Despite free-agent losses, Sabres still have an edge
Buffalo had a regular-season for the ages in 2006-07. Not only did the Sabres win a League-best 53 games, but they won the Presidents’ Trophy as NHL regular-season champions.
Plus, Buffalo won with style in 2006-07. The run-and-gun Sabres were the only team to top the 300-goal mark, pumping home 308 shots.
Unfortunately, the feel-good story -- eagerly embraced throughout Western New York, as well as much of North America -- came to a crashing halt in the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. There, Buffalo lost to the Ottawa Senators, who went on to the Stanley Cup Final.
While the loss to Ottawa was a bitter pill to swallow, the summer brought even more bad news. On the first day of free agency, Buffalo lost its top two centers. Chris Drury went to the New York Rangers and Daniel Briere signed with Philadelphia. That’s 69 goals and 164 points lopped off in one fell swoop.
But the good news is that if any team can survive such damage, it’s the Sabres.
The team is still loaded with offensive talent, a solid and mobile backline and boasts a franchise goalie in Ryan Miller. Lindy Ruff, the longest-tenured coach in the League, has proven he can coach with anybody in the NHL.
We've got to find a way to win a game. He's played well in the minors, now he gets his opportunity. We tried [with Jonathan Bernier]. The way I look at it, you get opportunities and you make the most of it. That's what [James Reimer] did. Now another opportunity is here and Sparks ... you gotta grab it. Is he ready? We'll find out.
— Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock to the Toronto Star on recalling goalie Garret Sparks from the AHL to start Monday in his NHL debut
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