Agitator Pat Kaleta may not technically receive credit for assisting on the power play, but for the second consecutive game the forward has directly impacted the score sheet.
By not dropping the gloves with Vancouver Canucks’ defenseman Shane O’Brien midway through the first period Friday night - and drawing a four-minute penalty - Kaleta gave way for the Buffalo Sabres’ second goal as Clarke MacArthur capitalized on the subsequent power play.
The maneuver has become a staple of the Angola native’s game.
Kaleta lured New York Rangers’ winger Paul Mara into a similar penalty in Buffalo’s 3-1 win on Wednesday night, allowing Thomas Vanek
to score with the man-advantage and tally the game-winning goal.
“That’s my job, that’s why I’m here and I enjoy doing it as well,” Kaleta said. “I like to throw around and stir it up and hit and hopefully create power plays and create some energy for the guys with more gifted skills. Lately they’ve been cashing in so it’s great to see that everyone is contributing from top to bottom. We’ve just got to keep going.”
His teammates appreciate the help, and his efforts have not gone unnoticed by the coaching staff. Head Coach Lindy Ruff praised Kaleta for his restraint and timing.
“Pat didn’t have much of a chance with Mara the other night. I would have been disappointed if Pat responded to that situation,” Ruff said. “Pat is more than capable of responding to the right situation, but we don’t want what the other team wants us to do. We want to do the opposite.
“He’s an antagonizer, he’s a hitter and for the most part I think he’s a pretty darn clean hitter. He’s a hard hitter though and I think that’s part of the game we like.”
“That’s the whole point is for me to pick my spots,” Kaleta said. “I’m not afraid to fight by any means. I don’t care if I win a fight or get beat up… but you learn a little more how to pick your spots. It’s the same thing with hitting, you have to learn when and when not to. I’m still learning but eventually I’ll have to fight and I’m willing and looking forward to that day.”
With the amount of hits Kaleta is registering, that moment may come sooner than later. In the Sabres 5-2 victory against the Canucks at HSBC Arena, Kaleta accounted for eight of the team’s 25 collisions.
He currently leads Buffalo with 11 hits on the year.
“The way I look at it is, what’s better than playing for the Buffalo Sabres in the NHL every day?” he said. “It’s my job and what’s going to keep me here and it’s what got me here. I love doing it, I love hitting, I love stirring it up and I’m just going to try to contribute to my team to the best of my ability.”
Kaleta’s passion for his role shows. As a reporter recapped his stats on the night and talked of performing a thankless job, the grinder couldn’t help but smile at the thought of irking his opponents.
“I think you can watch video on other guys, just like we do, but when you’re in the heat of the moment and you see a guy hitting one of your guys… you want to go after him a little bit and let him know that he’s not going to be doing it all night,” he said. “But I like doing it so I’m going to do it all night. No matter what.”
is taking the spotlight for goal scoring, not only on the Buffalo Sabres, but the entire NHL. The left winger has net six goals and tallied eight points in the first four games, scoring one goal and one assist in tonight’s match-up.
“I’m not carrying the team, everyone is playing well right now. It’s a lot of team effort, a lot of guys are doing little things that don’t get noticed in the paper,” he said.
Vanek currently leads the league with goals and is ranked second in the league for points.
Sabres.com | Chrissy Foster
The Sabres penalty kill unit is proving itself to be unstoppable.
After killing four penalties in tonight’s game, the team has successfully stopped all 19 power plays they have faced this season.
Ruff expects the team to take full advantage of the position they are in.
“When you get on the roll, whatever it is…you want to try to stay on the roll. You build momentum," he said. "That unit right now is trying to take a lot of pride in keeping the other team off the board. In a four game stretch to start the season, it’s great for the team, it’s great for that unit, it’s great for our confidence.”
Buffalo is the only team in the Eastern Conference that has yet to allow a goal with a man-down in the 2008-09 seasonSabres.com | Chrissy Foster
The Buffalo Sabres Foundation presented a check for $20,000 prior to the start of the game to Camp Good Days and Special Times.
Camp Good Days, established 28 years ago, is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to improving the quality of life for children and families whose lives have been touched by cancer. For more information about any of Camp Good Days’ programs or services, to learn about volunteer opportunities or to make a tax-deductible donation, please call Camp Good Days at 716-206-0709 or visit www.CampGoodDays.org
The Buffalo Sabres Foundation is a 501 (c)(3) non-profit foundation that is committed to enhancing the quality of life for the Western New York region. In the process, the foundation strives to assist worthwhile organizations that make this region a better place to live and work. The primary focus of the foundation is to assist youth hockey initiatives, children's health and wellness initiatives, specifically those that serve the underprivileged and handicapped, and to provide support to non-profit organizations and groups that provide vital services to those in need in our community.