Great game by Drury and company last night. A couple points to consider:
1) Following last night's 4-1 victory, Chris Drury made the expected, credit-deflecting comments to the media. As he usually does, he mentioned that the team felt really prepared because of Lindy Ruff's tutelage and how Lindy deserves credit because he has been drilling all of the important things into the team since day one. Nothing really out of the ordinary and I don’t think Drury's words were unwarranted or disingenuous.
For some reason, though, whenever I hear Drury heap praise on Ruff, I just can't help but think about where we were (where this team was) about 4 years ago. The time between Brett Hull’s skate in the crease and Drury’s arrival were dark days for the Sabres organization. 2002 brought the Adelphia scandal. Early 2003 the Sabres filed for bankruptcy. Fans didn’t know what was worse, the problems off the ice or the fact that the team itself was playing so poorly on it. The Sabres hadn’t made the playoffs since the 2000-2001 season and everybody, and I mean EVERYBODY, was calling for Lindy Ruff to be fired. You can look it up. In 2002 and early 2003, there were “Fire Lindy” newspaper articles, radio programs and letters to the editor every other week. And who did they want to replace him? Why Mr. Theodore Nolan, of course.
In any event, my point is that I don’t think it was a coincidence that the same year that Drury came to the Sabres (the 2003 - 2004 Season) was also the same season that people stopped calling for Lindy’s head on a platter. Although I’m sure that Lindy has had some positive effect on Drury’s development, it looks like Drury may have been the
reason why Lindy is now closer to becoming the next Scotty Bowman rather than the next Ted Sator. As such, I don’t think it would hurt for Lindy to start deflecting a little of the praise he receives toward’s Drury’s bread basket. Like the consummate team player he is, Drury will just deflect it right back, but I think Lindy owes it to him anyway.
2) Paying closer attention than usual to the shot totals during the first period last night due to the Islanders lackluster performance, I was surprised when a last second shot that was gloved by Miller was not added to the tally. Now I’m no Don Koharski, but I also never really had a problem understanding the basics, so I was surprised to realize that I really didn’t how a “shot on goal” was defined. So, after a little research, the best I could find was this: “By definition, a shot must be going into the net and then be stopped by the goalie to be an official shot on goal.” From my angle it looked like that last second shot on Miller in the first period was on point, but it must have been going wide. Whatever.
That series of events made me think about how arbitrary some of these stat-keeping techniques really are and how problematic that is. With so many contract incentives conditioned upon a player reaching a certain number in a particular stat category, I was surprised to find that the way in which even the more important statistics (like assists) are documented is so subjective. The article below, which focuses on the Fort Wayne Komets of the UHL, really reveals how easy it is for players to complain their way into stat inflation. Now, I’m not sure how easy it is for NHL players to argue their case to league officials when they feel they were jobbed out of an assist, but I hope its not as bad as in the UHL. Anybody have any info on this?
Great play by Mair to hit Connolly with the pass (while being drilled into the boards) that set up Campbell’s first goal. He took a big hit along the wall but it was all worth it. And its exactly what he’s been doing all season. Following the game, its plays like that that get lost with all of the talk of Soupy and Drury’s big games. Without that play to break the ice, though, who knows where that game would have ended up. Nice work Mair.