Easter Morning Hockey Roundup

By Chris

With Angel Cabrera and Kenny Perry leading the way at the Masters (Tiger and Phil are each seven strokes back), the Sabres are officially ready to join them on the links.

Buffalo beat down on the Bruins, 6-1, yesterday, which leads to the question: What if the Sabres played every game as if they were already eliminated from the playoffs?

In all fairness though, Boston showed very little interest in the game until late (Chara, Bergeron, Kessel and Thomas didn’t even play). But give the Sabres credit for jumping on that lax mentality and scoring four goals in the first period.

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Coming out of the gate strong is one thing they didn’t do enough of during the season. Look at the last New Jersey game as Example 1-A. Yesterday, in a game where they had nothing to play for but pride, they put together one of the strongest periods of the season.

But once again, too little, too late as the win means nothing.

Vanek scored his well-earned 40th goal of the season. It’s sad to think that this could be in the playoffs had he and Miller not gotten injured during the same stretch. It’s still no excuse, though. And in their absences, we learned that this team has some serious holes to fill.

The team’s toughness, mentally and physically, must be addressed this off-season. Until that happens, expect this team to be on the outside looking in a year from now. Ryan and I have talked about the makeup of this team and from what we’ve seen there or only six or seven players that would make a fuss over if they left (I’m sure your “Players We Give A Damn About” list would look pretty similar).

The truth is that very few players on the team this year should feel anything close to comfortable. Bucky Gleason wrote yesterday that the sense of uneasiness should start at the top. No complaints here – everyone needs to be held accountable for the team’s failures in five of the last seven seasons. And the thought of Rick Dudley as general manager doesn’t sound bad at all.

We’ll have some deeper analysis on the team’s off-season in the coming weeks and months as we inch closer to free agency and the draft.

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In other hockey news, Boston University came back from a two-goal deficit with a minute left in the third period to defeat Miami (Ohio) in overtime and clinch the national championship. Puck Daddy should have a full recap up soon, as their coverage of the Frozen Four has been nothing short of superb.

And the Red Wings locked up Johan Franzen on Saturday, a free agent to be, with a mammoth 11-year, $43.5 million deal. It’s a suuuper-long contract, especially for someone with the Mule’s injury history, but the cap hit makes it a sweet deal for Detroit.

The deal means that Franzen, Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg, Dan Cleary, Valtteri Filppula, Brian Rafalski, Brad Stuart and Niklas Kronwall will all be playing together until at least 2012. Oh yeah, and they’re still trying to lock Marian Hossa into a long-term contract.

Compare that core with what the Sabres have signed through 2012: Vanek, Derek Roy, Jochen Hecht, Paul Gaustad, Jason Pominville and Ryan Miller.

It’s amazing what a franchise can do when players trust the front office to do things right.