Punch Imlach of BUFFALO has posted a BEAT TORONTO sign over his desk, but that day is far away. Nevertheless, the Sabres have improved. Gilbert Perreault, rookie of the year with 38 goals, should be even better in his second season. "I proved I can do it on offense," he says. "Now I will improve on defense."
Goalie Roger Crozier spent the summer having doctors remove his gall bladder and appendix and work on his pancreas. "I feel fine now," says Crozier, who has been among the best goalies in the league when healthy. He teams with Dave Dryden, the older brother of you know who.
There will be a new gunner in the Buffalo lineup, Rick Martin—or as he was known in Montreal last season when he scored 71 goals for the Junior Canadiens, Ree-char Mah-tan. "If Martin comes through like Perreault did, I'll have the most exciting team in hockey," Imlach says. But Buffalo's weak defense may make the opposition look like the most exciting team in hockey every night.
Unlike Buffalo, VANCOUVER has a determined defense but practically no offense except for Rosaire Paiement, who scored 34 goals last season and was one of the most discussed players in trade talks all summer. Dale Tallon, 21, broke Orr's scoring records for rookie defense-men, and now the Canucks have drafted another defender with scoring potential, Jocelyn Guevremont.
"Jocelyn can shoot the puck four inches off the ice and put it two inches inside the post," General Manager Bud Poile was saying one night at an exhibition game moments before Guevremont, another product of the Junior Canadiens, did exactly that. Unfortunately, most of the Vancouver forwards have to be in the goal mouth to put the puck in. So the Canucks probably will finish seventh. And then Poile may be able to draft the next Guy Lafleur.