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Bear Essentials On the Road: Buffalo

by John Bishop / Boston Bruins
Bear Essentials on the Road: BUFFALO, NEW YORK (HSBC Arena)

Where are we going?
Buffalo (photo:
Situated along the Niagara River and Lake Erie – partially responsible for the wintertime snowfall that the city is so well known for – Buffalo is actually named after Buffalo Creek, which flows through the city.

The second-largest city in New York State, the Buffalo-Niagara area has a population of 1.2 million people. Buffalo itself is sometimes called The Queen City, The Nickel City, The City of Good Neighbors, The City of Light, and the City of No Illusions.

As a city with a key position along the Erie Canal, Buffalo served as a trade port and became a large industrial hub. In 1881, it also became the first city in the United States to have electric streetlights.

The city played host to the 1901 Pan-American Exposition, which is where President William McKinley was assassinated. He is buried in the city’s Forest Lawn Cemetery.

Did you know that Vice President Theodore Roosevelt was sworn into the presidency in Buffalo?

Also, Buffalo's Robert Moses Power Plant supplies power to many places along the East Coast.

Today, Buffalo is also famous for its tasty, spicy chicken wings, which were invented at the city's Anchor Bar and have been popularized at many restaurants around the world. The now famous food is celebrated at the National Buffalo Wing Festival every summer.
Many hockey players grew up in the Buffalo area. A few with Boston ties include last year’s Bruins back-up goalie Philippe Sauve (son of former Sabre Bob Sauve), Pittsburgh Penguin and former Boston College Eagle, Brooks Orpik (and his brother Andrew, who currently plays for BC) as well as Boston University’s Brett Bennett.

Former Northeastern University star Mike Ryan plays for the Sabres, as well.

Delaware North Companies, which operates the concession stands in TD Banknorth Garden and many other arenas and ballparks, is headquartered in Buffalo. As you know, DNC is owned by Jeremy Jacobs, who owns the Boston Bruins and the TD Banknorth Garden.

And one more fun fact: If you are in Buffalo for tonight’s game, be sure to take notice of the air by HSBC Arena. General Mills operates cereal plants near the arena, and the smell of Cheerios often permeates the area.

Where are we playing?
HSBC Arena (photo:
HSBC Arena opened September 21, 1996, when the Buffalo Sabres played a pre-season game against the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Buffalo-born band The Goo Goo Dolls played the first concert at HSBC a week later.

During construction, the arena was known as Crossroads Arena, but naming rights were soon sold to Marine Midland Bank. On March 17, 1999, the name was officially changed from Marine Midland Arena to HSBC Arena.

HSBC Arena, which cost $127.5 million to build, has such nicknames as “The Marina,” because of its waterfront location, and “Fort Knox,” a reference to Seymour and Northrup Knox, original owners of the Sabres.

The arena hosts hockey and lacrosse games for the Sabres and the Buffalo Bandits, respectively, as well as many concerts.

HSBC “has hosted national profile events such as the 1999 NHL Stanley Cup Finals, the 2000, 2004 and 2007 NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Championship First and Second Rounds, [and] the 2003 NCAA "Frozen Four" Division I Men's Ice Hockey Championship,” says the arena website.

An interesting Bruins/Sabres tidbit from Wikipedia: “On November 16, 1996, the arena’s first Jumbotron…fell to the ice while it was being remotely moved minutes after a few players ended practice and hours before a game between the Sabres and the Boston Bruins.”
Thankfully, nobody was hurt, but the game had to be postponed due to repairs.

Who are we playing?
The Buffalo Sabres joined the NHL in the 1970-1971 season as the incarnation of the third attempt by Seymour and Northrup Knox to bring a professional hockey team to the city, having first lobbied for a team during the 1967 NHL expansion and attempting to buy the Oakland Seals and move them to New York.

Then, wanting “a different name other than ‘bison’ that was so common among Buffalo sports teams, the Knox's immediately commissioned a name-the-team contest,” explains Wikipedia. “The winning choice, ‘Sabres,’ was chosen because Seymour Knox felt a sabre was a weapon carried by a leader. He also noted that a sabre is swift and strong on offense as well as defense.”

During the 1974-1975 Stanley Cup Finals, the Sabres and the Philadelphia Flyers played a rather unusual game in the old Memorial Auditorium.

In an occurrence which may sound familiar to Bruins fans, w heat wave in Buffalo caused a heavy fog to form over the rink, and some of the game had to be played in a cloud like atmosphere. But that wasn’t the end of the strange moments during that finals series.

Sabres center Jim Lorentz spotted a bat flying across the rink, raised his stick, and killed it -- the only time that any player killed an animal during an NHL game.

The incident was regarded as an “evil omen” because Philly ended up winning the Cup.
The “No Goal!” controversy of the 1999 Stanley Cup Finals is another memory that prompts many Buffalo sports fans to shake their heads.

In the sixth game of that series against the Dallas Stars, a triple-overtime goal by Brett Hull won the Stars the Stanley Cup. However, upon video review, it was found that the Stars player’s skate was in then-Sabres goaltender Dominik Hasek’s goal crease and the goal should have been disallowed.

Needless to say, similar to the way Bruins fans react to "too many men on the ice" penalties, Sabres fans still shudder when the phrase “No goal!” is uttered.

By the way: ESPN's Page2 writers ranked The call the fifth-worse officiating call in sports history.

Recently, and despite having a 10-0 start to the 2006-2007 season  (a new franchise record, the Sabres only the second NHL team to start with such a winning streak), and winning the President’s Trophy for the season, the club lost in the Eastern Conference Finals to the Ottawa Senators.  They then saw beloved forwards Daniel Briere and Chris Drury move on as free agents last summer.

So while five divisional championship banners and two Eastern Conference championship banners grace the HSBC Arena rafters, the Stanley Cup remains elusive.

When are we playing?
6:00 p.m. ET

Who’s playing for us?
As per usual recently, the B's lineup will be better known around game time. Jeremy Reich traveled with the team, but Jeff Hoggan was called up late Saturday after Reich suffered a blow to the head in yesterday's win.

Is the game on?
NESN and WBZ will have coverage, from the pre-game until after the final buzzer sounds.

7:28 a.m.
John Bishop is the beat writer for He covers the Black & Gold hoping to offer a positive look at the team, not only from the stands and the press box, but also from inside the locker room.
Early. Early. Writing.

Today marks just another "biggest game of the year" for the Boston Bruins who now own a three game winning streak, but are now in eighth place in the Eastern Conference -- just two points in front of the ultra-hot Washington Capitals.

But, with a win, the B's could knock one more team off their list of competition for the Eastern Conference playoffs -- and Buffalo knows it all too well.

This morning's Buffalo News states: "The Buffalo Sabres have run out of tomorrows."

Sports reporter Mike Harrington writes, "Even if they go 4-0 the rest of the way, their playoff hopes are virtually nil. And they’re officially done if they lose — in regulation or overtime — in tonight’s home finale against the Boston Bruins in HSBC Arena.

“There’s no doubt. We need to win [tonight],” coach Lindy Ruff said after Saturday’s optional skate in the Amherst Pepsi Center. “I can’t cut it, slice it, dice it any other way. We need to win.”

So it should be a very motivated Sabres club that hits the ice against Our Boys late this afternoon.

8:24 a.m.

A little housekeeping.

As you may or may not know, yesterday was a pretty special day at the TD Banknorth Garden and wasn't just because the B's won!

A nonprofit group helped facilitate a live feed to Iraq during Saturday's game.

That nonprofit, The Freedom Calls Foundation is an organization that provides satellite communication free-of-charge so that military families can stay in touch with their loved ones overseas.

They save military families over $4 million dollars a year and have recently been featured at events like the Super Bowl, the NBA All-star Game, and yesterday's Bruins game!

Five marines out of Devens, MA, experienced the game with us from Camp Taqaddum, just west of Fallujah, Iraq.  Their families were given tickets to the game as well.  After the game, each family had 30 minutes to chat with their loved ones.

The marines also got to chat with Cam Neely before the game and Bobby Allen postgame.
Fans can donate at, by checking on the "Bruins" box.  If enough Bruins fans donate, they have promised to open the Bruins Freedom Calls Satellite Center in Afghanistan.

Go for it True Believers!

12:35 p.m.
Andrew Alberts, Patrice Bergeron and Manny Fernandez had a very, very hard workout this morning under the direction of Coach Houda.

None of the skaters who will be going tonight practiced and there is no early word on whether Jeremy Reich will play.

2:39 p.m.
Sitting here watching the Penguins play the Rangers. Dave Gaucher of WBZ pointed out to me that the B's could be tied for fifth, should the NYR's lose and the B's win.

It's 2-1 Pitt right now, and Malkin has returned from what could have been a disastrous injury -- cut by a skate on the face. OUCH!

By the way I just have to vent: I had a pretty long story about Patrice Bergeron and his admiration of David Krejci's recent success. And my computer ate it. It's gone and so is an hour of my life. [Deep breath] Ok. I feel better.

In any case, Patrice reminded me about "Cuts for a Cause" tomorrow. He and several other Bruins will shed their locks for charity on Monday evening.

Click on story number five on the front page for details.

4:15 p.m.
We've made it to the HSBC Arena.

But before we go into pregame mode let's go to the numbers. Student stat guru, Helin Siris, a senior at Boston College, put together a few bits and pieces for us to ponder. Thanks Helen!

Three’s the charm…
With Saturday’s blanking of the Ottawa Senators, Tim Thomas recorded his third shutout of the season and third career shutout over the Senators.  The 4-0 win was also Thomas’ seventh shutout of his NHL career.

Thomas stopped thirty-four shots to trump the Senators and the Bruins were close behind taking thirty-one shots on goal.  It was the eighteenth time in the Bruins last twenty-six games that they have recorded 30-or-more shots in a game. 

Patient under Pressure…
David Krejci added to his three-game point streak recording one goal and two assists in Saturday’s game against the Ottawa Senators.

With fifty-five seconds to go in the third period, Krejci scored the fourth goal of the night after assisting on the previous two goals. Krejci, whose ability to make plays and find the net under pressure, has impressed his teammates and coach alike.

As Coach Julien said, “The timing couldn’t be better and part of that is getting that opportunity to play a certain position; he’s enjoying it and thriving on it. I can’t say enough about his play right now. He’s been outstanding." 

Krejci was rewarded the Bruins hard hat for his efforts. 

Thornton’s got your back…
No quiet man, Shawn Thornton made his message clear to the Ottawa Senators at 16:01 in the first period when he squared off with Ottawa’s Chris Neil right in front of the Senators bench.

Thornton exchanged blows with Neil after Neil dealt an elbow to Jeremy Reich’s head.  Reich was out for the remainder of the game with a head injury.

Thornton took another one for the team in the second period flattening Senators Cody Bass after Bass slammed Mark Stuart into the boards, jamming his right arm.

Coach Julien recognized Thornton for his efforts “protecting our players, because there were a couple of questionable hits there.  He stepped up and did his job that way.” 

Rookie assistance…
With his two assists in Saturday’s game, David Krejci improved his NHL standings in two somewhat obscure categories.

His first assist on the power play goal at 6:49 in the first period moved him up two spots and into eleventh place for Rookie Power Play Points. His shorthanded assist on Shane Hnidy’s goal at 1:13 in the third period put Krejci on the board for Rookie Shorthanded Assists, securing him the eighth place position.

Fellow Bruins rookie Milan Lucic also had an assist in Saturday’s game moving him up a spot to thirteenth place for Rookie Assists across the league.

Lucic has five assists in his last six games. 

Hard hitters…
At 5’11 and 194 pounds, Vladimir Sobotka may not fit the bill as an intimidating presence like 6’4, 220 pound Lucic.  Nevertheless, the Czech rookie has proven he’s not afraid to play aggressively and throw his weight around.

Sobotka tallied the most hits in last night’s game for a total of five hits.  Shawn Thornton and Shane Hnidy each recorded three hits putting them in three-way tie for second with Ottawa’s Andre Meszaros. 

Closing the gap…
While the Bruins remain in eighth place after the results of last night’s hockey contests, only two points separate the Bruins from the Senators who remain in fifth place.

The Rangers and the Flyers are in sixth and seventh place respectively each holding with ninety-one points. NYR actually had a chance to move up, but lost to the Pittsburgh Penguins on Sunday afternoon.

BTW: Tonight's game against the Sabres not only presents an opportunity for the Bruins to move up in the playoff picture, but to eliminate the Sabres from playoff contention altogether.

4:25 p.m.
Jeff Hoggan will make the lineup tonight against the Sabres.

"It's exciting," said Hoggan just minutes ago. "It's an exciting time of the year to get called up...and you have to seize the opportunity and find a way to contribute tonight."

Last season, Hoggan played 46 games for Boston, tallying just two assists. But as a role player on a non-playoff team, Jeff contributed more with his effort and attitude than what showed on the scoreboard.

With Providence during the 2006-07 playoffs he was 4-3-7 in 13 games. This season he returned to the P-Bruins and has found a scoring touch and is 28-30-58 in 67 games.

"I've been used in a lot of different roles [in Providence]," said Hoggan of his AHL success. "When the puck starts going in and you are playing well, you build confidence."

The bottom line for Jeff, tonight: "I'll be ready to play hard, play fast and do my job."

4:43 p.m.
Coach Julien just named Alex Auld as his starter for tonight. He joins Hoggan as the only change in tonight's lineup from Saturday.

BTW: Coach Julien does NOT expect Reich to miss more than a game. Reich was NOT diagnosed with a concussion.

5:08 p.m.
Jeff Hoggan will fill Jeremy Reich's spot on the Sobotka line tonight, say B's head coach Claude Julien.

"You know, he's a guy who's got experience," said Coach of his newest winger. "He's been around the league, played for St. Louis and played a half a year here.

"Where he is slotted to play tonight I think he is going to be very comfortable.

"That's what he does well -- he's a good checker, and also a good penalty killer, and I liked what I saw from him in training camp," he said.

What did you like about his game, Coach?

"He's got good energy and is not afraid to get involved, and battles hard," explained Julien. "It's a great opportunity for him."

5:28 p.m.
Ryan Miller leads the Sabres out of their room, while Auldie leads the B's out.

Hoggie is wearing his familiar number 32.

I expect something like this:
Chara-Ward (sg)Auld
Stuart-Hnidy (bg)Thomas
Lashoff-Wideman Go Bruins!

5:48 p.m.

Coach went out of his way to downplay the playoff implications of tonight's game in his pregame press scrum.

"I just finished telling the guys to focus on winning the hockey game and not looking too far ahead.

"If we win the hockey game we know what is going to happen.

"But let's not put our focus on where we could be after the game, before even playing it," he said.

First Period
0:00 Very tentative feeling in the HSBC Arena. Usually VERY loud. Not so tonight.
Starters for Boston: Lucic, Metropolit, Axelsson, Chara, Ward, Auld.

2:14 Uh oh. Milan gets four for a hight stick!

2:33 Super Krejci to the rescue. Huge shorthanded tally! It's 1-0, Boston.

6:33 Outstanding PK. Leads to a minor for Buffalo and the B's first PP.

8:44 Weird game thus far. Almost no 5-on-5. Muzz in the box.

10:15 Bound to happen with Sabres on the PP for so long. Lydman scores for Buf and it's 1-1.

14:41 Nobody has taken control of Big Mo, yet.

17:30 Only nine shots in the entire game. Buf has five, and the B's have four.

20:00 Unsatisfying. Look for Boston to come out of the locker room with their proverbial hair on fire in the second.

Second Period
0:00 Looking for that first goal.

2:52 Auld's size has served him well on fthe first four Sabres shots. He just fills the net.

7:50 A "break" as Kaleta pops Luch on the beak. B's on the PP.

6:30 Very, very strange game thus far. Quiet building. B's don't have a shot in the second. Boston really needs to grab the momentum while it is up for grabs.

10:47 The B's were on a PP. Then they weren't. Ugh.

14:30 We're in a little snooze mode. Seriously, the building is so quiet and the play has been uneven. The contest is there for the taking.

20:00 Another uneven period for both teams. The score remains 1-1 after two, but neither team has played their best as of yet.

Third Period
5:00 I finally found a TV with the game on near the locker room. Sorry for the delay. Still 1-1.

6:18 B's just got a PP. Mair in the box (x-check)and Boston has really started to press the Sabres.

10:00 The Black & Gold are really pouring it on, but Miller has been very good.

11:46 Boston has righted the ship and is really going all out in this period. Sobotka just tested Miller with a hard slapshot.

14:22 Auldie came up big twice in the last minute. Both teams are approaching playoff intensity, now.

18:43 Auld just saved the game from his rear, he stuck his hand up and just stopped a tough shot.

20:00 Overtime is coming and the B's gain a point. But they really need that extra one.

:39 Buffalo wins. Shot through a screen from the point.

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