Sidney Crosby’s goal booed in Pittsburgh

As the Buffalo Sabres visited the Pittsburgh Penguins last night, Team USA/Buffalo goalie Ryan Miller got a strong ovation (along with chants of U-S-A, U-S-A) while Canadian/Penguin Sidney Crosby drew boos from the crowed when the jumbotron showed footage of his gold-medal winning goal.

Miller’s ovation is at the start of the video, while Crosby is introduced at around the 1:10 mark. Pittsburgh won, 3-2, but Miller didn’t play.

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2009 NHL Preview: Buffalo Sabres

We’ve partnered with On Goal Analysis to bring you a team-by-team preview of the upcoming NHL season. (Just scroll down on the OGA website and hit the calendar.) Here is the preview for the Buffalo Sabres…

Team Play: ISSUE – What’s old is new again, right? As the picture of the day on the OGA home page indicates, there will be a lot of clock watching this season in Buffalo. There will be games left with thoughts of ‘…If I only had a little more time…’ when the thought should really be ‘…If we’d ‘a only scored more goals….’ That’s because a sampling of off-season transactions indicates barely any change to this team. Mike Grier is in for knuckles; Steve Montador arrives to replace Jaroslav Spacek(!?); and Joe DiPenta and Cody McCormick are present for duty. That’s not a lot of additions, which implies (with the loss of Max Afinogenov and possibly an as-yet un-signed Drew Stafford) some room for Nathan Gerbe and Tim Kennedy to step up. But it equally says there may be trouble putting the biscuit in the basket.

We had a look at the CBS Sports page for the Sabres which has a projected line pairing of Vanek-Roy-Pominville from left to right on No. 1 and Hecht-Connolly-Stafford on No. 2. Line 1 is the team’s formidable pairing. On Line 2, however, Connolly has not been healthy for an entire season since 2001-02 and Stafford remains an unsigned RFA at the time of this posting. So that leaves you with a potential mix of depth players to match up/call up throughout the season. That will equal some turmoil in the forward ranks from Line 2 on down.

On the blueline, ‘Houston, we have a problem…’ is an accurate characterization of the situation. None of the projected top six defenders scored even five goals last year (the average is 2.5), they were a combined +11 (bolstered mostly by Steve Montador’s +17 with Boston last year), and none broke an average of 22 minutes per game TOI.

Click here to read the rest of the preview (which includes the site’s unique Playoff Qualifying Curve and fantasy information) at the On Goal Analysis site.

‘The Curse of Sarah Palin’ lingers

Even though we won’t be hearing the words, “Our Vice President, Sarah Palin…” anytime soon, it doesn’t mean that she isn’t making her presence felt in this country.

‘The Curse of Sarah Palin’ apparently isn’t going away. Since dropping the opening puck at a Blues game a few weeks back, the team is 1-7 and has dropped six straight after giving up three goals in six minutes Wednesday night in a 4-3 loss to the Buffalo Sabres.

Parents please – warn your children of the Sarah Palin curse. This thing is still affecting lives.

A second NHL team in Toronto?

The NHL Board of Governors is privately discussing a plan to place a second hockey franchise in Toronto alongside the Maple Leafs. Their thinking is the Toronto market is big enough to support two franchises.

Some members of the board feel the league would be better served by moving an existing team as opposed to granting an expansion franchise. They fear becoming the laughingstock of professional sports, as the NHL already has too many financially-troubled franchises. The board wants to concern themselves first towards making the existing franchises in the league solid before thinking about expanding to new markets.

Media speculation is Canadian billionaire Jim Balsillie, developer of Blackberry, would become owner of the new franchise in Toronto as reward for his assistance in restoring the financially strapped Nashville Predators last season. He attempted to buy the Predators with the intent of moving the franchise to Hamilton, Ontario. The league blocked the move because it would have ruined the Buffalo Sabres’ share of the southern Ontario market.

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