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Training camp musings as “Weekend at Northtown” concludes

While a good portion of the sport-loving population of western New York and southern Ontario prepared for the malted hops frenzy that was the Bills’ home opener, a dedicated few braved the frigid elements of the ice complex formerly known as the Pepsi Center in Amherst for the second day of Buffalo Sabres practices.

With the First Niagara Center unavailable due to the circus WWE event being in town, the Sabres were forced to spend the first two days of camp at the Northtown Center.

The camp roster was divided into three sessions. I stayed for the first two. Some things I noticed:

  • The picture to the right is Thomas Vanek and Lindy Ruff standing on the ice talking while the ice was being resurfaced. Everyone else went to the room when the zamboni came on, but the coach and star sat there and talked one-on-one the extent of the break. Speculate what you want.
  • The standout forward line of the first session was the trio of Nathan Gerbe, Paul Gaustad and Patrick Kaleta. They played very well at times last season, but they all looked like they weren’t just on the same page, but on the same sentence in the same paragraph. Great passing and movement in drills. Seemed like they knew where each other were going to be. They’ll be a group to watch as the season approaches.
  • Jhonas Enroth has new pads. Evidence can be seen here. Although they would obviously clash and go against NHL uniform guidelines, the black and red pads he deserted last season still would be my preference.
  • As Greg Wyshynski noted on Twitter, the players can be commended for stopping and signing autographs on their way on and off the ice, even for zamboni breaks. Good to see them take a moment and make a puck bunny’s creepy autograph hound’s passive fan’s kid’s day.
  • As far as prospects go, past the Foligno-Adam-Kassian line, the one who caught my eye the most was Steven Shipley. For the most part, few stood out against the “big club” players, but Shipley showed some nice hands during 5-on-5 drills.
  • Ryan Miller was on the ice in the third session, but was there for most of the morning watching with the staff in the “press box” area, very visibly. Looking at the timelines of some of the prospects on Twitter, I’m guessing most didn’t show up until they had to. Props to Miller for making the effort.
  • It was great to see Ales Kotalik back in a Sabres uniform. His shot is still faster than the speed of light, but his passes today seemed a bit off. It’s going to take some good showings in the preseason to crack the roster, but he can do it. It’s not impossible. Read the rest of this entry

Traverse City: Great idea. Buffalo: Better idea.

After an off day yesterday, Luke Adam and the rest of the Buffalo Sabres’ rookie class wraps up their round robin schedule at the Traverse City prospects tournament tonight against the host Detroit Red Wings.

The Sabres head into the match having already wrapped up the top spot in their division and a spot in the 1st Place game, thanks to wins over Columbus and Minnesota, both by scores of 6-3. (By the way, stick tap to Kevin Snow of the Sabres, the only Buffalo media guy who’s there, for a solid job recapping the events.)

The championship game will take place Wednesday night as the Sabres take on the New York Rangers at 7:00 ET, a game which will be broadcast live on MSG and NHL Network.

It’s a positive step for the organization to be participating in an event like this. It’s a great opportunity for new Amerks coach Ron Rolston to get know his players. It will be a bonding experience for all the prospects in the organization. It’s even giving the team an opportunity to get an extra look at a few free agent invitees who may not get much of a chance to shine once the full roster is together.

The only real downside of the whole thing is the inability for anyone to watch without being inside the rink.

It begs the question… why are they not doing this here in Buffalo? Read the rest of this entry

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