The Panthers have bared their fangs a little more of late after some spirited efforts against cross-state rival Tampa Bay (whom they just split a home-and-home series with), Philadelphia and the Sabres.
'But with Hamel out of the lineup, a torn knee ligament having ended his season, Tsyplakov could find himself back in the lineup on a regular basis beginning with tonight's game against the Florida Panthers at the National Car Rental Center.'
'Buffalo is by no means a great club but it is one that is in the hunt with more than at least a half dozen teams that could make noise in the Eastern Conference. If Hasek can get on a roll, for which he has become so well known such as during the 1999 Stanley Cup run, the Sabres could at least have a chance.'
'The Rochester Americans' already stingy defense was bolstered yesterday when Brian Campbell returned from a one-week recall to the Buffalo Sabres, and so far the parent team hasn't taken anyone to replace injured forward Denis Hamel.'
'The 1997 and 1998 NHL most valuable player began this season slowly as well and now apparently has decided he doesn't want to retire until he is again in top form.'
'Rookie forward Denis Hamel of the Buffalo Sabres is out for the season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee and will undergo surgery sometime this week.'
'But given his increasing offensive production, his promotion to the third line and his role in killing penalties, rookie Denis Hamel's departure with a season-ending knee injury sent waves of deep regret through the Buffalo Sabres.'
'Sabres rookie forward Denis Hamel, whose three game-winning goals are tied for the team lead, will miss the rest of the season with a torn right knee ligament.'
Rookie Denis Hamel suffered an apparently serious right knee injury late in the first period of the Sabres-Islanders game on Saturday night and will be out of the lineup indefinitely.
Martin Biron, the Sabres' consummate pinch-hitter, parlayed his usual steady and poised style into another road win when the team needed it most.
'So while Buffalo's 2-1 victory at Nassau Coliseum might not have been overly impressive on the scoreboard, there's no denying how much they had to put in to ending their three-game losing streak. Stu Barnes scored the tiebreaking goal early in the third period, Marty Biron made 23 saves and Buffalo held the opposition without a power-play goal for the seventh straight game. "We definitely had to tough it out," Barnes said.'
'But Peca is still worth something to the Sabres, who can beef up their lineup by moving him before the March 13 trade deadline. They're open to offers, and they will trade him if they think it's the best way to improve their team. The fun is trying to figure out whom they might get for Peca.'
'"That's the good thing about (sports)," Ray said. "When guys move on or get traded to other teams or whatever, it's not as if somebody dies. Your friendship still stays alive and you still stay in contact with each other. Ever since he's left he's come back for a month or so; his wife's family's from here….We talk probably once a week."'
'Goaltender Rick DiPietro made his much-awaited National Hockey League debut tonight, and he was often dazzling for the Islanders. The script called for his teammates to rally for a stirring victory, but the Islanders often have to rent a movie to see a happy ending.'
'"It looked like we got a little tired in our own end," coach Butch Goring said of the Islanders not clearing the front of the net.'