The Islanders were working it at their morning practice at HSBC Arena
Ted Nolan says the story is no longer about him, it's about his guys who fought hard to get to this point.
Calm… businesslike… The Sabres went through a spirited morning skate at HSBC Arena, and the atmosphere on the ice and in the locker room seems to be relaxed and focused leading into the game tonight.
Thomas Vanek seems to be excited to be back at this point, and is not taking the Islanders team lightly. “All 16 teams that are in the playoffs are there because they deserve to be there.” Vanek also called on the fans to help the team out. “Hopefully the crowd will be there doing there thing and we can get an early jump on ‘em” said Vanek.
“Excited” is the word Jason Pominville used to describe the mood of the team. Pominville knows what it’s like to be in this situation, and admits that even with a year of experience, there are still butterflies.
“Sure it does, but we’ve been through this before, and just hitting the ice and the cheering of the fans will be a good feeling, and for now we’re just excited to be getting it going.”
Lindy Ruff was anxious to get the jitters out of the way at the morning skate, but sensed none of that among his team. “I didn’t see none of that. I think the guys are focused and they’re ready to play.”
Some random observations...
-A way of telling what is going on with the team roster is by looking at the stalls in the Sabres locker room. There are only a limited number so if you're on the DL or otherwise indisposed, your stall is forfeited and your name plate removed. So who has a stall and equipment all set up? None other than Paul Gaustad. Might we yet see Gaustad back this season?
-While his guys were stretching at center ice, I watched Islanders coach Ted Nolan just staring at the rafters, his gaze transfixed for about 15 seconds. And what was he looking at? Well, his stare was pointed straight at the 1996-97 division champion banner. Would have loved to know what was going through his head at that very moment.
-In the Islanders locker room... one of those felt tipped marker boards and listed there were the Sabres projected lineups and line pairings. Listed there... Tim Connolly - injured. Dan Paille and Clarke MacArthur, 4th line. WTF???!!! This got more than a few snickers from the Buffalo media.