ATD#7 Red Fisher Conference Final: Metropolitans at Sabres

VanIslander
06-12-2007, 12:43 AM
Foster Hewitt Division Champions
Seattle Metropolitans

Coach: Pete Green

Michel Goulet - Bryan Trottier - Tim Kerr
Alf Smith (C) - Bernie Federko - Jaromir Jagr
Rick Meagher - Brent Sutter - Gary Dornhoefer
Peter McNab - Bob Bourne (A) - Tiger Williams
Thomas Steen

Bill Gadsby - Brad McCrimmon
Rod Langway (A) - Barney Stanley
Craig Ludwig - James Patrick
Dick Redmond

Chuck Gardiner
Hap Holmes
Richard Brodeur

at

Don Cherry Division Champions
Buffalo Sabres

Coach: Lindy Ruff

Clark Gillies - Gilbert Perreault - Yvan Cournoyer
Bert Olmstead - Jean Ratelle - Claude Lemieux
Ryan Walter - Buddy O'Connor - Rick Vaive
Nick Metz - Walt Tkaczuk - Anders Kallur
Andre Lacroix

Lionel Hitchman - Eddie Shore
Andre Dupont - Sergei Zubov
Calle Johansson - Ken Morrow
Larry Hillman

Johnny Bower
Georges Vezina
Don Edwards

pitseleh
06-12-2007, 06:37 PM
Two very similar teams here. Both teams have plenty of scoring from their top-2 lines, though I give an edge to Seattle (having Jagr and Trottier is pretty scary). Buffalo will get much more scoring from their third line while Seattle has two lines that are good defensively.

Goaltending is close, both starters had very dominant peaks (and relatively short careers) though I give a very slight edge to Bower.

Buffalo has the difference maker on the back end with Shore (compared to Gadsby) while both teams have their share of rocks (Hitchman, Morrow, Dupont versus McCrimmon, Ludwig, Langway).

This is a very, very close matchup involving two of my favourite teams in the draft. I'm going to have to look at in more depth when I have a bit more time. This one should go down to the wire.

VanIslander
06-12-2007, 06:38 PM
Two teams with a similar playoff path: goaltending and coaching have not been big competitive advantages, nor having a superior top line. Instead, big or at least physical, gritty clutch performers on balanced lines with chemistry and defensive skill on the blueline. What got each of these two teams here will NOT be the deciding factor in this series I'd bet.

Could each of the two g.m.s post what their powerplay and penalty kill units will be?

I think special teams might be a factor in such a series.

vancityluongo
06-12-2007, 06:44 PM
First look up and down each roster, I really notice how much toughness stands out. I love Buffalo's top line, but the Mets really have a good balance with JJ on the 2nd line. Definitely a 7 game series, and I'd have to say, I'd expect more then one game to go to OT.

VanIslander
06-12-2007, 08:08 PM
While awaiting special team info from the two g.m.'s....

Here's a look at what is often a factor in a long playoff run: the depth players, fourth liners, third defensive pairings and extra players.

Metropolitans:

LW: Peter McNab
813 pts in 954 games, 6'3, 82 pts in 107 playoff games.....quick hands great hockey sense, powerplay strong in slot like Esposito for garbage goals

C: Bob Bourne (A)
582 pts in 964 games, 96 pts in 139 playoff games... 6'3 blazing speed... Isles dynasty player, top scorer in last playoff run (28 pts in 20 playoff games)

RW: Tiger Williams
He'll take penalties, keep the other team honest. 117 PIM in Canucks '82 run was a good thing!

XF: Thomas Steen
817 pts in 950 games 44 in 56 playoff games, small passer

3rdD: Craig Ludwig - James Patrick
6'3 shot blocker and hitter 244 PIM in 177 playoff games; 6'2 positionally-strong transition play

XD: Dick Redmond
5'11 445 pts in 771 games, all-around solid, utility d


Sabres:

LW: Nick Metz
5'11 career Leaf 250 pts in 518 games, 39 pts in 76 playoff games, 4 cups, efficient penalty killer

C: Walt Tkaczuk
6'0 career Ranger 678 pts in 945 games, 51 pts in 93 playoff games, two way second liner, strong on face-offs, can go through guys

RW: Anders Kallur
211 pts in 372 games, 35 pts in 78 playoff games, speed, lateral movement, fakes
(played on checking line with Metropolitans' Bourne! and on scoring line with Trottier)

XF: Andre Lacroix
5'8 198 games in 325 games, 7 pts in 16 playoff games, playmaking, penalty killing, face offs centre WHA offensive star

3rdD: Calle Johansson - Ken Morrow
Calle is one of my fav defensemen of all time, all-around very good, 535 pts in 1110 games, 55 pts in 105 playoff games; 6'4 defensive defenseman on Isles dynasty

XD: Larry Hillman
played for 15 pro teams! steady

SUMMARY ASSESSMENT:

The Metropolitans have a fourth line with great size and offensive talent, with both McNab and Bourne excellent scorers in the playoffs!! their extra forward also has some experience scoring in the playoffs (Steen). The Metropolitans will have a competitive advantage in depth of scoring forwards. Their third blueline pairing is also huge if limited in puck handling ability. The Mets do have two role players with exceptional if limited skills: Ludwig for shot-blocking and Tiger for enforcing. The extra defender is a solid replacement for either third pairing partner: can score and defend.

The Sabres have a very different fourth line, checkers with excellent face-off men and a blueline pairing that could handle decent minutes in all situations. The extra forward is best left on the bench in the playoffs but could fit on any line in a pinch. With Shore and Zubov on each of the other two pairings and Calle here, The Sabres will have a competitive advantage on blueline puck movement . The extra defender should not play but could be a short term band-aid.

VanIslander
06-13-2007, 06:00 AM
I see each g.m. has their special teams listed on the roster thread. Here they are:

On a Seattle man advantage:

Metropolitans #1 PP: Goulet - Trottier - Kerr - Gadsby - Stanley
vs.
Sabres #1 PK: Tkaczuk - Kallur - Dupont - Morrow

Metropolitans #2 PP: Smith - Federko - Jagr - McNab - Patrick
vs.
Sabres #2 PK: Metz - Ratelle - Hitchman - Shore


On a Sabres man advantage:

Sabres #1 PP: Olmstead - Perreault - Cournoyer - Johansson - Zubov
vs.
Metropolitans #1 PK: Meagher - Sutter - Langway - McCrimmon

Sabres #2 PP: Gillies - Ratelle - Vaive - Dupont - Shore
vs.
Metropolitans #2 PK: McNab - Bourne - Ludwig - Gadsby

kruezer
06-13-2007, 01:49 PM
Hmmm, well, this is definitely gonna be a battle,

I am going to stick with that lineup VanI, especially because I feel I have the advantage in special teams, I think I can afford to keep Tiger in the series, not to mention that keeping Tiger in the series tilts the toughness scale ever so slightly to my side IMO.

In terms of the PP/PK, they will be staying that way, however, when in need of a goal at any point during a game, Pete Green will not be afraid to load up the top unit and go with Kerr-Trottier-Jagr-Gadsby-Federko to create as much offense and possible. Also, I think my top PK unit is one of the best in the draft, Meagher-Sutter-Langway-McCrimmon are all fantastic defensively and I feel they stand a better chance of shutting down the top Sabres PP unit than Tkaczuk-Kallur-Dupont-Morrow do of shutting down the top (or loaded up) Mets PP.

In terms of even strength, I think these are fairly similar teams, the top lines are fairly similar, though I feel that I have more offense from my top line, even after obviously down grading their offensive stats, they still have a relative dominance that was bigger than that of the Sabres top line. For example, while Perreault and Trottier are relatively similar goal scorers, Trottier was a far superior set-up man IMO, 8 times in the top ten in assists, including two assist crowns while Perreault only managed 5 top tens and maxed out at 3rd place, I think Trott's was the better passer and I believe he has better scorers on his wings, Goulet is vastly superior to Gillies offensively, though Gillies is obviously in his role to bring things that he does so well, but I think Kerr can bring similar elements to the Mets top line (though his won't drop the gloves so much obviously) also, I think Kerr while short-peak had a higher peak than Cournoyer who topped out with a 4th place in goals, Kerr finished 2nd once and 3rd twice. Also, Trottier was a solid player both ways and can keep Perreault in check in the offensive zone.

I believe I also have an edge in second line scoring, obviously Jagr was dominant in his prime, but I believe Federko is severly underrated (much like Ratelle, who was the deciding factor for the Sabres in their last series IMO) and combined with the perhaps the best pure LW of the pre-NHL era (and probably the one who got arrested the most) I believe they bring more offense than the Ratelle line, even with Lemieux stepping up in the POs.

I think these two things will make up offensively for the definite edge that the Tkaczuk line has offensively on the Sutter line, though I agree with VanI, that I have an offensive edge on the bottom line/spares while the reverse is true for the defense in favour of the Sabres.

In terms of the defense (and just overall) Shore is obviously the biggest weapon in the series, certainly a top 3 all time defenseman (number 2 in my books), but I think with my array of defensive defenseman that I can begin to strangle the offense of the Sabres, Gadsby/McCrimmon will lock down the top line with time against the second, Langway/Stanley will play against the second and fourth lines, while Ludwig/Patrick will have the special task of stopping the offense of the Sabres third line.

In net, I think it is pretty close, tough to call. I think I have the edge in coaching though, while Ruff is likely in the top 3 of coaches in the past 10 years, and perhaps the best current coach, he still has never won like Pete Green has.

After the last one, I don't know if my heart can take another close series, but I am guessing it will be. Best of luck reck.

Murphy
06-13-2007, 04:32 PM
Two things stick out to me.

Gardiner & Bower are the two goaltenders that have made it this far?? Depends on the draft sometimes I think it's crucial to get a top guy for goaltending, sometimes I worry more about getting the top player. Looks like goaltending isn't the end all be all this go around.

I like both teams here, I like the 1-2 punch of Kerr & Jagr on the Mets and I like the
1-2 punch of Gillies and Olmstead on the other side for the Sabres. I'm not a real big fan of either's third and fourth line except of course for Sutter but I think both teams built up the defense at the expense of forward depth.

I don't know, Two teams built pretty much in the same mold, might just have to flip a coin on this one.

reckoning
06-13-2007, 05:51 PM
The matchups I'm going to try and force with last line change as much as possible:

- Tkaczuk vs. Trottier: Walt Tkaczuk is one of the few centres who can match Trottier on faceoffs and outmuscle him. I also like the idea of Metz's speed against Kerr's slower skating

- Shore vs. Jagr: Jaromir is going to get a steady diet of Eddie Shore hits and trash talk. If he wants a scoring chance, he'll have to pay a price for each one.

- Gillies vs Williams: Tiger's M.O. is intimidation, and I think Gillies completely nullifies that. This should let Perreault and Cournoyer do their job, which leads me to...

- Cournoyer & Perreault vs Ludwig & Patrick: Ludwig is an outstanding shotblocker, but a slow skater. We're going to dump and chase against him a lot.

- Morrow vs Kerr: Morrow's job is to make sure he's between Kerr and our net. Hopefully his long reach and strength can limit Kerr's garbage collection. Morrow was also an underrated passer which should help us break out of our end quickly if he can get possession of the puck.

Seattle's defence scares me. Gadsby, McCrimmon and Langway are going to be hell to play against. All we can do is stick our plan: Olmstead to work along the boards, Shore to bull his way through on his end-to-end rushes, Ratelle and O'Connor to lead their linemates to open ice, Lemieux to be a pain in the butt. The chances will come, even against that D.

The one weakness that Seattle has is what VanI mentioned earlier on blueline puck movement. Outside of Gadsby, I don't see those guys leading many rushes. The plan is to forecheck them and not worry too much about getting caught behind a breakout.

Federko was such an underrated player. His ability to read defences and anticipate where to pass the puck was sublime. If Mark Hunter can get 44 goals on his line, imagine what Jagr could do. We're not going to chase Federko, we're just going to make sure any passing lanes are covered. We'll give up the shot to take away the pass.

On the PP, Zubov is running things. He'll control the puck the majority of the time and make the decisions. Olmstead will work the left boards with Perreault and Cournoyer each parked near the edge of either faceoff circle. On the PK, the defencemen will stay close to the net, while the two forwards will go after the puck carrier and try to force a bad play to get a turnover.

I really like the makeup of Kruezer's team. There were more than a few times in the draft when he selected somebody I had my eye on. He's probably got the best defence (from a purely defensive pov) in the draft, and his strength up the middle at centre is remarkable from line #1 to line #4. But I've got a money goaltender and Eddie *** Shore. This is going to be a tough series. Glad I don't have to vote on it.

Good luck Kruezer.

Nalyd Psycho
06-13-2007, 06:31 PM
Gardiner & Bower are the two goaltenders that have made it this far?? Depends on the draft sometimes I think it's crucial to get a top guy for goaltending, sometimes I worry more about getting the top player. Looks like goaltending isn't the end all be all this go around.


I'm of the opposite mind, Hall, Dryden, Gardiner and Bower, 4 of the top 12 all-time IMO.

pappyline
06-14-2007, 08:02 AM
I'm of the opposite mind, Hall, Dryden, Gardiner and Bower, 4 of the top 12 all-time IMO.
I agree. I think Gardiner was very under-rated in previous drafts. I had him in #5 & #6 with relatively late picks. Thought, it might happen again in #7 but alas, he went much earlier.

Hockey Outsider
06-15-2007, 01:29 AM
I like the design of both teams. Both are quite similar, which makes the series difficult to evaluate. The Sabres and Metropolitans both feature strong playoff performers, tough D, fast, skilled forwards and solid goaltending.

How Seattle Can Win

1. Tough, physical defense. Each of Seattle’s defensemen, except for Patrick on the third pair, was an aggressive hitter. They might be able to wear down Buffalo’s top line, which, aside from Gillies, is small and non-physical. A relentless physical pounding, combined with smart positioning from Langway, McCrimmon & Patrick, will limit the top line’s opportunities.

2. Top-end scoring. Seattle has Jagr and Trottier, the two most dangerous scorers in this series. Since they’re on separate lines, Buffalo will need to deal with a significant offensive threat for probably 40 minutes per game. This will force them to play conservatively, which prevents their forwards from using their skill and creativity as much as they would like. Kerr was a dominant (and underrated) goal-scorer in his prime. During his 5 best years, Kerr scored more goals than any of his peers except Gretzky & Kurri.

3. Fourth line. Bourne is an ideal fourth-line center. He was always great defensively and was tough but disciplined. He was a great clutch scorer and finished 1st, 3rd, 4th and 11th in playoff scoring during the Islanders’ Stanley Cup years (incredible given how talented his teammates were). Bourne is one of the very few players in the draft that can keep up with the incredible speed on Buffalo’s top line. McNab provides more size and toughness and is the best scorer of any player on either 4th line. Williams provides a lot of toughness and intimidation that is consistent with Seattle’s style. Buffalo’s 4th line is a bit better defensively but I prefer Seattle’s extra scoring and toughness.

How Buffalo Can Win

1. Transition game. Both teams have fast, skilled forwards, but Buffalo’s defensemen are much more prepared to support them with breakout passes and joining the rush. Buffalo has the only defenseman in the series that can generate offense from end-to-end rushes (Shore) and they have two elite powerplay quarterbacks (Shore & Zubov, versus Gadsby for Seattle). Overall, the Sabres have better puck movement from their blueline. Seattle has some strong forecheckers but they’ll need to play less aggressively to make sure they’re not caught deep in the Buffalo zone when the Sabres defense makes a quick breakout pass.

2. Goaltending. Gardiner was probably the better regular season goalie, but Bower has the advantage in the playoffs. Bower won the Conn Smythe. He led the playoffs in GAA 3 times and save percentage 3 times. He won four Stanley Cups, and his Conn Smythe and sv% show that he wasn’t just along for the ride. Gardiner appeared to be a solid playoff goalie (big drop in his GAA) but he has no Smythe and much less impressive stats. According to newspapers from the era, defenseman Lionel Conacher stopped more shots than Gardiner the year they won the Cup.

3. Avoid penalties. If the Sabres spend too much time in the penalty box, they will be dominated by Seattle’s powerplay. While Buffalo does have strong penalty killers, I don’t think that any unit can handle opponents that can have two of Jagr, Trottier, Kerr and Goulet out for the entire man advantage. This is especially true for Kerr: he was a good scorer at even-strength but was vastly more effective on the powerplay. Fortunately for Buffalo, their team is full of clean, disciplined players (though the obvious exceptions are Shore and Lemieux). Buffalo needs its best player to lead by example and avoid foolish penalties, thus eliminating the threat of Seattle’s deadly powerplay.

These are two great teams and both are capable of winning the series. I still need more time to think it over.

Nalyd Psycho
06-15-2007, 03:02 AM
According to newspapers from the era, defenseman Lionel Conacher stopped more shots than Gardiner the year they won the Cup.

Keeping in mind, Gardiner was litterally dying out there that year. He was blacking out and having dizzy spells during games from what I've read.

VanIslander
06-16-2007, 08:42 AM
Send your votes to John Flyers Fan now! (by Monday noon)

John Flyers Fan
06-23-2007, 06:34 AM
BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Tim Kerr and the Seattle Mets provided an answer to anyone questioning whether they are the elite team in the NHL.

It's a response that came through loud and clear in a 5-2 victory over the Buffalo Sabres in Game 1 of their Eastern Conference semifinal series on Wednesday night.

"I think we showed everybody we were ready," Kerr said. "A lot of things were said before the game, and we made sure we showed to respond not in the paper but on the ice."

Kerr was referring to Sabres coach Lindy Ruff's comments suggesting the Seattle Mets weren't the league's "cream of the crop."

"Yeah, obviously, everybody heard it," Kerr said. "We talked about it. It's a good thing."

Jaromir Jagr scored twice and Kerr once during a three-goal second period that broke open a scoreless game and put the Mets in control.

It was a vintage outburst -- Seattle scored three times on four shots in a 4:05 span -- for a potent Mets team that scored a league-leading 314 goals in the regular season.

"When we finally got that first one past [goalie Johnny Bower], it was, 'All right,'" Mets captain Alf Smith said. "For us, it gave us confidence and we just kept attacking."

Michel Goulet and Gary Dornhoeffer, with an empty-net goal, also scored for the Sabres.

Yvan Cournoyer and Claude Lemieux scored third-period goals for Buffalo, which never got closer than two goals in the final 20 minutes.

"Mentally, we weren't as sharp as we needed to be and not as sharp as we'll be next game," Cournoyer said. "I don't know if they outplayed us, but they outperformed us."

The Sabres went 1-for-5 in power-play chances but failed to score during a two-minute two-man advantage early in the third period.

"We haven't played in a while and it really showed," Ruff said, noting the Sabres played their first game in a week.

Rust wasn't the only problem. Buffalo had difficulty keeping up with the Mets' depth and speed.

That was apparent when the Mets finally got one past Bower, who was otherwise sharp in stopping the first 23 shots he faced.

Jagr opened the scoring 14 minutes into the second period with a power-play goal. Parked in front and a step ahead of defender Andre Dupont, Jagr was in perfect position to deflect in Bill Gadsby's shot from inside the blue line.

Seattle's first line struck for the next goal when Kerr, set up by Bryan Trottier's pass, split two defenders and snapped a shot from the right circle that beat Bower high on the far side.

Jagr capped the surge when he got by Sergei Zubov at the Sabres' blue line, drove in and around Andre Dupont and scored on a defenseless Bower.

"We've been known when we can get a couple of quick ones, we can get the third one fairly soon after that," Mets coach Pete Green said. "We said, 'Let's keep attacking.' That looked a lot like the team that played most of the year."

Chuck Gardiner stopped 32 shots, having his shutout bid foiled when Lemieux beat him with a one-timer with 9:16 left, briefly cutting Seattle's lead to 3-1.

Gardiner's best save came a few minutes earlier during the Buffalo's two-man advantage, when he snagged Cournoyer's shot despite being screened by Buffalo's Clark Gillies.

"We have the utmost respect for our opponent," Ruff said. "We'll be well-organized and well-prepared."

John Flyers Fan
06-23-2007, 06:46 AM
Mets rally for 2-0 series lead vs. Sabres

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- With Bryan Trottier and Jaromir Jagr scoring clutch goals, the Seattle Mets didn't need to play an entire game to beat the Buffalo Sabres for a second consecutive time.

On Friday night, all it took was the third period.

Erasing 40 minutes of offensive frustration, Trottier and Jagr scored 10 minutes apart, rallying the Mets to a 3-2 win to take a 2-0 lead in their Eastern Conference Final series.

"The timing was pretty good," Trottier said, who scored 24 seconds into the period to tie the game at 2. "Out of the break, we talked about having a good five minutes. We got one right away and it energized us."

Jagr then scored his second straight game-winner, converting a scramble in front with 9:49 remaining.

Coach Pete Green could sense the boost the Sabres got from Trottier's goal.

"It's great for us and does harm to them for their psyche," Green said.

Sabres captain Eddie Shore knows how important this win was for the Sabres.

"They probably think it's over," Shore said. "But you never know. A series can change on one play."

The Sabres, who lost 5-2 on Wednesday, need to regroup quickly with the best-of-seven series shifting to Seattle for Game 3 on Sunday.

The Mets won because their best players pulled through in the clutch -- and that included goalie Chuck Gardiner, who stopped 31 shots, including all 11 in the final period.

The Sabres, meanwhile, had nothing in response.

Buffalo managed just one shot in the final two minutes, when the team enjoyed a two-man advantage with Seattle's Bernie Federko in the penalty box and the Sabres goalie pulled.

Perreault had the best opportunity to tie the game with 2:02 left, when he was set up by Bert Olmsted while driving to the net. Perreault got a strong shot off but Gardiner kicked out his left pad and got his glove out to turn it aside.

"Tough luck, you know," Perreault said. "Next time, maybe it's going to be in."

Bert Olmsted and Sergei Zubov scored for the Sabres, who have lost two straight since eliminating the Philadelphia Flyers in the divisional finals.

Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said he doesn't think this loss will deflate the confidence of his team.

"I certainly hope not," Ruff said. "I can't do anything more than continue to prepare our team."

Mets defenseman Bill Gadsby had a goal and registered a key assist on Jagr's goal.

As he was being pushed down from behind in the corner, Gadsby shoveled a pass to Alf Smith in front. With his back to the net, Smith chipped the puck into the slot, where Jagr flipped it in over Johnny Bower.

It was Jagr's third in the opening two games.

What the Mets lacked in offense, they made up for with a strong physical game. Seattle rattled the Sabres by delivering numerous checks, including Brent Sutter upending Perreault with a clean open-ice hip check late in the second period.

Perreault declined to discuss the hit.

"I don't think there's frustration," Perreault said of the team's overall mood. "We have to keep fighting and have some luck on our side."

The Sabres outshot the Mets 33-18 overall and 22-9 through two periods. It was a considerable improvement after they allowed 37 shots in Game 1 and watched the Mets score three times on four shots during a four-minute span in the second period.

"We played a good game but didn't get the result we wanted," Rangers forward Claude Lemieux said. "I don't think it's a mystery. They're a great hockey team and you can't ever give them life or give them a chance."

John Flyers Fan
06-23-2007, 02:29 PM
Shore nets game-winner in double OT to keep Sabres in series


Seattle -- Eddie Shore's aching left knee made the Buffalo Sabres' best defenseman a question mark for the biggest games of the season.

He left the series opener early in Buffalo and gritted his way through Game 2 when another hit to the leg slowed him again. But Shore was back on the blue line for the Sabres on Sunday, and his hard drive found its way into the net in double overtime to give Buffalo a 2-1 victory, shooting life back into the Sabres' season.

Shore got the puck through traffic and off the post behind screened goalie Chuck Gardiner 16:43 into the second overtime. That gave Buffalo its first win over the Seattle in seven tries this season.

Seattle still leads the Red Fisher Conference final series 2-1, but the Sabres can get even with a Game 4 victory Tuesday night.

"Everybody was really tired, I guess," Shore said after logging a game-high, 38 minutes, 16 seconds. "I was just focusing on hitting the puck, and I was lucky enough that I had a lucky shot."

It was just the type of good fortune the Sabres were seeking after dropping a pair in Buffalo. Buffalo figured it deserved a better fate than to be down 2-0 with both at home.

"They have confidence. They have a game underneath their belt. We want to go up and they want to tie it up," Mets defenseman Rod Langway said. "It's not going to be easy."

Gilbert Perreault gave the Rangers a 1-0 lead in the second period, but the Mets tied it late in the third when Bernie Federko finally took advantage of a slew of Seattle power plays.

After that, it was a goaltending duel between Johnny Bower and Gardiner. Bower stopped 38 shots and became a winner when Shore scored on the Sabres' 46th shot.

"It was huge," Perreault said. "I'm mad about the second one, where we lost in Buffalo. But tonight was important, and we're back."

Each team had chances in the lengthy overtime. Buffalo had three power plays, and Seattle had two after going 1-for-7 in regulation.

Seattle almost won it on the shift before Shore's third goal of the playoffs, but Bryan Trottier was stopped by Bower on a stuff attempt.

Jean Ratelle gave Shore the puck near the right point, and the defenseman let it fly through traffic -- including Claude Lemieux in front -- and past Gardiner who looked around after the shot found the net.

"I didn't get a good look," Gardiner said. "It's a must win for them and they ended up getting the right side of the post."

Seattle thought it might've ended the game a period earlier. With 54 seconds left in the first overtime, Buddy O'Connor rang a shot off the post and through the crease that brought the red light on for an instant -- quieting the already nervous Seattle crowd. The period ran out and replays showed the puck never went in.

The Mets tied it on their seventh power play -- and fifth consecutive after the first period -- Federko stepped into a shot from the left circle and drove it past Bower with 7:46 left in regulation as Claude Lemieux served a questionable cross-checking penalty.

Lemieux was sent off 1:13 earlier after he knocked down Ryan Walter with a shove in front of the Montreal bench, drawing vociferous complaints from the veteran forward and coach Pete Green. The Mets had only two power-play opportunities in regulation.

Seattle won all four regular-season matchups, three in overtime or shootout. After using a three-goal second period to win 5-2 in the series opener, the Mets again foiled the Sabres by turning a pair of Buffalo mistakes in the third period of Game 2 into two goals and a 3-2 comeback win.

"We should be confident," Ruff said. "I thought that we should have a level of momentum coming out of Buffalo."

Perreault cleaned up a loose puck in the crease 33 seconds into the middle period. Yvan Cournoyer got to a rebound and nudged it back, squeezing the puck between the goalie's pads and causing it to glide toward the goal line.

Perreault slammed it in the net for his 40th career postseason goal. That was Perreault's only chance to celebrate as he made three trips to the penalty box during the first two periods.

It then looked as though Sabres defenseman Calle Johansson gave Buffalo a 2-0 lead 3:36 into the second.

Clark Gillies took a pass from Perreault and quickly slid it across the crease to the charging Johansson. He steered the puck into the right side but did it with his skate as he charged the net. A review ensued and the goal was waved off, the fourth time in this year's playoffs that replay worked in the Mets' favor.

"It has to be a distinct kicking motion," Ruff said. "If that's distinct then we're all in trouble."

John Flyers Fan
06-23-2007, 04:26 PM
Replay upholds Bower's save in Game 4 victory over Mets




SEATTLE -- This no-goal got the Buffalo Sabres even with the Seattle Mets in more ways than one.

Johnny Bower stopped Bernie Federko's shot just short of fully crossing the goal line with 17 seconds left, and the Sabres hung on for a 2-1 victory over the Mets on Tuesday night to square the Red Fisher Conference Final series after four games.

Both teams had to wait out a lengthy video review for the second straight game. On Sunday, Sabres defenseman Calle Johansson lost a goal when league officials in Toronto used a replay to determine he kicked the puck in.

The game went to double overtime, but a major controversy was avoided when the Sabres eventually won.

This time the call went Buffalo's way.

"I guess it was really close," Federko said. "I think they misjudged the one last game. The Sabres' goal should've been a goal. For the sake of all, I hope they made the right call because that wouldn't be good -- two games in a row, two critical goals disallowed."

Clark Gillies and Jean Ratelle scored power-play goals, and Bower made 29 saves to get the Sabres back in the series.

The best-of-seven matchup now shifts back to Buffalo, where the Sabres lost both at home, the road team has won all four contests in this series so far . Now they will be feeling the heat from a nervous, title-starved town unwilling to accept anything less than the first Milt Dunnell Cup in franchise history.

Game 5 is Friday night, with Game 6 back in Seattle on Sunday.

Seattle picked up the pace right after Michel Goulet cut the Mets' deficit to 2-1 just 33 seconds after Gillies's goal. The Mets stormed for the tying goal during the final 10 minutes and outshot Buffalo 11-4 in the third.

"We played good for 50 minutes, and the last minutes were a headache," Ratelle said. "It was awful. We were lucky we won."

All the questions before the series were whether the Buffalo could slow down Seattle's four lines. Now two goals have been enough to win consecutive games.

"In the playoffs there is a lot less chances available and Bower has been really good, also," Federko said. "We just have to keep crashing and we have to keep going hard the way we did in the third period."

Bower dived onto his stomach with 17 seconds left and stopped Federko's stuff attempt with his right pad as the puck slid on the goal line but didn't fully cross.

"I just felt I was so late," Bower said. "I read the puck, but I think it bounced a little bit."

For the first time in five close goal calls in these playoffs, the Mets didn't benefit from a video review.

"I believe I've seen a replay where it's in," said Mets coach Pete Green, sounding just like Philadelphia Flyers coach Mike Keenan in an earlier round. "We've had some good reviews."

Gillies scored his fourth of these playoffs and 51st in the postseason in the second period. Ratelle doubled Buffalo's lead in the third.

Goulet answered quickly after Ratelle's goal, but it wasn't enough. Chuck Gardiner was sharp again in making 26 saves, allowing two goals for the fourth straight game.

"You are not always going to have things go your way. It's not always going to be 4-1," Gardiner said. "It's certainly not going to always be that you have the lead. You're going to have to battle and claw and scratch.

"Nobody said it was going to be easy."

Ratelle made it 2-0 by showing the patience and poise of a 34-year-old. He waited for Miller to make his move, and when the goalie dropped to his right side, Ratelle put the puck past his outstretched pads and to make it 2-0.

Before the announcement of Ratelle's sixth goal of these playoffs and 38th in the postseason, Goulet scored.

For the second straight game, the Sabres took advantage of a penalty in the opening minute of the second period. Gillies, deflected Gil Perreault's shot off defenseman Ken Morrow and past Gardiner 45 seconds into the frame.

The Mets had power-play chances in the final 8 1/2 minutes of the period that ended with them still up a man. With 17 seconds remaining in Yvan Cournoyer's stick-holding penalty, Sabress defenseman Lionel Hitchman went off for holding Brent Sutter.

But the Sabres held off Seattle, which is 3-for-25 on power plays in the series.

Sutter also had a shot ricochet off the right post.

John Flyers Fan
06-23-2007, 04:39 PM
Big offensive night for Jagr, Trottier helps Mets take series lead




BUFFALO -- Turns out the Seattle Mets didn't need a stellar performance from Chuck Gardiner to grab the series lead in the Red Fisher Conference Finals series against the Buffalo Sabres.

Another big game by Jaromir Jagr and Bryan Trottier's overtime goal gives the Seattle Metropolitans the chance to close out the Sabres on home ice and advance to the Finals for the first time in faranchise history on Friday night'

Jagr scored his eleventh and twelfth goals of the postseason. Trottier blocked a shot nearly 13 minutes into the extra period, then chased down the loose puck and skated in to blow the winner past goalie Johnny Bower for a 4-3 victory.


"It's a big momentum shifter for us. You lose that, you're down 3-2, and you're fighting to stay alive. Now we have a chance to close them out at home," Gardiner said. "We've got home-ice advantage now, so we're definitely happy about the situation we're in."

Gardiner had 30 saves, but squandered a two-goal lead in the second period.

Gil Perreault, Yvan Cournoyer and Rick Vaive scored for the Sabres, who rallied from a 3-1 deficit. Bower stopped 33 shots.

"We threw a lot of pucks at him, and it finally paid off," said Seattle's Tim Kerr, who scored the Mets' first goal.

The Mets turned the puck over in their defensive zone, setting up Vaive's goal that made it 1-1 with just under eight minutes remaining in the opening period. Jagr countered with his first goal for a 2-1 Seattle lead, and the Mets went up two goals when the 27-year-old scored again on a power play midway through the second.

It wasn't enough for Gardiner to finish the job, though.

Perreault and Cournoyer scored within a five-minute span to make it 3-3 heading into the third period. Both teams had several opportunities to win it in regulation, however Gardiner and Bower were able to weather the surges.

"The China Wall gave us a chance," Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said. "I thought he was outstanding."

In overtime, Trottier got in front on Sergei Zubov's shot from the point, gathered the puck and broke down the ice on a 2-on-1. He ended the game with a perfectly placed wrist shot over Bower's shoulder and into the far upper corner of the goal.

"That's playoff hockey. You've got to have luck. You've got to get a bounce go your way," Trottier said. "It just hit my foot in the right spot. If it goes by the boards, who knows what happens. We got lucky on it."

Gardiner recovered from the shaky second period to stop 10 shots in the third period and five in overtime.

"He shut the door when we needed him to," said Jagr. "He played great. There's no one we'd rather have in net."

John Flyers Fan
06-23-2007, 07:23 PM
Seattle holds off Sabres' rally for series-clinching win


SEATTLE -- When in doubt, panic.

It worked for Chuck Gardiner, whose blind glove save in the final seconds was enough to solidify the Seattle Metropolitans' first ever trip to the Finals.

"I panicked," Gardiner said, describing his stop that prevented Claude Lemieux from rallying the Buffalo Sabres from a three-goal, third-period deficit. "And luckily I got a hold of it."

Gardiner's save was the difference in allowing the Mets to hang on for a 4-3 victory on Saturday night and win their best-of-seven Red Fisher Conference Finals series in six games.

The save came with 12 seconds left and with the Mets reeling, barely hanging on after nearly squandering a 4-1 lead in the final 13 minutes.

"It was the save of the series," Lemieux said. "I don't know how he saved it."

With the Sabres' net empty, Lemieux got in behind the defense, streaking across the top of the crease from the right circle. Getting Gardiner to make the first move, Lemieux deftly cut around the sprawled goalie and was looking at a wide-open side before Garinder thrust out his glove in desperation to deflect the puck just wide.

Gardiner then scrambled back into position to prevent Jean Ratelle from poking in the rebound.

"At that point, we were holding on and I didn't want this to be a turning point in the series," said Gardiner, who stopped 30 shots. "We fought for everything we got."

Brent Sutter had a goal and assist. His goal, set up by Gary Dornhoeffer's drop pass on a transition rush, was the difference, giving Seattle a 4-1 lead 6:38 into the third period.

The Mets advanced to the Chanpionship round for the first time and will face either the Montreal Canadiens or the Nainamo Clippers, that series is currently tied at three.

Lemieux and Eddie Shore had a goal and assist each for the Islanders.

"We should be proud of ourselves," Sabres forward Gil Perreault said. "For the last month, every game we played was like a Game 7."

If only the Sabres had been more consistent, or gotten some breaks.

Buffalo entered the game already unhappy after a disputed goal went against it in game four. Then the Sabres learned hours before Saturday's game they'd be without Ken Morrow. The veteran defenseman was hit with a 20-game suspension by the NHL for violating the league's drug policy.

"I don't even want to think about that," Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said, referring to the timing of Morrow's suspension. "I fully concentrated on this game. We just came up a little short."

The Mets appeared to take control when Alf Smith, set up after Bernie Federko stripped Lemieux, scored 39 seconds into the second period to make it 2-0, and Bryan Trottier scored 11 minutes later.

Back came the Sabres.

Down 4-1, Bert Olmsted converted a rebound in front with 10:17 remaining. Shore scored 3:24 later, also converting a rebound after Gardiner foiled Rick Viave's shot from the slot.

Gardiner, however, recovered, stopping the final nine shots he faced.

"It was tense for everybody, but Chuck was huge again," Mets center Trottier said. "The last five to six minutes, he was unbelievable."

Tim Kerr also scored for the Mets.

"We didn't compete in the first two periods and that cost us," said Clark Gillies, eligible to become an unrestricted free agent this summer. "We battled hard in the third period, but by then it was too late. It's frustrating and disappointing. It's tough to swallow right now."

VanIslander
06-23-2007, 07:54 PM
A number three seed makes it all the way to the championship final!

What a team of warriors.

Great write-up JFF. It reads like an epic battle.

kruezer
06-23-2007, 10:17 PM
Fantastic write up JFF, even better because the Mets are still alive, excellent. Thanks for a great series reck.

reckoning
06-23-2007, 11:17 PM
Congratulations kruezer!!! You've definitely got a lot of momentum on your side heading the Final. Good luck.

If only the Sabres had been more consistent, or gotten some breaks.

If I had a dollar for every time I've said those exact words over the last 30 years.