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Discussion Starter #1
The Buffalo Sabres ended their brief skid by returning to their style of play. That included another mediocre showing by their special teams.

The Sabres look to improve their odd-man play when they visit the slumping Chicago Blackhawks on Wednesday in the first meeting between the squads since the 2003-04 season.

Buffalo (30-9-3) leads the NHL with 3.76 goals per game this season, but was outscored 10-5 in consecutive losses to Ottawa and Pittsburgh last week. The Eastern Conference-leading Sabres bounced back Saturday, scoring the first two goals and holding on for a 4-3 win over Toronto.

Daniel Briere, Chris Drury and Ales Kotalik each a goal and an assist for the Sabres, who avoided dropping three in a row for the first time this season.

"We're not use to losing," said Briere, who leads Buffalo with 49 points. "Two games for us felt like a long time. Now we'll be able to relax and get back to the same game plan."

Buffalo might not want to relax too much as it has yet to get its penalty-killing unit on track. The Sabres are thwarting 81.9 percent of opponent power-plays this season, which ranks in the bottom half of the NHL, and they've stopped just 58.8 percent of those chances over the last three games.

They have a good shot of improving that play against a Chicago team that ranks last in the league in power-play efficiency, scoring on a dismal 11.4 percent of its opportunities. The Sabres have also struggled in that area and were blanked on all five of their extra-man advantages Saturday. They've capitalized on 16.7 percent of their chances in 2006-07, one of the conference's worst marks.

Briere and Dmitri Kalinin each recorded a goal and an assist to lift Buffalo to a 3-2 win over the Blackhawks on Dec. 3, 2003. The Sabres have won three of the last four matchups in Chicago and meet a Blackhawks squad trying to avoid a season high-tying fourth consecutive loss at the United Center.

Patrick Sharp got Chicago (17-20-5) on the board first Sunday, but the team allowed four unanswered goals en route to a 4-2 loss to Phoenix. The Blackhawks have dropped three in a row - getting outscored 14-5 - and five of their last six.

"The only thing we can control is our effort," said Blackhawks coach Denis Savard, whose team is concluding a three-game homestand. "Again, we had enough chances to win. ... It's tough sledding, but there's a long way to go and we've got to stay positive."

Chicago's Nikolai Khabibulin may find it a little hard to stay positive as he has posted a 4.32 goal-against average over the last three losses - a big jump from his 2.57 GAA this season.

"I didn't see the puck that well (Sunday), even without screens," said Khabibulin, who has a 1.00 GAA in winning his last two starts against the Sabres. "It's hard to explain."

Buffalo's Ryan Miller got Saturday off, but will likely be back in goal Wednesday as he tries to avoid losing three straight starts for the first time this season. Miller has never played the Blackhawks.

He may not have to face their top goal scorer as Martin Havlat is listed as day-to-day with a groin injury that has kept him out of the last two contests. Chicago defenseman Jassen Cullimore is also day-to-day with a shoulder injury.
 

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Discussion Starter #2
Sabres.com Preview

BUFFALO GAMENIGHT: Tonight's game is the first meeting between the Sabres and Blackhawks since December 3, 2003 in Chicago. Buffalo won that game 3-2, with Maxim Afinogenov scoring the GWG and Mika Noronen picking up the win in net. The Sabres are 6-3-1 in their last 10 against Chicago, and 5-5 on the road, including wins in three of the past four games. Buffalo's all-time record against Chicago is 50-41-13. They are 18-27-6 lifetime in the Windy City.

SABRES AMONG LEADERS:
Several Sabres players are among the league leaders in numerous offensive categories at the midway point of the 2006-07 season. The Sabres already have four players with 40+ points and one with 32. After 41 games last season they only had three players at 30+ points, and none above 40. Here's at look at some of Buffalo's offensive leaders in the first half (entering play on Tuesday):
# Daniel Briere is tied for 1st with a pair of OT winners, and is 5th with 26 of his 49 points coming on the road.
# Jason Pominville is tied for 2nd with 16 even strength goals. He is also tied for 3rd with 13 of his 19 goals being scored on the road.
# Thomas Vanek is second in plus/minus at +22; He is 5th in goal scoring with 22; 15 of his 22 goals have been scored at home, which is 2nd overall.
# Chris Drury is 2nd in the league with five GWG's; he is 2nd with 522 face-off wins, and 2nd with a face-off winning % of 58.8. His 365 faceoff losses are the 2nd fewest among all players who have taken at least 800 draws.
# Maxim Afinogenov leads the team and ranks 10th in the NHL with a 1.24 points per game average.
# Vanek (34) and Briere (33) rank 3rd and 4th respectively in terms of even strength point production.

AT THE HALFWAY MARK:
Despite Friday's 4-2 loss to Pittsburgh, the Sabres have set franchise bests in both wins and points at the 41-game mark of the regular season.

PTS GP W L T/OT
61 41 2006-07 29 9 3
57 41 1974-75 25 9 7
57 41 1979-80 27 11 3

AS A COMPARISON:
The Sabres were 27-12-2 after 41 games last season, before going on to post franchise records in wins (52) and points (110).

ROY'S POINT STREAK ENDS:
Derek Roy had his career-high six-game point streak come to an end in Saturday's 4-3 win over Toronto. In that span, the third-year center had one goal and six assists with one multi-point game. His previous career-long streak was four games, which he has reached twice. For the season, Roy has six goals and 20 assists in 34 games.

DO THE C'S = W'S?:
Since the start of the 2003-04 season, the Sabres are 13-2-1 when co-captains Daniel Briere and Chris Drury each score goals in the same game. Buffalo was 5-0 in 2003-04 when this happened, 4-2-1 in 2005-06, and 4-0 so far this season. Briere and Drury both scored in Saturday's 4-3 win in Toronto.

BLAME CANADA:
Buffalo enters play tonight with nine losses, the fewest in the Eastern Conference. However, six of Buffalo's nine losses have come at the hands of Canadian-based teams. The Ottawa Senators have defeated Buffalo four times, while Toronto and Montreal have one win each. The only US teams to beat Buffalo in regulation this season are Washington, Florida, and Pittsburgh. Fourteen of Buffalo's remaining 39 games are against Canadian teams.

CONSECUTIVE LOSSES:
The Sabres suffered just their second two-game losing streak of the season following last Friday's 4-2 loss to Pittsburgh. Buffalo's first two-game losing streak of the season came after a 5-2 loss to Montreal on Dec. 19 and a 3-1 loss to Ottawa on Dec. 16. Prior to that, the Sabres had gone 40 regular season games without losing consecutive games. Buffalo's last three-game losing streak was March 22-25 (3/22 vs. Car., 3/24 vs. Ott., 3/25 @ Bos.) of last season, which was part of a five-game losing streak from March 18-25.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Three Buffalo Sabres All-Stars to start

Sidney Crosby, the Pittsburgh Penguins' star and NHL scoring leader who received a League-leading 825,783 votes in the COLD-fX/NHL All-Star Fan Balloting, presented by 2K Sports, heads the list of players voted to the starting lineups for the 2007 NHL All-Star Game.

Crosby is joined by five other first-time starters in the Eastern Conference lineup for the 2007 NHL All-Star Game, which will be played Wednesday, Jan. 24 at American Airlines Center in Dallas (8 p.m. ET, VERSUS, CBC, RDS, NHL Radio).

Also voted to start are NHL goals co-leader Alex Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals (475,297); goaltender Ryan Miller (539,635), defenseman Brian Campbell (602,982) and forward Daniel Briere (475,857) of the Buffalo Sabres and defenseman Sheldon Souray of the Montreal Canadiens (534,647).

San Jose Sharks center Joe Thornton led all Western Conference vote-getters and ranked second in the NHL with 663,931 and will be making his second consecutive All-Star Game start. Thornton's linemates will be Colorado Avalanche center Joe Sakic (473,847), voted a starter for the fourth time, and the Sharks' Jonathan Cheechoo (444,885), a first-time starter. The starting defensemen are Scott Niedermayer of the Anaheim Ducks (591,657), who will be making his second consecutive All-Star Game start, and Nicklas Lidstrom of the Detroit Red Wings (573,069), voted a starter for the seventh consecutive time. In goal will be first-time All-Starstarter Roberto Luongo of the Vancouver Canucks (484,861).

Complete rosters for the 2007 NHL All-Star Game and the NHL YoungStars Game presented by Upper Deck, selected by the NHL's Hockey Operations Department in conjunction with League general managers, will be announced Saturday, Jan. 13, exclusively on CBC during its coverage of Hockey Day In Canada and on RDS.
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Congrats to Ryan Miller, Daniel Briere, and Brian Campbell !!!:thumbsup: :thumbsup: :thumbsup:

I think Tallinder would be there but he is injured...not a surprise
 

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Ryan Miller Makes History (sabres.com)

How hard is it to become not just an NHL All-Star goaltender, but also a starting one at that? Well in the 37-year history of the Buffalo Sabres, Ryan Miller becomes just the second goaltender to capture that title.

Buffalo has seen 31 different goalies suit up for its franchise before the announcement on Tuesday that named Miller the 2006-07 Eastern Conference starter for the game in Dallas, TX on January 24. Only Dominick Hasek had been voted to start in goal for his conference, doing so in the 1997-98 and 1998-99 All-Star games.

Miller becomes the sixth Sabres goaltender to become an All-Star, following the likes of Dave Dryden (1973-74), Gerry Desjardins (1976-77), Tom Barasso (1984-85), Daren Puppa (1989-90), and Hasek (1995-96, 96-97, 97-98, 98-99).

Learning that he will be the starting goaltender brought a big smile to Miller's face, especially with the competition he faced to get the starting nod, beating out netminders such as Ray Emery of the Ottawa Senators, Christobal Huet of the Montreal Canadiens, and eight-time All-Star attendee Martin Brodeur of the New Jersey Devils.

"It's pretty amazing," said Miller. "Especially when you think about the goalies we have in the Eastern Conference. To be recognized by the fans as the starting goalie is amazing.

"To have those people vote in my direction over guys like Brodeur and Huet, who are having unbelievable years. It feels good."

Going into Wednesday's game against Chicago, Miller has 21 wins, just four behind Brodeur for the league lead, and has helped the Sabres gain a foothold as the top team in the Eastern Conference with a record of 30-9-3 (63 points). Miller's 0.914 save percentage and 2.67 goals against average are good enough for fifth in the conference in both categories.

The Sabres saw potential in the Michigan State netminder when they drafted him in 1999 with their fifth round pick (138th overall). The league also saw that potential in Miller four years ago when they picked him to play in the Future Stars game during the 2002-03 season. A lot of hard work and dedication was put in through the years, to harness that potential.

"You have to start somewhere," said Miller. "You don't just become an All-Star because you're drafted high. You have to come into the league and perform."

"Ryan has paid his dues in the American League level," said Sabres and Eastern Conference All-Star coach Lindy Ruff. "I think he's worked hard at every level. We've got two guys (including defenseman Brian Campbell) that have gone through the system and have seen some real nice rewards for putting some real hard time in."

The Sabres coach and goaltender both know they wouldn't be heading to Dallas if Buffalo played a different style of hockey.

"It comes with the attitude of the entire team," said Miller. "I definitely wouldn't be here if we didn't play a team game. I play better in that kind of environment.

"We have a group of guys that buys into something and we all pull and we all push for the same thing."

"It says a lot about our team that we're getting represented by three guys that are very important pieces of our team," said Ruff. "We all realize, and I realize as a coach, that any success in the win category usually comes because we've had 20 players participate in most wins on most nights."

Miller won't think about his new status as an All-Star now, but instead will think about it at the appropriate time.

He does know that when that time comes, it will be fun to reflect on, especially knowing that the whole team should be there with him.

"We're being recognized (as all-stars) because we have a good team effort, said Miller. "There are a lot of other guys in the room that could logically be on this team.

"It's going to be fun to represent Buffalo, you always try to think that if you could try to take everybody with you, you would."
 

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Discussion Starter #5 (Edited)
Starting Rosters

BUFFALO:

D Toni Lydman
D Jaroslav Spacek
C Derek Roy
R Ales Kotalik
C Jiri Novotny
C Adam Mair
C Chris Drury (C)
L Thomas Vanek
D Teppo Numminen (A)
C Paul Gaustad
R Jason Pominville
D Nathan Paetsch
D Dmitri Kalinin
C Daniel Briere (C)
D Brian Campbell
L Jochen Hecht
R Maxim Afinogenov
L Andrew Peters


CHICAGO

D Duncan Keith
D Jassen Cullimore
D Lasse Kukkonen
D Brent Seabrook
L Tony Salmelainen
R Patrick Sharp
C Bryan Smolinski (A)
R Peter Bondra
C Tuomo Ruutu (A)
R Radim Vrbata
C Michael Holmqvist
C Denis Arkhipov
R Martin Lapointe (A)
D Jim Vandermeer
R Martin Havlat (A)
C Craig MacDonald
D Adrian Aucoin (C)
R Adam Burish
D James Wisniewski
L Jeff Hamilton
D Dustin Byfuglien
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Injuries & Streaks

INJURED RESERVE
Buffalo
Tim Connolly

Chicago
Rene Bourque
Michal Handzus
Karl Stewart

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STREAKS (Games - Streak)
Buffalo

Goals: Chris Drury 2 - 2

Assists:
Daniel Briere 2 - 2
Paul Gaustad 2 - 2
Thomas Vanek 2 - 2

Points:
(Goals/Assists/Points)
Chris Drury - 4 (2/3/5)
Daniel Briere - 2 (1/2/3)
Paul Gaustad - 4 (2/2/4)
Thomas Vanek - 2 (0/2/2)


Chicago
Goals: ( no players )

Assists: Jeffrey Hamilton 2 - 2

Points:
(Goals/Assists/Points)
Jeffrey Hamilton - 2 (0/2/2)
Patrick Sharp - 2 (1/1/2)
Tony Salmelainen - 2 (2/1/3)
 

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The game can be seen live on TSN. :)
 

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Powerplay for Buffalo. Aucoin for high-sticking.
 

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1-0 Buffalo, oal scord by Jochen Hecht. (Pominville and Briere the Assists)
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Thanks BLA:

First Period Stats:
SCORING SUMMARY
1st Period
04:47 JOCHEN HECHT, Snap Shot - Assists: JASON POMINVILLE and DANIEL BRIERE

PENALTY SUMMARY
1st Period
02:26 AUCOIN, A. : Hi-sticking - 2 min
06:55 HECHT, J. : Tripping - 2 min
06:55 AUCOIN, A. : Holding - 2 min
07:37 KUKKONEN, L. : Interference - 2 min
07:54 KEITH, D. : Cross checking - 2 min
 
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