Drew Stafford

3.4400510203894 (784)
Posted by pompos 03/11/2009 @ 12:21

Tags : drew stafford, hockey players, hockey, sports

News headlines
Drew Stanton fighting for roster spot with Lions - MLive.com
comif the Lions sign a veteran quarterback, Drew Stanton could be on the way out. ALLEN PARK -- With rookie Matthew Stafford entering his second week of offseason workouts, the Detroit Lions' quarterback competition continues to brew....
No.1 pick Stafford making impression with Lions - Yahoo! Sports
"It gave me extra incentive chasing him on the bootleg because I figured some hundreds might fall out of his pocket." Daunte Culpepper(notes) still is getting the majority of reps with the first team, and Stafford appears to be the backup ahead of Drew...
Tori case: Third abandoned car seat reported to police - Guelph Mercury
A third abandoned car seat has been reported to police in Kitchener, in the hunt for clues in the murder of Victoria Stafford, 8. Police are seeking the missing rear seat from a 2003 blue Honda Civic. It's believed to be the abduction vehicle....
Shiner wins two wild ones - Victoria Advocate
Flatonia's Zach Mikulenka, left, avoids the tag of Shiner catcher Drew Stafford to score on Saturday at Green-Dickson Park. Shiner advanced to to the Class 1A regional semifinals by beating Flatonia 4-3 and 5-4 after having lost the first game on...
Stafford Or Culpeper... What About Drew Stanton? - Bleacher Report
I really don't think it is a good idea to play Matthew Stafford right away. He should run the scout team and learn the playbook inside and out. That way he will gain the respect of his teammates before he ever takes the field. That should be in 2010....
Lions QB Drew Stanton not going down without a fight - Detroit Free Press
BY NICHOLAS J. COTSONIKA • FREE PRESS SPORTS WRITER • May 6, 2009 Drew Stanton knows the situation now that the Lions have drafted quarterback Matthew Stafford No. 1 overall. But he isn't going to give up or try to force his way out....
Schwartz: Stafford will get his reps - Detroit Free Press
... said Thursday of Daunte Culpepper and Drew Stanton. "We'll need a third quarterback and, yeah, we'll get him as many reps. ..." Schwartz said the off-season rules are more flexible with rookies, which will allow Stafford more time to catch up....
Detroit Lions odds and ends: OTAs edition - Examiner.com
... has been good so far with Matthew Stafford. He's throwing the ball well, he's apparently getting along with his teammates (which is better than the alternative, I suppose), and he's also been putting pressure on Daunte Culpepper and Drew Stanton....
Ranking rookie tight ends - The Weekender
The good news is Matt Stafford needs a security blanket, and Pettigrew can be that guy. He should catch a ton of passes this year and give the Lions a TE presence they haven't had in years. Pettigrew has the size to be a tremendous red zone threat. 2....
Lady Whalers take game one of Class C finals - 27east.com
By Drew Budd Behind the strong pitching of freshman Melanie Stafford and the hot bat of Sam Federico, the Pierson softball team defeated Port Jefferson 5-2 on Saturday at Port Jefferson High School in the first game of a three-game series for the...

Drew Stafford

Template:Infobox Hockey Player Drew Stafford (born October 30, 1985 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin) is an American hockey forward. He started playing hockey at an early age. He first played for the Waukesha Warhawks in Waukesha, Wisconsin playing with local area legends Todd Rose and Damian carrasco-zanini. He then went on to play for the AHL's Rochester Americans before being called up to the National Hockey League to play for the Buffalo Sabres on November 5, 2006.

Stafford spent one year in St. Albert, Alberta, playing for the St. Albert Bantam AA Flyers. During this season (1999–2000) he finished 3rd in league scoring with 26 goals and 47 points in 30 league games, and led his team to a provincial berth. At the conclusion of the season Stafford was selected to participate in Hockey Alberta's elite development program as a member of the Northwest Sharks in the 2000 Pioneer Chrysler Alberta Cup.

Prior to playing at North Dakota, Stafford played minor hockey at Shattuck St. Mary's in Faribault, Minnesota. Following his stint at Shattuck he took another step forward in hockey career, playing three seasons with the North Dakota Fighting Sioux. Following his freshman season, Stafford was drafted in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft 13th overall by the Buffalo Sabres. After two more seasons, he signed a contract with the Sabres in 2006 for his impressive play at both the WCHA and international level, foregoing his senior season at the University of North Dakota. Stafford finished his three-year collegiate career with an impressive 118 points (48 goals, 70 assists).

As reported in an interview at LetsGoSabres.com, Stafford formed a band called "Red Seal Peach" while at UND with current Lowell Devils goaltender Jordan Parise.

He started his professional career with Buffalo's AHL affiliate, the Rochester Americans. With nine points in the first eleven games of the season, he caught the attention of the Sabres' management, and was called up to Buffalo in early November to replace injured winger Maxim Afinogenov. In his NHL debut on November 5 against the New York Rangers, Stafford assisted on a game-winning overtime goal by Daniel Briere, receiving his first NHL point. On November 11, he scored his first goal in the NHL on the Philadelphia Flyers' Antero Niittymäki. He won NHL Rookie of the month honors for March 2007 despite the fact that Paul Stastny of the Colorado Avalanche had his record breaking rookie scoring streak in the same month. Stafford scored his first game-winning goal on February 27 against the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Stafford became a regular to the Sabres lineup in the 2007–2008 season, scoring his first career hat trick against the Atlanta Thrashers on January 18, 2008. More than a year later he went on to score his second hat trick in a 10-2 rout of the Edmonton Oilers on Jan 27, 2009.

To the top

Buffalo Sabres

Buffalo Sabres

The Buffalo Sabres are a professional ice hockey team based in Buffalo, New York. They are members of the Northeast Division of the Eastern Conference of the National Hockey League (NHL).

The Sabres, along with the Vancouver Canucks, joined the NHL in the 1970–71 season. Their first owners were Seymour Knox III and Northrup Knox, scions of a family long prominent in Western New York. Buffalo had long been a hotbed for hockey. The Buffalo Bisons had been one of the pillars of the American Hockey League (AHL), winning the Calder Cup in their final season.

Wanting a different name other than "bison" that was so common among Buffalo sports teams, the Knoxes immediately commissioned a name-the-team contest. The winning choice, "Sabres", was chosen because Seymour Knox felt a sabre was a weapon carried by a leader. He also noted that a sabre is swift and strong on offense as well as defense. The Knoxes had tried twice before to get an NHL team, first when the NHL expanded in 1967, and then unsuccessfully attempting to buy the Oakland Seals with the intent of moving them to Buffalo. At the time of their creation, the Sabres exercised their option to create their own AHL farm team, the Cincinnati Swords.

The Sabres, playing their first of many seasons at the Buffalo Memorial Auditorium, got off to a good start before they even hit the ice when they, despite being disputed by the Vancouver Canucks, and by spinning a roulette wheel, won the NHL draft lottery, and picked future Hockey Hall of Fame center Gilbert Perreault first overall in the 1970 NHL Amateur Draft. Perreault was available to the Sabres, as this was the first year that the Montreal Canadiens did not have a priority right to draft Québécois junior players. Perreault scored 38 goals in his rookie season of 1970–71, at the time a record for most goals scored by a rookie in the NHL, and was awarded the Calder Memorial Trophy as Rookie of the Year. Despite Perreault's star play, the Sabres did not make the playoffs.

In the team's second season, 1971–72, rookie Rick Martin, drafted fifth overall by Buffalo in 1971, and Rene Robert, acquired in a late-season trade from the Pittsburgh Penguins, joined Perreault and would become one of the league's top forward lines in the 1970s. Martin broke Perreault's record at once with 44 rookie goals. They were nicknamed "The French Connection" after the movie of the same name and in homage to their French-Canadian roots. The Sabres made the playoffs for the first time in 1972–73, just the team's third year in the league, but lost in the quarterfinals in six games to the eventual Stanley Cup champion Montreal Canadiens. Game 6 at the Aud ended with the fans serenading their team in a chant of "Thank you Sabres! Thank you Sabres!", a moment many consider to be the greatest in team history.

After a subpar year in 1974 that saw them miss the playoffs, the Sabres finished in a tie for the best record in the NHL in the 1974–75 regular season. Buffalo would advance to the Stanley Cup Final for the first time in team history to play against the rough Philadelphia Flyers (who had been recently nicknamed the "Broad Street Bullies"), a series which included the legendary Fog Game (game three of the series). Due to unusual heat in Buffalo in May 1975, portions of the game were played in heavy fog. Players, officials, and the puck were invisible to many spectators. During a face-off and through the fog, Sabres center Jim Lorentz spotted a bat flying across the rink, raised his stick, and killed it. Many superstitious Buffalo fans considered this to be an "Evil Omen", pertaining to the result of the series. It was the only time that any player killed an animal during an NHL game. The Sabres won that game thanks to Rene Robert's goal in overtime. However, Philadelphia would wind up taking the Cup Final to six games, winning the series 4 games to 2.

The French Connection, joined by 50–goal scorer Danny Gare, continued to score prolifically for the Sabres in 1975–76, but the team lost in the quarterfinals to the New York Islanders. The Sabres continued to coast through the late 1970s behind the French Connection of Perreault, Martin, Robert and Gare, but they were unable to return to the Final despite a regular season Conference championship in 1980 and being the first team to beat the Soviet Olympic team when they toured the United States.

The 1995–96 season was the first season under coach Ted Nolan and the last for the Sabres at Buffalo Memorial Auditorium, or the Aud. Nolan brought an exciting brand of hockey to Buffalo. During his coaching tenure, his Sabres were referred to as the "hardest-working team in hockey". Even though the Sabres failed to have success in the win column and played before an average of only a little over 13,000 fans, fourth-fewest in the history of the team at the Aud, the fans had a special love affair with the team. Brad May, Rob Ray and Matthew Barnaby became the 1990s version of the characters from the movie Slap Shot, "The Hanson Brothers." This season also featured the debut of "walk-on" veteran player Randy Burridge. After attending training camp on a try-out basis, Burridge earned a spot on the roster. He scored 25 goals that season and was second in team scoring to Pat LaFontaine. Burridge also earned the Tim Horton Award for being the unsung hero and was voted team Most Valuable Player.

Nolan and the Sabres rebounded in 96–97, their first at Marine Midland Arena, by winning the Northeast Division (their first division title in sixteen years), with Nolan winning the Jack Adams Award as the NHL's top coach, Dominik Hasek winning both the Hart and Vezina Trophies (the first goaltender to do so since Montreal's Jacques Plante in 1962), Michael Peca taking home the Frank J. Selke Trophy as the best defensive forward in the NHL, and general manager John Muckler honored as Executive of the Year.

However, the regular season success was all overshadowed by what had taken place during the playoffs. Tensions between Nolan and Hasek had been high for most of the season, however, after being scored upon in game three of the first-round against the Ottawa Senators, Hasek left the game, forcing backup Steve Shields to step in. Hasek claimed he felt his knee pop, and the team doctor pronounced him day-to-day. Buffalo News columnist Jim Kelley wrote a column that night for the next day's newspaper that detailed the day's events, which irked Hasek. After the Senators won game five, Hasek came out of the Sabres' training room and physically attacked Kelley, tearing his shirt. Despite issuing an apology, things went downhill afterwards. Shields starred as the Sabres rallied to win the series against Ottawa. But before the next series against the Philadelphia Flyers, the NHL announced that Hasek had been suspended for three games — with the Sabres informing the league that Hasek was healthy (Hasek most likely would not have been suspended had he not been cleared to play). Set to return in game four with the team down by three games in the series, Hasek told the Sabres' coaching staff he felt a twinge in his knee and left the ice after the pregame skate. Shields turned in another season-saving performance as Buffalo staved off the almost inevitable sweeping elimination with a win. Again before the fifth game, Hasek declared himself unfit to play and Buffalo lost 6–3, losing the series in five games.

Despite the infighting, the season was a fitting tribute to Seymour Knox, who died on May 22, 1996. During the season, his brother Northrop sold the team to John Rigas, owner of Adelphia Communications.

The first act under the new management was made by outgoing President Larry Quinn to fire general manager John Muckler, who had a noted feud with Nolan. All-Star goaltender Hasek, who supported Muckler, openly told reporters at the NHL Awards Ceremony that he did not respect Nolan, placing new GM Darcy Regier in a tough position. He offered Nolan just a one-year contract for a reported $500,000. Nolan refused on the grounds that his previous contract was for two years, before he was Coach of the Year. Regier then pulled the contract off the table and didn't offer another one, ending Nolan's tenure as Sabres coach. Nolan was offered several jobs from the Tampa Bay Lightning and New York Islanders, which he turned down, and was out of the NHL until June 2006 when he was named coach of the Islanders. After Nolan, former Sabres captain Lindy Ruff, Buffalo's current bench boss, was hired as head coach on July 21, 1997, agreeing to a three-year deal.

Seemingly in the blink of an eye, the Sabres organization, after having their most successful season in nearly two decades, had now rid itself of both the reigning NHL Executive (Muckler) and Coach of the Year (Nolan). Shortly thereafter, Quinn was dismissed and replaced by John Rigas's son, Timothy Rigas.

Behind Hasek, left-winger Miroslav Satan (who led the team in scoring), right-winger Donald Audette, center Michael Peca, and several role-playing journeymen including pest Matthew Barnaby, the Sabres reached the Conference Final in 1998, but lost to the Washington Capitals in six games.

In 1999, Miroslav Satan scored 40 goals. The Sabres would add centers Stu Barnes from the Pittsburgh Penguins and Joe Juneau from the Capitals. Michal Grosek had the best season of his career, and the team finally returned to the Stanley Cup Finals, this time against the Dallas Stars.

In the sixth game, Dallas Stars winger Brett Hull's triple-overtime goal — as Hull's skate was clearly visibly in Hasek's crease — ended the series, and the Stars were awarded the Cup. In 1999, it was illegal to score a goal if an offensive player's skate entered the crease before the puck did. At the time, even Dallas Morning News hockey writer Keith Gave (a lifelong Red Wings fan who had just been employed by Dallas) questioned the legality of the goal. NHL officials, however, maintained that Hull's two shots in the goal mouth constituted a single possession of the puck since the puck deflected off Hasek, and their ruling stood, citing that they "were going to change the rule the following year anyway." It is widely speculated that, by the time the Sabres mentioned the foul, the red carpet had already been unrolled at center ice, and the officials refused to acknowledge the non-call. ESPN's "Page2" staff has ranked the call as the fifth worst officiating call in sports history. Conversely, Al Strachan of the Toronto Sun wrote "There should have been no controversy whatsoever. When Hull first kicked the rebound on to his stick, he had neither foot in the crease. At the instant he kicked the puck, he became in control of it. It was only in the follow-through of that kick that his left foot moved into the crease." Buffalo sports fans, who have suffered through some of the biggest misfortunes in sports history (such as "Wide Right" and "Music City Miracle"), refer to the game as "No Goal", a phrase still used in western New York to this day. The rule was changed for the following season, allowing players to be inside the goaltender's crease as long as they do not interfere with the goalie. This is a direct reference to both the Buffalo Bills' Comeback Curse and the Buffalo Sports Curse.

The next year was a disappointing season. The team struggled in the regular season, due to injuries to Hasek as well as other tired and discouraged players. Doug Gilmour was acquired from the Chicago Blackhawks at the trade deadline and sparked the Sabres to a playoff berth. However, Gilmour was stricken by stomach flu during the post-season and even the return of Hasek could not prevent their first-round playoff series loss to the Flyers. Like the previous season, there would be another officiating controversy. In game two high-flying Flyers' winger John LeClair put the puck in the net through a hole in the mesh. While replays appeared to show the puck going in through the side of the net, the goal was allowed to stand. The Flyers would win the game 2–1 and go on to win the series 4–1.

Captain Michael Peca sat out 2000–01 due to a contract dispute, and eventually was traded to the Islanders in June 2001 for Tim Connolly and Taylor Pyatt. Even so, the Sabres still defeated the high-seeded Flyers in six games in the first round of the playoffs (with a resounding 8–0 victory in the series-winning game). In the second round, they faced the underdog Penguins led by rejuvenated superstar Mario Lemieux and captain Jaromir Jagr, who had won his fifth Art Ross Trophy that season, losing on a seventh-game overtime goal scored by defenseman Darius Kasparaitis.

After lengthy, and failed, negotiations with their star goaltender, the Sabres traded Hasek to the Detroit Red Wings in the summer of 2001. Without Hasek and Peca, the Sabres missed the 2002 playoffs.

In the summer of 2002, John Rigas and his sons were arrested for bank, wire, and securities fraud for embezzling more than $2 billion from Adelphia (Rigas eventually was convicted and presently is appealing a sentence of 15 years in prison). The league took control of the team, though the Rigas family remained owners on paper. The affair came as something of an embarrassment to the NHL. Only five years earlier, it had tightened its standards for vetting prospective owners after seeing John Spano buy the New York Islanders only to discover he'd grossly inflated his net worth and committed massive bank and wire fraud.

For a while, there were no interested buyers. Attendance sagged, and it looked like the Sabres would either move or fold. The leading candidate was Mark Hamister, a local businessman who owned the Arena Football League's Buffalo Destroyers. Hamister was the personal choice of NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman. However, over time it became obvious that Hamister's financial assets were highly suspect and that his bid was heavily dependent upon government financing. It also became known that Hamister had won an expansion af2 team in Dayton, Ohio and got numerous concessions from local government, but moved them to Cincinnati before they had ever played their first game in Dayton. He was also considering moving the Destroyers (and as it turned out, did — to Columbus, Ohio). Under pressure from fans concerned that Hamister might move the Sabres, state officials scuttled a critical incentive package, effectively killing his bid.

Another group who showed interest in the Sabres was headed by Sherry Bassin, co-owner of the Ontario Hockey League's Erie Otters, and included Alain Maislin, a Montreal trucking magnate, and Frank DuRoss, owner of the Rochester Raging Rhinos USL soccer team. Former Sabres coach Ted Nolan was a friend of Bassin, and there was speculation that he would be rehired as Sabres coach if Bassin assumed ownership. However, this partnership dissolved without ever making a formal offer to the NHL.

With the season beginning under league control, general manager Darcy Regier would make minimal moves that could bolster the last placed Sabres. However, with the consultations of impending new ownership, the team began their rebuilding process around the trade deadline of March 10, 2003 by clearing out veteran players. The first to go was long-time winger Rob Ray who was sent to Ottawa so he had a chance to win the Stanley Cup before retirement at season's end. The team then sent center and team captain Stu Barnes to the Dallas Stars for young winger Michael Ryan and a draft pick. The third deal that was completed at that time sent center Chris Gratton to the Phoenix Coyotes with a draft pick for a younger center, Daniel Briere and a draft pick. The trade of Barnes was widely believed to be a show of gratitude, to get him to a team that was a playoff contender. However, the move was a surprise to Barnes, who had become a fan favorite with the help of Sabres' broadcaster Rick Jeanneret's calls of "Stuuuuuuuuuu Barnes...top shelf where momma hides the cookies!", and variations of that call after Barnes would score for the Sabres. Barnes stated that he had wanted to stay in Buffalo and broke down in tears in front of the assembled media after receiving word of his trade.

After the two year period of uncertainty that left the Sabres franchise in limbo, the team was sold to a consortium led by Rochester, New York billionaire and former New York gubernatorial candidate Tom Golisano and by former Sabres president Larry Quinn, whose bid included no government funding. Golisano was introduced as team owner on March 19, 2003. Golisano immediately drew the attention of fans with lowered ticket prices.

The team emerged from its financial struggles and, though the Sabres narrowly missed the playoffs, the season saw the debut or development of prominent young players such as Daniel Briere. One particularly memorable moment in 2003–04 occurred on New Year's Eve 2003, when Maxim Afinogenov and Miroslav Satan both scored hat tricks against the Washington Capitals at home. The Sabres won that game soundly, 7–1.

Although the 2004–05 NHL season was canceled due to a labor dispute, the league and the NHL Players Association were able to agree on a new Collective Bargaining Agreement in the summer of 2005, thus enabling NHL hockey to return for the 2005–06 season.

On January 19, 2005, the Sabres lost their main cable television broadcaster, as the Empire Sports Network (which had been on the air since 1991) ceased operations in a cost-cutting move during the Adelphia scandal and reorganization. (Like the Sabres, Empire had been owned by Adelphia.) Adelphia sold their rights to Sabres telecasts and for the 2005–06 campaign, the Madison Square Garden Network (MSG), a New York City-based channel which mostly broadcasts New York Rangers games, took over the rights to broadcast Sabres games to television viewers in western New York. The agreement has since been extended through 2016.

In 2005–06, the Sabres raced to a hot start and stayed near the top of the standings all season long, finishing with their best season in over twenty years. On April 3, they clinched their first Eastern Conference playoff spot since the 2000–01 season. The team finished the regular season with 53 wins, surpassing the 50–win mark for the first time in franchise history. They also finished with 110 points, their first 100–point season in 23 years and tied the 1979–80 club for the second-best point total in franchise history. The Sabres tied the Ottawa Senators and Carolina Hurricanes for the most wins in the Eastern Conference. They finished with the fifth-best record in the league, behind Detroit, Ottawa, Dallas and Carolina. However, the Sabres were seeded fourth in the Eastern Conference playoffs--behind Ottawa, Carolina and the New Jersey Devils--as they dropped their division to the Senators. The Sabres also finished with 25 road wins, another franchise record.

Buffalo defeated the Philadelphia Flyers in the first-round of the 2006 playoffs in six games. The Sabres on two occasions, showing their offensive prowess, scored seven or more goals in the series. In the second round of the playoffs, the Sabres defeated the top-seeded Sens in five games. A crucial moment in the series occurred in Game 1 when Tim Connolly forced overtime by scoring with 11 seconds left in regulation. Buffalo went on to win, 7-6, on a goal by Chris Drury. A total of three victories in the series came in overtime, including the series-clinching game five, which was won on a short-handed goal by Jason PominvilleVideo] to send Buffalo to the Eastern Conference Final against the Carolina Hurricanes. It was the first time in NHL history that a series had been decided on a short-handed goal.

Despite being without some or all of their four top defensemen (Teppo Numminen, Dmitri Kalinin, and Henrik Tallinder), and their top powerplay scorer, Tim Connolly, who had 11 points in 8 games in the playoffs, for much of the series, the Sabres fought back from a three-games-to-two deficit to force a seventh game by way of a 2–1 OT win in game six. In the deciding game, the Sabres were additionally without their number one shot blocker (Jay McKee).After Jochen Hecht scored from behind the net with 4 seconds left in the second period, They led the Hurricanes 2–1 going into the final period. But blew the lead early in the third and gave up two more late goals for a 4–2 final score. The game-winning goal was scored on the powerplay by Hurricanes captain Rod Brind'Amour after Brian Campbell was called for a delay of game penalty. The 'Canes went on to defeat the Edmonton Oilers in seven games, winning the Stanley Cup. The Sabres finished the playoffs with the most last-minute goals in the 2006 playoffs. The Sabres' better-than-expected season was recognized on June 22, 2006 at the NHL Awards Ceremony, when Lindy Ruff edged Hurricanes coach Peter Laviolette 155 votes to 154 to win the Jack Adams Award as Coach of the Year. It was the closest vote in the award's history. After Nolan, Ruff is the second Sabres coach to win the award.

The new jerseys also featured numbers on the front of the jersey, which hadn't been seen in the NHL since the 1949–50 NHL season. Dallas, the New York Islanders, San Jose, and Tampa Bay would also add front numbers in the 2007–08 NHL season.

The jersey's unveiling overshadowed the beginning of the team's training camp, opening with the most expensive group of Sabres to date. The team's payroll was over the league salary cap of $44 million US. Even at that price tag they were forced to let some key figures (Jay McKee, Jean-Pierre Dumont and Mike Grier) from their 2006 playoff run, and move on.

On October 20, 2006, the Sabres defeated the Carolina Hurricanes in a 5–4 win, to set a new franchise record with their 12th consecutive regular-season victory. The previous record was held by the 1974–75 team that won 11 straight games at the end of that season.

The Sabres started 10–0, not only setting a new franchise record for consecutive wins to start a season, but becoming just the second team in NHL history to open a season with a winning streak of ten games. The streak was ended on October 28, 2006, in a 5–4 shoot out loss to the Atlanta Thrashers. The only other team to start a season with as many consecutive victories were the Toronto Maple Leafs in 1993–94, who also started 10–0.

On November 5, 2006 the Sabres defeated the New York Rangers in New York to set a new NHL record for consecutive road wins to start a season (eight), which was extended to ten games (tying the team record for consecutive road wins) with a 7–4 win over the 2005–06 Stanley Cup Champion Hurricanes on November 13, 2006. It ended on November 18, 2006 with a 4–1 loss at Ottawa to the Senators.

Three Buffalo Sabres were voted by fans to be starters at the 2007 NHL All-Star Game in Dallas: goalie Ryan Miller, forward Daniel Briere, and defenseman Brian Campbell. Forward Thomas Vanek also participated in the NHL YoungStars Game. Briere won the All-Star MVP Award, tallying 1 goal and 4 assists. Lindy Ruff was the head coach for the Eastern Conference, who lost the game 12–9.

On February 22, 2007, in a 6–5 shootout win over the Ottawa Senators, the team was involved in a brawl after Senators winger Chris Neil hit Sabres captain Chris Drury, who was injured on the play. Some consider that the hit was late and from behind, though neither the referees nor the league penalized Neil. When the puck dropped, the main brawl began. The fight included Adam Mair immediately engaging Jason Spezza, Andrew Peters going after Dany Heatley, and both goalies, Martin Biron and Ray Emery fighting each other. Peters then went after the Senators goalie Emery, while head coach Lindy Ruff argued with Senators coach Bryan Murray through the glass, with former Sabres enforcer Rob Ray's MSG microphone picking up Ruff telling his counterpart "don't go after my fucking captain". Over 100 penalty minutes were distributed and Ruff was fined $10,000 by the league. In an interesting turn of events, Sabres fans offered to raise money to pay Ruff's fine. Ruff thanked the fans for their support, but paid the fine on his own. Drury returned a few games later. The teams went back and forth for the remainder of the game, with Drew Stafford scoring the shootout winner for Buffalo. On a related note, Clarke MacArthur, called up from Rochester due to injury, scored his first NHL goal in this game.

On March 30, 2007, in a 6–4 defeat of the New York Islanders, the team won 50 games for the second time in franchise history. The Sabres scored 5 goals on the special teams, 3 powerplay goals by Chris Drury, Drew Stafford, and Dainius Zubrus, and 2 short handed goals by Drury and Derek Roy.

On April 3, 2007, in a 4–1 defeat of the Pittsburgh Penguins, the Sabres clinched the Northeast Division crown and the best record in the Eastern Conference.

On April 7, 2007, in a 2–0 defeat of the Washington Capitals, the Buffalo Sabres won the Presidents' Trophy for the first time in franchise history, giving the team the home ice advantage for their entire run in the 2006–2007 NHL playoffs. They also tied the 1974–75 team's franchise record for points in a season.

In the April 9, 2007 issue of ESPN the Magazine, the Buffalo Sabres ranked first of 122 major professional sports franchises in North America. Buffalo was cited for its player accessibility, low ticket prices, and exciting brand of hockey. Buffalo fans seem to have noticed, as the Sabres sold out every game for the 2007 season.

The Sabres defeated the New York Islanders and then the New York Rangers to reach the Eastern Conference Finals. On May 19, 2007 the Buffalo Sabres were eliminated by the Ottawa Senators after five games. The winning goal was scored in the first overtime by Ottawa captain Daniel Alfredsson at the 9:32 mark. Coincidentally, Jason Pominville had beaten Alfredsson to score the clinching overtime goal over Ottawa in game five of the previous year's Eastern Conference Semi-finals.

The Sabres lost both of their co-captains, Daniel Briere (who went to the Philadelphia Flyers) and Chris Drury (who went to the New York Rangers) during the free agency period. The Sabres nearly lost Thomas Vanek to the Edmonton Oilers who offered him a seven-year, $50 million offer sheet, but the Sabres matched the offer on July 6. After these events, the team changed its policy of not negotiating contracts during the regular season. On October 16, 2007, they signed Jochen Hecht to a 4 year $14.1 million dollar contract.

Long-time Sabres broadcast color commentator Jim Lorentz announced his retirement during the 07–08 preseason. Hockey Night in Canada's Harry Neale took over the position in October 2007.

The Sabres' January 1 home game against the Pittsburgh Penguins was played outdoors at Ralph Wilson Stadium, home of the National Football League's Buffalo Bills. Officially, the game was called the AMP Energy NHL Winter Classic, but in Buffalo and the surrounding areas it was referred to as the "Ice Bowl". The Sabres lost 2–1 in a shootout.

The Sabres, like all of the NHL teams updated their jerseys as part of the league-wide switchover to Rbk Edge jerseys. The team did not make radical changes to the jersey design, adding an NHL crest below the neck opening. There will be no 'third jersey' this season, although the team wore the 1970s design for the January 1 outdoor game.

With a 3-1 loss to the Montreal Canadiens on April 3, 2008 that eliminated the Sabres out of playoff contention, they became only the third team in NHL history to go from finishing first overall in the regular season standings to finishing out of the playoffs the following year. Both of the previous two teams to do so ended up winning the Stanley Cup the following year.

On June 10, 2008, the Sabres officially announced their new American Hockey League affiliate, beginning in the 2008-09 season, would be the Portland Pirates from Portland, Maine. This officially ends their 29-year affiliation with the Rochester Americans. The Sabres will stock the Pirates with prospects for the next two seasons, with a parent club option for a third..

The Sabres entered the 2008 free agency period quietly, but on July 1 they signed goaltender Patrick Lalime to a two-year contact. Three days later, the team traded Steve Bernier to Vancouver for a pair of draft picks. Just a few hours later, the Sabres acquired Craig Rivet from San Jose in exchange for a second round draft pick in each of the next two drafts. In the month that followed, general manager Darcy Regier added some lower-tier free agents who are expected to spend most of their time in the AHL. On July 24, Mathieu Darche was signed away from Tampa Bay. A pair of signings were made on August 4. The team agreed to minor league deals with Colton Fretter, a former Atlanta draft pick, and Colin Murphy, a former Toronto farmhand.

The Sabres also extended the contracts of three players. On June 30, Paul Gaustad was given a four-year extension. Gaustad was due to become a restricted free agent after the 2008-2009 season. On July 18, Ryan Miller signed a five-year extension through the 2013-2014 season. Two months to the day, Jason Pominville also signed a five-year extension through 2013-14. Miller was slated to become an unrestricted free agent following the upcoming season while Pominville was set to become a restricted free agent.

On August 15, 2008, the Sabres announced that they will unveil an updated version of the blue Third jersey that they wore last season. The jersey will feature a modernization of the team’s vintage design elements from the 1970s.

The Sabres officially unveiled the new third jersey during open practice September 20, 2008. The jersey combines elements from the classic jersey along with a modern design. Initial fan reaction has been well received.

The Aud was scheduled to be demolished in October 2008 after being unused for the past 12 years since the opening of the HSBC Arena.

On October 8, 2008, the Buffalo Sabres named defenseman Craig Rivet captain of the team. He is the first single full-time captain since Stu Barnes in 2001-2003.

March 4, 2009 marked the trade deadline, and the Sabres were active. First, they signed Tim Connolly to an extention worth $4.2 million for two years. They also acquired Mikael Tellqvist from the Phoenix Coyotes for a fourth-round pick in the 2010 draft. Then Dominic Moore came from the Toronto Maple Leafs for a second-round pick in the 2009 draft. Finally, they received a second-round pick in the 2009 draft from the Edmonton Oilers in exchange for their shootout weapon Ales Kotalik.

Records as of April 12, 2008.

Updated March 6, 2009.

These are the top-ten point-scorers in franchise history. Figures are updated after each completed NHL regular season.

To the top

2007 Stanley Cup Playoffs

The Official Logo for the 2007 NHL Stanley Cup playoffs.

The 2007 Stanley Cup playoffs of the National Hockey League began on April 11, 2007. The sixteen teams that qualified, eight from each conference, played best-of-7 series for conference quarterfinals, semifinals and championships, and then the conference champions played a best-of-7 series for the Stanley Cup. The series ended on June 6, 2007, with the Anaheim Ducks defeating the Ottawa Senators four games to one to win their first ever championship. For the first time in NHL history, neither of the two teams that played in the previous year's Stanley Cup Finals (the Carolina Hurricanes and the Edmonton Oilers) qualified for the playoffs. For the first time since 1999, neither of the two Stanley Cup finalists (the Anaheim Ducks and the Ottawa Senators) had previously won the Cup.

Detroit Red Wings defenceman Chris Chelios made his 22nd post-season appearance, breaking the record for most post-season appearances. The New York Rangers set a new post-season franchise record this year by defeating the Atlanta Thrashers 7–0 on April 17. Over the years, the championship round of the playoffs has been variously referred to as the "Stanley Cup Championship," "Stanley Cup Finals," and "Stanley Cup Final," among others. "Stanley Cup Final" has gained official currency with the NHL and its broadcast partners. Other sources continue to use the name "Stanley Cup Finals" and many use both.

After the 2006–07 NHL season, the standard of 16 teams qualified for the playoffs. The Buffalo Sabres were the Eastern Conference regular season champions and were also the Presidents' Trophy winners with the best record at 113 points (53 wins, 22 regulation losses, 7 overtime/shootout losses). The Detroit Red Wings earned the Western Conference regular season crown with 113 points (50 wins, 19 regulation loses, 13 overtime/shootout losses).

In each round, the highest remaining seed in each conference is matched against the lowest remaining seed. The higher-seeded team is awarded home ice advantage, which gives them a maximum possible four games on their home ice, with the other team getting a maximum possible three. In the Stanley Cup Final, home ice is determined based on regular season points, giving the Anaheim Ducks home ice for this year's series. Each best-of-seven series follows a 2–2–1–1–1 format. This means that the higher-seeded team will have Games 1 and 2, plus 5 and 7 if necessary, played on their home ice, while the lower-seeded team will be at home for the other games. The format ensures that the team with home ice advantage will always have home ice for the "extra" game if there are an odd number of games in a series.

These are the top five goaltenders based on either goals against average or save percentage with at least four games played.

The high scoring Buffalo Sabres had completed one of their best regular seasons ever, having won the President's Trophy, awarded to the team amassing the most points in the regular season, with 113 points.

After qualifying for the Eastern Conference Finals in 1993, the Islanders had failed to win a playoff series since then. After a miserable 2005–06 season, the team hired former Buffalo Sabres coach Ted Nolan. Under him the team posted a 92 point season in 2006–07. It was on the final day of the regular season that they clinched a playoff spot with a shootout victory over the New Jersey Devils.

Game 1 went to Buffalo, but in Game 2 the Islanders beat the Sabres 3–2. However that win was overshadowed by Buffalo winning the next three games to clinch the series and move on to Round 2.

In the spring of 2003, the Devils and Lightning met up in the Eastern Conference Semifinals, which the Devils won in 5 games in the First series between the two teams. The Devils and Lightning met again in 2007. However, Devils general manager Lou Lamoriello, with 3 games remaining in the regular season, fired head coach Claude Julien so that he could coach the team going into the playoffs.

The Devils and Lightning split the first 2 games in New Jersey. The Lightning were able to win Game 3 to take a series lead, but Devils center Scott Gomez scored the overtime goal in Game 4 to tie the series at 2 games. The Devils then went on to win the next two games to take the series 4 games to 2.

The Thrashers qualified for the playoffs in 2006–07, their first ever trip to the postseason. General manager Don Waddell arranged several trade deadline deals that brought winger Keith Tkachuk and defenceman Alexei Zhitnik to Atlanta from the St. Louis Blues and Philadelphia Flyers, respectively. This new veteran leadership helped to propel the young Thrashers into the playoffs. For the Rangers, this was the second straight season in which they qualified for the playoffs after several years of not qualifying, having been swept in four games the season earlier by the Devils.

This series proved to be no contest, however, as the Rangers swept the series in four games. It was thought that the series would be more evenly matched, and aside from the Rangers 7–0 rout of Atlanta in Game 3, the scores in the other three games were close. The first two games were decided by one goal, and Game 4 was decided by two goals.

The Detroit Red Wings tied the Buffalo Sabres for most points in the regular season with 113, but because Buffalo had more victories, Detroit narrowly missed out on winning their third consecutive President's Trophy as the NHL's best regular season team, while the Calgary Flames barely qualified for the playoffs as the number 8 seed with 96 points, 1 point ahead of the ninth place Colorado Avalanche. The Red Wings and Flames met in the 2004 Western Conference semifinals in which the Flames won in 6 games, eventually losing in 7 games of the Finals that year. The Red Wings were looking to silence their postseason critics and advance to the second round after having lost as the number one seed a year earlier to the eighth seed Edmonton Oilers, who also lost in Game 7 of the Finals. The Flames had also been bounced out of the first round the previous season. The Red Wings made several moves at the trade deadline, acquiring Todd Bertuzzi and Kyle Calder while trading away Jason Williams. The Flames made several moves during the regular season as well, trading away Andrew Ference and Chuck Kobasew to the Boston Bruins for Brad Stuart and Wayne Primeau, as well as re-acquiring Craig Conroy.

In Game 1, the Red Wings dominated the Flames 4–1, in which Red Wings centre Pavel Datsyuk scored his first playoff goal since Game 7 of the 2002 Western Conference Finals. Pavel Datsyuk scored again just over a minute into Game 2, which the Red Wings won 3–1 to take a 2–0 series lead. But the Flames won both Games 3 and 4 by a 3–2 score, tying the series at 2. In Game 5, the Flames were assessed with several penalties for stick-related infractions during a 5–1 loss, giving Detroit a 3–2 series lead. Most notably, backup goalie Jamie McLennan slashed Red Wings forward Johan Franzen in the stomach only 18 seconds after relieving Mikka Kiprusoff. McLennan was immediately ejected from the game, causing Kiprusoff to return to the net; McLennan was later suspended five games. Flames coach Jim Playfair and the Flames organization were also fined. The Red Wings then eliminated the Flames the next night in Calgary when the game winning double overtime goal was scored, coincidentally, by Johan Franzen. The Red Wings moved on to Round 2 for the first time since 2004.

The Anaheim Ducks had won their division for the first time in franchise history with a franchise best 110 points. It was also the first time they had qualified for the playoffs in back to back years. The Minnesota Wild, only making their second playoff appearance, needed to face the team that had eliminated them in the Conference Final back in 2003.

Game 1 of the series began at the Honda Centre. Ducks back-up goalie Ilya Bryzgalov began the series while starter Jean-Sebastien Giguere tended to his newborn son. Pavol Demitra opened the scoring for Minnesota. Teemu Selanne tied the game on a breakaway, and Dustin Penner scored the game winner late in the third. Game 2 was another close game, but the Ducks pulled out a 3–2 win to take a 2–0 series lead at home.

The series shifted to the Xcel Energy Centre for Game 3. Once again, the Ducks proved to be the more superior team as they netted goals from Andy McDonald and Rob Niedermayer. Petteri Nummelin gave the Wild a goal in the last minute of play, but the Ducks held on for a 2–1 win. In Game 4, Chris Pronger opened the scoring for the Ducks. However the Wild took over the game halfway through the second period and managed a 4–1 win to keep the series going. Going back to Honda Centre for Game 5, Giguerre returned to the net and crushed the Wild's hopes by allowing one shot passed him. The Ducks won the game 4–1 and eliminated the Wild.

The Vancouver Canucks returned to the playoffs after a disappointing 2005–06 season. They had been considered underdogs from the start of the season but ended the season with 105 points, the best in franchise history. This gave them the division championship and a top seed against their first round opponent the Dallas Stars, who had finished with one more point than the Canucks.

Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo made his first playoff appearance in Game 1 at General Motors Place. After giving up the lead three times in regulation, Henrik Sedin won the game when he converted a pass from his brother Daniel at the 18:06 mark of the fourth overtime. It was the longest game the Canucks ever played, and the sixth longest playoff game in NHL history. Luongo stopped 72 of 76 shots in the 5–4 victory. The Stars opened Game 2 with a goal just 24 seconds in, and the Canucks were not able to recover as Dallas goaltender Marty Turco shut them out 2–0. After earning a split in Vancouver, the Stars returned home to American Airlines Arena for Game 3. Once again, the Stars came out with the opening goal scored by Stu Barnes. The Canucks tied the game on a Jan Bulis goal in the third period to send the game to overtime. The Canucks finished the Stars quickly this time as Taylor Pyatt scored the game winner 7:47 into the first overtime for a 2–1 win.

Game 4 remained scoreless into the third period. In the end, the Canucks pulled out another 2–1 victory thanks to goals from Mattias Ohlund and Trevor Linden. Back at General Motors Place for Game 5, both Luongo and Turco pushed aside every shot in regulation, and for the third time in the series, an overtime was needed. At 6:22 mark of the first overtime, Stars captain Brenden Morrow tipped the winner in off a Sergei Zubov shot for a 1–0 victory to send the series back to Dallas. In Game 6, the Stars pulled out a 2–0 win to force a seventh game in Vancouver. Marty Turco recorded his third shutout of the series.

Back in Vancouver for Game 7, the Stars dominated the first period and came out with a 1–0 lead. In the second period, Henrik Sedin put the Canucks on the board. It was the Canucks first goal in three games and their first at home since Game 1. From there on, the Canucks took over the game. Trevor Linden scored the game winner 7:00 into the third. Two empty net goals gave the Canucks a 4–1 win as well as a series win.

The Nashville Predators made the playoffs for the third straight year. Their first round opponent was the San Jose Sharks who had eliminated the Predators in five games the year before. The seedings for both teams were the same as the year before, and once again Nashville received home ice advantage.

Game 1 was an evenly matched game. Both Sharks goalie Evgeni Nabokov and Predators goalie Tomas Vokoun were well matched. A goal by Matt Carle put the Sharks on the board in the first period. Nashville netted goals from Alexander Radulov and Jean-Pierre Dumont early in the second, but the Sharks responded with three goals to take a 4–2 lead into the third. The Predators tied the game late in the third as Radulov and Dumont each scored a second goal. Patrick Rissmiller won the game for the Sharks 8:14 into the second overtime.

In Game 2, after the Sharks opened the scoring, the Predators went on a scoring spree and ended up winning the game 5–2. At San Jose's HP Pavilion for Game 3, the Predators were considered a big underdog. In five road playoff games in the past, they had yet to win one. The Sharks came out with the greater energy and took the game 3–1. Game 4 was a "must win" for the Predators. However the Sharks once again came out with the greater energy. Even though the Predators capitalized on a late rush, the Sharks held on for 3–2 win and took a commanding 3–1 series lead back to Nashville. In Game 5, the Predators and Sharks exchanged two goals. Late in the third, Sharks captain Patrick Marleau scored the winner to eliminate the Predators for the second year in a row.

The high-scoring Buffalo Sabres met the surprising New York Rangers in the Eastern Conference Semifinals with the two teams coming off first round victories. The Rangers defeated the higher seeded Atlanta Thrashers in stunning fashion, sweeping the third seed on the heels of strong play from Michael Nylander and solid goaltending by Henrik Lundqvist. The Sabres, who were forced to work harder than they expected, still dominated a New York Islanders team that earned a playoff berth in a shootout victory on the last day of the regular season, and defeated the eighth seed in 5 games. The Sabres had won all four games in the season series against the Rangers, leading many to believe this series may have a quick ending.

After a scoreless first period in Game 1, Thomas Vanek opened the series scoring with a goal late in the second. Ales Kotalik added another Buffalo tally two minutes later and Vanek chipped in another with 1:36 left in the second. It seemed that Buffalo was showing their stride from the regular season, as the Sabres cruised to a 5-2 victory.

The Rangers opened the scoring in Game 2, as Martin Straka scored a powerplay goal halfway through the first. However, the Sabres answered less than a minute later on a Brian Campbell powerplay tally. Although New York would take back the lead late in the second on a Paul Mara goal, Buffalo showed their scoring prowess in the third. Chris Drury tipped in a Toni Lydman pass less than a minute into the period and Thomas Vanek scored the game winner halfway through the period off a nifty no-look pass from Drew Stafford and Buffalo seemed well on their way to the Conference Finals as the series shifted to Madison Square Garden.

However, the Blueshirts proved that they too can win on home ice, winning the game 2-1 on a Michal Rozsival double overtime goal. After a game marked by great goaltending from Lundqvist and Sabres goalie Ryan Miller, Rozsival's point shot finally found the back of the net 16:43 into the second sudden death period. The goal was huge for Rozsival, as he missed time in Game 1 and gritted through Game 2 with a leg injury. The game was not without controversy however, as a Karel Rachunek goal early in the second was overruled after review, with the officials in Toronto determining the puck had been kicked into the net.

More controversy arose in Game 4, a 2-1 Rangers victory. Daniel Briere appeared to beat Lundqvist with 17 seconds left in the game, but the goal was disallowed after a lengthy review. Briere appeared to have Lundqvist beat on the short side after a nifty deke, but the overhead camera angle did not provide indisputable evidence that the puck had crossed the line. Another note from Game 4 was the scratch of Sabres winger Maxim Afinogenov. Buffalo's sixth leading scorer in the regular season had been underwhelming in the playoffs, and coach Lindy Ruff was looking to send a message.

Game 5 shifted back to Buffalo, and the strong goaltending from the two young keepers continued. Miller turned away 14 shots through the first two periods until an innocent looking shot by Martin Straka snuk over Miller's shoulder and hit the goal cam in the back of the net with just over 3 minutes left in regulation. Lundqvist again seemed unbeatable, having stopped the first 36 shots he faced. However, the 37th Buffalo shot was one that Sabres fans will always remember. The Sabres pulled their goaltender for a 6 on 5 advantage with the faceoff in the Rangers zone and less than 15 seconds remaining in the game. Buffalo co-captain Chris Drury won the draw and with 8 seconds left found the back of the net on a Tim Connolly rebound and through a Thomas Vanek screen. The game was not over however, and still another hero would be crowned on this Friday night in the Queen City. With Blair Betts off for hooking less than 5 minutes into overtime, Lindy Ruff gave Maxim Afinogenov a chance to redeem himself for his poor play. Afinogenov came through, getting off a quick slapshot from the point that beat Lundqvist five hole. Afinogenov took several strides before diving across center ice, and his jubilant teammates joined him in celebration.

Buffalo would carry this momentum back to New York, where the Rangers had yet to lose in the playoffs. While the Rangers took the lead late in the first, Buffalo exploded for 4 goals in the second and another in the third, including two by forward Jochen Hecht. The Rangers would not go down easily however, with Michael Nylander drawing the Blueshirts within 1 with less than 3 minutes to play. The Sabres however were able to hold on and win the game 5-4, taking the series in 6 games. A lasting effect from the series may have been Chris Drury's strong play, as the Rangers signed the pivot to a free agent contract after the season.

The Ottawa Senators, having eliminated the young Pittsburgh Penguins in the opening round, had to face the team that had stopped them one game short of the Stanley Cup Final in 2003. The New Jersey Devils were a huge favourite to win the series.

Game 1 of the series began at Continental Airlines Arena. The Senators came out with all the energy and capitalized on every Devils mistake to jump out to a 4–0 lead. From the second period on, the Devils stole the momentum, and the Senators needed to hold on for a 5–4 victory.

Both teams were ready for Game 2, but it was the Devils who held a 2–1 lead in the third period. The Senators tied the game late in the third, but Jamie Langenbrunner scored the winning goal for the Devils 1:55 into the second overtime. Game 3 at Scotiabank Place turned out to be a defensive battle. The game remained scoreless into the third period before Tom Preissing put the Senators on the board. An empty net goal was added for a 2–0 Senators win. The teams were evenly matched once again in Game 4, but the Senators won 3–2.

The Senators returned to Continental Airlines Arena for Game 5 with a chance to finish the series. Scott Gomez scored for the Devils first, but the Senators responded with three straight goals. Gomez gave the Devils a late third period goal, but the Senators hung on to win 3–2 in the final game ever played at Continental Airlines Arena. The Senators advanced to the Eastern Conference Final for the second time in their history.

The Red Wings and Sharks met in the postseason for the first time since 1995, when the Red Wings swept the Sharks in four games. Evgeni Nabakov and the Sharks shut out Detroit in Game 1 in Detroit by a score of 2-0, taking a 1-0 series lead. The Red Wings drew even with a come-from-behind victory in Game 2, with Pavel Datyuk scoring the go-ahead goal with 1:24 remaining in the third period.

The series then shifted to San Jose for Games 3 and 4. The Sharks won Game 3 with Jonathan Cheechoo scoring the game winner, taking a 2-1 series lead. After being down 2–1 with less than a minute left in Game 4, the Red Wings tied the game thanks to Robert Lang, and later won in overtime on a powerplay goal from Mathieu Schneider to draw the series at 2–2. Detroit then dominated the Sharks back in Detroit in Game 5, winning 4-1, taking a 3-2 series lead into Game 6 back in San Jose. Two goals from Red Wings winger Mikael Samuelsson and a Dominik Hasek shutout won the series for the Red Wings, moving them to the Western Conference Finals for the first time since 2002.

After a thrilling seven game series against the Dallas Stars, the Canucks then had to face the Anaheim Ducks. This series featured teams that each had two brothers playing on the same team (the Sedins for Vancouver and the Niedermayers for Anaheim).

After Canucks player Jeff Cowan opened the scoring in Game 1 within the first eleven minutes, Anaheim answered back with three goals (two by Andy McDonald and one by Teemu Selanne) in the first period, plus two additional goals later in the game for a 5–1 win. Game 2 was a much closer game as Canucks goaltender Roberto Luongo came back with a better performance than the first game. The game proceeded into double overtime until Vancouver's Jeff Cowan managed to score from a very tight angle to tie the series 1–1 going into Vancouver.

Despite receiving nine penalties (including four straight during the first period) in Game 3, Anaheim managed to win the game 3–2 in regulation in Vancouver thanks to a game winning slap shot by Corey Perry. Game 4 was a different story, however, as Vancouver jumped ahead in scoring 2–0 after two periods in an effort to tie the series. But during the third period, Anaheim came back with goals from Pronger and Selanne to tie the game, plus a goal by Travis Moen shortly into overtime extended the series lead to 3–1.

In Game 5, Luongo stopped 47 shots and helped keep the score tied at 1 after three periods (in the end, the Ducks had 65 shots on goal). At the start of overtime, Vancouver unexpectedly switched goalies, later revealing Luongo had an untimely case of diarrhea. After Dany Sabourin successfully stopped Anaheim shots, Luongo returned to the net and kept the game tied going into double overtime. Shortly into the second overtime period, Rob Niedermayer delivered a huge body check on Jannik Hansen. The puck came to Scott Niedermayer, who fired a wrist shot that found the back of the net, giving the Ducks the overtime and series victory, moving them to the Western Conference Finals.

Replays showed that Luongo's glove hand was up trying to signal to referees that he thought the hit was an elbow, and the puck went through where his glove should have been. When Luongo was announced as the second star of the game, many at the Honda Center cheered.

The Ottawa Senators and Buffalo Sabres had been at each other's throats throughout the season. On February 22, 2007, Ottawa enforcer Chris Neil delivered a controversial late blindsided hit to Buffalo's Chris Drury, seriously injuring Drury and sparking an in-game brawl between the two teams, which featured a fight between Buffalo player Andrew Peters and Ottawa goalie Ray Emery plus a heated argument between coaches Brian Murray and Lindy Ruff.

In Game 1 at Buffalo, Ottawa opened the series with goals by Mike Fisher and Daniel Alfredsson respectively to start with a 2–0 lead in the first period of Game 1. The Sabres answered later in the first and midway through the second period with goals by Maxim Afinogenov and Toni Lydman to tie the game 2–2. The Senators then took control of the third period and scored three more goals to win 5–2 and take the series lead.

In Game 2 the Sabres jumped ahead in scoring during the first period with two goals. But Ottawa later caught up and tied the game 2–2 by the second period. Ottawa defenceman Wade Redden gave the Senators the lead by the end of the second period with a power play goal. Buffalo did not answer until late in the third period on a power play goal by Daniel Briere with only 6 seconds left to tie the game. Senators defenceman Joe Corvo scored just off a faceoff to give Ottawa the double overtime win and a 2–0 lead in the series.

Game 3 in Ottawa was kept to no scoring until the second period when Senator Captain Daniel Alfredsson shot a puck that somehow riccocheted off Sabre goalie Ryan Miller towards Alfredsson who had an open net. Ottawa took a 3–0 lead in the series.

In Game 4 Buffalo started with a goal nine seconds into the game. Buffalo jumped ahead 3–0 in scoring before the Senators came back with two goals. Ottawa could not score a third goal and tie the game, and the Sabres fought back into the series with a 3–2 win.

Game 5 in Buffalo opened with a Sabre goal. But Ottawa came back and took a 2–1 lead. Afinogenov tied the game for the Sabres midway through the third period to eventually send the game into overtime. However, Daniel Alfredsson eliminated the Sabres by skating and shooting through three Buffalo players and scoring the overtime goal to send the Senators into the Stanley Cup Final.

The Western Conference Finals featured the number 1 and 2 Western Conference teams, the Red Wings and Ducks respectively, competing for a berth in the Finals. This would be the Red Wings' first trip to the Conference Finals since their last Cup win in 2002 (they failed to make it past the second round for three straight seasons afterward despite having terrific regular season records), while the Ducks made it for the second time since their 2003 Stanley Cup run in which they lost to New Jersey in 7 games.

Detroit opened the series at home in Game 1 with a 2–1 victory, with both goals deflecting off Ducks defensemen. Game 2 was a different story as the scoring lead shifting between the teams. With the Wings leading 3–2 in the third period, a goal was ruled when the puck somehow crossed the goal line while settling over Hasek's knee as he slid backwards into the net, thus tying the game and sending it into overtime. Scott Niedermayer sealed victory for Game 2 as he scored in overtime to tie the series.

Game 3 at Honda Center featured one of the most one-sided games witnessed in the playoffs, as the Red Wings blanked the Ducks 5–0 to take a 2–1 series lead. Chris Pronger was suspended by the NHL for Game 4. His suspension was a result of the same hit on Tomas Holmstrom that Rob Niedermayer was penalized for. While Pronger received no penalty for the hit during the game, Pronger was later suspended after NHL officials reviewed the replays, which showed Holmstrom being boarded from behind as a result of a Pronger elbow, drawing blood from a cut on his forehead. In Game 4, without Pronger, the Ducks had to step up their efforts. They dominated the first period with 3 goals, including a power play goal by Ric Jackman, Pronger's "stand in" for Game 4 in his first game of the playoffs. Detroit would came back after trailing 3–1 to tie the game 3–3 in the second period, only to have the Ducks respond with a stunning wrist shot goal from the blue line by Ryan Getzlaf and an empty net goal Rob Niedermayer that gave Anaheim the 5–3 win and tie the series at 2 games.

The tied series returned to Detroit for Game 5. A goal from Detroit defenceman Andreas Lilja early in the second period put Detroit up 1–0. Throughout the game, the Red Wings dominated the play. Despite their controlling of the play, Detroit was only able to score once because of the strong play of Ducks goaltender J. S. Giguere. Finally, after over 59 minutes of play, the Ducks found the inside of net via a power play goal by Scott Niedermayer with just only 47 seconds left in the game. Niedermayer appeared to be attempting a pass to a Ducks player in front of the net, but his pass deflected off Detroit defenceman Nicklas Lidstrom's stick and over Dominik Hasek's glove. Halfway into overtime, Andreas Lilja was making a routine breakout play behind his net when fore checking pressure by Andy McDonald caused Lilja to turn the puck over to Teemu Selanne, who lifted a backhander above a sprawled Hasek to give the Ducks a stunning 2–1 overtime victory and a 3–2 series lead going back to Anaheim.

Game 6 almost seemed to be anti-climatic of Game 5, starting with a short handed goal by Rob Niedermayer. The Ducks extended the lead to three in the second period. Early in the third period, Detroit scored a goal by Henrik Zetterberg. Samuel Pahlsson again extended the Ducks lead by three goals shortly after. Two powerplay goals from Pavel Datsyuk cut the Ducks' lead to only one late in the game. But despite the late period pressure, the Anaheim Ducks were able to hold on and win the game and the series to advance to the Stanley Cup Finals for the second time in their history.

To the top

2006–07 Buffalo Sabres season

The 2006–07 Buffalo Sabres season began with the team attempting to rebound from a disappointing end to the 2005–06 season, in which the Sabres advanced to the Eastern Conference Finals before losing in seven games to the eventual Stanley Cup champion Carolina Hurricanes. The team lost several veterans to free agency, including J.P. Dumont, Jay McKee and Mike Grier. Conversely, the team signed only one new player to the roster: defenseman Jaroslav Spacek. The team planned to rely on young players from their own organization -- Jiri Novotny, Paul Gaustad and Nathan Paetsch, to name a few -- to fill the holes left by the departing players.

Controversy swirled around the team's logo and jersey, meanwhile, as the look was changed. The team's colors were reverted back to blue and gold, which they had worn from their addition to the league as an expansion team until 1996–97, when the colors were changed to black and red. The new logo, though, was said to resemble to many a slug or a wig. There were strong efforts to prevent the team from wearing this new jersey, although none were successful. The team's new third jersey, meanwhile, featured the team's original logo. Despite the controversy, however, the NHL reported that sales of Sabres merchandise were up approximately 1170% from the 2005–2006 season.

The Sabres were very successful early in the season, tying an NHL record by winning their first ten games, before finally suffering a shootout loss to the Atlanta Thrashers. They did not lose a game in regulation until exactly one month into the season, in their thirteenth game, when they lost to Toronto. The Sabres also set an NHL record by winning their first ten road games of the season, not losing outside of HSBC Arena until November 18 in Ottawa.

On January 9, it was announced that three members of the Sabres had been voted to start the All-Star Game for the Eastern Conference: forward Daniel Briere, defenseman Brian Campbell, and goaltender Ryan Miller. It was the first All-Star appearance for each. In addition, as the Sabres had the best record in the Eastern Conference as of the end of All-Star voting, head coach Lindy Ruff was assigned to coach the Eastern Conference team. Briere recorded a goal and four assists in the game, and was named Most Valuable Player of the game. Thomas Vanek was also invited to All-Star Weekend to play in the YoungStars game.

On January 13, Jason Pominville recorded his 20th goal of the season, becoming the fourth Sabre (after Chris Drury, Thomas Vanek and Maxim Afinogenov) to record 20 goals before the All-Star break. At the time of Pominville's 20th goal, no other team in the NHL had more than two players with 20 goals. Daniel Briere became the fifth Sabre to record 20 goals as he scored a hat trick on January 30 against the Boston Bruins. With the feat, the Sabres became the first team since the 1995–96 Pittsburgh Penguins to have five 20–goal scorers before February.

In February, the Sabres found themselves battling injury problems. Forward Tim Connolly had been on the long-term injury list all season, and he was joined by Paul Gaustad when a tendon in his leg was sliced on February 7 against the Ottawa Senators. Jaroslav Spacek broke his left hand soon thereafter, and the Sabres lost Maxim Afinogenov, who broke his left wrist, and Jiri Novotny with a high ankle sprain. Ales Kotalik was next to go down, with a knee sprain, and forward Daniel Paille broke his finger. Against the Ottawa Senators on February 22, captain Chris Drury was injured by a blow to the head by Chris Neil, sparking a wild brawl which saw a fight between Martin Biron and Senators goaltender Ray Emery, and later between Emery and Sabres enforcer Andrew Peters.

The Sabres were the last team to be involved in a trade in the 2006–07 season. On the day of the NHL trade deadline, though, they made four trades. Goaltender Martin Biron, who had been the longest-tenured Sabre, was sent to Philadelphia for Philadelphia's second-round pick in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft. Buffalo's fifth-round pick in that draft was sent to Columbus in exchange for another backup goalie, Ty Conklin. Jiri Novotny was sent along with Buffalo's 2007 first-round pick to Washington in exchange for Dainius Zubrus and Timo Helbling. Finally, the Sabres sent their fourth-round pick in 2007 to Nashville for Mikko Lehtonen, a minor league defenseman.

Due to injuries, many Sabres prospects were called up from the team's American Hockey League affiliate, the Rochester Americans, and made their NHL debuts during the season; Mike Card, Michael Funk, Patrick Kaleta, Clarke MacArthur, Mark Mancari, Michael Ryan, Andrej Sekera and Drew Stafford all played their first career NHL game during the 2006–07 season.

With the best regular-season record in the NHL, the Sabres were awarded the Presidents' Trophy for the first time in their history, and they also earned the top seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs. They defeated the New York Islanders and New York Rangers in the first two rounds of the playoffs. In the Eastern Conference Finals, however, the Sabres' season came to an end when they were defeated in five games by the Ottawa Senators.

The Sabres earned the #1 seed in the Eastern Conference by virtue of finishing with the highest point total in the conference.

The Sabres faced the New York Islanders in the first round of the playoffs.

The Sabres faced the New York Rangers in the second round of the playoffs. The Rangers advanced by sweeping the Atlanta Thrashers, the number three seed, in the first round.

The Sabres faced their division rivals, the Ottawa Senators, in the Eastern Conference Finals. The Senators advanced by defeating the Pittsburgh Penguins in the first round and the New Jersey Devils in the second. The Sabres lost the series, 4 games to 1.

Thomas Vanek finished the season with the best plus/minus rating in the entire NHL with a +47.

Buffalo's picks at the 2006 NHL Entry Draft in Vancouver, British Columbia. The Sabres had the 24th overall draft pick for their success in the 2005–06 NHL season.

To the top

2006–07 New York Rangers season

The New York Rangers 2006–07 season saw the team attempting to build off their surprising run into the playoffs the prior year.

After being swept by their cross-river rivals the New Jersey Devils in the first round of the 2006 Stanley Cup Playoffs, the Rangers looked to add playoff experience through off-season free agent signings. As such, the Rangers signed forward Matt Cullen and defenseman Aaron Ward from the Stanley Cup champion Carolina Hurricanes in addition to three-time champion Brendan Shanahan from the Detroit Red Wings. However, the Rangers lost a few big names from their strong regular season run, including assistant captain Steve Rucchin, Martin Rucinsky, Tom Poti and Petr Sykora.

The Rangers opened regular season play at Madison Square Garden on October 5, 2006 against the Washington Capitals. In the 5–2 victory, Jaromir Jagr scored on the season's first shot, and Brendan Shanahan scored twice, to tally his 600th career NHL goal. Despite a 2–0 start, the Rangers struggled through the month of October and finished the calendar month in the midst of their west coast swing with a 5–6 record.

Things began to turn in the right direction for the team in the month of November. The Rangers began the month with wins over Anaheim and San Jose to bring their record above .500 and after an 8–3–3 month, the Rangers had a 13–9–3 record.

The Rangers rose high in December, with a five game winning streak during the second week, but then crashed hard back to Earth. A 9–2 loss at Toronto on December 16 keyed a seven game losing streak which included two heart-breaking losses in Florida (one to the Panthers in which the Rangers led 2–0 after two periods and lost 3–2 and another two nights later to the Lightning in which the Rangers led 3–0 after two and lost 4–3). The Rangers were also shutout in their final two losses of the streak. The Rangers got back on the right track and snapped their losing skid with a 4–1 win against the Capitals in their final game of 2006. This win would key a four game winning streak; however, the Rangers lost 8 of their next 11 games as they limped into February.

On February 5, 2007, in a trade with the Los Angeles Kings the Rangers acquired the agitator Sean Avery. Avery's first few games with the Rangers saw an increase in the team's intensity, but still a lack of luck in the standings. In his first game, the Rangers lost to the Devils 3–2 in a shootout, then proceeded to win three straight against the likes of Tampa Bay, Washington, and Carolina.

Against the Philadelphia Flyers on February 17, the Rangers lost not only the game (5–3) but also lost Shanahan to a concussion after an open ice collision with Mike Knuble in the third period. Shanahan would miss the next 15 games. As of the trading deadline on February 27, the Rangers were 29–27–6 and a run at a playoff berth looked unlikely.

During the month of March, the Rangers lost a number of other players to injury, including Fedor Tyutin, Marcel Hossa and Karel Rachunek all to MCL sprains. However, thanks to the stellar play of goaltender Henrik Lundqvist, the Rangers went 10–2–3 in the month of March to move into playoff position and on April 5, 2007, with a 3–1 win over the Montreal Canadiens, clinched a playoff berth for the second consecutive season. The Rangers concluded the regular season with a record of 13–3–4 after the trading deadline and 17–6–6 after the acquisition of Avery from Los Angeles.

On their final night of the regular season, the Rangers lost 2–1 to Pittsburgh, but thanks to Tampa Bay's shootout loss to Atlanta, the Rangers locked up the sixth seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs for the second straight year.

The New York Rangers ended the 2006–07 regular season as the Eastern Conference's sixth seed.

Entering the 2007 Stanley Cup Playoffs, the New York Rangers had not won a playoff game since May 18, 1997 against the Philadelphia Flyers, having lost seven consecutive playoff games in that time span. They began the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals against the Atlanta Thrashers, a team making their first playoff appearance in franchise history.

In front of a sellout crowd in Atlanta for Game 1, the Rangers struck first with a Jaromir Jagr goal 12:50 into the first period to take a 1–0 lead. Michal Rozsival added a power play goal four minutes later to extend the Ranger lead to 2–0. Atlanta's Eric Belanger] tallied a power play goal in the first period's final minute to make the score 2–1 at first intermission. The Rangers held a two goal lead two other times through the remainder of the game, but Atlanta cut the deficit back to one on both occasions, with their final tally coming from former Ranger Pascal Dupuis early in the third period. Atlanta pressured for the equalizer for the final minutes but could not beat Henrik Lundqvist for a fourth goal and the Rangers prevailed 4–3. Not only was the victory the Rangers first playoff win in nearly ten years, it was also the first time the Rangers won Game 1 of a playoff series since the 1994 Eastern Conference Semifinals against the Washington Capitals. In addition, the four goals scored by New York in Game 1 matched their four game offensive output against the New Jersey Devils from the year prior.

Atlanta switched goaltenders for Game 2, giving the nod to Johan Hedberg over Kari Lehtonen. The Rangers would strike first again, this time on a fluke goal credited to Sean Avery. Avery dumped the puck into the offensive zone from the red line, causing Hedberg to leave the crease in order to play the puck behind the net. The puck caromed off the boards in a peculiar manner and ended up in the net. After the bizarre goal, the game settled into a goaltending duel between Hedberg and Lundqvist. Atlanta would tie the game five minutes into the third period on a goal by Ilya Kovalchuk. The Rangers, however, would prevail, winning on a Brendan Shanahan goal with four minutes to play.

Up 2–0 in the series, the Rangers returned home for Game 3, and the Atlanta Thrashers returned to Kari Lehtonen in net. The switch did not work, as the Rangers struck 32 seconds into the game and would not let up from there. Jaromir Jagr tied an NHL record with three assists in the first period as Michael Nylander scored twice and Marek Malik added another to give New York a 3–0 lead after one. Rookie Ryan Callahan scored twice in the second period (the first two playoff goals of his career), Brendan Shanahan added a power play goal midway through the third period, and Nylander completed the hat trick seven minutes later to seal a 7–0 Game 3 victory. The 7–0 victory was the first playoff shutout in Henrik Lundqvist's career and the largest margin of victory in a playoff shutout in franchise history.

Atlanta switched back to Hedberg in Game 4 and struck first to take their first lead of the series with a Keith Tkachuk goal in the first period. The Rangers would respond just over a minute later with Michal Rozsival's second power play goal of the series to make the score 1–1 after one period. Atlanta would take the lead for a second time in the second period on a goal by Greg de Vries, but the Rangers would counter again, this time with a Brendan Shanahan goal to tie the game at 2–2 after two periods. Early in the third period Matt Cullen would score the eventual game winner, driving a rolling puck from the point off the crossbar. The puck bounced straight down and at first glance never crossed the goal line. After a five minute video review, the puck was clearly shown to have crossed the line in its entirety while on edge and the goal counted. Jaromir Jagr added an empty net goal late in the period to seal a 4–2 win and a series sweep. The sweep was only the third sweep of a seven-game playoff series in franchise history (the other sweeps came against the Chicago Blackhawks in 1972 and the New York Islanders in 1994).

After sweeping Atlanta in the first round, the Rangers next opponent was the Eastern Conference's top seed (and the regular season Presidents Trophy winner), the Buffalo Sabres. The Sabres had been a powerful offensive team in the regular season, scoring 308 goals in the 82 games (20 more than the second place team in that department, the Ottawa Senators with 288). The Sabres had four players score 30+ goals during the season, led by Thomas Vanek with 43 in his sophomore campaign.

The series did not start well for the Rangers in western New York. Despite playing a scoreless first period, the key development in the first twenty minutes was a knee injury suffered by Ranger defenseman Michal Rozsival. Rozsival would see the ice for two shifts in the second period but could not stay in the game. As a result, the Rangers were forced to play the remainder of the game with five defensemen, a recipe for disaster against a team as talented offensively as the Sabres. Indeed, the result was a disaster for New York, as the Sabres struck for three goals in four minutes, two coming from the aforementioned Vanek, and Buffalo led 3–0 after two. The Rangers finally beat Ryan Miller halfway through the third period to cut the deficit to 3–1, thanks to a Marcel Hossa tally, but it would not be enough. Three minutes later Jason Pominville was awarded a goal on the first of several controversial video reviews in the series; the controversy in this case coming from the appearance that Pominville had punched the puck into the net. Brendan Shanahan scored a power play goal late for the Rangers to make it 4–2, but Drew Stafford hit the empty net to seal a 5–2 Sabre victory in Game 1.

The tide turned slightly for the Rangers in Game 2, but the result would not. The Rangers scored first this time around, on a Martin Straka power play goal midway through the first, but Brian Campbell and the Sabres responded with a goal on the man advantage 50 seconds later to even the game at one. Late in the second period, the Rangers scored again on the power play, this time with Paul Mara getting the tally, to take a 2–1 lead at second intermission. Things would unravel for the Rangers in the third as an errant Marek Malik pass was intercepted before exiting the defensive zone and Chris Drury converted the play into the equalizer goal 24 seconds into the period. Buffalo carried the momentum from there and Thomas Vanek netted the eventual game winner after a scramble in front at 10:11 of the third. The Sabres hung on to win 3–2 and take a 2–0 lead into the series.

The series shifted to New York City and Madison Square Garden for Game 3 with the Rangers in desperate need of a victory. For the second time in three games in the series, the game remained scoreless after one period of play; however, the Rangers struck early in the second, shortly after a power play opportunity had expired. Marek Malik kept the puck in at the blue line and Jaromir Jagr fired a shot that Ryan Miller stopped and thought he had covered. Unfortunately for the Sabres, the puck slipped behind him and Jagr followed up on the play by putting the loose puck in for his first goal of the series, giving the Rangers the 1–0 lead. A few minutes later, after driving hard to the net Karel Rachunek appeared to have given the Rangers a 2–0 lead when the puck deflected off his skate and past Miller into the open net. After a second controversial video review, the officials determined that Rachunek had kicked the puck into the net, negating the goal. Said Rangers coach Tom Renney after the game, "it has to be a distinct kicking motion. If that's distinct then we're all in trouble." In the third, Buffalo would even the score with a power play goal by co-captain Daniel Briere with under eight minutes to play in regulation, forcing overtime. Buffalo nearly buried the game in the first overtime session nineteen minutes in while shorthanded, but Derek Roy's shot rang off the post behind Rangers netminder Henrik Lundqvist and out. In double overtime, it was Rozsival who would be the hero for New York, scoring on a drive from the point that deflected off the iron and in behind Ryan Miller, ending the game after 36:43 of extra time. The win came 36 years to the day that Pete Stemkowski scored a triple overtime winner at the Garden to beat the Chicago Blackhawks in 1971.

Two days later, the Rangers looked to even up the series on home ice, taking momentum from their double overtime Game 3 victory. Game 4 started similarly: after a scoreless first period, Jaromir Jagr scored a goal early in the first minute of the second period to give the Rangers a 1–0 lead. The Rangers would extend their lead to 2–0 midway through the third period, thanks to a power play goal from Brendan Shanahan. Buffalo would cut their deficit back to one goal just 33 seconds later on a goal by Ales Kotalik. Buffalo attacked hard for the game's final ten minutes but Lundqvist kept the Rangers up by a goal. The Sabres outshot the Rangers 11–4 in the game's final frame. With 20 seconds to play in regulation, Lundqvist was caught out of the net after misplaying the puck behind his own net as Buffalo charged for the equalizer. The puck came to Briere at the side of the net, but Lundqvist came across and made a right pad save at the goal line with 17 seconds to play. The play would go to another controversial video review and while many analysts believe that the puck logically would have crossed the goal line (resulting in a goal), there was no video angle available to conclusively prove that point. The ruling was no goal and the Rangers hung on for their second straight 2–1 victory to even the series 2–2 as it went back to Buffalo.

After an even first period in Game 5 resulted in no scoring, the momentum swung heavily in the Sabres' favor. Buffalo outshot New York 17–6 in the second period, but both goaltenders were a wall in net and the game remained scoreless through two. In the third, Buffalo had the advantage in shots once more (13–6), but it was New York that struck first, as Martin Straka scored to put the Rangers on top 1–0 with 3:19 to play in regulation. The Rangers looked like they were about to steal Game 5, but Chris Drury scored with 7.7 seconds remaining in the game to force overtime. Coincidentally, the Rangers had been burned for a game-tying goal with exactly 7.7 seconds on the clock in the past, specifically in Game 7 of the 1994 Eastern Conference Finals when Valeri Zelepukin beat Mike Richter to force overtime. While the Rangers had won that game in double overtime on a Stephane Matteau wrap-around, in this case, the Sabres would ride their momentum and win four minutes into overtime on a power play goal by Maxim Afinogenov who had been a healthy scratch the game before.

Down 3–2 in the series, the Rangers headed back to New York for Game 6, carrying a nine game winning streak at Madison Square Garden. For the fifth straight game in the series, the Rangers drew first blood, on a Michael Nylander backhand shot. With the score 1–0 Rangers in the second period, Buffalo started a heavy offensive onslaught. 1:29 into the second, Dmitri Kalinin scored on a shot that changed directions on Lundqvist after forward Nigel Dawes attempted to block the shot. Buffalo took the lead just over a minute later on a Jason Pominville goal. The Rangers would respond quickly, thanks to a power play goal by Paul Mara to tie the score at 2, but the Sabres were not done. Jochen Hecht and Chris Drury would add goals to give Buffalo a 4–2 lead after two periods. During the regular season and playoffs to that point, the Sabres had a 40–0 record when leading by two goals after two periods, but the Rangers would challenge that early. Jaromir Jagr scored on the power play five minutes into the third to cut the deficit to 4–3, but Hecht would net his second of the game ten minutes later on a tip-in in front to extend Buffalo's lead back to two goals. With 2:51 to play, Michael Nylander would score his second of the game on the power play to cut it to one goal again, but the Rangers could not tie the game late, and Buffalo held on for a 5–4 victory to eliminate the Rangers in six games.

The Rangers' picks at the 2006 NHL Entry Draft in Vancouver, British Columbia.

Hartford finished with a regular season record of 47–29–3–1 for a total of 98 points in the standings. This snapped a three year streak in which the team had finished the regular season with at least 100 points, though it marked the fourth consecutive season in which the Wolf Pack won at least 40 games. Ryan Callahan led the team with 35 goals and 55 points on the season, earning him a spot on the AHL All-Rookie team for the season. By the time Callahan had won the honor, however, he was already seeing 3rd line playing time in the NHL for the Rangers. Goaltender Al Montoya finished fifth in the league in regular season goals against average at 2.30.

As the second seed in the Atlantic Division, the Wolf Pack opened up the playoffs against the third seeded Providence Bruins. With home ice advantage secured, Hartford won Game 1 5–1, but fell behind early in Game 2 and lost 4–2. With the series even and headed to Providence, the Wolf Pack reclaimed home ice advantage in the series thanks to a 5–2 victory in Game 3. Providence evened the series again in Game 4 with a big 5–1 victory, but the Wolf Pack used a 26–save Al Montoya shutout in Game 5 (a 1–0 victory) to take a 3–2 series lead back home to Hartford. Providence stayed alive in the series by winning Game 6 convincingly by a 5–2 score to force a seventh game. Tied 3–3 in the third, the Bruins scored two goals in a span of 58 seconds to take a 5–3 lead which Hartford could not come back from, falling 5–4 and losing the series 4 games to 3.

Charlotte finished the regular season 42–27–1–2 for 87 points, making 2006–07 the third best regular season finish in franchise history (behind 93 points in 2001–02 and 94 points in 1995–96). The Checkers also qualified for the playoffs for the third consecutive season. In each of the past two years, the Checkers were eliminated in the third round of the Kelly Cup Playoffs. Mark Lee led the team in scoring with 80 points, Bruce Graham led the team in goals with 33, and goaltender Chris Holt finished the season with a 24–18–0–2 record with a 3.15 goals against average.

The fourth seeded Checkers played the fifth seeded Augusta Lynx in the American Conference's Southern Divisional Quarterfinals, a best-of-three series, sweeping it 2 games to 0. Charlotte won both games in overtime, 2–1 in Game 1 and 3–2 on the road in Game 2. Daymen Rycroft scored the game winning goal on both occasions.

The Checkers would then play the top seeded Florida Everblades in the Divisional Semifinals, a best-of-five series. Florida took Game 1 by the score of 3–2, then pounded the Checkers in Game 2 by scoring early and often, en route to a 7–2 win. Back home for Game 3, the Checkers could not stave off the sweep, falling 4–0 in their final game.

To the top

United States men's national ice hockey team

The American national team's defeat of the Soviet Union in the 1980 Winter Olympics has been dubbed the Miracle on Ice.

The United States men's national ice hockey team is the national team for the United States, based in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The team is controlled by USA Hockey. As of 2008, the US team was ranked 6th in the IIHF World Rankings . The United States won the silver medal at the 2002 Winter Olympics, and the gold medal at the 1996 World Cup of Hockey. Their most recent medal at the World Championships came in 2004 with a bronze and they won the tournament in 1960 and 1933. At the 2004 World Cup of Hockey, the U.S. was unable to defend its title, losing to Finland in the semi-finals. Most recently, the team finished sixth in the 2008 IIHF World Championship. Their current head coach is John Tortorella. As of 2007, the United States has a total of 457,038 registered ice hockey players (0.16% of its population).

Team USA's greatest success was the "Miracle on Ice" at the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, when they defeated the heavily favored Soviet Union on the way to a gold medal. Though hockey is not a universally popular sport in the United States, the "Miracle" is often listed as one of the greatest achievements in the history of American sports.

U.S. hockey had a spike in talent in the 1990s with top NHL stars like Brett Hull, Jeremy Roenick, Mike Richter, Brian Leetch and Mike Modano and as a result, the team won the 1996 World Cup and earned a silver medal at the 2002 Winter Olympics. But by 2006, many of these All-Stars had retired or lost their skill with age. Though the 2006 Olympic Team finished a disappointing 8th place, it was more of a transitional team, featuring young NHL players like Rick DiPietro, Jordan Leopold and John-Michael Liles, and other young talents like Patrick Kane, Dustin Brown, Zach Parise, Phil Kessel, and Ryan Miller already have hockey analysts listing the United States as a potential medal contender for 2010.

To the top

Source : Wikipedia