|Jobing.com Arena (Photo: Getty Images) |
Here are some notes from Phoenix before the Sabres face off with the Coyotes.
- It has been great enjoying the sun and some warm temperatures, but we sure do miss the snow back home.
- Don't let the weather fool you though, the team has stayed on task for this game with Phoenix.
- Many Sabres fans are here in attendance tonight, but it was nice to be a fan of one of those fans yesterday afternoon at the FBR Open in Scottsdale. PGA pro and Clarence resident Dudley Hart is competing in the event and several of us on staff followed and cheered him on yesterday afternoon. Hart made the cut in his first event this year after winning comeback player of the year last year. He is a big Sabres fan and has helped with the Sabres foundation over the past few years. "Duds" is also a great guy and one you should root for, especially at this years Masters.
- By the way, the 16th hole at TPC Scottsdale for the FBR Open is even better in person than it looks on TV. Great atmosphere than many of the golfers embraced. The Coyotes staff said it was a must and they were right. Make the trip sometime in your life. You will thank me.
- Patrick Kaleta is back tonight and he is excited to play. I was surprised to see him on the trip back in Edmonton since he had been laying low and healing in Buffalo over the past few weeks. We'll see how much time he gets and if Lindy uses him on the PK as he did before the sucker punch from Denis Gauthier.
- It was interesting being part of Wayne Gretzky's chat with the media this morning after the skate. There was the formal portion and then 10 minutes of story telling and just talking hockey with No. 99. Harry Neale led the way with Wayne, but he engaged each of us there and made it comfortable talking to The Great One. A very genuine man that has done a great job with this Phoenix team under tough circumstances.
- Speaking of tough circumstances, the Cardinals are in the Super Bowl tomorrow and the FBR Open is in town, so I do not expect a big crowd tonight. Of course, that is the expectation each night here since the arena is out in the middle of nowhere. If you've been here, you know what I mean. And the same thing can be said for the Panthers rink in Sunrise. It's no wonder why both teams have struggled at the gate, the games are a hassle to get to.
That didn't take long for Patrick Kaleta
to get in the mix and it wasn't a big hit. It was a fight with Dan Carcillo and Kaleta held his own and appeared to land a good left before the both went to the ice. Kaleta will likely have to drop the gloves some more this season, as he appears to be a target for other teams due to his hitting ability.
What was the deal with the linesmen chasing down Nathan Paetsch
just before he was about to engage with Dan Carcillo of Phoenix? Either separate right away when they were all in a pack or let them go. It doesn't make sense to let them skate down the ice ready to fight only to break it up. The only reason I could see is maybe they felt Carcillo was caught pretty good by Kaleta in the first fight and didn't want to risk an ugly situation. The fans didn't like it as the move was roundly booed.
And then Vanek gets pushed into the crossbar by David Hale and no call? They break up a fight, but let that junk go without a penalty? Ok, that's enough on officiating.
So far a much better game than last year's trip out here, a 6-2 clunker to the Desert Dogs. This game has a great pace to it, some animosity on both sides, and solid goaltending on each end. Tim Connolly's
latest goal was an example of the hard work his line has been putting in as of late. Vanek and Stafford where poking around the net which kept the puck free and Connolly dove and chipped the puck in for his 9th. He also took a stick to the face, but well worth it to get a goal.
The assist on Dan Paille's goal may have been the best play I've seen Derek Roy
make this season. He made a great move on Ken Klee, took a hit and still kept his balance long enough to fire a pass to Paille who had an empty net staring him in the face. An amazing play!
Things were a little helter skelter late in the second period as play was loose on both sides. I'm sure Lindy Ruff will want things tightened up a bit defensively for the third, but he has to love the way the Sabres are moving the puck up the ice and creating chances. Derek Roy
has been the best player on the ice so for either squad.
Okay, I know I said no more comments on officiating, but unbelievable early in the third. Tim Connolly
makes a great play and then can't get a shot of right in front of the net because he gets hooked and there is no call.
Then, on the same sequence in the Sabres end, Nathan Paetsch
gets called for holding as soon as he makes contact. You can't let one go and then call the other. Ok, that's all on the officials.
I stand corrected on the attendance tonight. Apparantly you can find this arena, as 16,253 fans did. Many are wearing blue and gold and cheering for the Sabres as they are clinging to a 2-0 lead. The Sabres do need to stay out of the box to finish this one off.