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Penguins vs. Sabres Scouting Report

Friday, 10.14.2011 / 9:00 PM ET / Features
By Michelle Crechiolo
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Penguins vs. Sabres Scouting Report
Pittsburgh Penguins
Home: 1-0-1-3
Road: 2-0-1-5

WHEN: Oct. 15, 2011 - 7:00 pm   |   WHERE: CONSOL Energy Center
ROOT SPORTS  |  LISTEN: Penguins 24/7 Radio, 105.9 FM
Buffalo Sabres
Home: 1-1-0-2

  Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Buffalo Sabres 






Thomas Vanek
LW  -  #26
  3 Goals
  3 Assists
  6 Points
• In 2010-11, became only player in Sabres history to lead team in goals (32) for five-consecutive seasons (no other player has had more than three); also led Buffalo in assists (41) and points (73).

• Put forth a Herculean effort down the stretch last season to help Buffalo earn the seventh seed in the Eastern Conference, scoring four goals and six points in his last six games before netting a team-leading five tallies in their seven-game first-round defeat to Philadelphia.

• Two-time 40-goal scorer been using his 6-foot-2, 207-pound frame to be more physical while retaining his scoring touch.
Luke Adam
C -  #72
  2 Goals
  2 Assists
  4 Points
• Named AHL’s Outstanding Rookie last season by tying for first among all first-year players with 29 goals, 62 points and a plus-22 rating through 57 games with Portland.

• Finished second in voting for QMJHL MVP in 2009-10 after posting an astounding 90 points (49G-41A) in 56 games with Cape Breton – the team that Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury played his entire junior career with.

• Played 19 NHL games for the Sabres last season, but this year was the first that the 21-year-old – drafted by Buffalo in the second round (44th overall) of the 2008 NHL Entry Draft – made the team’s opening-night roster.
Jason Pominville
RW  -  #29
  1 goal
  3 assists
  4 points
• Recently named the 16th full-time captain in franchise history (excluding rotating captaincies in 2003-04 and 2007-08), succeeding Craig Rivet, who was waived by the Sabres and claimed by Columbus in February 2011.

• Has posted five-straight 20-or-more goal seasons with the Sabres, the organization that drafted him in the second round (55th overall) of the 2001 NHL Entry Draft.

Had his ironman streak snapped at 336 games when he sustained a concussion versus Chicago last October and went on miss nine games.
Under new owner Terry Pegula – a native of Carbondale, Pennsylvania and a Penn State graduate – the Buffalo Sabres were able to add some talented pieces to an already-strong squad this past summer and seemed poised to make a competitive run this year.

The Sabres are a surprisingly deep, fast team as they have three scoring lines up front, a crop of mobile defensemen that play a huge role in the Sabres’ offensive strategy and elite goaltending in the form of Ryan Miller.

The Sabres kicked off their season in Europe on Oct. 7 and 8 as part of the 2011 NHL Premiere Weekend, where they earned a pair of wins over Anaheim and Los Angeles and outscored their opponents 8-3. After a week off from game action, Buffalo fell to Carolina Friday night in their home opener at the newly-christened First Niagara Center.

With veteran Jochen Hecht sidelined with concussion-like symptoms sustained during training camp, 21-year-old Luke Adam made the Sabres’ opening-night roster for the first time – and head coach Lindy Ruff’s decision to have the youngster center Thomas Vanek and new captain Jason Pominville has paid dividends, as the trio has combined for 14 points over the Sabres’ first three games.

And while their first line is firing on all cylinders, Buffalo is still receiving contributions from the rest of its forward lineup that’s mostly healthy after dealing with some significant setbacks last season.

Drew Stafford had his first multi-point game of the season against the Hurricanes, notching a goal and an assist. Stafford's goal came with 2:21 left and tied the Hurricanes at 3-3. Stafford, who managed to score a career-high 31 goals last season despite missing 20 games due to injury, has two goals in three games. Derek Roy, who posted 35 points in 35 games before a torn quadriceps ended his year last December, also got on the board against Carolina. Tyler Ennis, who notched 20 goals and 49 points last season, is also in the mix. Finally, new addition Ville Leino posted 21 points in 19 games during the 2010 postseason with Philadelphia before scoring 19 goals and 53 points last season.

Buffalo’s defense plays a huge role in the Sabres’ offensive strategy by activating and getting up the ice quickly; then pinching down the walls and getting heavily involved in the play. They’re a good mix of experience and youth, with newcomers Christian Ehrhoff – who has already started logging big minutes – and Robyn Regeher adding that veteran presence to the blue line. They join former Penguin Jordan Leopold, who notched a career-high 13 goals last season.

Meanwhile, Tyler Myers, 21, is a beast on the blue line with his 6-foot-8, 227-pound frame while Marc-Andre Gragnani, 24, led the Sabres in playoff points with seven despite playing just a combined 17 NHL games over the past three seasons.

Miller won the Vezina Trophy two seasons ago after serving as the United States’ Olympic hero that same year. He endured some injury troubles last season, but seems on his way to returning to peak form – being peppered with 97 shots through his first three games and stopping 90 of them.
  • The Penguins enter this game tonight unbeaten through their first five games of the season for just the fourth time in franchise history and the first time since starting 12-0-1 in 1994-95.
  • Pittsburgh is in the midst of its longest consecutive winning streak against the Sabres, having won six straight games dating back to a 5-4 win on Feb. 1, 2010 at Mellon Arena. Last year the Penguins swept the season series against Buffalo for the second time in four years (also achieved in 2007-08). Since the 2007-08 season the Penguins own a 15-4-1 record against the Sabres, including an 8-1-1 mark in Pittsburgh.
  • Sabres defenseman Jordan Leopold played for the Penguins during the last part of the 2009-10 season, scoring eight points (4G-4A) in 20 games. Defenseman  Mike Weber was born in Pittsburgh and played his youth hockey for the Pittsburgh Junior B Penguins.
  • Forward James Neal enters Saturday’s game leading the NHL with four goals following his two-goal night vs. Washington Oct. 13. Neal, who fired a team-high eight shots on goal that night and leads the team with 20 for the season, also leads the team with two power-play goals.
  • Since the beginning of the 2009-10 season, Neal has 17 goals and 31 points in 29 games during the month of October.
  • The Penguins enter Saturday averaging three goals per game due in large part to spreading the wealth offensively. Already, 10 different players have scored goals – with only Neal (4 goals) and Matt Cooke (3 goals) tallying more than once. Twelve players have two or more points and 15 have at least one point.
  • Through the first five games of the season the Penguins continue to thrive on special teams. Of the 15 regulation goals they have scored thus far, eight have come via special teams (6 power play; 2 shorthanded) – including at least one special teams tally in all five games.
  • Since the lockout, October has been Buffalo’s second-best month (trailing only April). The Sabres have a 41-20-6 (.657) record in 67 October games during that stretch. The Sabres play 10 games in October (5 home, 5 away) this season. They have just one break of three days or more during the month (10/9-10/13) and two sets of back-to-back games.
  • The Sabres allowed two shorthanded goals in their 4-3 loss to Carolina on Friday. The Penguins ranked second in the league last season with 13 shorthanded goals scored.




2010-11 STAT CHART

D Robert Bortuzzo, lower-body (indefinitely)
F Sidney Crosby, concussion (indefinitely)
F Dustin Jeffrey, knee (indefinitely)
D Brooks Orpik, lower abdominal/hernia (day-to-day)
F Nick Petersen, concussion (indefinitely)
D Boris Valabik, knee (indefinitely)
Neal (4) Vanek (3)
Letang (5) Vanek/Pominville (3)
Letang (6)
Vanek (6)
Malkin (8) Gaustad (7)
Letang (3) Sekera (4)
Neal (2) Vanek (2)
Park/Cooke (1)
Fleury (3-0-0)
Miller (2-1-0)
Fleury (2.59) Miller (2.35)
Fleury (.911) Miller (.928)

C Jochen Hecht, concussion-like symptoms (indefinitely)





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Author: Michelle Crechiolo
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