This is the first extended road trip of the season, and a real chance for the team to bond. The short jaunt to Nashville was just that - too short to get any real off ice stuff done. Anyone who has been part of a team knows the tighter the team, the better chances of winning. It's chemistry. That shouldn't be mistaken for liking one another or becoming best friends. That's just not realistic. But respect is. It's earned on the ice and off the ice. The on ice stuff will take care of itself. The off ice respect is fostered on trips like this.
It's good to see Thomas Vanek back at practice on the line with Derek Roy and Drew Stafford. My guess is that he would have played last weekend if it were March or the playoffs, but it made sense to hold him out this early in the season. Let's hope his upper body injury is able to withstand the pounding in front of the net on the power play, because he is needed on that top unit.
Speaking of the power play, it'll be interesting to see if Tim Connolly remains on the point with the first unit. He was used there against Atlanta and seemed to fit in that role. He is the best playmaker the Sabres have and can dampen the aggressive pursuit of the penalty killing forwards. If he doesn't work there, perhaps Jason Pominville will.
Watch Paul Gaustaud's technique on face offs. He crouches real low and uses his reach to create leverage. The extra work he puts in after practice with assistant James Patrick helps. The Goose was 11 of 13 against the Islanders last Friday night.
I'm anxious to see how Tyler Myers bounces back from the rough game he had against Atlanta. He had a few giveaways, one in which led to an Ilya Kovalchuk goal and was beat by Maxim Afineganov for Atlanta's fourth goal. Myers certainly wasn't alone in the Sabres first regulation loss, but he showed signs of being human in that contest after five previous excellent games. Lindy Ruff said after the game that every defenseman in the League gets beat (see Nicklas Lidstrom last Tuesday in Buffalo), so it was nothing new. What it does is give Myers is experience to lean the next time he's up against one of the League's dangerous forwards. Perhaps even Wednesday night against David Booth or Michael Frolik of the Panthers.
For those that are jealous that we're in Florida, the weather hasn't been great... yet.