PHILADELPHIA (LGS) — Mike Card is 20. Called into emergency action in Philadelphia on Saturday night with Toni Lydman unable to play, he probably aged six years on the spot. That’s good — he looks 14, so maybe everything evens out.
Although Card's expression on the bench at times was a dead giveaway that he's a rookie, there were no dead giveaways on the ice. In fact, nothing appeared on his stat line except 11:34 of ice time, all at even strength. And that's OK.
The coaching staff paired the former eighth-round pick in 2004 with fellow rookie Nathan Paetsch, who definitely doesn’t look like a rookie, and kept his shifts short, just 38 seconds on average, lowest on the team.
Above the slug, Card wore number 33, previously taken in Buffalo by Bob Sweeney, Benoit Hogue and Lee Fogolin, among others, and most recently by defenseman Doug Janik. Card is behind Rochester defensemen Andrej Sekera and Michaek Funk on the depth chart there, but both are injured.
Paetsch, meanwhile, fought Mike Richards as the Flyers tried to change the momentum of the game in the second period. It worked. Sort of. Philly scored three unanswered goals after the scraps, beating the Sabres in the alley, but eventually, not on the ice.
Dmitri Kalinin looked more like the rookie defenseman, but maybe he had a reason. With physical play heating up in the second period, not long after the Paetsch-Richards dustup, Kalinin dropped Eric Meloche at center ice. Eight seconds later, Meloche returned the favor by rattling Kalinin inside the Sabres zone. After a whistle, with Adam Mair and Ben Eager getting ready to go at it in the corner, Kalinin was hunched over for a few seconds, trying to regain his bearings.
He played the rest of the game as if he never found them, falling twice all by himself, including late in the third period when his crash resulted in a three on none break for the Flyers. Kalinin also played a two on one break oddly, turning away from the Flyer bearing down on him on right wing.
The Sabres certainly don’t need any more bad news on the injury front, especially on the blue line.
While Paul Gaustad’s luck seems to be turning around, Goose scoring his second goal in as many nights, linemate Adam Mair’s is still tough. Looking for his first goal of the season, Mair got a great feed from an unlikely source, Andrew Peters, but hit the post from the left dot in the first period.
Seconds later, Peters, who hasn’t scored this season either, took out Mair’s frustration on Triston Grant. Well, it wasn’t exactly Frazier vs. Ali, was it?
Should we expect much from Mair? Even though he lit the lamp with regularity in the preseason, his history tells us not to. He owns just 16 goals in 252 career regular season games. He does have one in the playoffs, but it didn’t come with the Sabres, it came with Toronto in 1999. Not in the Easter Conference Finals, either, in case you wondered. I did.
In the matter of an hour or so, Drew Stafford’s ear-to-ear grin turned to a frown and then a scowl. After scoring his first NHL goal in the second period — not a beauty, but he’ll remember it that way — Stafford had a chance for his second when he took a pass from Derek Roy in the slot and cut to his backhand only to be denied by Antero Niittymaki’s pad.
In the third, Stafford turned the puck over at the Buffalo line to old pal Geoff Sanderson, and it ended up behind Martin Biron in a jiff as the Flyers took the lead, prompting Stafford to slam his stick to the ice.
Welcome to the bigs, kid.
It was a subpar night on faceoffs for the Sabres, who are 10th overall in the league, winning almost 51%. (By the way, Carolina is first at 53.5%, Rod Brind’Amour leading the way.)
Against the Flyers, Chris Drury was just so-so, winning 10 and losing 10, but this season he’s fifth overall in the league at 58%. That’s up slightly from 05-06, when he finished in 10th place.
Paul Gaustad is very good, too, but Derek Roy is definitely not known for his faceoff prowess. He led the way against Philly, though, winning nine and losing five.
Flyer fans are an odd bunch, eh? All it took to get the mouth-breathing Cheesesteakers in a tizzy in the second period was a couple of mundane fights. Their team losing again, the moribund fans quickly launched into chants of “Let’s go Flyers.
And did you see the older lady in the background after Jason Pominville cashed a terrible turnover into a goal? It’s hard to describe her expression — maybe she had indigestion.
No one will ever top the two guys hugging each other as Dominik Hasek made a spectacular save — the classic photo appeared in Sports Illustrated. There’s an older lady in that one, too, mouth agape.
google it. It’s priceless, indeed.