What they're saying about Boston-Buffalo

Thumbnail image for charabig.jpgNBC’s first playoff game of 2010 starts live at 1:00 pm Eastern Standard Time. We’re very excited to provide extended coverage for Game 2 of the Boston Bruins-Buffalo Sabres first round series for you here to today. Let’s take a look at what newspapers, bloggers and other assorted individuals are saying about this afternoon’s game.

What Boston bloggers and newspapers are saying

Stanley Cup of Chowder has a great preview of the game that includes an injury report, possible line combinations and this interesting tidbit. (Evan also points out that the officiating might, um, lean toward Buffalo.)

– Tuukka Rask is 4-1-0 lifetime vs. Buffalo with a 1.43 GAA and a .954 save percentage.

– Ryan Miller is 16-5-6 lifetime vs. Boston with a 2.53 GAA and a .914 save percentage.

The Bruins’ lack of offensive punch was the focus of a big chunk of the Boston Globe’s coverage. Their beat writer Fluto Shinzawa covered the subject here while the Associated Press had an interesting piece on their lack of scoring as well. NBC contributor Kevin Paul Dupont predicted that this series would be a grind.

For comic relief, here’s the story of the Bruins fleecing the Toronto Maple Leafs in a “once-in-a-generation” deal to get Tuukka Rask. Sorry, Mr. Shinzawa, but the Leafs seem to make a bad trade once per season, not once per generation.

Finally, Patrick Kaleta is ruffling some feathers in Boston but here are some other Sabres to watch (according to the Globe).

What the Buffalo bloggers and newspaper are saying

Die by the Blade has a great collection of Buffalo Sabres-related links. One of the pieces that standout is this story, which covers the fact that the Sabres might not have even scouted Ryan Miller. Wow.

What’s a little animosity between friends?

More on Patrick Kaleta from the Buffalo News.

Jerry Sullivan discusses the fact that Zdeno Chara embraces the role of a villain, despite the fact that he never wears a rob on his way to ice nor does he have a habit of saying “To be the man, you have to beat the man!”

Hitchcock going to more aggressive attack for Blues

Ken Hitchcock
Leave a comment

ST. LOUIS (AP) After three straight first-round playoff exits, the St. Louis Blues have learned to temper expectations.

They have been consistently among the NHL’s best in the regular season and realize it is past time to build something for the long haul. The sting still lingers from the latest failure, against the Minnesota Wild last spring.

“We’re all disappointed, everybody can agree on that,” defenseman Alex Pietrangelo said. “It’s never easy to kind of think about your failures, but we grow every time it happens.”

Management isn’t ready to tear it all down yet.

“We play, in my opinion, one of the toughest if not the toughest division in the NHL, and we’ve finished first or second in the last four years,” forward Alexander Steen said. “So we have an extremely powerful team.”

Maybe a change in strategy will be enough: Coach Ken Hitchcock is back with a mandate for a more aggressive, even reckless, style of play from a roster that hasn’t changed appreciably.

“We’re coming hard from the back and we’re coming hard to see how close we can get to the attack,” Hitchcock said. “I think it’s where the game’s at; I think it’s where the game’s going to go.”

The 63-year-old Hitchcock is pushing forward, too, unwilling to dwell on the flameouts. Coach and players agree that would be “wasted energy.”

“My opinion is when you sit and think about the past, you do yourself no good,” Hitchcock said. “If you learn from the past, that’s when you do yourself a whole bunch of good.”

There were only two major roster casualties. Forward Troy Brouwer came from Washington in a trade for fan favorite T.J. Oshie. Defenseman Barret Jackman, the franchise career leader in games, wasn’t re-signed.

“If you were expecting 23 new faces to be on the roster this year, I don’t think that was realistic,” captain David Backes said. “We’re going to miss those guys in the room and on the ice, but there has been some changeover and I think it’s pretty significant.”

Things to watch for with the Blues:

GOALIE SHUFFLE: Just like last year, there’s no true No. 1 with Brian Elliott and Jake Allen sharing duties. The 25-year-old Allen missed a chance to seize the job last spring when he failed to raise his level in the playoffs.

TOP THREAT: Vladimir Tarasenko had a breakout season with 37 goals and was rewarded with an eight-year, $60 million contract. The 23-year-old winger is by far the Blues’ most dangerous scoring option and said he won’t let the money affect his play. “I never worry about it,” Tarasenko said. “If you play good, you play good.”

NEW FACES: Brouwer and center Kyle Brodziak add a physical element that was perhaps lacking a bit last season. Brouwer has three 20-plus goal seasons and Brodziak, acquired from Minnesota, fills a checking role. Veteran forward Scottie Upshall got a one-year, two-way deal after being coming to camp as a tryout. Rookie forward Robby Fabbri, a first-round pick last year, will get an early look. Another promising youngster, forward Ty Rattie, begins the year at Chicago of the AHL.

RECOVERY WARD: Forward Jori Lehteri bounced back quickly from ankle surgery and opens the season without restrictions. Another forward, Patrik Berglund, could miss half of the season following shoulder surgery.

TRACK RECORD: The Blues won the Central Division last season and Hitchcock, fourth on the career list with 708 regular-season wins, has consistently had the team near the top of the standings. “He is our coach, tough cookies if you don’t like it,” Backes said. “From my experience, he puts together one heck of a game plan.”

It looks like Havlat won’t make Panthers

Martin Havlat

As PHT’s mentioned before, the Florida Panthers stand as a fascinating contrast between youth and experience.

Let’s not kid ourselves, though; fresh faces usually beat out gray beards, at least when it comes to teams that are still trying to build toward contender status.

While it’s by no means official, two Panthers beat writers – the Miami Herald’s George Richards and the Florida Sun-Sentinel’s Harvey Fialkov – report that the Panthers are likely to pass on Martin Havlat.

It wasn’t just about the likes of Jonathan Huberdeau and Nick Bjugstad leading the charge. Other young Panthers (maybe most notably Quinton Howden and Connor Brickley) made the team, thus making Havlat less necessary.

One would assume that it might be tough for the 34-year-old to find work, at least if he insists upon only an NHL deal.

Health issues continue to dog him, but he’s no longer one of those guys who tantalizes with talent when he is healthy enough to play.

Havlat also doesn’t really bring much to the table defensively. While other veterans can kill penalties and show a little more verstaility, Havlat’s greatest selling point is scoring.

Could this be it for a solid career that may nonetheless end with a “What if?” or two?