Overachieving Sabres meet their match
Posted: Tuesday June 15, 1999 12:48 PM
Sports Illustrated hockey analyst Pierre McGuire previews Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Finals in a chat with CNN/SI's John Giannone:
John Giannone: During Monday's practice, Buffalo coach Lindy Ruff introduced some new line combinations, maybe in an effort to spark a stagnant offense or perhaps to give the Dallas Stars something else to think about before Game 4. Pierre, I know you suspect that there'll be one significant change for the Sabres on Tuesday.
Pierre McGuire: I really believe that Michael Peca will play against Joe Nieuwendyk. In Round 1, Peca shut down Alexei Yashin of Ottawa. Round 2, Jason Allison of Boston. Round 3, Mats Sundin of Toronto. You have to pick your poison when you play against an elite center-ice team like Dallas. The Stars have Nieuwendyk, they have Mike Modano. Right now, Nieuwendyk's the guy hurting Buffalo, Nieuwendyk's the guy that Peca has to stop.
Giannone: I heard a lot of discussion in the Buffalo dressing room about second-chance opportunities, getting more shots on the second chance. But after watching them in Game 3, the Sabres should concentrate, I think, on first chances.
McGuire: You raise an interesting point and it's a good point. If you have a team that's smaller -- and Buffalo is smaller than Dallas -- and can't get through those big trees down low, you've got to get the puck back to the point. You have to generate point shots and then rush the net, create those second-chance opportunities because you know Eddie Belfour gives up rebounds. Get the puck to the point and get it to the net. Raymond Bourque in Boston does it as well as anybody; look at the videotapes.
Giannone: I know people at this time of the year always talk about how important psychology is and I've heard it said that Buffalo is starting to sense the inevitability. What do you think about that?
McGuire: The Buffalo Sabres are tired, they're a team that's overachieved throughout the entire playoffs. They've done a great job. They have a great goaltender. But the truth of the matter is, they understand that Tuesday night is their Game 7, not Game 4. They lose that and they're done.
Giannone: Dallas is one of the oldest teams in the league, Buffalo one of the youngest. But I think we're starting to see youth served a painful lesson here.
McGuire: Buffalo's got all kinds of youthful enthusiasm, they've got speed, but Dallas has got great direction, great veteran leadership and they showed it in Game 3.
Giannone: Seven shots on goal at even-strength for the Sabres on Saturday. That's obviously not going to work. What do they have to do to get more pucks at Ed Belfour?
McGuire: They're going to have to start their offense behind the blue line. They're starting too much up high around the tops of the circles. They've got to get the puck deeper, get their offense going down deep, and when they get the puck out to the blue line, their defensemen have to move across the blue line, they can't stand still. Dallas does a great job taking away the shooting avenues.
Giannone: We saw Brett Hull in the hotel lobby Sunday with a painful and very noticeable limp. His status for Game 4 is in doubt. How difficult is it to play with a groin injury at this time of the year?
McGuire: If it's a groin injury, it's very difficult, but it could be a lower back, it could be a hip. But it's very tough, especially at this time of year, because of the heat and humidity in the buildings to come back from a groin injury.
Giannone: There's been a lot of talk about Miroslav Satan's struggles. Why has he had such a devilish time trying to create on offense?
McGuire: You know what he has to do? He's got to learn to fight through adversity right now. He's not used to being a target, he's not used to getting this much defensive attention. If he doesn't learn how to handle it, the Sabres are going to be in trouble.
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