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by Kevin Sylvester / Buffalo Sabres
Drew Stafford (Getty Images)
♦    Hurray for Drew Stafford. I don’t know if I have rooted for a player to score on a penalty shot more than for Stafford against the Pens.  He’s a talented player that can dominate down low and did after that penalty shot ignited him.  Actually, the igniter was watching the Blues game from the press box. 

♦    Any doubts about Lindy Ruff having a handle on his team were erased in the last seven days.  He was asked about a week ago why Tim Connolly wasn’t scoring and said the goals will come because he is working his way inside and getting chances. He potted two against St. Louis by going to the net as Lindy instructed and talked about. And sitting Drew Stafford for a game and then giving him the opportunity on the penalty shot was another stroke of excellent coaching.  He continued in the post game press conference following the win against the Penguins citing that Stafford responded, but needs to do that consistently. It was a classic pat on the back/kick in the rear coaching moment. 

♦    By the way, the Festivus piece with Drew Stafford was shot well in advance of his slump.  If you haven’t seen it, you can watch it here

♦    With Team USA yet to be named at the time of writing this, it’ll be great to see the Sabres well represented in Vancouver.  Henrik Tallinder named to Team Sweden, Andrej Sekera to Team Slovakia, and Toni Lydman to Team Finland have already been named.  Ryan Miller will be one of the goaltenders for Team USA, and I would Paul Gaustad has a shot for Team USA given his grit and prowess in the face off circle. 

♦    The Winter Classic is this week at Boston’s Fenway Park and the weather forecast is not favorable.  No matter.  It’s a great event and appears here to stay with several NHL cities in the north looking to host the event. The word event is appropriate because that’s what it has become.  In that frame of mind, maybe the league should consider moving the game a little later in the schedule and eliminate the All Star game. The league could still shut down for the weekend; invite All Star performers not playing in the game for the skills competition that seems to be the best part (aside from the parties) of the current All Star weekend.

♦    I am often asked if I would like the Winter Classic in Buffalo again.  I always give a hesitant yes. The hesitation comes from the impossibility of duplicating the magic that existed at Ralph Wilson Stadium for the first one in 2008.

♦    Happy New Year and let’s hope the Stanley Cup comes to Buffalo in the next decade, and not as a visitor. 
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