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Sabres Central

Sabres put in Czechmate by Cechmanek
By Rick Anderson
March 2, 2001

Czechmate! Flyers' goalie Roman Cechmanek makes yet another stop on his way to his eighth shutout of the season as he blanked Buffalo in Philly's 2-0 victory.
[AP Photo/Miles Kennedy]

There is a certain Czech goalie who is dominating teams this season. He posted his 8th shutout of the season last night and has the opposition wondering if they will ever score on him. No, it is not Dominik Hasek. It is the goalie who backed up Hasek when the Czech Republic won the gold medal in 1998, Roman Cechmanek. Cechmanek has the Buffalo Sabres number. Thursday night in Philadelphia, he shutout the Sabres for the second time in 3 games as the Philadelphia Flyers beat the Sabres for the third straight time this season 2-0.

It is so bad for the Buffalo shooters that they have only scored one goal on Cechmanek in the three games. The Sabres get one last chance to see if they can get the rubber behind the outstanding Czech goalie on the last game of the season, April 8th in Buffalo.

Lindy Ruff, the Sabres coach, has had enough of Cechmanek. He wishes he'd take the next plane back to the land of the Dominator.

"That is one guy who seems to have our number," Ruff said. "After they scored their first goal, we had some great opportunities but he made a couple of big saves which allowed them to win the hockey game."

Cechmanek stonewalled the Sabres every time they got a scoring opportunity. He made 26 saves and once again out-dominated the Dominator. Hasek is also getting sick of his former teammate, but he cited his team's inability to come up with a inspired game as the main reason for the loss.

"For 40 minutes it wasn't the hockey we should play,"said Hasek. "(They) forechecked hard, we made a turnover somewhere around the blue line and they scored a goal. It looked like we looked for an excuse to lose."

Intimidated again, and again and again....

The last time the Sabres played the Flyers, the headline in Sabres Central read "Intimidated again by Philly." Well, it happened again for the third time this season. The Sabres who match up well with the Stanley Cup champion New Jersey Devils and the Ottawa Senators, seem to be flustered by the overall size and strength of the Flyers. For the third time this season, the Sabres did not belong in the same rink of the Flyers. They were simply beaten in all aspects of the game.

Keith Primeau got the only goal that the Flyers needed when he was fed a perfect pass from Daymond Langkow from behind Hasek and Primeau got it behind the Sabres goalie without a sweat. The Sabres knew they had their work cut out for them from that point on. Not only did they have to penetrate the Flyers big forwards, but the defense made it even tougher for the Sabres to unload any rubber on Cechmanek. When they did get the puck through, Cechmanek was brilliant in stopping anything thrown at him.

Eric Desjardins beat Hasek five-hole when his long shot from the right point somehow got through Hasek's pads for the insurance goal. From there, Cechmanek did his best to imitate the Dominator in his glory to get yet another shutout over Buffalo.

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The Flyers know that their season would not be anywhere as successful without their own version of the Dominator.

"He's been our wall, and it's huge for us," said Mark Recchi. "Right from Day 1 of training camp he's looked that good and he's proving to everybody what type of goalie he is."

Desjardins is getting the preparations ready for a huge welcome home party for Cechmanek when he goes back to his native land this summer.

"I'm sure that Cechmanek is very proud of that," said Desjardins about his three straight wins over Hasek. "Back in the Czech Republic he is going to be the man this summer."

Back in the Sabres dressing room, things are not so rosy.

"I don't think we played our best in the first two periods tonight," said defenseman Brian Campbell. "We can't expect to come out and play one good period and expect to win too many hockey games."

"That isn't the way we usually play," said Erik Rasmussen. "We're more of a gritty team, but we didn't show that tonight until the third period."

"We gave up a couple of goals, Philly played a tight style and we weren't getting much of anything," said a gloomy Ruff.

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