Sabre Notes: Pommer's Back!
The Sabres are 3-7-2 after dropping two games Friday and Saturday to the Thrashers and Dallas Stars, respectively. Buffalo sits at 14th position in the Eastern Conference. The Sabres next game is a 7pm home game against The Boston Bruins on Wednesday, October 3rd. Boston is 6th in the East at 6-2-0, having played 4 less games than the Sabres.
Good News: Jason Pominville passed his neuro-psych test and has been cleared to return to action. The Sabres Right Winger suffered a concussion on October 11th in a game against Chicago. Pominville was a full participant in practice on Monday. He is expected to return to the lineup when the Sabres play Boston at The Arena on Wednesday.
The Sabres have officially signed 2009 First round draft pick (13th overall) Zack Kassian. Kassian is playing this season for The Windsor Spitfires of the OHL. The rugged 19 year old winger is 6’3”, 226lbs and has a reputation for tough play as well as scoring goals. Kassian has 20 points (7+13) in 11 games for The Spitfires. Check out Youtube for some good Kassian goals and fights. Many Sabre fans had hoped that Kassian would be a part of the big club this season. Those fans will have to wait until next year as rules dictate that Kassian must play this season in the OHL. Kassian’s toughness cannot be questioned, however the big mystery is whether he’ll put up enough points to warrant a spot on the Sabres top two scoring lines. With Tim Connolly most likely leaving after this season there’ll be at least one open spot for the taking. Whether or not he ends up as a scoring power forward or just a tough 3rd liner, I count myself among the fans who are licking their chops to get this kid in a Sabre uniform. Today’s signing brought us closer to that realization, but we’ll have to be patient as it will be at least 11 months before he’s in the NHL. Kassian was involved in a bar fight in Windsor, Ontario on May 30th. At that point the Sabres cut off contract negotiations in an effort to punish the youngster and hopefully make an impression on him for future bahavior. The charges against Kassian were dropped on October 27th in exchange for a $500 charitable donation, paying for the guy's new teeth, and 25 hours of community service.
Craig Rivet will return to the active lineup on Wednesday. It is undecided which defenseman will sit in order for Rivet to return. Rivet was benched by coach Lindy Ruff for the Sabres last two games. Poor play was the reason given for the benching. The benching was notable because Rivet is the team’s captain. Lindy Ruff, a former Sabre captain, was benched by then Sabre coach Ted Sator. Ruff’s reaction was to resign as captain, and request a trade. Ruff was then traded to the NY Rangers. Rivet is not entertaining thoughts of passing the Captaincy torch just yet. In an interview with WGR’s Paul Hamilton Rivet said, ‘I want to lead by example. I'm not willing just to step down. The easy thing for me to do would be to say 'hey guys, I'm going to step down from being your captain. I've never been a quitter, I'm going through a tough time right now. I'm not playing as well as I can, but let me tell you, I'm going to work my butt off to try to get better…” I give Rivet credit for taking a strong stance on keeping the “C”. I think it’s notable that there really isn’t anyone banging down the door to take on the Captaincy. Ryan Miller is mature and a good leader, but goalies are usually disqualified from wearing the “C”. Thomas Vanek might be the defacto choice since he’s been noted as a hard worker who holds himself accountable. Paul Gaustad is also a respected veteran. Mike Grier would be another good choice. For now Rivet will remain as the captain of the Buffalo Sabres.
‘Uh Oh’: Ryan Miller missed practice with what was called ‘tightness’ in his lower body. Miller has started 10 of 12 games for Buffalo this season.
Nathan Gerbe has a cracked jaw but still practiced with the team. Gerbe was struck in the face with a Tyler Myers slap shot on Friday in Atlanta. Luke Adam may be recalled to fill in while Gerbe recovers. No timetable was given for Gerbe’s return.
Ex Sabres in the News:
Daniel Briere received a three game suspension for a cross check to the face of Islanders Frans Nielsen. The Flyers won the game 6-1. As can be seen in the video below, the two players jawed back & forth before taking the faceoff. After the linesman drops the puck, Briere got the stick up high and into Nielsen’s face at which point Daniel Carcillo finished Nielsen off from behind.
Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Brian Campbell will see his first action of the season tonight in New York City. Campbell sprained his knee on October 1st in a pre-season game vs. Pittsburgh.