[ issues | web extra | stats | nhl archive | home | chat | mailing list | about us | search | comments ]
Free Agent List
Back to Issue
Anaheim Mighty Ducks
Detroit Red Wings
Los Angeles Kings
New Jersey Devils
New York Islanders
New York Rangers
San Jose Sharks
St. Louis Blues
Tampa Bay Lightning
Toronto Maple Leafs
Free LCS 1997-98
Reader Hockey Pool
head coach: Lindy Ruff
roster: C - Mike Peca, Derek Plante, Brian Holzinger, Eric Rasmussen, Wayne Primeau. LW - Randy Burridge, Miroslav Satan, Michal Grosek, Brad May. RW - Donald Audette, Jason Dawe, Matthew Barnaby, Dixon Ward, Rob Ray. D - Alexei Zhitnik, Darryl Shannon, Jay McKee, Mike Wilson, Bob Boughner, Richard Smehlik. G - Dominik Hasek, Steve Shields.
transactions: traded Brad May, lw, and a 1999 3rd round draft pick to the Vancouver Canucks for Geoff Sanderson, lw; assigned Vaclav Varada, rw, to Rochester (AHL)
Eastern Conference - Northeast Division Team GP W L T PTS GF GA Pittsburgh 58 29 16 13 71 160 132 Montreal 56 28 21 7 63 168 141 Boston 56 23 22 11 57 140 138 Ottawa 58 23 25 10 56 130 140 Buffalo 55 22 21 12 56 143 138 Carolina 57 21 29 7 49 139 161
01/27 St Louis T 3-3 01/30 Phoenix T 3-3 02/01 at Florida W 5-2 02/02 at Tampa Bay W 7-3 02/04 Boston T 2-2 02/06 Pittsburgh T 2-2 02/07 at Montreal W 4-1
by Joe Brunner, Buffalo Correspondent
"Oh, Ah, Sabres On the Warpath!"... at least that's what we used to chant in the days of the French Connection. The Sabres are on an impressive streak, undefeated in their last nine games, bringing back memories of last season when they ripped off a 12- game unbeaten streak to take control of the Northeast Division. Since the announcement was made that John Rigas intended to buy the team, the Sabres have a 9-2-6 record.
Dominik Hasek continues to shine in goal, but the most encouraging sign is that the team has picked up its offensive production. In the last four weeks (since Jan 14), the Sabres have averaged 3.5 goals per game. Any time this team scores three or more goals a game with the Dominator in the nets they are virtually unbeatable. The only loss the Sabres have suffered this season when they scored three or more goals was an 8-4 drubbing at the hands of the Dallas Stars on December 15, and the Sabres goals in that game came during "garbage" time.
The Sabres have 56 points and are now tied for 7th place overall in the Eastern Conference with Ottawa, just one point behind the Boston Bruins. Unfortunately the Olympic break is here, and that could destroy their momentum.
One of the reasons for the Sabres' recent success is the scoring contributions by the defenseman. Apparently they are finally grasping the concept of jumping into the play advocated by the coaching staff. Against Montreal, three Sabres defensemen scored; Jason Woolley, Mike Wilson and Alexei Zhitnik. Wilson looked like the second coming of Bobby Orr on his goal, weaving his way through several players before burying a wrist shot from the slot. Woolley, though hardly a defensive stalwart, continues to impress with his timely offensive contributions. The trade that sent a 5th-round pick to Pittsburgh for Woolley continues to look like a good one. Richard Smehlik ended a long drought by scoring a short-handed goal against Tampa Bay, giving the Sabres a 1-0 lead and setting the tone for a blowout victory. Alexei Zhitnik remains the team's most steady defenseman, leading all Sabres defensemen in scoring with seven goals and 19 assists, while logging more than 30 minutes a game. Although Zhitnik is in his seventh NHL season, at just 25 years of age it appears his best years are ahead him. Unheralded defenseman Darryl Shannon continues to lead the team with a plus-15 rating.
Jason Dawe, who started out the year on a torrid scoring pace and since cooled off, has quietly contributed with his defensive play and is now a plus 10. Mike Peca is tied for second in the NHL with three short-handed goals.
Darcy Regier finally pulled the trigger on a major trade, acquiring sniper Geoff Sanderson for the popular Brad May and a 1999 third-round draft pick. If someone would have proposed this trade to Hartford last season, I think Jim Rutherford would have laughed. Sanderson has scored 30 or more goals four times in his career, while May has tallied just seven goals in 78 games over the course of the last two seasons. Although the Sabres lost some toughness, the addition of a potential 30-40 goal scorer is welcome. It's highly unlikely the Sabres would have tendered the injury prone May the necessary 10% increase on his one-million- dollar-plus contract to retain his rights, so it's hard to see how Regier can possibly go wrong on this deal.
Sanderson has been having a difficult year and Sabres fans can be thankful for that. If he was having his typical season, he never would have been available at that price. Sanderson arrived in Buffalo with a slight shoulder separation from which he is described as being 80% recovered. As a precaution, the team held him out of the final two games prior to the Olympic break. Darcy Regier has indicated that he isn't done trading yet. When the Olympic trade moratorium is lifted, I suspect he'll make a minor deal to acquire an enforcer type to offset the loss of May.
1998 © Copyright LCS Hockey All Rights Reserved