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AROUND THE NHL

SabresTV's Brian Duff takes a look at what's going on across the league

Wednesday, 01.23.2013 / 5:02 PM / News
By Brian Duff  - Sabres TV Host
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AROUND THE NHL
Less than a week into the 2013 season, here\u2019s a quick look at the stories that have caught Brian Duff\'s attention so far.

Less than a week into the 2013 season, here’s a quick look at the stories that have caught my eye so far.

The Tampa Bay Lightning
The first two periods against the Islanders on Monday notwithstanding, this team is fun to watch. Thanks to Canisius standout Cory Conacher adapting with relative ease to the NHL game (2-3-5 in 3 gp), the various combinations I’ve seen of Conacher with St. Louis, Lecavalier, Stamkos, Purcell, Malone, et al, have been consistently effective.

Adding much needed depth on the blueline with Matt Carle and Sami Salo, they look better on the back end overall as Eric Brewer has had a nice start and it’s given that much more insulation around fourth-year giant Victor Hedman, who has had a quietly effective start through three games.

Anders Lindback will most likely earn the bulk of the playing time this year, but Mathieu Garon may have turned in one of the best early season performances so far in a 4-1 win over Carolina on Tuesday.

Ottawa Senators
The legend of Paul MacLean (much like his stache) continues to grow in Canada’s capital. Consistency and belief seem to be the hallmarks of his team, not to mention maximizing young skill (see Turris, Kyle; and Karlsson, Erik).

It’s also clear that Craig Anderson knows what is behind him in the system, and thus far has seen very little get behind him where it counts.

New Jersey
Same old, same old. Working with what you have, rather that worrying about what you’ve lost, has often been the Devils’ way. Fewer people questioning the Travis Zajac extension by the day.


Four winless teams in the East; four winless teams in the West. And among the eight teams, some pretty elite company in the Kings, Rangers, Flyers, Canucks and Coyotes.

Of course it’s far too early to get really wound up about any of their predicaments, but I do wonder if it won’t be an ongoing grind for the Flyers and Canucks. Injuries at key postions (most notably center ice) aren’t helping their situations. And with never-ending rumors about what should or shouldn’t be done with their goaltenders, this has the makings of two southbound trains that eventually meet at a mutually agreed upon terminal (also known as a place to consummate a trade) in order to keep their seasons’ on the rails.


Officiating Consistency – no love for the glove
No games are ever called exactly the same way, but – much like how the game returned from the lockout in 2005 – there does appear to be a purpose and a pattern being applied by those in the stripes right now. Most notably, as Steve Ott found out Monday (and others have learned too) there is zero tolerance for covering the puck with your hand or attempting to direct the puck off a faceoff with your hand. Come to think of it, you still can’t score with your hand either. Sorry, Joffrey.


That empty (net) feeling
Two games, two good looks at a late-game empty net for the Buffalo Sabres.

Thomas Vanek’s approach – wait as long as possible, get as close as possible – before hammering it home was a perfect way to cap the home opener on Sunday.

Jason Pominville’s attempt – from longer range, and with a little more resistance from the defense – didn’t quite produce the same finality to the contest as Vanek’s. The captain maintains it looked good as he let it go. A surprising outward turn at the end left him feeling a little sheepish, especially considering how hairy the game became in the closing seconds. Pominville says not to worry about merciless ribbing from his mates – he’s the first one to belittle his own effort on the play.

Bottom line - any time you are shooting at an empty net in the final two minutes, your team must be doing something right. Sometimes, just a little more “right” than you would like.

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