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NO RATTLING THE SABRES
Jay Greenberg
December 18, 1989
Led by a new star, Pierre Turgeon, a surprising but confident Buffalo has taken over the NHL's top spot
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December 18, 1989

No Rattling The Sabres

Led by a new star, Pierre Turgeon, a surprising but confident Buffalo has taken over the NHL's top spot

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Turgeon's healthy respect for defense has to be credited to Sator, who is an excellent strategist. "Ted was very good for me," says Turgeon, "but there are players on the team he did not get along with, so it was best that he go."

Turgeon has benefited from Dudley's arrival in one obvious way—the markedly improved play of Turgeon's left wing, Dave Andreychuk. Until Dudley began to preach positive thinking, Andreychuk had only sporadically flashed the talent that made him a first-round draft choice in 1982. Slow afoot and undermotivated, he had become a symbol of the Sabres' failed promise.

With 16 goals and 16 assists through Sunday, Andreychuk now looks like a new player. He and Turgeon's right wing, Mike Foligno, are big and strong enough to hold their places in the slot, and the two wings have excellent hands that turn passes into goals when Turgeon deftly slips the puck to them.

Turgeon is especially dangerous behind the net. "The defensemen don't know whether to come to me or not," he says. If they challenge him, he can lift the puck past them and onto his left wing's stick faster than you can say "Andreychuk." If they don't challenge him, Turgeon may move laterally in search of a passing lane to Housley at the point, or he may circle in front of the net and get off a quick, accurate wrist shot.

In the Sabres' 4-3 overtime loss to the Philadelphia Flyers last Thursday, Turgeon briefly demonstrated his shooting skill. From a narrow angle 20 feet from the Flyers' net he launched the puck into a minute opening over goalie Ken Wregget's right shoulder. It was a spectacular shot made to look ordinary by a very unordinary player.

"You can't be great unless you aspire to be great," says Dudley, who believes the Sabres lapsed into mediocrity because they sought little more than respectability during the 1980s. With Turgeon, they may acquire a whole lot more than that.

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