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15 October 2007

Spacek Emerging from Numminen's Shadow

Jaro Spacek has started hot. He has three goals to start the season and has looked every bit the player the Sabres thought they were getting when they signed him as a free agent last year. The question is, why now?

I believe it is the simple fact that he is finally being allowed to play the role he was brought to Buffalo to fill. Lindy Ruff is a great coach, but even great coaches have their unique ways of doing things. One of Lindy's trademarks is leaning on his veterans and being generally uncomfortable with newcomers. Last year when Spacek struggled a bit early it seemed that Ruff quickly turned the page and went to his security blanket that was Teppo. Furthermore, the power play last year was dominated by shooters and the puck movement wasn't always crisp. Spacek, who is more of a shooter than a distributor seemed out of synch from the start. Unable to fill the role of PP QB he was a forgotten man on the unit by mid-season.

It is no coincidence that the powerplay is far better with Tim Connolly manning the left side halfwall. Teams genuinely fear Connolly's abilities. Though Briere and Drury are fine players neither is Connolly's equal on the power play when it comes to quarterbacking the play and distributing the puck. His reemergence has allowed Spacek and Brian Campbell to return to the roles of point man blasters that they both thrived in two seasons ago. Another bonus is the willingness of Thomas Vanek and Paul Gaustad to park in front of the net. Neither Drury or Briere seemed particularly comfortable in or were built for that area.

I expect you will continue to see Spacek thrive in his enhanced role and with the larger ice time. He is a horse and hopefully will add a larger physical presence defensively as well.

News and Notes:

- Sorry for the lag in posting. for some reason I cannot access the site at certain times of the day and that along with extended trips to Chicago and Atlanta have hampered me.

- Rumours abound that the Sabres may sign C Randy Robitaille. RDS is reporting that it is between Buffalo and Ottawa for the former Islander. It would seem he would be looked at to fill the 3rd or 4th center role in Buffalo if he signs.

- Jocelyn Thibault has yet to play for the Sabres. I expect he will get a start during one of the midweek games coming up.

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