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The Sabres Observer

Sabres Prospect Sets A Team Record

From The Portland Press Herald,

While rewriting portions of the Portland Pirates’ record book, defenseman Marc-Andre Gragnani is building a great resume for winning a job in the NHL.

Gragnani, who turned 24 last Friday, last weekend established team records for most points (54) and most assists (43) in a season by a defenseman.

“He has the ability to dominate both ways if he really puts his mind to it. He’s been more conscious of it.” - Portland (AHL) assistant coach Eric Weinrich

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Sabres Warded Off Again

It’s funny how Cam Ward’s name is typically mentioned when people argue that you can win a Stanley Cup without an elite goaltender.  From Buffalo’s perspective, he’s been about as tough to beat as they come.

Last night Ward pitched a 40-save shutout at HSBC Arena.  About two weeks earlier, he was solid in a 3-2 Hurricanes overtime win over Buffalo at the RBC Center.  You have to wonder to what extent he’ll be in the heads of the Sabres forwards when they meet again in a possible playoff berth-clinching game in Carolina on April 3.

In the big picture, though, it would be shortsighted to rail on the Sabres for losing in their 9th game in 15 days.  That stretch included road wins against teams backstopped by Tim Thomas and Henrik Lundqvist, so fans and media stating that this team can’t beat the league’s prime time netminders might want to put that card back into the deck.

The Sabres will be idle until they start a stretch of three games in four nights this Saturday at home against Atlanta.  Contrary to what will be popular opinion in Buffalo, I wouldn’t be the least bit upset if Ryan Miller started all three of those games.

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Crosby Gets Concussion Advice From Leopold

From Mike Harrington of The Buffalo News,

Concussed Pittsburgh Penguins center Sidney Crosby skated for the first time in more than two months Monday, a 15-minute session on his own early in the morning at the Consol Energy Center. Later in the day, the NHL’s biggest star met with reporters and said he’s talked to hardly any players around the league about his injury.

He admitted to one notable exception: A chat last week with Buffalo Sabres defenseman Jordan Leopold, who suffered a concussion during the playoffs last year while playing with the Penguins.

“Sid was in a pretty good mood that day. I normally try to talk to him every time I’m in town or when they come in here,” Leopold said prior to Tuesday’s game in HSBC Arena against the Carolina Hurricanes, which was not complete in time for this edition. “I think his spirits were up. He knows he’s got better days ahead of him, of course. I just wanted to reach out to him and let him know I was thinking about him and ask him how he was doing.

more, including Leopold’s firsthand experience of dealing with the emotional aspect of a concussion.

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Hasek, Fuhr, O’Ree, Bowman In Buffalo This Weekend

From the Sabres, 

NEW YORK (March 14, 2011)—Hasek’s Heroes will host the 2011 Willie O’Ree Skills Weekend March 17-20 in Buffalo, NY.  Sponsored by the National Hockey League and the Buffalo Sabres, this exclusive event will bring together more than 45 boys and girls from youth hockey organizations throughout North America, including those based in Buffalo, Pittsburgh, Columbus, Philadelphia, New York, Boston, Vancouver, Edmonton and Calgary.  Each youngster will represent an affiliate of the NHL’s Hockey is for Everyone initiative.

Participants will enhance their skills through USA Hockey and NCAA Division I presentations during the on-ice drills and skills showcase and join an on-ice clinic conducted by NHL alumni.  At Canisius College, guest speakers will provide valuable information about safety, goal setting and academic achievement and advice on what it takes to get to the next level.  Buffalo mayor Byron Brown also will address participating youngsters.

The skills showcase is a cultural opportunity to meet NHL alumni, create new friendships, enjoy the attractions of Buffalo, attend a Sabres practice on Mar. 18 and the Sabres vs. Atlanta Thrashers game on Mar. 19.  The weekend will culminate with a unique opportunity to play hockey on the ice at HSBC Arena.

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Martin’s Passing Hits Home For Older Fans

Three weeks ago, Rick Martin skated on the ice for a memorable pregame ceremony with former French Connection linemates Gilbert Perreault and Rene Robert, and new owner Terry Pegula.  It was the final stage of a full evolution for Martin, dating back to his bitter departure from the Sabres in 1981, due in large part because Scotty Bowman apparently didn’t think that severe cartilage damage in the knee, caused by a collision with Washington Capitals goalie Mike Palmateer, was a good enough reason not to play.

When Martin passed away yesterday at the young age of 59, it’s not going overboard to say that many of us Sabres fans over 40 lost a piece of our childhood.  It’s good to know that at least he was on good terms with the organization at the end of his life.

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Report: Sabres Great Rick Martin Has Passed Away

via The Buffalo News,

Rick Martin, one-third of the most fabled line in Buffalo Sabres history, died today of a heart attack. He was 59.

Martin reportedly had a heart attack while driving in Clarence, a law enforcement officer said on the condition of anonymity.

Martin became etched in local lore as the high-scoring winger on the “French Connection,” skating alongside Gilbert Perreault and Rene Robert as the infant Sabres captured the area’s attention.

Martin helped welcome new Sabres owner Terry Pegula to town late last month, skating onto the ice with Perreault and Robert and shaking Pegula’s hand at center ice as the fans in HSBC Arena cheered.

 

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Regier Thinks Full Ban On Head Hits Is Coming

From Eric Duhatschek of The Globe and Mail,

One day – and he’s not sure when that day will come – but Buffalo Sabres general manager Darcy Regier believes the NHL will eventually penalize all hits to the head.

It is the logical outcome, Regier says, of a path the league started down exactly a year ago, when NHL general managers unexpectedly passed a rule mid-season in order to ban blindside hits to the head.

A number of Regier’s colleagues, including Carolina Hurricanes GM Jim Rutherford, also believe the league will eventually need to make all head hits illegal. Others, such as Toronto Maple Leafs boss Brian Burke, fear such a shift might too radically undermine the fabric of the game.

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Amidst The Drama, Another Buffalo Road Win

It’s more a coincidence than a matter of relevance, but the Sabres always seem to be in the neighborhood when there’s a controversy going on in the league.

They faced the New Jersey Devils the night that a frustrated John MacLean sent Ilya Kovalchuk to the press box.  They ran into the Islanders the game after New York’s memorable 9-3 fightfest victory over Pittsburgh.

And last night, after a whirlwind of debate surrounding the NHL’s decision not to suspend Zdeno Chara for his nasty hit on Max Pacioretty, it was the Sabres who seemingly were set up as the foils for a red hot Boston Bruins team on a 7-1-1 run.

As it turned out, Buffalo weathered the storm in the first period, came back to outshoot the Bruins 22-7 in the second, and eventually won 4-3 in overtime on a Brad Boyes tip-in goal.

The Sabres are now 4-1-1 with one game to go in the longest road trip in franchise history.  All four of those wins have come against winning teams (Philly, Boston, NY Rangers, Minnesota).  These guys apparently just love to travel.

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Chara Says He Didn’t Know It Was Pacioretty

Zdeno Chara spoke to the media this morning after the Bruins optional skate.  Boston faces the Buffalo Sabres tonight at the TD Garden.

Those who feel that Tuesday’s incident was an act of revenge by Chara may find one particular quote to be quite interesting.  This from WGR’s Paul Hamilton:

Chara and Pacioretty have a little history from earlier this season. I wondered if he knew it was him. Chara said, “No, it was the faceoff and we tried to set up a play and the puck went to the other side and we were racing for the puck. I had no idea he was on the ice.”

Regarding Pacioretty’s angry reaction after hearing that the NHL would not impose a suspension:

“I totally understand. He’s in the hospital so he’s got the right to be emotional so I respect that,” Chara said. “I obviously feel bad he got hurt. As a hockey player we all feel bad when something like that happens. ... I’m wishing him to a fast recovery and hopefully he’ll be back on the ice soon. That’s all we love to do. We love to [play] hockey. When we go out there, we take risks and sometimes we do get hurt. But it’s just very unfortunate.”

more from WGR and Mike Harrington of The Buffalo News (with audio)

 

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Pegula’s Road Tour

From Mike Harrington of The Buffalo News,

“I’m taking an eye of watching what happens on the road, how things work,” Pegula said. “I’m trying not to be a distraction. I don’t want to be one but I’ve talked to the coaches and Darcy [General Manager Darcy Regier] and they said, ‘No, you’re not that and in fact it’s the other way around. We think you should be here.’

“It’s really important to Kim to see what these other arenas are like so that’s why we’ve been sitting in the crowd,” he said. “So we’re sitting in Carolina and all of a sudden from behind me it’s like, ‘Hey, Pegula’ and I’m looking and a guy is waving at me and I’m thinking, ‘Oh boy.’ I don’t wear my [Sabres] colors so I sort of nod and he yells out, ‘Hey, he owns the Sabres!’ I’m thinking, ‘That’s it. Somebody will come after me now.’”

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About The Sabres Observer

Dave Davis has covered the Buffalo Sabres for various NHL accredited websites and newspapers since 2003.  He was the senior writer and Sabres correspondent for The Fourth Period, covered hockey for Western New York Sports and Leisure Magazine, and has had articles featured on NHL.com, FOX Sports, Yahoo Sports and in New York Sportscene.  Sabres news and notes can be found on his Twitter page.

2014-15 NHL Reverse Standings

 

 

 

 

Email: dd@kuklaskorner.com Twitter: [@DaveDavisHockey]

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