-Hey October. August called. It wants its weather back:
-We've had a lot of sunny, humid weather this month. We're pretty sure the five months of generally nice weather we've had in October have outnumbered the amount of nice days in August. This isn't hockey weather.
-The Penguins face a young Sabres team today. Additionally, it's a beat up Sabres team. Buffalo limps into Pittsburgh without the services of Ville Leino, Ryan Miller, Marcus Foligno and perhaps Henrik Tallinder. We would assume the Penguins could wax this roster Buffalo has tonight but this is the same Sabres team which beat the Penguins twice last season with some seemingly undermanned lineups.
-How young are the Sabres? They have three teenagers - Mikhail Grigorenko, Rasmus Ristolainen and Zemgus Girgensons - in the linesup. THey have longer names than they do ages.
-Much as been made of fighting not even a week into the season. In the wake of the gruesome injury to Canadiens forward/enforcer George Parros on opening night, there has been quite a bit of debate. Personally, we wouldn't mind seeing fighting out of the game. We get that initial, visceral reaction to seeing a good fight. One of our favorite memories as hockey fans is the legendary fight between Detroit's Bob Probert and Pittsburgh Marty McSorley in 1994:
-But we can't reasonably say the entertainment value a fight like that has out-weighs the multitude of reasons to get rid of the practice. We feel guilty saying we enjoyed that fight given the early death of Probert in 2010.
-That said, we're not naive. We realize fighting isn't going anywhere anytime soon. The NHL has taken a few measures to maybe limit with rules about helmets, visors and instigating. But it's not leaving the game anytime soon. It's too ingrained in the culture to disappear with one sweeping decision.
-Let us amend that last point. It's not going anywhere anytime soon ... as long as money isn't a factor. Look at the NFL. The NFL didn't get serious about limiting concussions or violent hits to the head until it started losing money in the court room. Once the family of Steelers great Mike Webster won a lawsuit against the NFL, the doors were open for several former NFL players to pursue lawsuits of their own. Once money became a factor the NFL got serious about head injuries.
-At the moment, the family of the late Derek Boogard, an enforcer with the Wild/Rangers, has a lawsuit pending against the NHL over his 2011 at the age of 2011. Boogaard died as a result of an accidental overdose of prescription drugs and alcohol, far different circumstances than the death of Webster who succumbed to a heart attack at the age of 50. But both individuals suffered from chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a mental disorder which can be caused from repeated head trauma. Activities such getting punched in the head or making helmet-to-helmet contact with a defensive lineman can cause it.
-We're not intelligent enough to tell you how good of a case Boogaard's family has or their chances of winning. But let's say they do. That could potentially open the door for several other ex-NHLers to pursue litigation of their own. If that happens, the NHL might finally get truly serious about head injuries of all types.
-We watched the MSG Plus broadcast of last night's Senators-Sabres game. During the first intermission, broadcaster Brian Duff had a brief but interesting piece with advanced statistics. He used the Corsi statistic to illustrated how many shots each team attempted:
-This was the first instance we've encountered of a broadcaster - local or national - using advanced statistics during a broadcast. Duff was able to keep it fairly simple but didn't dumb it down too much either. He offered a concise explanation of the statistic and we felt it added to the broadcast.
-We chatted with Duff today after the Sabres' morning skate and he seems pretty interested into advanced statistics and was proud he was able to get that chart into the broadcast. The Sabres have been pioneers with advanced statistics as a team (Corsi is named after Buffalo goaltending coach Jim Corsi who came up with the concept). It's nice to see their broadcaster is on board too. Hopefully other broadcasters follow suit.
-Vince McMahon doesn't want anyone messing with his collate setting apparently:
-If you're wondering what the rafter look like, they're smoky:
-Sidney Crosby is on the cover of IceTIme:
-Sidney Crosby Team Canada:
-As always, there are several Sabres fans present. Patrick Kaleta:
-All hail (Dixon Ward era) Miroslav Satan:
-Dan Bylsma Mighty Ducks:
-T-Shirt of the Night: the 1990 NHL All-Star Game logo:
-Jersey Foul of the Night: Taylor Hall Oilers?
-Pants of the Night: This guy dug out his Zubaz:
-The always rare Hal Gill-Ron Francis No. 9 combo:
-The always typical Mike Comrie-Mark Letestu-Ramzi Abid-Jarkko Ruutu combo:
-Jersey of the Night: Former Sabres/Penguins defenseman Doug Bodger:
-The Penguins' starters are Sidney Crosby, Pascal Dupuis, Chris Kunitz, Matt Niskanen, Rob Scuderi and Marc-Andre Fleury.
-Their scratches are Deryk Engelland and James Neal.
-The Sabres' starters are Brian Flynn, Zemgus Girgensons, Kevin Porter, Christian Ehrhoff, Mark Pysyk and Jhonas Enroth.
-Their scratches are Ryan Miller, John Scott, Alexander Sulzer and Henrik Tallinder.
-No Jimerson. No photo.
19:52: Rob Scuderi misses on a pass from his own right wing corner and sends the puck into the Buffalo zone. Hybrid icing is called.
19:32: We have our third stoppage of play already as the Sabres ice the puck. Three stoppages - two for hybrid icing - within the first 28 seconds.
19:27: After a faceoff win in the Sabres' right circle by Crosby, Brooks Orpik flings a puck on net from the right point. Enroth eats it up easily.
19:08: Off a give-and-go with Crosby, Malkin slides a pass from the left point of Buffalo's zone to Martin at the right zone. Martin chops a one-timer which Enroth fights off.
18:02: Beau Bennett spins off a check from Cranberry Mike Weber and deals a pass to Jokinen along the left wall. Jokinen snaps off apss to Dupuis in the right circle. Dupuis chops a partial one-timer on net. Enroth says no.
17:14: Fleury gets his first test as rips a wrister from the right circle. Fleury knocks it dead and covers.
17:00: So far, Malkin has skated a shift with Kunitz and Crosby while Dupuis has skated with Bennett and Jokinen.
16:44: The Sabres ice the puck again. Officials blow play dead as Martin got to the faceoff dot first.
16:37: Off a faceoff win by Crosby in the right circle, Niskanen collects the puck at the right point, backpedals to the center point and booms a slapper which Enroth fights off.
16:21: Death, taxes and Sidney Crosby scoring on the Buffalo Sabres. Off a cycle in the right wing corner. Dupuis has a backhander from the right circle partially blocked. Crosby collects the puck and puts a wrister on net from the right circle. Enroth kicks it out with his right pad. Crosby jolts between Tyler Myers and Jamie McBain and punches the rebound behind Enroth. That was a nice dirty goal by Crosby. Its his 33rd career point in 23 games against the Sabres. Dupuis and Niskanen get assists. The "Hey Song" is played. Penguins 1-0.
15:53: Vanek snaps off a wrister from the left point. Fleury kicks it out as Cody Hodgson sneaks in off the right wing. Tough save.
15:13: Steve Ott tries to chip and chase a puck up the right wing. Just at the Penguins' blue line, Jeffrey leans down and flips him with a nice hip check. Ott takes a moment to collect himself and rejoins play.
14:50: Off a feed by Jeffrey, Chuck Kobasew snaps off a wrister from the right circle. Enroth says no.
13:43: Johan Larsson has a wrister from the right circle blocked by Orpik.
11:35: Grigorenko snaps off a heavy wrister from the right point. Fleury punches it away.
10:54: Off a faceoff win in the Sabres left circle by Crosby, Robert Bortuzzo deals a little pass off the left wall to Maatta at the left point. Maatta uncorks a heavy one-timer which Enroth absorbs.
9:58: As Crosby snaps off a wrister wide to the far side from the right circle, Dupuis drives to the net from the slot and is shoved from behind by Myers. Dupuis ends up bobsledding into Enroth and dislodges the cage. Play is halted. Myers is called for interference. Jokinen, Crosby, Malkin, Martin and Kunitz take the ice.
9:45: On a short-handed rush up ice, Ott pounds a slapper from above the Penguins' right circle. Martin leans down and blocks it to the left corner.
8:26: The JV power play is on the ice. Maatta hammer a slapper from center point. Enroth fights it off. Jeffrey recovers the rebound on the left wing wall and deals to Maatta at center point. Maatta distributes to Niskanen at the right point. Niskanen cranks a one-timer which Enroth eats up.
8:07: Off a sneaky pass by Kunitz below the goal line, Jokinen lefts a wrister from below the right dot. Enroth says no.
7:58: The Penguins' power play expires. They put a lot of quality shots on net.
6:48: Hodgson tries to sneak in from the left wing but Scuderi slides down to knock the puck off his stick.
6:17: The Penguins double their lead. Niskanen pounds a slapper form the right point. Flynn blocks it. Niskanen recovers the rebound and deals to Sutter above the left circle. Sutter swats a one-timer. Kobasew is position in front of the blue paint and re-directs the puck by an overwhelmed Enroth. Another dirty goal down low. Enroth's teammates need to give him some help. Sutter and Niskanen get assists. Penguins 2-0.
4:51: Off a rush into the offensive zone, Hodgson deals a pass from the slot to Drew Stafford on the right wing. Stafford chops a slapper on net. Fleury knocks it down and collects the rebound to freeze play. During a stoppage, Andrew McCutchen and several Pirates are shown on the video board sitting in a suite. They are greeted with a roaring standing ovation and "M-V-P!" chants for McCutchen. Pittsburgh is a hockey "tahn" but at the moment, it's the Pirates' "tahn."
1:11: A tough test for Fleury. Weber puts a partial one-timer from the right point. it sneaks through to the blue paint where Stafford chops it on net. Fleury reads it all the way and kicks out the puck with his right skate. Nice save.
0:02: Martin whacks a one-timer from the right point. Flynn blocks it and is hobbled a bit.
0:00: End of period. Penguins 2, Sabres 0.
-That was a pretty one-sided period of hockey. The Sabres, who played last night, looked completely out-classed.
-Jhonas Enroth is the only player in white who has showed up to play thus far.
-The big thing for the Penguins that their puck possession was first rate. Many of their shots came below the faceoff dots. The fast majority of Buffalo's shots were from the perimeter.
-Maatta had a really strong period. He looked a million times more confident in that game than he did at the start of Thursday's contest against the Devils. He had a few good looks at the net and puts some dangerous shots on net.
-Niskanen and Scuderi looked really sharp as a pairing. They seemed a little uncomfortable Thursday. Tonight, they look like they've played with each other for years.
-Kobasew is looking like a steal.
-The Penguins have an 11-9 edge in shots.
-Kobasew leads the game with three shots.
-Christian Ehrhoff and Stafford each lead the Sabres with two shots.
-Ehrhoff leads the game with 7:37 of ice time.
-Crosby leads the Penguins with 7:27.
-The Penguins have a 14-11 edge in faceoffs (56 percent).
-Crosby is 12 for 18 (67 percent).
-Hodgson is 5 for 8 (64 percent).
-Martin, McBain, Myers and Flynn each lead the game with two blocked shots.
19:06: Off an ugly turnover by Myers from the Sabres' left wing corner, Malkin deals a pass to Jokinen above the right circle. Jokinen fires a wrister which McBain blocks. Myers owes McBain a beer.
18:43: From the left circle, Bennett flicks a backhander to Malkin on the inside of the faceoff dot. Malkin puts a one-timer on net which clinks off a post.
17:58: Malkin collects a puck behind the Buffalo net, swoops around the left wing corner and deals a pass to Jokinen above the left circle. Jokinen chops a one-timer on net. Enroth eats it up.
16:31: Attendance is announced as 18,641. It is the team's 288th consecutive sellout.
15:19: Collecting a loose puck at the right point, Martin sneaks a pass to Dupuis all alone in front of the blue paint. Dupuis has 45 minutes to shoot but can't pick a corner on Enroth who fights it off.
12:32: After a few stagnant minutes. Bortuzzo gets two chances in deep on the right wing but can't get a clean shot on net.
11:53: Girgensons attempts a forehand wraparound from the right of the cage. Fleury appears to hold it out.
11:38: Maatta booms a slapper from the center point. It hits a body or two and deflects on net. Enroth eats it up.
11:26: Sutter gets a pass in the right circle and chops a shot which appears to get blocked high.
11:03: The Penguins fumble the puck a bit behind their own net. That results in a chance for Ott int he slot. Ott puts a one-timer at the net but Scuderi leans down and blocks it side. Sutter flings the rebound out of play. That's two minutes for delay of game. The great Joe Vitale, Craig Adams, Martin and Brooks Orpik take the ice.
10:18: Vanek fakes a slapper from the right circle and puts a low heavy wrister on net. Fleury eats it up with a thud.
9:03: The Sutter minor expires with little threat from the Sabres.
8:42: Pushing a puck through the neutral zone, Crosby gains the Buffalo blue line and backhands a pass to Kuntiz on the right wing. Kunitz booms a slapper over the cage.
7:58: After Crosby forces a turnover by Weber behind the net, Malkin picks up a loose puck behind the net and attempts a forehand wraparound to the right of the cage. Enroth says no.
7:35: Bennett weaves his way through the neutral zone, gains the blue line on the right wing and snaps off a tricky wrister from the right circle wide to the far side.
5:06: Off a neutral zone steal, Malkin backhands a pass to Jokinen a the Buffalo blue line. Jokinen glides into the offensive zone and flings a backhander wide of the cage.
3:58: Jeffrey and Kobasew chase Flynn in the Sabres' left wing corner. Jeffrey trips and appears to get clipped just a bit by the right skate of Kobasew. Play is halted Jeffrey takes a few moments to recover to hsis skates and eventually does while being escorted to the bench and dressing room by athletic trainer Chris Stewart. There didn't seem to be any sort of cut thankfully.
3:08: Niskanen chops a slapper from the right point. It bounces a round in the slot. Sutter and Tanner Glass each have a chance but can't get a clean shot off.
1:59: The Sabres get another power play as Crosby tripped up Kevin Porter at the red line in front of the benches. Orpik, Adams, the great Vitale and Martin take the ice.
1:26: Ennis tire to barge in with the puck from the right wing. Fleury fights it off. Vanek lifts the rebound from the slot right into the chest of a scrambling Fleury. Fleury is able to smother the puck as bodies pile up around him.
1:08: Short-handed Jeffrey pushes the puck through the neutral zone and gins the blue line. He lifts a wrister on net. Enroth fights it off. Jeffrey beats McBain to the rebound an chops a backhander on net. Enroth is able to eat it up. Great individual effort by Jeffrey.
0:03: McBain whacks a loose puck at the net from the right point. Orpik blocks it
0:00: End of period. Penguins 2, Sabres 0.
-This was a lot like the first period just without the goals. The Penguins controlled the puck most of the period and once again had the bulk of offensive scoring chances.
-The scoreboard should say "Penguins 2, Jhonas Enroth 0." Enroth has gotten little to no help tonight.
-The Jokinen-Malkin-Bennett light has looked really sharp. They're hitting some really pretty passes. They just haven't got a goal.
-More of the same with Scuderi-Niskanen. They have have displayed a ton of chemistry tonight.
-It would be a stretch to say Fleury has been tested a great deal, but he's looking confident.
-The Penguins control shots 21-14.
-Kobasew, Jokinen and Vanek each lead the game with three shots.
-Martin leads the game with 16:39 of ice time.
-Ehrhoff leads the Sabres with 16:26.
-The Penguins have a 25-22 edge in faceoffs (53 percent).
-Crosby is 16 for 26 (62 percent).
-Hodgson is 8 for 15 (53 percent).
-McBain leads the game with four blocked shots.
-Martin, Bortuzzo and Orpik each lead the Penguins with two blocked shots.
-Fleury's shutout sequence since the start of the season is now at 100:00. He previous held the franchise record at 66:00.
20:00: Crosby's penalty will expire one second into the period.
18:27: Off a feed by Bennett from the left wing corner, Malkin lifts a wrister on net from the left circle. Enroth fights it off. Malkin gets to the rebound and flings a backhander at the net as he falls forward. Enroth's left skate kicks it out.
17:10: Malkin is taking a shift with the great Joe Vitale and Craig Adams.
16:04: From the right wing along the goal line, Kunitz centers a puck which hops up. Enroth is able to smother it.
14:53: Ehrhoff flings a wrister from the left circle through traffic and on net. Fleury eats it up.
14:41: Adams drops Ott with a check in front of the scoring booth.
14:11: Malkin tries to cut inside Kaleta in the right circle of the Penguins' zone. Kaleta shoves him slightly as Malkin jumps to avoid the hit. Malkin goes down in a heap. He protests to the officials but there's no call. Glass challenges Kaleta to a fight but Kaleta isn't interested. There really wasn't anything wrong on the play. A clean hit ... if you can even call it a hit.
13:44: Crosby rushes up the right wing on a two-on-one against McBain. Crosby takes the puck to the net and is fought off by Enroth.
13:41: Vanek is nabbed for hooking Crosby. Malkin, Crosby, Niskanen, Kunitz and Jokinen take the ice.
13:11: Niskanen booms a one-timer from center point. Weber leans down and blocks it with his right skate out of play.
12:52: Martin retrieves a puck out of his own zone and leads a rush up ice. Carrying it out of his zone. he dishes a sneak pass through the neutral zone to Crosby at the Buffalo blue line. Crosby blows by a few white jersey and attacks the net. He lifts a wrister which just glances off the glove of Enroth and hits the cross bar. The puck deflects out of play.
12:45: Niskanen chops a loose puck on net from the slot. Enroth knocks it dead and covers it.
11:41: The Vanek minor is killed. The Penguins had a few strong chances with that two minutes.
10:42: A wrister by Stafford on the left wing is blocked by the great Joe Vitale.
10:37: McBain has a bit slapper from the right point blocked by Glass who flops down to block it.
9:51: Kunitz get bheind Weber with a puck, fend shim off and lifts a wrister on net. Enroth makes that save. Dupuis chases down the rebound to the right of the cage and flings it on net. Enroth eats it up. Officials award Kunitz a penalty shot ruling Weber held him up. Kunitz takes the puck at center ice, veers slightly to the right and attacks the net. He gives a fak with his wrists and jams up Enroth. Kunitz flips to his backhand and lift the puck by Enroth's glove hand. What a nasty move. This place erupts. The "Hey Song" is played. Penguins 3-0.
8:44: Off some strong puck movement, Joknen takes a pass just in front of the blue pain and tries to jam in a spinning backhander by Enroth's left leg. Enroth stretches out to hold it out.
7:13: Off a little steal by Dupuis on the right wing boards, Crosby races up ice and lifts a wrister from the right wing on net. Enroth fends it off.
6:19: Battling for a puck in the Pengins' right wing corner, Bortuzzo slams Flynn into the boards and drops him. Flynn reacted as if he were hit by a taser.
5:06: Mark Pysyk lifts a wrister from the right half wall. Adams challenges and deflects the puck out of play with his stick.
4:54: The Sabres finally solve Fleury. Hodgson flings a wrister from the right half wall. Vanek is able to fight off acheck above the blue paint and re-directs the puck through Fleury's gear and into the net. It's the first goal Fleury has allowed all season. It snaps a season-opening shutout sequence of 115:06 for Fleury. Hodgson gets the only assist. Penguins 3-1.
2:00ish: Enroth is pulled for an extra attacker.
1:45: The Penguins get one back. Pushing a puck up ice on the right wing, Adams air mails a puck from the red line into the open cage for one of us:
-Martin gets the only assist. Adams is on an 82-goal pace. The "Hey Song" is played. Penguins 4-1.
0:19: Niskanen chops a slapper from the right point which hits a body in front.
0:00: End of game. Penguins 4, Sabres 1.
-This wasn't even close. The score might suggest it was, but this was a one-side romp of a win for the Penguins. They dominated puck possession. They overwhelmed the Sabres with their speed. And most importantly, they limited the Sabres' quality scoring chances to get this win.
-The only reason this didn't get uglier was Buffalo goaltender Jhonas Enorth. He gave this team a chance to stay in this game. He was by far the best player in this game.
-What's really made the difference in this game was the Penguins' speed. They attacked the Buffalo blue line like savages. The likes of Tyler Myers, Jamie McBain and other looked completely overwhelmed by the speed the Penguins' forwards - on all four lines - offered. And it wasn't just speed through the neutral zone. It was speed in tight spaces. The Penguins were getting to all kinds of loose puck in traffic.
-The Penguins' blue line had a whale of game. All six defensemen made life easy for Marc-Andre Fleury who wasn't tested a great deal, at least not compared to Thursday night against New Jersey. The vast majority of the Sabres' shots were from the perimeter. Fleury ate them up all night long.
When Fleury was challenged, he was up to the task nearly every time. If not for a really nice deflection by Thomas Vanek, he gets another shutout.
-After a little uneasy play Thursday, the defensive pairing of Matt Niskanen and Rob Scuderi were dominant at times tonight. As we said earlier, they look like they've been playing together for years.
-They didn't score a goal but the line of Jussi Jokinen, Evgeni Malkin and Beau Bennett were outstanding. They were very creative with their passes and generated a ton of quality scoring chances. If not for Enroth, they would have contributed at least one goal.
-Chuck Kobasew had another strong game. He just looks like he fits perfectly on that third line with Brandon Sutter.
-The Olli Maatta-Robert Bortuzzo pairing took a step forward tonight. They looked comfortable and confident. Maatta wasn't shy about unleashing his impressive shot tonight either.
-Let's keep things in perspective however. The Sabres look like they're in for a pretty lousy season. They have a pretty young, inexperienced lineup to begin with and they were dealing with some key injuries. A really good team flattened a really bad team tonight.
-Myers, who won the Calder Trophy in 2010, was just dreadful. Just dreadful. He looked sluggish with his skating and just didn't seem to read the play well.
-He was partnered with McBain who was worse.
-The Penguins dominated shots, 35-21.
-The Penguins attempted 67 shots to the Sabres' 39. Yeesh.
-Paul Martin led the game with 25:07 of ice time.
-Myers led the Sabres with 21:12.
-The Penguins controlled faceoffs, 40-35 (53 percent).
-Jokinen, Malkin, Sidney Crosby, Pascal Dupuis and Vanek each led the game with four shots.
-The Penguins had a 40-35 edge in faceoffs (53 percent).
-Crosby was 24-17 (59 percent).
-Mikhail Grigorenko was 3 for 6 (50 percent).
-McBain led the game with five blocked shots.
-Martin and Brooks Orpik each led the Penguins with three blocked shots.
-Fleury broke his own franchise record for shutout sequence to start a season with 115:06. His previous mark of 66:00 was set in 2006-07.
-Fleury recorded his 251st career win. He passed up hall-of-famer Johnny Bower for 46th place on the NHL's all-time wins list.
-Pascal Dupuis appeared in his 800th career game.
-Chris Kunitz scored the first penalty shot goal for the Penguisn since Matt Cooke did it Nov. 11, 2011 against Dallas' Kari Lehtonen.