'At age 14, Austrian youngster Thomas Vanek visited Edmonton from his new home in Lacombe and rushed over to have his picture taken at the Wayne Gretzky statue, hoping, like most starry-eyed kids, that some of No. 99's magic would rub off. Some of it did.'
Archives for April 12, 2007
‘“I don’t think any one person has to feel like they have to carry the team,” Miller said. “I think it’s spread out in such a way that night-to-night it’s people stepping up, or the entire team working together. Only that could be the biggest reason we’re able to do that this year. “And moving forward, it’s going to have to be more of the same,” he said. “We’re going to have to ignore the expectations. It’s hard to win the Stanley Cup.”’
'All of the storylines this matchup creates have been picked with a fine-toothed comb. But when the Buffalo Sabres step foot onto HSBC Arena ice Thursday (8 p.m. MSG-TV/WGR-AM) to face the New York Islanders in the first of seven possible meetings, all that matters is the win.'
'"On the flip side, the Islanders have some good veteran players who have been tested in these situations. I don't think that's an issue with them."'
'"Last year it was a little more noticeable," Satan said of the booing. "It's a little quieter this year but at least they remember me."'
'“There’s no science to it,” coach Lindy Ruff said. “Most goals — over 70 percent of the goals on power plays — are led from somebody shooting from the point, or one of those guys in a high umbrella [standing on the edge of the faceoff circles] getting a shot through and the goaltender’s scrambling on a rebound. Not often do you score a goal where you get five passes and all of a sudden it’s in the net. That’s a rarity.”'
'“It’s always the team I want to win, always,” said Tuzzolino, who’s in the Islanders system but will become an unrestricted free agent if they don’t sign him by June 1. “If I’m ever there [with the Islanders], I’m sure my emotions would change, but from a fan standpoint, I was born and raised here. I’ve got to go for Buffalo.”'
'But Briere claimed there was little chance the mighty Sabres would get too full of themselves anymore. While maintaining an intense focus is difficult for an 82-game schedule, he suggested the postseason commands total awareness. “With the way everybody’s driven to win and reach our goal, we’re in the playoffs now,” Briere said. “I don’t think anybody’s going to take it easy."'
'Yes, this is definitely the year.'
'“Probably a nightmare,” is how left winger Thomas Vanek imagined defenders view Afinogenov. “It’s definitely a different game with him. He takes it, skates all over and creates a lot more chances for us.”'