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by Kevin Sylvester / Buffalo Sabres
Shootout host Kevin Sylvester is a veteran journalist in radio, television and print media.  From time to time, Sylvester will be taking time out of  his busy schedule to post entries in his blog or answer fans submitted questions.

Click here to send Sylvester a question.  Select submissions will be answered from time to time in different blog entries.

I had some time today, so I decided to dip into my inbox and answer some fan questions.


To play devil's advocate regarding the "playoff grind", an idea, as opposed to shortening the season, or moving the first round of playoff games to best of five, is to reduce the number of teams that make the playoffs.

As it stands right now, more than half the teams in each conference make the playoffs each year, which inherently puts good teams through along with mediocre and sometimes bad teams. A problem with this approach though is the mathematical issue. If you put, say, six teams through to the playoffs after the first round, you're left with three teams.

You could consider putting seven teams through and give the conference winner a bye-round. I'm not saying I like the idea, because I love playoff hockey - the more games, the more teams, the better.

Such a grind reveals character, grit, and determination, all things that win championships. It's why I watch. Penguins and Red Wings got in because they were simply the better teams.

You can blame it on how many games they played vs. how many games their opponents played, but in the end it comes down to who is the better team.  -- Vinnie Pellegrino from Batavia, NY

SYLVESTER:  I can see that you're a thinking man.  I would hate to reduce the number of teams that make the playoffs.  As you intimated, part of the charm of the Stanley Cup is how difficult it is to actually win it.   You are right, the Pens and Wings are in because they are the best teams.  

But are the better because of talent or because they are fresher due to a more favorable match up?  It's an interesting question and good debate.  I will say, I'm a firm believer in talent wins out.
I sure hope the Sabres are taking a lesson from Pittsburgh and the great defensive play they are displaying. It is inspiring to watch the effort the players are exerting to get the job done. Seeing as this was one of the reasons the Sabres missed the playoffs, I would hope they are watching and learning. Any thoughts? -- Joe from Glens Falls, NY

SYLVESTER: You are correct with the defense.  The Penguins are in because of overall team defense.  They have the talent to score, but look at the leads they have held in tight games and the scoring chances they give up.  Not many.  The team they are facing in the finals, is even better defensively.   

Believe, the Sabres already know, they don't need to take note.
Is Crosby the next big thing in the NHL? If not who do you think is? -- Ben Valentine from Rotterdam, NY
SYLVESTER: What do you mean by next big thing?  He is THE big thing in the league along with his teammate Evgeni Malkin and Alexander Ovechkin from the Capitals.    Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews (both of Chicago) are the next big things.
I realize that this may not be the most pressing issue here in the off-season, but this past year I became very interested in the Reebok RBK jerseys worn by all 30 NHL teams.  Do the Sabres have any plans of bringing back a third jersey next season? -- Ryan Beebe from Douglassville, PA

There weren't any third jerseys for any teams last season due to the new jersey being put into play and the research of a full season.  I would expect every team to have an alternate jersey in 2008-09. 
What type of off-season regiment are you and your fellow broadcasters on? -- Drew from Buffalo, NY

SYLVESTER: Regiment?  Golf tournaments and buffets!  I don't know about the others, but I host a golf radio and TV show to stay sharp and take part in the two things I mentioned before.

To see more posts on Sylvester's blog, visit its index page.
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