I am playing with,” Jagr said last week. “When I was young, Mario gave me the Cup. I always wanted to help the younger guys like Mario helped me.”
from Bucky Gleason of the Buffalo News,
The Sabres dismissed the Islanders in five games because Briere and Chris Drury performed while Satan and Yashin mostly disappeared. Briere had a goal and four assists, Drury four goals and an assist, the two co-captains working in symphony. Satan finished with a goal and two assists after waking up in the third period. Captain Yashin? Zip. Again.
“The line between winning and losing is so thin, you need everybody,” Sabres defenseman Teppo Numminen said. “If your best guys are playing their games, it’s huge. They’re so talented that they can break a game and be the difference.”
From Mark Herremann at amNewYork,
Oddly enough, for the second time this week, the action was frantic in Toronto, perhaps hockey’s greatest hotbed. They’re not playing hockey there now, but they’re watching it in league headquarters. And for the second time in two games, the watching went against the Islanders.
Actually, this time, the trained eyes in the NHL’s home office didn’t make the ruling. They just conferred with referee Mike Leggo, who had ruled that Brendan Witt’s apparent tying goal with 1:42 left in Game 4 didn’t count because Sabres goalie Ryan Miller had been pushed into the net.
The Islanders have video that suggested otherwise, but, hey, as they say up north, “That’s hockey.”
From Tim Graham of The Buffalo News,
The Buffalo Sabres posted the NHL’s best regular-season record with speed, skill and depth.
Co-captain Daniel Briere mentioned another element the Sabres have been able to feed off: contempt.
Briere noted a healthy disdain for the New York Islanders has contributed to their 3-1 series lead in their Eastern Conference quarterfinal.
“I think the first couple games there wasn’t enough emotion. There was no hate out there,” Briere said after he drew an aggressive penalty that led to Chris Drury’s winning goal in a 4-2 Game Four victory Wednesday night in Nassau Coliseum. “I think slowly we’re starting to see guys hate each other. We’re getting sick of playing against the same guys over and over.
From David Shoalts at the Globe & Mail,
The Buffalo Sabres may have to make one lineup change for Wednesday night’s game against the New York Islanders.
Centre Tim Connolly is “sore” according to Sabres head coach Lindy Ruff and may not be able to play.
Connolly missed almost all of the regular season with a concussion and stress fracture to his leg.
“I hope he can play, but we won’t know for sure until later,” Ruff said after Wednesday’s game-day skate.
However, this came as news to Connolly, who said he felt “fresh.”
from Jim Baumbach at Newsday,
Stickle agreed to talk, but you’re not going to like what he told me. “I’m happy with the job that was done tonight,” he said.
As part of his job, Stickle sits in the press box and focuses on the officials, watching every call (and non-call) live and then on the replay. He was a linesman for 27 years, so he knows penalties.
“I did that job for a long time, so I see things that could become a bone of contention and take a look at it,” Stickle said. “Sometimes we’re wrong, too. But not in these cases tonight.”
from the Buffalo News,
Miller took two hard shots off his mask, summoning medical attention right after each.
“It was just a matter of not being able to get the hell out of the way. I was just stuck,” Miller said. “You either take it off the head or surrender a goal. I couldn’t get my glove around on either of them….
“Obviously, I think they were shooting at his head,” Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said with a smile before making a theatrical throat clear. “They hit him twice, so they must be shooting at his head. There are times you shoot at a goaltender’s head, try to rattle him. I thought maybe after two in a row . . . ”
from Jerry Sullivan of the Buffalo News,
We won’t be at this for even two weeks if Miller gives up too many soft goals. Sure, it’s only one game, one bad goal. It’s a team game, as Miller is always quick to remind us, and the Sabres are the superior team. They’ve been a terrific road team in the playoffs under Lindy Ruff and could ease everyone’s angst by winning two on the Island.
But it’s 1-1 now, and more of a series than most experts imagined. And whether Miller likes it or not, the goalie battle is a big issue. Goaltending is a huge factor in a Stanley Cup series and always will be. Many a Cup dream has gone up in smoke because one goalie caught fire in the playoffs, or because a favorite’s netminder wasn’t quite on his game.
About Kukla's Korner Hockey
Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
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