Tag Archives: NHL

Two Games For Tootoo? Good Call

Sabreland patiently awaited word from the NHL’s hearing about Jordin Tootoo’s charging penalty against Ryan Miller on Saturday night in Nashville. The league took it’s time with this one, announcing this afternoon that Tootoo will be suspended for the next two games without pay.

Since WordPress won’t allow me to post Shanahan’s explanation, here is a statement handed down from the league office:

Nashville Predators forward Jordin Tootoo has been suspended, without pay, for two games for charging Buffalo goaltender Ryan Miller during NHL Game #379 Saturday night, Dec. 3, in Nashville, the National Hockey League’s Department of Player Safety announced today.
Under the terms of the Collective Bargaining Agreement, and based on his average annual salary, Tootoo will forfeit $13,513.52. The money goes to the Players’ Emergency Assistance Fund.
The incident occurred at 15:54 of the second period. Tootoo was assessed a major penalty for charging and game misconduct on the play.
Tootoo will miss games tonight vs. Phoenix and Dec. 8 at Columbus. He will be eligible to return Dec. 10 vs. Anaheim.

In Shanahan’s explanation, Tootoo is driving to the net with the puck, but loses it before he is able to make a play. Tootoo had enough time to avoid Miller even though Sabres defenseman Christian Ehrhoff was making body contact with Tootoo. Another thing Shanahan nitpicks about is the fact that Tootoo jumped into Miller. While Shanahan understands the claim that Tootoo jumped to avoid contact, it actually made the play more dangerous, resulting in contact with Miller’s head. As you can see:

The result of the play was a massive scrum by the net, which included Paul Gaustad involving his fists, as well as Miller taking matters into his own hands, throwing blockers at Tootoo’s face. Furthermore, Tootoo was penalized with a five minute major for charging.

First of all, that’s already a lot more than what Milan Lucic got for running Miller outside of his crease. Lucic, if you remember, was given two minutes for that particular incident. The call on the ice was suitable for what Tootoo did. He was also ejected from the game.

When word came from the NHL yesterday that Tootoo was going to have a phone hearing with Shanahan, many were worried that the league might not come down on Tootoo at all, as the maximum suspension Tootoo could have gotten from a phone hearing is just five games.

Tootoo was given two games, though, and that seems good enough. Frankly, we shouldn’t even compare this to the Lucic incident, which was completely different from the way Tootoo ran the net.

In Lucic’s case, Miller went to make a play on a loose puck out of his crease, standing upright. Miller wasn’t “fair game” in this case, but he certainly put himself in a position to get severely hurt, which is what ended up happening, as Miller suffered a concussion from this play. While Miller was in a position in which he could get hurt, though, Lucic had plenty of time to steer clear of any sort of accident. The league really screwed that call up.

In this case, Tootoo was driving with the puck to the net, with Miller in his crease making sure the puck stays out. Tootoo loses the puck, yet still keeps barreling into Miller. Unfortunately for Tootoo, his trying to avoid hitting the goalie by jumping only made matters worse. Hitting the goalie like that, whether a player meant it or not, is a big no-no.

While Tootoo is what many fans are considering a “repeat offender”, keep in mind that Tootoo has been in the league eight years, and the last time he was suspended was when he sucker punched Stephan Robidas of the Dallas Stars almost four years ago. For reference:

Yeah, that was pretty blatant. The charging call on Miller didn’t seem as blatant. If anything, Sabres fans should be more appalled that Lucic got nothing for a more vicious hit on Miller than Tootoo did on a routine drive to the net. It looked more like Tootoo was trying to avoid the contact by jumping over Ryan Miller rather than just barrel into him. Not every player can think like Ryan Kesler and just jump on top of the net:

It’s basically the exact same thing. Kesler just made a much better choice and tried hopping over the net instead, while still making contact with the goalie.

Frankly, two games is enough for this incident, considering Tootoo was given a major penalty and was ejected from the game. There was no way this would get anything more than that. Again, it was a routine drive to the net in which Tootoo lost control of the puck, and himself. Nothing more. Jumping into Miller doesn’t seem like the best call to make, but perhaps Tootoo was a great long-jumper back in high school and thought he might try to put that to good use. Better luck next time, bud.

Honestly, there is no reason to believe that it’s going to be open-season on goalies from this point forward. How many other incidents have we had this year where the goalie was completely run over and nothing was done about it? Just that one from Boston game? Miller is the only goalie that has been viciously hit, and now that it’s happened twice, it obviously leads to the conclusion that Lindy Ruff was right, that it truly is going to be open-season on goalies. However, in reality, this seems to be a huge coincidence that just happened to involve the same goalie twice in a row, and the likelihood of it happening again seems fairly slim.


Trade Rumors: Why They’re Fun and Why They Suck

I love when the trade winds start rocking the boat in November. It’s the beginning of the season, and teams are supposed to be feeling out where they’ll be by mid-season in January. Some teams are doing really well, like Boston, who went 12-0-1 in November. Naturally, fans and media alike wouldn’t think to mess with the mojo of a team by talking trades. Of course, there are those anomalies like Vancouver, who are playing well in front of backup goalie Cory Schneider, who in the month of November had a save percentage of .942 along with 2 shutouts. Roberto Luongo isn’t doing too hot, so naturally, fans are thinking it’s time to trade franchise goalie Roberto Luongo.

I stress that we are only two months into hockey season.

Of course, all hell broke loose this past week when a rumor was floated out through the hockey world: the Anaheim Ducks had made Bobby Ryan available by trade. The Ducks were a mess in November, winning only 2 of their 13 games. It made sense that the Ducks were looking for a shake-up. Everybody and their mother was trying to figure out the right trade to bring Bobby Ryan to [insert team name here]. For a while, it seemed like the New York Rangers and the Philadelphia Flyers were the teams most likely to get Ryan to play for their respective squads. Status quo.

Along the way, Hall of Fame hockey writer Jim Matheson of the Edmonton Journal reported that Ryan Miller may not consider it the worst thing to be traded out of Buffalo. This one picked up a ton of steam simply because of the amount of respect Matheson has from the hockey world.

It was Tuesday night that things started to get really interesting. Ducks GM Bob Murray and two Anaheim scouts paid a visit to Buffalo to watch the Sabres play the Islanders. Twitter erupted shortly afterwards, trying to figure out why a hockey GM would ever decide to go to an opposing team’s arena to watch an NHL hockey game.

Who would have thought that it’s more or less because they can?

The hockey world was a mad-house on Wednesday. WGR was talking about trade ideas with Anaheim for the entirety of Schopp and the Bulldog. Reports were coming in and out all day that team A was out, team B was in on Bobby Ryan. Ryan referred to the trade rumors as “a nightmare.” His coach, Randy Carlisle, pretty much told him to deal with it.

This went on all day until around 10:00 Eastern time, when the Ducks and the Montreal Canadiens got things going in Anaheim, with Bobby Ryan skating on Anaheim’s second line. That’s when things started dying down.

Where does Ryan Miller fit into all this? Obviously, the Ducks were looking for a big piece back in order to ship out a player as talented as Ryan. The only explanation was that the Sabres and Ducks were talking about a trade for the two players.

Unfortunately in the hockey world, trades aren’t that simple. Besides, the Ducks are set at goalie with Jonas Hiller. Trading Miller for Ryan didn’t make sense, in any respect imaginable.

If Ryan Miller was going to be traded, it would have been news to him, which is news in itself. Miller has a no-trade clause, where he’d have to submit a list of eight teams he does not want to play for.

It is awesome that we have something like this to talk about in the month of November. Year in and year out, we as fans wait for the trade deadline in order to discuss ridiculous deals that (probably) aren’t going to happen. To have something like that to talk about in November is awesome for hockey fans who aren’t especially fond of the first part of the regular season.

Of course, the bad part about a rumor in November is that it makes the entire hockey world crazy about just that one rumor, until it’s over-hyped so much that every single team’s fans think that their team can get the guy that’s being hung out like bait for other teams to grab a hold of. Fans dream up every single possible (or impossible) way in order to satisfy their urge to make that player a member of his or her favorite team’s roster.

The point of this story is that when a star player’s name is floated out like Bobby Ryan’s, the entire hockey world stops in awe of who might actually pick up a guy with his caliber. He’s a decent sized forward with a ton of skill that can help any hockey team in the scoring department. There’s not a team in the NHL that doesn’t want Bobby Ryan, except for the Anaheim Ducks, seemingly.

In the end, the Ducks just did what every other team does when their team needs to be re-energized. They fired their coach.


Things I Think: Did You Hear Sidney Crosby’s Back?

(This is a weekly segment at Hockey Heaven, New York. It features TJ Luckman’s thoughts on the Sabres, the NHL and other things that tickle his fancy.)

1) The Sabres have called up the Chosen One, Zack Kassian, due to Brad Boyes’ injury against Boston on Wednesday night. John Vogl of the Buffalo News picked up some tweets from Kassian’s teammates indicating Kassian was on his way to play in the Sabres’ next game against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Friday. The Sabres later confirmed that news through their website. While many fans have been calling for this move to be made since the Sabres’ debacle in Boston nearly two weeks ago, I don’t think this is the right move for Buffalo. WGR 550’s Matthew Coller says that Kassian hasn’t exactly been the physical force the Sabres might be looking for, but he’s certainly helping in the points department, leading the AHL’s Rochester Americans with 14 points in 18 games.

Speaking of call-ups, T.J. Brennan had a memorable debut in his first NHL game, scoring in his first NHL game to put the Sabres ahead 3-1 against the Bruins on Wednesday night. Of course, the Sabres couldn’t hold on, losing 4-3 in a shootout, which Puck Daddy’s Harrison Mooney finds pretty ironic.

2) You don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone. All the while, I kept telling myself that hockey was fine without Sidney Crosby. The Penguins are still good with Malkin, and Dan Bylsma is one Hell of a coach. I wasn’t looking at this past Monday with as much fanfare as NBC Sports was when they decided that Crosby’s return was much more important than the rivalry game between the Montreal Canadiens and the Boston Bruins.

And then it happened.

Sid the Kid (is he ever going to be the Man? We need a new idiom for when he finally grows up, if he ever does) exploded on the scene against the New York Islanders, collecting four points in a 6-0 beat down on the Island. As much as I can’t stand the guy, everything he does is pure magic. He instantly transforms the Pens into a Stanley Cup contender. Of course, Sid was held scoreless against the St. Louis Blues the following game, so maybe he just took advantage of a cake matchup…

3) Since Jeff Carter’s return from injury to the Blue Jackets, Columbus has grabbed points in five of the last six games (3-1-2). Depending on what you think about overtime losses, that’s not bad. Perhaps he’s more important to the BJ’s success than anyone actually realized. Or maybe that’s just good timing. Who knows.

4) Thanksgiving is a bad day for a hockey fan. I can’t wait for Christmas.

5) Movember is the coolest thing ever. As a participant in the more laid-back (read: lazier) “No-Shave November”, I’m jealous of the mustaches that NHL players can grow. I never saw Thomas Vanek as a facial hair grower, but his mustache is very impressive. George Parros of the Anaheim Ducks always shaves his epic mustache for the month in order to grow it back for charity. Bruins goalie Tim Thomas created a new goalie mask design to show his support for the month, not to mention show off his great ‘stache. Ducks goalie Jonas Hiller did the same, only his design is slightly more creepy.

Movember benefits those who suffer from prostrate cancer, or other problems in men’s health. Go to the website here to donate to the cause, if you can.


Game 1: Sabres Vs. Anaheim Ducks in Helsinki, Finland

(0-0-0) VS.
(0-0-0)

…and here…we…go.

The Sabres open their season against the Anaheim Ducks today at the Hartwell Areena in Helsinki, Finland.  Expectations are certainly high for the Sabres to hit the ground running.  They will certainly want to continue building on the momentum started last season after new owner Terry Pegula took over.

Offense:  The Sabres start the season rough, as the Ducks are a highly physical team.  The top six will want to avoid the physicality and use their speed to out-skate the Ducks’ big power-forwards.  It’s also very important that the Sabres take shots early in order to test Jonas Hiller, who hasn’t seen much regular-season action since late February of last season.  The Ducks, who used to be known for good defensive play, will have their hands full with the top-six of the Sabres, and not to mention their new weapon on the back-end, Christian Ehrhoff.

As I said before, the Ducks bring in physical power-forwards in the likes of Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf, not to mention rounding out that top-line with skilled winger Bobby Ryan.  They will look to control the front of the net and make life a living hell for Ryan Miller.  The Ducks’ second line doesn’t bring any breathers, either.  Teemu Selanne is coming off a more than a point-per-game season at the seemingly young age of 40.  Now 41, Selanne’s coming into what will likely be his last season with the Ducks as he tries to win one last championship with the team before going out, and the guy can still bring it.  What he lacks in speed at such an old age, he makes up for it in his still powerful shot and his ability to score.

The Sabres’ Defense:  The Sabres have some new toys to play with on defense.  Robyn Regher will want to re-familiarize himself with a team that has seen him four times a year for the past eleven seasons by getting in Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry’s faces all day in front of the net.  The Sabres also bring out Christian Ehrhoff, who has already impressed with his big point shot.  He’ll be a major part of the powerplay, as well.  It’s important for Buffalo to keep Perry and Getzlaf out of the crease, which doesn’t seem to daunting considering Regehr and Ehrhoff’s physical play-style. Where I might have viewed as a weakness last season, the Sabres physicality on defense runs deep, as they’ll have a physical guy on each pairing, with Regehr, Ehrhoff, and Mike Weber being on separte pairings, not to mention Tyler Myers, who will be paired up with Ehrhoff as part of the team’s top pairing.  All-in-all, it will be up to these guys to keep the Ducks’ big guns out of the crease of Ryan Miller, who is looking to have a career year in front of this new and seemingly improved defense.

The Ducks used to have a strong defense, but that has broken down in recent years.  Lubomir Visnovsky had a Norris Trophy caliber season last year, and he returns as the Ducks’ best defenseman.  Francois Beauchimin returned to the Ducks last year in a trade from Toronto, where he was a disappointment.  Beauchimin and Visnovsky form a powerful top defensive pairing for the Ducks, and bringing in the rear, Cam Fowler, coming off a strong rookie year, and Luca Sbisa look to create more of an identity for themselves in the coming season.  Look for Fowler to put points up from the point.

Sabres’ Special Teams: Last season, Buffalo ranked 9th in power play percentage (19.4%) and 13th in penalty killing (83.0%), and with the additions they’ve made, that can only improve.  Christian Ehrhoff brings a type of player to the power play that the Sabres haven’t had since Brian Campbell was with the team: a power-play quarterback.  Ville Leino brings a playmaker mentality that will go great with the big shots of Drew Stafford, Thomas Vanek, and Jason Pominville.  At the other end, Robyn Regehr and Tyler Myers will more than likely be expected to be shut-down on every penalty kill, along with the usuals of Jason Pominville, Derek Roy, Patrick Kaleta, and Paul Gaustad.

The Ducks ranked 3rd last year in the power-play (23.5%), but their penalty killing left more to be desired, ranking 19th (81.3%).  Their power play won’t skip a beat, so the Sabres will have their hands full, there.  Meanwhile, the Sabres should be able to produce on the power play, as the Ducks didn’t do much to fix the penalty-killing unit in the offseason.

Injuries: Ducks forward Matt Smaby (thumb) and defenseman Toni Lydman (shoulder) are both out.  Sabres forward Jochen Hecht (concussion) may be able to play, but it’s probably a game-time decision


Marc Savard’s Concussion Brings Reminders of Tim Connolly

When Marc Savard’s season was ended by a blow to the head by former teammate Matt Hunwick, one could almost imagine that the first thought GM Peter Chiareli’s mind was something along the lines of “…and here we go again.”  The whole Boston fan-base echoed this entire sentiment.

Boston’s season was over, wasn’t it?

Obviously, we know the outcome to that.  Boston had great depth that allowed them to win the Stanley Cup.

Recently, at Boston’s Victory Parade, an ESPN reporter caught up with Savard.  Apparently, Savard’s still having major post-concussion syndrome issues.

“I’m feeling better but I still have my days and my memory is the biggest thing,” Savard said.  “My memory is not very good. Mornings are tough but besides that, I’m doing a lot better.”

After all this time (it’s two days from being exactly 6 months from his last concussion), Savard is still having memory trouble.  He had post-concussion syndrome symptoms from his first concussion as well.  He couldn’t seem to shake them.  He came back last year to play against Philly in the playoffs, but even after that, he started getting the headaches back.

He never took the ice again until November of 2010.  He only got another 20-or-so games in until–BOOM!  Another season lost for the troubled Savard.

This whole thing has brought back memories of a guy who couldn’t seem to shake the concussion bug years ago: Tim Connolly.

Connolly was a promising, up-and-coming player.  A 5th overall draft pick in the 1999 NHL Entry Draft, Connolly was known for his soft hands, his quick skating, and his ability to fight in the corners.  He was a shifty player, able to fake out almost any type of defense coming his way.  With all this promise, Islanders GM at the time, Mike Milbury, decided to package Connolly and 1999 8th overall pick Taylor Pyatt to Buffalo in 2001 in order to grab Mike Peca.  (I’m looking back at that trade right now…what in the world was Milbury thinking?)

Both Connolly and Pyatt were below-the-radar players.  They were good, served a purpose, got their points.  They played sound, decent hockey.

Connolly was getting better and better, and after three years with the Sabres, he had only missed two games.

That’s when all the injuries started.

Connolly lost the entire 2003-04 season due to post-concussion syndrome from a concussion he suffered in a preseason game against the Chicago Blackhawks.  On top of the 2004-05 NHL season being lost due to the lockout, Connolly missed two entire seasons of hockey.

Thankfully, Connolly recovered and came back for the 2005-06 season, where he had a career year, scoring 16 goals and 55 points in 63 games.  Injuries once again took their toll on Connolly that season, but thankfully none of it had to do with concussion issues.

Not in the regular season, at least.  Connolly was having a fantastic playoffs, grabbing 11 points in the eight games that he played.  He played like a man possessed in Game 1 of the Ottawa series, where he scored 2 goals, one of them being the game-tying goal with 10.7 seconds to go.  In Game 2, everything came to a screeching halt when Peter Schaefer came across center ice and nailed Tim Connolly, effectively ending his playoff season.

Darcy Regier showed faith that Connolly would get through one.  After the playoffs ended and the Sabres were eliminated, Regier rewarded Connolly for his breakout year with a brand new, three-year deal.

“We foresee him building on what he accomplished last year,” Regier said back in 2006. “Up until the playoffs when he took the hit, he was performing at a very high level, a very good player.”

Unfortunately for Regier, that contract didn’t look so great as Connolly went on to miss the next 80 games due to issues from post-concussion syndrome.

Since that concussion, Connolly hasn’t been the same player.  Gone was the soft hands he used to have, weaving in and out of players just to keep posession.  Long forgotten was the speed he had played the game with.  Vanished was his game-in-game-out effort to play in the dirty areas of the ice, possibly from a fear of getting hurt again.

While Connolly went on to post decent numbers (47 points in 48 games in 2008-09, 65 points in 2009-10), but his injury problems never went away.  Between a broken rib, a stress fracture in his leg, and cracked vertebrae from a stick-butt in the back, Connolly had officially inherited the label of “injury prone.”

Even though Connolly’s regular season stats didn’t suffer (at the time), he seemingly lacked the necessary drive to play the game as hard as he used to.  He looked afraid to go after the puck from time to time.  He just couldn’t produce when it mattered most, which is what was expected out of a guy who signed a 2-year, $9 million contract.

It all came down to what seems to be the final season of his career in Buffalo.  He had to prove his worth, and he failed, scoring only 42 points in 68 games, missing more games with various injuries (although, really, there was nothing he could do about a puck hitting him in the face.)

It all seemed to come full-circle once the playoffs came around.  It was game 6, and Connolly went into a corner to collect a puck, something that he seemed to be getting better at.  But once again, the injury bug came and bit Connolly right on the head, as Mike Richards came flying into the zone, laying a bone-crushing hit onto one of the few centers the Sabres actually had.  Connolly’s season was over, quite possibly his career as well, the way the hit looked.

Connolly’s final year with the Sabres truly ended with a bang.  Regier hasn’t completely closed the door on Tim just yet, saying that the Sabres could very well sign Connolly if they deem the price to be right.  But let’s be honest;  Connolly isn’t going to take a massive paycut just to get another chance with the team that gave him his in the first place.

Connolly is one of few centers in free agency that may attract attention, and he’s going to get market price for what he’s done in season’s past, which has been good, maybe above-average.

With all of that in mind about Connolly, Marc Savard’s journey doesn’t seem to be over yet.  It’s highly unlikely Savard will be playing in the beginning of next season for the Bruins.  Could Savard’s career be in jeopardy?

It’s something he and Connolly may want to talk about.


Smaller Players Stepping Up

 

Despite his size, Nathan Gerbe has show he isn't afraid to get physical.

Sometimes, size doesn’t matter.  That’s the mantra of the duo of the Buffalo Sabres’ small-sized forwards, Tyler Ennis and Nathan Gerbe.

While the pair of forwards struggled early on in the season, Ennis and Gerbe seem to have found their niche with the club.  With Ennis standing at 5’9″, and Gerbe measuring in at a mere 5’5″, it’s conceivable to believe that many people thought that they were outmatched for their roles in the NHL.

Ennis started the season slowly, netting only 9 goals and 18 points in 37 games.  Finding the right place is what needed to happen.  Ennis has been tossed from the 1st line to the 4th line, depending on how coach Lindy Ruff felt about his play, but seems to have found his home playing with proven scorers.  Ennis’s small size hasn’t hampered what he can do with the puck.

The small forward has great puck control, and speed reminiscent of the days Maxim Afinogenov raced up the ice with the puck.  Ennis’s puck control and decision making are what set him and Max apart.

Since the beginning of January, Ennis found the on switch for his production, scoring 10 goals and 27 points in 35 games, putting him on pace to finish with 22 goals and 30 assists, good for 52 points.

Gerbe traveled a different path to late season success.  Like Ennis, Gerbe was bounced around from line to line.  After a failed opportunity on the top two lines, Gerbe was put back with the checking line, primarily with Paul Gaustad and Rob Niedermayer.  He was often a healthy scratch in favor of players like Matt Ellis, or even a seventh defenseman.

Gerbe’s started the season slowly, not even scoring his first goal until his 21st game in the lineup against the Anaheim Ducks.  He had only 7 points in his first 24 games.

While it’s been said that the only way Gerbe can succeed is on the top two lines, the forward has found his way on the third line.  Gerbe’s tenacity to score goals in front of the net, along with some pretty goals, is what defines his play.  It is because of this that Gerbe has found his home on the third line with the big guys.

Since mid-January, Gerbe has added 18 points in his last 30 games.  This puts him on pace to score 13 goals and 28 points in a possible 64 games.  If he continues on the pace he’s had since January, he could end up with as many as 31 points.

It’s no secret that these guys use their size to their advantage.  Even Lindy Ruff agrees that their size may be what keeps some plays going.

“I think when he’s in tight…especially down low where you think he should be trapped and he’s not,” said Ruff, who was comparing his small forward’s play to Maxim Afinogenov.

It’s all happening at a good time.  The Sabres control their destiny when it comes to their playoff push.  They hold the 8th spot in the Eastern Conference right now, with a legitimate shot to grab 7th place.  Only time will tell from this point.


Gamenight 10/11/10: Patrick Kane Returns Home

BUFFALO SABRES (1-1-0)
BUFFALO SABRES (1-1-0)

 

 

CHICAGO BLACKHAWKS (0-1-1)

 

 

 

 

VS.

 

 

 

Buffalo’s own Patrick Kane and the Chicago Blackhawks roll into HSBC arena tonight to take on the Sabres.  The Blackhawks are hoping to collect two point and their first win against the Sabres, who gave a pitiful effort against the New York Rangers this past Saturday.

BUFFALO

The Sabres lost on Saturday simply because they were being way too fancy with the puck.  The bump and grind that worked so well against Ottawa apparently wasn’t good enough for them to try it again on Saturday.  There were way too many cute plays trying to be made when an easier option was obviously available.  The Sabres should stop worrying about being fancy in front of the home crowd and just grind out a win just like they did to the Senators.

Who’s hot?: Derek Roy scored again on Saturday, giving him three goals on the season.  Tyler Ennis has assisted on all of Roy’s goals.  Jordan Leopold netted two on Saturday as well.
Who’s not?: Thomas Vanek is a huge culprit of trying to be too cute, even in Ottawa.  He’s trying to put it behind his puck off of a shot, or make an impossible pass.  What does he have to show for it?  A goose-egg in the points column.

Buffalo Powerplay: 2/10 (20%), T-10th in the NHL
Buffalo Penalty Kill: 8/8 (100%). T-1st in the NHL

The Sabres Will Win If: They don’t try to impress anybody with sweet moves, and instead impress the fans by grinding out a win.  Getting shots to the net will be key against the Blackhawks’ rookie netminder.  Making the pass is only acceptable if a shot is unavailable.  Basically, just follow Jordan Leopold’s lead.

CHICAGO

Chicago may be regretting not making a little bit of room for Antti Niemi on their roster.  Marty Turco is showing that he’s still the same Marty Turco who played last season.  Puck Daddy blog has a running joke about Turco’s gaping five hole.  Unfortunately for the Sabres, Turco will not be in the net tonight.  Instead, Corey Crawford gets the nod.  On top of that, Chicago is hurting without the role players that helped them win a Cup, and I expect that to hurt for a little while until everyone gets used to each other.

Who’s Hot?: Marian Hossa has three points in two games for the Hawks.
Who’s Not?: Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews each have only one point and are a combined -3.  Marty Turco has a dismal 3.41 GAA and a .896 save percentage.  His stats make him jealous of the stats Patrick Lalime has over the past two seasons.

Chicago Powerplay: 3/12 (25%), T-8th in the NHL
Chicago Penalty Kill: 5/7 (71.4%), T-24th in the NHL

The Blackhawks Will Win if: They can get production out of Kane and Toews, and solid goaltending out of newcomer Corey Crawford.  If Buffalo is cute with the puck, Chicago can take advantage of that with odd-man rushes that usually are the outcome of the Sabres getting too fancy.

 


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