BUFFALO - After a four-and-a-half-hour drive - a trip that would normally take around 90 minutes Â– found myself at beautiful HSBC Arena for Friday's Sabres-Wild gameÂ…
I now understand why Marian Gaborik always hurts his groin Â– it's because it can't keep up. I knew Gaborik was fast, but didn't realize just how so - and neither did Sabres defenders.
On four or five occasions a player in blue looked like he was a statue as Gaborik took two strides and became a white blur.
Â“We warned our team about him, told them you can't get caught even half flat-footed and he still catches you." said Sabres coach Lindy Ruff following his team's 5-1 loss. Â“In my mind, Gaborik is by far the fastest guy in the league.Â”
You simply have to feel for Martin Skoula, who looked like a kid who just dropped his ice cream cone on a hot summer day after he coughed up the puck to Michael Ryan with four minutes left in Josh Harding's shutout bidÂ…
If Harding had managed to close the deal, it would have been his third clean sheet in seven starts. Just when Manny Fernandez thinks he's the clear No. 1. Hello, Josh. Hello, Niklas.
Fernandez should be happy he's head coach Jacques Lemaire's nephew and has two more years on his contractÂ…
I asked Brian Campbell if he'd like to see every team each year:
Â“It's fun playing different teams throughout the league,Â” said Campbell. Â“I think it's nice to play every team once, or a home-and-home, but I don't make the schedule.Â”
So let me get this straight, the players want change (early results from our league-wide player poll say 97 per cent believe there should be more games against the other conference), the teams want change (19 of 30 clubs voted in favor of a new schedule) and, most importantly, the fans want change.
What's the problem again?Â…
Even when the Sabres fell down 4-0 with half a period left, there was still a feeling the Buffalo boys could come back if they could just get a bounce to go their way.
There's no better team in the league at controlling the puck and the pace of the game shift after shift.
Even when they're off, Buffalo is a relentless team that comes at you in waves Â– the main reason they'll be the team to beat in the East Â– and perhaps the league - come playoff timeÂ…
The head-scratcher of the night came when Ryan Miller was pulled midway through the third in favor of Ty Conklin, who had yet to play since being acquired at the deadline. Conklin received a standing ovation (A STANDING OVATION?!?) with his team down four.
Don't ever accuse the Sabres of not supporting their own.
Without a doubt Gaborik is a fast a a vapour trail, The Wild will be a handful for any team unforunately enough to draw them in the first round. As a life long Sabres fan, I'm hoping that this little slump their in is coming at the right time. I don't believe for a second that if they fell to number 2 in the conference that it would make that much difference to how they perform in the post season, they are still the class of the east and by far the most evenly balanced and fastest. They are just as dangerous on the road as they are at home, and even by the third round, teams will be gasping to keep up to them.
- David Makcrow