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Patrick Matthies - Buffalo NY
Tuesday, June 8, 1999

While Tonite marks the opening game of the series 300,000 people of this city have been waiting for either 24 years or all their life. A Stanley Cup chance. The Sabres have a legitimate Chance to do to Dallas what the Buffalo Bills could not. Win a championship from them.

Ok. Lets put this into perspective. The Sabres haven't faced a team like Dallas in this playoff year. Dallas is a team game with a few stars. They play a defensive style like Ottawa, but aren't as susceptible to game two breakdowns. They have a great goalie like the Boston Bruins, but Belfour is more seasoned with playoff experience than Dafoe. And they can be just as deadly as Toronto in the goal scoring department. All in all, this is going to be Buffalo's worst nightmare.

On the other hand, the Buffalo Squad has known throughout the playoffs, tally's in the Win column don't come from Stars and just showing up. It works like that in the Regular season, but this is much different. The Sabres have reclaimed their title of "Hardest Working Team in Hockey". They are young, focused, and show no signs of fatigue. It's been said and said. Only Satan is a scoring threat, if you look at the sheets. If you go into the series thinking that, well, your going to end up like Toronto.

Dallas is not showing signs of over-confidence, though #1 Forward Mike Modano seems to think this is going to be a "Show or Blow" Series. They're not going to hope to win just by showing up. The Sabres on the other side of things need to have saved they're best for last. Beating Dallas' defense is going to be the hardest part of the series. Harder than The Stars challenge of beating Dominik Hasek.

Keys for The Sabres to win:

COMPOSURE, COMPOSURE, COMPOSURE! Be happy, be nervous, be psyched, but DO NOT show it! Dallas will sense it and pounce on it like a cat. Keep Peca on Langenbrunner and Nieuwendiek for the time being.

In the Dallas End:
Keep the Dallas defense moving. Buffalo is the fastest moving team in the NHL. They're going to need that to get around their defense. Keep the puck in the high slot. Don't chip the puck in the corner, your not going to beat The Stars there. If it gets there, get a forward behind the net. And get it out quickly to the front. Pepper Belfour with shots from everywhere. There's not a whole lot this guy is weak in. Just Shoot, hope for some rebounds. Keep away from Hatcher.

In their own end:
Keep the Stars away from Hasek. Don't let them in front of the net. Hit them hard. Don't be intiminated by Modanno's size. The bigger they are the harder they fall. Take it to them in the corners. If you can't beat them in their own end, don't let them beat you. If they come out of the corner with the puck, it could be real dangerous if Langenbruner or Sydor is open on the Point. Watch the faceoffs. Win Win Win, even if your not supposed to. These guys are dangerous when they have the puck. They proved they can score from anywhere. Clear it out. Making sure they have a basic breakout that will keep turnovers to a minimum will help a LOT.

If the Sabres keep it simple, work hard, and of course outscore the Stars, they'll come out of Dallas with at least a split. More to come as the season goes on.