After watching the second-place team in my Yahoo fantasy pool catch up to within mere points of my team ( "erby's Dance Party" ), I've widened it back to a 50-point lead (1202 to 1152). Not bad.
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Looks like Semin is in for the long-haul (his injury, I mean), but given the fact that it still isn't being reported as anything "too serious," there's no way I'm dropping him. I mean, I've still got the underperforming Martin St Louis, who remains undroppable.
Speaking of injury reports, Connolly was a good injury drop, as his injury fluctuates between "broken" and "bruised rib." Either way, knowing him, it'll take two months to recover and another two weeks before he gets injured again.
I'm itching to drop Filip Kuba (who has been picking up just an assist here and there at best), especially since Ottawa has fallen so badly this season, but I'm not sure if there's a decent replacement in my league. I'm liking my team for the most part, so he will probably be the last switch I make.
Also, Segotuchi for Havlat was gold.
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The weekend in review
Not much time here, but I was back in Buffalo for Thanksgiving, meaning I actually got to watch all three games on television! How exciting, especially given the fact that we won 2 of the 3.
It was the Montreal game that I watched most closely so I'll start there. The Sabres looked ridiculously flat-footed in the 3rd period. There were bursts of desperation (winning a race to the puck, the epic 5-on-3 PK, diving puck-clearing attempts), but the Sabres were heavily out-hit and out-shot in that game. Montreal has been in a similar position as Buffalo, coming off a forgettable November after quick October starts.
The all-star of the Montreal game for the Sabres (and possibly all weekend) was Toni Lydman. He registered another 7 blocked shots, with about half of those on that 5-on-3 PK. While his buddy Tallinder has been on Ruff's bad-list, Lydman has been pulling his weight all season long. Very impressive.
I know it's mainly because I hardly get a chance to watch hockey (I usually have to listen to it on radio), but Ryan Miller looked consistently uncomfortable in the two games he played. Does he normally play so far out of net? Maybe he wasn't uncomfortable, but I sure was when his body wasn't in the goalie crease but the puck was.
Last point: Yes, it's nice to see Stafford find his scoring touch, as well as make some nice passes to set up others. Does this come too late? Ruff is still entrusting him to fill up the RW on the top line with Roy and Vanek, so even if he's taken 20+ games to wake up, I hope this side of Stafford is what we'll see from now on.
About Max ...
I know Garth and many other Sabres fans have been incredibly underwhelmed (if not simply disappointed) with Max Afinogenov this season, but I've been relatively happy with his play. I've noted this before, but he switched to the other side of the ice, has been seeing mostly 3rd and 4th line partners, and was quietly racking up assists in the background. Yes, his +/- fell during the Sabres' November falling out, but so did all his teammates.
The fact is that Max's role on the team is clearly not a defensive one. At best, his role on the team is merely to open spaces while controlling the puck in the offensive zone. You know when the team's passing back and forth on the PP and you're screaming "SHOOT THE PUCK!!!"? Aside from hesitance on the players' part, that's mostly because shooting lanes aren't open because the players are standing still. A player like Max shifts all the other players and makes more opportunities to get the puck on net.
But if this is his role on the team, then he's got to make sure he doesn't lose the puck and give up odd-man rushes to the other team, which is what has been happening lately. No goal resulted because of this in Montreal, but I did see some epic giveaways while the Sabres were building up pressure against the Canadiens.
Anyway, even if Max has been our trade bait for months or even years, he's still making plays for the Sabres that no other player has been making, and that's key. Yes, he's still trade bait to me, but he's not a cancer on the team. (Arguably, Connolly is more so!)
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