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Sabres Central

Biron saves the day in Beantown
By Rick Anderson
March 5, 2006

Martin Biron hadnít played since January 21, so the rust was certain to be there. Playing in Boston against the resurgent Bruins, Biron certainly wasnít his sharpest as the Bruins coasted to an early 2-0 lead. But then Biron buckled down and put in a stellar 40-save performance as the Sabres came from behind for a 3-2 win over the Bruins.

Biron has a week of uncertainy left before he finds out where he will spend the rest of the season. There have been rumors and speculation flying since September that Biron was going to be dealt to relieve the Sabres of their logjam in goal.

Biron has weathered the storm of rumors and has kept a happy face throughout. Even though Ryan Miller has played the bulk of the games this season, Biron proved to be a very capable replacement when he took over during Miller's injury timeout. Biron had won 13 straight games and kept the Sabres ship afloat.

Saturday night in Boston, Biron got one of his rare opportunities to show his stuff and prove that he is indeed a No. 1 goalie for anyone who wants him. He was outstanding in goal, and after allowing two quick Boston goals, blanked the Bruins the rest of the way.

After an impressive 6-2 win at home against the Maple Leafs, the feeling was strong that the Sabres would lose in Boston. The Bruins have been kicking it up a few notches recently in victories over the Senators and others. This was an ambush waiting to happen.

The Bruins opened up a quick 2-0 lead with the Sabres giving Ryan Miller a rest in favor of Biron. While Biron couldn't be blamed for the two quick strikes, one had to wonder if he was going to get chased from the nets early.

Biron settled down and played spectacular goaltending after allowing those two goals and shut down the Bruins the rest of the way.

"I hadn't played in a while, and getting down, 2-0, is not a very good way to start, but I didn't stress too much about it," noted Biron. "I knew we had something inside of us."

Biron got high marks from Lindy Ruff for his game-saving performance.

"The way we played in the second was the way they played in the third," alluded Ruff. "They totally dominated and got us on our heels. It was great to see Marty shut the door."

The Sabres got their goals from Daniel Briere, Jochen Hecht and J.P. Dumont and thatís all that Biron needed to notch his first win since his 13th straight victory on December 17.

It was important that the Sabres kept pace with the Ottawa Senators who beat the Leafs 4-2. A loss to the Bruins would probably made the gulf between too wide for the Sabres to cross. Now the Sabres are still 4 points behind the Sens with neither team having games in hand.

Sabres rake Leafs

The night before, the Sabres hosted their rivals from the north, the Toronto Maple Leafs. It is always a fun-filled night when the Blue & White invade Buffalo.

The 40 or so buses were parked on the surrounding streets when we got there. The HSBC lobby was filled with frenzied Leafs fans already chanting "Go Leafs go!" The atmosphere was electrified and with Pat LaFontaine having his jersey retired before the game, the crowd was definitely into the great rivalry between these two friendly neighbors.

The Sabres took an early 2-1 lead in the first period and never looked back. While there was still plenty of rust on these Sabres, the Leafs looked old and tired as Buffalo beat Toronto 6-2 before yet another packed house in HSBC Arena. It appeared as if the Blue & White held the majority of the seats in this one, but the Sabres fans made up for it with their intensity in drowning out the "Go Leafs Go" chants with their own "Let's Go Buffalo!"

LaFontaine's jersey retired

Pat LaFontaine is honored before Sabres-Leafs game. LaFontaine's jersey is retired.
[Sabres Central Photo]

It was the perfect gift for Pat LaFontaine. On the night when they retired his jersey and the number 16, Patty hinted that he wanted the Sabres to beat the Leafs during an interview shown on the Jumbotron. His jersey was already hanging in the rafters after a half hour pre-game ceremony, and there was a break during the first period. LaFontaine mentioned that the Sabres were leading 2-1 and hinted that he'd like them to finish the job. His boys did that and more in a 6-2 thumping of the Leafs and Patty went home a very happy man.

During the ceremonies, when LaFontaine was introduced to the sellout crowd Leafs fans started chanting "Go Leafs Go" and it drew a quick booing response by the Sabres fans. Outside of that initial skirmish, all the fans were respectful of the man who played 6 years with the Sabres and a total of 15 years in the league, making the Hockey Hall of Fame a couple years ago.

There were lots of dignitaries on the scene, including the French Connection of Gil Perreault, Rene Robert and Rick Martin. Danny Gare, who had his number and jersey retired earlier this season, also was on hand to congratulate LaFontaine.

Bironís future decided this week

Could this be the week that Darcy Regier wakes up from his annual slumber and actually makes a trade? The man whose trademark is sitting on his hands has to have the most cushy job in sports. He doesn't do anything and gets full marks when the team does well.

This year Regier is probably the luckiest GM in hockey. He let both Miro Satan and Alexei Zhitnik slip away without even a bag of pucks for compensation. Regier filled the hole at defense by signing two over age defensemen from Finland. Outside of that, Regier was sleeping on the job as usual and getting compliments for sticking with the players on the team.

The Sabres have a logjam at goal with Ryan Miller, Marty Biron and Mika Noronen...all capable goalies. At the beginning of the season, it was said that the Sabres wouldn't go through the season too long with 3 goalies. Well, we are at the trade deadline and Regier is still in his bear's cave, not willing to come out and earn his paycheck.

When Biron replaced the injured Miller and won 13 straight games in December, Biron was the hottest trading commodity in the NHL. What does Regier do to earn his paycheck?? Snore! ZZZZZZZZ

Now Biron has lost a lot of his luster and won his first game since that 13-game mark (he had lost 4 straight after) and after playing spectacular in goal against the Bruins Saturday night, now is the time to trade Biron and get a player who will help the Sabres in the playoff push and the post season. The Sabres need help at defense where they are pretty thin. Also, Regier is waiting until after the season to deal with the Jay McKee situation. McKee is an unrestricted free agent and will be gone if the Sabres donít work out some kind of deal to keep the longest tenure Sabre with the team. McKee is having his greatest season as a Sabre and is close to the top in blocking shots. He has stated numerous times he wants to stay in Buffalo, but the sleeping Regier is playing his old "squeeze Ďem till the bitter end" game. Now is the time for Regier to not only trade Biron for some much needed defensive help, but he should secure the best defensemen still with the team.

The trade deadline is February 9th and maybe Darcy has his alarm clock set for midnight Wednesday. Will Regier finally wake up and prove his worth as a GM? We shall see by Thursday.


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