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SYLVESTER'S BLOG: TURKEY NOTES

Tuesday, 11.24.2009 / 3:14 PM / Blogs - Kevin Sylvester
By Kevin Sylvester  - Sabres "Hockey Hotline" Host
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SYLVESTER\'S BLOG: TURKEY NOTES
Bill Wippert
♦ No one is thankful for last week.   However, it illustrated the difference with the NHL now and a few years ago.  It used to be that good teams could hit the ice against a mediocre team and win on talent alone.  In essence, the good teams outclassed the bad ones no matter the effort level. 

The salary cap has nixed that.  It has become a game of hard work.  Meaning, you have to outwork your opponent no matter what the skill level is.  With that being said, here is my breakdown of last week’s 3 losses. 

          •Florida outworked the Sabres, particularly in the second period.  Perhaps the emotion was gone from a big weekend against Calgary and Philadelphia. 

          •The more I think about the Boston game, the less problem I have with it.  It was a hard fought battle against a big tough team, which got a very good performance from Tuukka Rask.  I bet Toronto wishes they kept Rask and traded Pogge.  The Bruins also won on a tip in overtime, there’s not much shame in that.

          •The Ottawa game displayed what could be a mental block in that place.  I don’t know how else to explain why the Sabres have not won there since March of 2008.  I think the effort was there, just a few mental lapses that cost them.  Fatigue could have also been a factor.  The two positives, if you can take any from the loss, were goaltending (which I’ll get to next) and the fight to the finish, which they did not do against Florida.

♦ I hope the fans that have criticized Patrick Lalime paid close attention to his performance in Ottawa because he was excellent. The only shot that he saw that went in was the second Daniel Alfredsson goal. He made some downright great saves to keep his team in the game and others to keep it close late.  Any player on the team would second my assessment and hopefully you saw Henrik Tallinder’s post-game comments on how they let Lalime down. 

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♦ Several of you have sent questions regarding the slow start for Thomas Vanek. I don’t know the answer for sure, but here is what I think: His shoulder injury at the start of the season obviously affected him early. But he bounced back from that quickly. I think he is adjusting to what now has become the norm, the “system” or trap. 

Vanek went through and adjustment two years ago when he was thrust into the premier goal scorer position.  It took him some time, but he figured out how to gain position against the best defenders teams could throw at him and started potting goals with regularity.  Now teams are just packing it in against the Sabres, and everyone else for that matter, so getting open looks at the net is a rarity. 

Vanek’s living is around the net, not on the rush even though he is capable of creating chances and burying one-timers.  He scores on rebounds and quick feeds.  It seems to me that his teammates are having a tough time getting shots through for rebounds to occur or passes in for the quick scores.  Vanek is one of the smartest players in the league, so he’ll figure it out and help his teammates do the same. 

♦ This week’s road trip is extra special as the players’ fathers have been invited on the trip.  By my count 19 fathers boarded the plane Tuesday morning with huge smiles, handshakes for all us, and a prideful glow from the success of their sons.  It’s great to witness and a classy move by the organization.

♦ Happy Thanksgiving, and since we’ll be spending it traveling to Philly and away from home, save me a piece of pumpkin pie.  With whip cream of course!

SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - BOS 82 54 19 9 261 177 117
2 y - PIT 82 51 24 7 249 207 109
3 x - TBL 82 46 27 9 240 215 101
4 x - MTL 82 46 28 8 215 204 100
5 x - NYR 82 45 31 6 218 193 96
6 x - PHI 82 42 30 10 236 235 94
7 x - CBJ 82 43 32 7 231 216 93
8 x - DET 82 39 28 15 222 230 93
9 WSH 82 38 30 14 235 240 90
10 NJD 82 35 29 18 197 208 88
11 OTT 82 37 31 14 236 265 88
12 TOR 82 38 36 8 231 256 84
13 CAR 82 36 35 11 207 230 83
14 NYI 82 34 37 11 225 267 79
15 FLA 82 29 45 8 196 268 66
16 BUF 82 21 51 10 157 248 52

STATS

2013-2014 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
C. Hodgson 72 20 24 -26 44
T. Ennis 80 21 22 -25 43
D. Stafford 70 16 18 -19 34
C. Ehrhoff 79 6 27 -27 33
C. Stewart 63 15 11 0 26
C. Conacher 79 7 19 1 26
T. Myers 62 9 13 -26 22
Z. Girgensons 70 8 14 -6 22
M. Foligno 74 7 12 -17 19
J. McBain 69 6 11 -13 17
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
M. Neuvirth 4 8 2 .921 2.78
J. Enroth 4 17 5 .911 2.82