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Hradek: Crosby, Havlat, Sabres making early waves

Friday, 10.14.2011 / 9:58 AM / E.J. Hradek's Analysis

By EJ Hradek - NHL.com Analyst

After a successful trip across the pond, the Buffalo Sabres return home to their fancy new locker room for a clash with the Hurricanes tonight. They'll follow up that up with a quick trip to Pittsburgh for a Saturday night date with the Penguins. I wonder if Lindy Ruff's crew will look as impressive as it did overseas. If the Sabres brought their scoring touch back home with them, I suspect they'll be a handful for both the ‘Canes and Pens.
 
Here's this week's edition of the Friday Flash.
 

Flash: Sidney Crosby cleared for contact

 
On Thursday morning, the League's best player took another step toward a return to action. After being cleared for contact, Crosby donned the same color helmet as his teammates and took part in the club's morning skate.
 

EJ's Instant Analysis

Every Tuesday and Friday, NHL.com analyst EJ Hradek shares his take on all the offseason news.

Now, the speculation can begin on when we'll see No. 87 make his season debut. At this point, it's a guessing game. If Crosby and the Pens have any "target date" – and I don't think they do – they certainly aren't letting on.
 
Speaking to the media after his Thursday morning twirl, Crosby said it isn't hard for him to be patient, at this point (being seemingly close to a return). He wants to do everything right before jumping back over the boards. As usual, with Crosby, that's pretty smart. See you soon, Sid.
 

Flash: Arron Asham admits his own post-fight gesture was "classless."

 
After KOing Caps F Jay Beagle, Penguins veteran winger Arron Asham went WWE with a few very clear gestures, mocking his fallen foe.
 
After the game, Asham offered some sharp self-criticism, calling his own actions, "uncalled for and kind of classless … a classless act on my part." That sounds about right, Aaron.
 
He seemed genuinely disappointed in himself. If Beagle had been more seriously hurt -- and how do we really know that he hasn't been, head injuries being kind of unpredictable in nature -- Asham probably would be feeling pretty guilty, too.
 
In the heat of the moment, players can do things they later regret. Of course, there can be consequences for those actions. In the past, when players have made particular gestures, they've been subject to suspension. In that light, I expect Asham to face such a fate.
 

Flash: Avs roll to third straight win

 
After opening the season with a disappointing 3-0 home-ice loss to the Red Wings, the youthful Avalanche have ripped off three straight road wins. Last night, Joe Sacco's team blasted the Senators, 7-1, in Ottawa.
 
A few weeks back, after a horrible preseason performance against the Kings at the Pepsi Center, third-year C Matt Duchene tweeted an apology to the fans, saying this year's team would be a lot better than the group that took a free-fall through the second half of last season.
 
In the first week, at least, the dynamic pivot has been true to his word. The Avalanche take their road show to Montreal on Saturday.
 

Flash: Miikka Kiprusoff becomes the Flames all-time winningest goalie

 
Miikka Kiprusoff
Goalie - CGY
RECORD: 1-1-0
GAA: 2.52 | SVP: 0.931
The veteran Finnish-born netminder helped sour a rowdy opening-night crowd in Montreal, turning back 35 shots to lead the Flames to a 4-1 win Thursday. With the victory, Kiprusoff moved to the top of the franchise list for wins with 263, passing Mike Vernon.
 
In each of the past six seasons, Kiprusoff has appeared in 71 or more games. That's a lot of work. This year, they'd like to lighten his load, turning to backup Henrik Karlsson for 20 to 25 starts. Well, I wish them luck with that.
 
At 35, Kiprusoff clearly gives them the best chance to win. If this team – with a glaring hole at center – has any chance of competing for a playoff spot, Kiprusoff will have to carry them … again!
 

Flash: New Sharks RW Martin Havlat to miss second straight game

 
According to the San Jose Mercury News, Havlat won't be in the club's lineup when they face off against the Ducks Friday night in Anaheim.
 
Havlat has been practicing, but he's still recovering from off-season surgery on his left shoulder. Last week, he flew to Cleveland to seek clearance from the surgeon who performed the procedure. He was advised against returning too soon.
 
That's smart advice. I can still remember Jaromir Jagr telling me that his surgically repaired shoulder wasn't right months after he returned to action for the Rangers in the 2006-07 season. Havlat would be wise to take his time before coming back. The Sharks will need him a lot more in the spring; than they do in the fall.

Once again, it shows character in this dressing room. Once again, there's no quitting in here. We all wanted this so bad and we worked so hard to get home-ice advantage and we weren't going to let this one slide.

— Colorado Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog on his team's OT Game 1 win vs. Minnesota Wild