The Sabres Observer
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.
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.
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.”
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.’”
On his weekly radio show this morning, Sabres coach Lindy Ruff revealed that Mike Grier, Patrick Kaleta, and Jochen Hecht are all likely to be out of the lineup tonight against the Penguins in Pittsburgh. In fact, Kaleta has flown back to Buffalo to have his knee reevaluated.
Ruff said the Sabres “are looking into” calling up Mark Parrish, and there could even be a second callup due to an illness of an unnamed player. Parrish is a 6-time 20+ goal scorer with the Florida Panthers and New York Islanders, and has tallied 11 goals and 24 assists in 42 games this season with the Portland Pirates (AHL).
Update 9:21 am: Parrish callup has been confirmed, and Luke Adam will be joining him.
Update 2:19 pm: Sick player is Thomas Vanek; he will not play tonight.
The radio home of the Buffalo Sabres is running a website poll asking fans to pick the biggest reason for the turnaround of their team. Your four choices are Ryan Miller, Terry Pegula, Brad Boyes (huh? He’s played 4 games here) and ‘Other’.
There’s a very prominent name missing from that list. He just so happens to be the reigning Calder Trophy winner, and with 5 goals, 6 assists, a +7 rating and a massive attitude adjustment over his past 20 games, it’s time to officially declare that the real Tyler Myers has returned in full force.
Don’t just take my word for it. The crowd in Philadelphia on Saturday designated Myers as the boobird recipient of the game. Flyers fans know their hockey, and if you’re the guy who hears it from them every time you touch the puck, it’s a sign that you’ve finally arrived.
Sure, it definitely helps to have Thomas Vanek and Drew Stafford playing like they’re on a mission, but defense is the Achilles heel of this version of the Sabres. While Myers surprised the Buffalo brass last season and was like a luxury, this season he is a necessity.
The Sabres are in Philadelphia this afternoon and Minnesota tomorrow night. Lindy Ruff is playing coy again, but all signs point to Jhonas Enroth getting the start in goal today.
Buffalo (68 pts.) has four games in hand on the 7th place Rangers (72 pts.) and three on 8th place Carolina (71 pts.), so failing to overcome the Flyers today wouldn’t be a dealbreaker. Their chances will be enhanced if Thomas Vanek and Drew Stafford can snap out of their slumps.
Given the situation, two out of four possible points this weekend for the Sabres would be a big success. With Ryan Miller having an off game two nights ago in Carolina, and with Buffalo facing an elite team in a hostile building today, this is a great spot to use Enroth. You save your best guy for presumably the less difficult opponent to try locking up one win out of two.
Buffalo’s Jordan Leopold and Philly’s Jeff Carter are both questionable for this one. Game time at the Wells Fargo Center is 1:00 EST.
Extra: WGR’s Paul Hamilton reports on how Tyler Myers has used physical play to help get his overall game back in order.
Update 12:04 pm: WGR reporting on the air that Ryan Miller will start today. Ruff threw all of the media guys a curveball. Enroth will play tomorrow at Minnesota.
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If you’re cruising the hockey dial tonight looking for games between Stanley Cup contenders, sure, you can see Tampa Bay vs. Boston or Detroit vs. San Jose. But those teams really won’t have a whole lot on the line.
If you can’t wait six weeks for a taste of the excitement of playoff hockey, or at least as close to it as realistically possible in early March, then tonight’s game between the Carolina Hurricanes and Buffalo Sabres (7:00 PM EST, RBC Center) should do it for you. Players on both teams are talking this one up for good reason.
The Sabres, who nine weeks ago were left for dead in 12th place in the East and ten points off the playoff pace, will finish the night in 8th place if they can win in regulation. The Hurricanes are itching to create some separation.
Hard to believe, but its been almost three weeks since Ryan Miller gave up seven goals to the Islanders in that dreadful game that stirred up some emotions and spirited debate in Buffalo.
The smarter fans and media wanted to see the reigning Vezina Trophy winner have a game off. The crazy ones wanted to have a discussion about trading him.
Since then, all Miller has done over seven consecutive games is compile a 1.85 GAA and .944 save percentage. He allowed two goals or less in all of those games, and was selected as one of the three stars in five of them.
His performance in last night’s 3-2 win, against an injury depleted New York Rangers team, amounted to highway robbery.
From David Shoalts of The Globe and Mail,
Luckily for the Sabres, their new owner, Terry Pegula, was given the NHL governors’ stamp of approval just in time for the league’s trade deadline on Monday. This turned the Sabres from sellers into buyers just in time to get Brad Boyes, keep Tim Connolly and stay in the hunt.
There might even be good news about the Thrashers, although it’s not entirely clear. A couple of groups agreed to zip their lips so they can look through the team’s books with an eye to buying Atlanta Spirit, the company that owns the Thrashers, the NBA’s Atlanta Hawks and the Philips Arena.
Finally, if you like slow torture that never ends, the Phoenix Business Journal has the latest in the never-ending stories of the always-shaky Phoenix Coyotes/Glendale bond deal.
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.
Email: email@example.com Twitter: [@DaveDavisHockey]