There are two new faces that will begin their careers with the Sabres tonight. Tim Connolly, who could center Miro Satan and J.P. Dumont, has had a tremendous preseason. Connolly has the talent to make Buffalo fans quickly forget that Michael Peca was ever a Sabre. Slava Kozlov, acquired in the Hasek trade, has also been very good in the preseason.
Archives for October 4, 2001
The weight on the shoulders of players like Jagr and Lindros is pretty heavy. They are expected to carry their teams. This season when the big-name players of the league are being scrutinized, the Sabres' Hamel, Satan, Connolly, Dumont and Biron will be pulling together to do the work of a team.
'The Buffalo Sabres on Wednesday had a difficult decision to make regarding their roster. When forward Erik Rasmussen signed a contract and joined the team earlier this week, management needed to assign one player to Rochester to reach the limit of 23 players. Would the player sent down be Norm Milley or Taylor Pyatt? In the end, it was both.'
'The Sabres are 17-11-3 all-time on opening night.'
'The Sabres would love to see their offense evolve. They allowed the fewest goals in the NHL last season while scoring the third fewest goals of any team to make the playoffs.'
'Ruff brought his defensive convictions to Buffalo and went about installing a system designed to reduce the insane workload heaped upon Sabres goaltenders. The progress has been immense. The Sabres allowed 2,560 shots in Ruff's first season. The number dropped to 2,461 his second season. Then to 2,208. Last season, Buffalo goaltenders faced only 2,195 shots.'
'Biron is basically a butterfly goalie, which means his game develops from strong positioning and lateral mobility. True to his style, Biron cuts off the bottom of the net by dropping to his knees and kicking his feet toward the goalposts in a maneuver that makes him resemble a butterfly. He covers cross-ice passes by following the puck from side to side on his knees, and relies heavily on a quick glove hand to snag top-shelf shots. When Biron is playing well, his ability to anticipate shooters' moves will draw a lot of pucks directly into his midsection. Biron uses his stick mainly to poke-check and protect the corners of the net, but he also likes to play the puck behind the net. Biron is a better puckhandler than Hasek, but he showed in the preseason that he still hasn't perfected the art of acting as a third defenseman. If the Sabres start the season strong, expect Biron to get more adventurous in this area.'
'And then there's Biron, a guy who has never brooded a day in his life. While the standard-issue goalie responds to game-day pressure by shutting out the world, this knock-kneed 24-year-old engages in small talk right up until game time. He reads the newspapers, appears on radio talk shows and volunteers for every charity event that comes his way, even as he prepares for his debut as Dominik Hasek's replacement. If he's feeling any stress at the prospect of being compared to the six-time Vezina Trophy winner, Biron is doing one heck of a job hiding the anxiety behind his ready smile and rambling chatter.'
'Ruff is entering his fifth season with the Sabres, but there was never a sense this was his team. No matter the coach, it seemed the Sabres always belonged to Hasek, which is why most everyone tiptoed around his ego. The Sabres this year appear more rejuvenated after a busy summer, almost as if they had been set free from The Dominator's long shadow.'
'Buffalo is likely to contend with Toronto and Ottawa for the Northeast Division title but once again fail to finish among the top four of the Eastern Conference. Not procuring home-ice advantage in the playoffs hasn't hurt the Sabres before. The prediction here is that their run will end in the second round after a heartbreaking, seven-game slugfest with the Philadelphia Flyers.'