Sept. 28, 20081:55 p.m. EDT
We have already reached our cruising altitude as we head east to Buffalo for the third preseason tilt of the season. Ryan Stanzel (we trade setting up travel arrangements on the trips we take) will have his work cut out for him next week as we left on time again today for our 12:30 departure.
Day trips are a little bit easier, though -- not as many extra players (37 people total on today’s flight) and no bags to check before getting on the plane, so security is a breeze, too. My 4-year-old son, Evan, accompanied me to practice this morning. We arrived at the office around 9 a.m. and did some computer work while he played bubble hockey and did some coloring.
Printed off stats and clips for the plane ride, along with the manifest and box score from Buffalo’s game last night to help our coaches and radio broadcaster prepare for today’s match.
Headed over to rink at 10 for morning skate, and I think I counted 27 players on the ice, including Marian Gaborik. Gaborik participated in all the drills and was one of the last players off the ice. He told reporters he has been skating for the last five days and is looking forward to playing in a couple preseason games before the regular season starts. Gaborik, though, is not on today’s trip.
One of the many things Ryan and I handle on the road is player ticket and pass requests. Not one request for Chicago on Friday, but a bunch of guys have friends and family coming to tonight’s game, including Cal Clutterbuck
, Tyler Cuma
, Ryan Hamilton and Erik Reitz, and I'll e-mail the list to the Sabres once we get to the rink.
I have to be honest with you ... I am wearing a yellow Brewers T-shirt today under my dress shirt to try and help the Brew Crew advance to the playoffs. C.C. should be toeing the rubber right now and I really hope things go well for the home team today. Will probably keep an eye on my fantasy football team once we land as well. Sick’s Stompin Unit is off to a 1-2 start this year, so we can’t afford another loss in week 4. Unfortunately, every team can’t win its first three games like Stanzel’s has. I would like to point out that I won the fantasy baseball World Series this year and Ryan’s team finished dead last. His team name was “No Brewers, I Win” this year. Serves him right getting crushed by Harvey’s Wallbangers (my team) and the rest of the league on a daily basis.
Ordered Cossetta’s yesterday afternoon so the boys could eat a good lunch today after morning skate. The food (chicken parmigiana, chicken marsala, mostaccioli, bread and salad) arrived a little before 11 a.m., and, by the time I left for the rink, it was all gone. By eating at the rink, the players can take their normal pre-game nap on the plane and not worry about eating to close to game time. Grilled chicken soft shell tacos are today’s appetizer on the plane and chicken fettuccine is the entrée. We always have sandwiches and salads on the plane if guys want a little snack along with cookies toward the end of the ride. Time for a little nap.4:55 p.m. EDT
We landed at 3:30 (scheduled to land at 4:00) and, fortunately, Linda was waiting to pick us up. The equipment guys weren't as lucky, as they were still waiting for Buffalo’s equipment truck to get to the airport. We got to the rink plenty early (4:00 p.m.) and Jacques asked if we could try and work on not getting here so early next time -- 4:30 would have been perfect, he said. I told him it's better to be early than late.
Had to wait a little bit for credentials and wireless codes for our friends in the media, so I could send this to Mr. MacDonald for posting. For the second time in as many road games, Ryan Stanzel sent me the best e-mail of the day ... "Ryan Braun hit a home run in the 8th to lead the Brewers to a big win." Now if the Marlins can just finish things off at Shea Stadium, yours truly will do whatever it takes to get tickets to Games 3 and 4 against the Phillies.
As I walk into the press dining room, players are in the hall playing soccer warming up for the game and Mike Russo just talked to Tyler Cuma
about playing in his first game with the Wild. He has lots of family and friends here today.6:50 p.m. EDT
Finally situated up in the press box at lovely HSBC Arena. Dinner was good, “very underrated,” according Tom Thompson, who should write a NHL dining book. I am always amazed at all the stories Tommy has about his scouting travels and a favorite restaurant in every city he travels. Today’s tip was about award-winning apple pie in Lethbridge, Alberta.
The scoreboard is displaying highlights of the Bills triumph over the Rams, including a TD pass to Lee Evans, which makes Mike Russo do a quick fist pump. Evans is on Russo’s fantasy football team, I guess. Off the record, it looks like Sick’s Stompin Unit is going to fall to 1-3, but I don’t care. My Brewers are going to the playoffs for the first time in 26 years. Life is good.
Who says the economy is struggling? As we arrived at the HSBC Arena this afternoon, Mike Ramsey noticed the Sabres old home rink is being torn down. The bus driver informed us it is being turned into a Bass Pro Shop. Good to see prosperity here in Buffalo.
Wild Starters and Scratches tonight:
Boogaard and Noreau
Veilleux, Pouliot, Clutterbuck
Johnsson wearing the 'C,' Belanger and Nick Schultz wearing the 'A's' tonight.
They sing both anthems here in Buffalo, and we are now ready to play hockey tonight in front of a good crowd. First period
Gotta be honest. First period wasn't that exciting. A couple of hits, and the Wild had one good scoring chance, but went to the dressing room knotted 0-0. This is only our third building of the year, but this is by far the coldest. My toes are freezing up here. Second period
Second period starts out much the way it did in Chicago as Buffalo scores just 13 seconds into the period. Bergeron got knocked off the puck behind the net and Jochen Hecht deposited the loose puck into the back of the net ... 1-0 bad guys.
And we all thought Bergeron was an offensive defensemen who could handle the puck and get the puck on net ... For the second game in a row, he gets into a fight. This time, Jason Pominville doesn't like the fact that Bergeron hit a teammate low at the blueline and they do a little dance. Bergeron isn't the biggest guy in the world and isn't all that interested in testing Pominville in this big preseason match.
Time to go downstairs and pay for postgame pizza and wings. That's right, you can't visit Buffalo without trying some wings. I hope they have some extra hot sauce to bring home for Stanzel. Can't wait to see how expensive this will be.Pizza update
$130 (tip included finance) for four large pizzas and 90 wings (30 hot, 30 bbq and 30 thai). That's a good deal.Third period, OT and shootout
Andrew Brunette scored late in the third period to force overtime, followed by the team's first shootout of the year. Drew Stafford, shooting second for the Sabres, scored the team's only shootout goal, while Owen Nolan (shooting first for the Wild) and Andrew Brunette (shooting fourth for the Wild) scored to give the good guys the 2-1 win.
Lots of family here for guys postgame. Brunette actually had a joke played on him as he thought he was second to shoot (someone on bench told him he was next), so he went out to center ice and the refs told him he wasn't shooting. He got the last laugh though.
Off to catch a plane.