By Michael Russo
The Buffalo Sabres have it right. They don’t charge full prices for exhibition games. Apparently, lower bowl tickets are reduced to $35.
Most teams charge regular prices, which is not fair. Preseason games are often slop, and this one certainly was.
“Not a lot happening,” Andrew Brunette said after.
No, there was not a lot happening for either team most of the night, although the Wild had a particularly difficult time getting out of its zone and generating any offense. Of course, five of its most skilled players were back in St. Paul – Gaborik, Burns, Bouchard, Zidlicky and Koivu.
I made three good predictions tonight – 1. I told Tom Lynn, Tommy Thompson, Tom Reid and Bob Kurtz in the press room during dinner that I had just interviewed Tyler Cuma, and you wouldn’t believe how calm he was. 2. I told media relations director Aaron Sickman within 10 minutes of the game that this bad boy was going to a shootout. 3. I blurted out loud on a late third-period Wild power play, “Only way they score is by accident.”
Jaroslav Spacek gets the first assist for Brunette’s tying goal with 2:57 left.
Tyler Cuma was so poised, it was ridiculous. He’s 18, and was solid in every way. Only thing that didn’t go his way were two shots, one when he broke his stick and the other when he swung and missed. But defensively, he was outstanding with Kim Johnsson. You can read more about that in tomorrow’s paper, too.
In overtime, Niklas Backstrom was tremendous, making five saves, four on a Buffalo power play. He made 28 in all and drew big praise from Jacques Lemaire: “He was very solid. You could tell. He was in control, which I was happy to see.”
In the shootout, Backstrom, and his shootout troubles are well-reported, was again solid, making three saves. Owen Nolan scored a Mikko Koivu-like shootout goal, and Brunette won it. Funny story: He was yanked off the ice in Round 2. Somebody told him it was his turn. It wasn’t. It was Benoit Pouliot’s. You can see Brunette’s quote in tomorrow’s paper.
Here’s some random Jacques Lemaire:
On the game: We didn’t create a lot offensively, but we didn’t give a lot. We had a slow start. Guys, before they get their legs underneath them, it was slow. We started to skate, the game was better.
Young guys he liked: Cuma. Cal Clutterbuck: “I thought he played really solid.” Benoit Pouliot. “Sheppard played better, so we’re getting there.”
On Bergeron, who had some defensive lapses, although he made a phenomenal play to break up a pass in overtime: “The thing is he’s everywhere. That’s the thing he’s got to work on. Work when it’s time, and not try to do the other guy’s job.”
OK, I get back to the Twin Cities in time to barely make practice. As long as all runs smoothly with my two flights, you’ll hear from me after practice.