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Nathan Paetsch Seeks a Chance at Redemption

Oft-maligned blueliner pressed into service

Sunrise, FL - With the Buffalo Sabres deep at the defenseman position, Nathan Paetsch has almost become the forgotten man. “Healthy scratch”... “Seventh Defenseman”... In fact seventh could be a tad generous, as since the New Year Paetsch has been placed at number eight on the depth chart. Prior to Monday, he had only appeared in 11 games so far this season.

Sabres defenseman Nathan Paetsch

But now two significant injuries have affected the defensive corps, the most recent one last Saturday when Teppo Numminen suffered a fractured jaw against Carolina, which will keep him out for a significant time. Couple that with the absence of Andrej Sekera due to a previous injury, and Paetsch is once again seeing ice time. He dressed Monday for the first time since December 17, mostly teamed up with Jaroslav Spacek as the third defensive pairing.

Paetsch was happy to be back on the ice again, performing solidly in a 3-2 shootout win against the Florida Panthers. “Yeah it felt great to be back out there,” said Paetsch. “This was a real gut check win for us and I’m just glad we came out with the two points.”

Coach Lindy Ruff also expressed his satisfaction with Paetsch’s performance. “Nathan did a nice job. Nathan’s game was simple. He didn’t make any big mistakes. He made a lot of good reads. We need him to play that way.”

Goalie Ryan Miller’s fabulous performance was aided by a solid defensive outing, and Miller was quick to point out the contributions of his teammate Nathan Paetsch. “We expect everyone to be ready, and Nathan works really hard,” said Miller. “He’s most certainly been frustrated that he hasn’t gotten to play as much as he wants, but I thought he really looked good. It was probably my fault on a few plays where he called the puck, and I thought there was a better play. But he was right and I was wrong and we’ll sort it out before Tampa.”

Most Sabres fans remember Paetsch’s big league playoff debut in 2006, that game 7 against Carolina which ended in brutal heartbreak for Buffalo fans who were so primed for a Stanley Cup. Fewer fans know that in that very season Paetsch was an offensive juggernaut for the Rochester Americans, tallying 11 goals and 50 points.

Would teaming up with another defenseman with a penchant for scoring, such as Jaroslav Spacek, add an offensive threat to the blue line? “Jaro and I actually have differing styles, but we compliment each other pretty well,” replied Paetsch. “Right now the thinking is to just do our jobs and keep things basic. If I can do my job well then I am supporting my team.”

Following another confidence building shootout win, Paetsch quickly pointed out that in the end these points could be the difference in making the playoffs. “Last year the shootout losses cost us. Now we’re picking up these valuable points and come April this will make a difference.”

And how about Miller, stopping both shots he faced in Monday’s shootout? Said Paetsch, “He was fantastic. Great goaltending is the understated side of shootouts, and once again Ryan answered the call.”

Try your luck at “Jason Pominville Bingo”

Members of our posse on the Buffalo sports blog network come up with some of the greatest stuff! Ryan Nagelhout, co-author of The Goose’s Roost, recently created a bingo board on his site displaying some of Pommer’s favorite quotes and buzzwords. Now we now that Pominville is one of the more approachable and quotable members on the team, yet his game takes are maddeningly similar in form and content, no matter what the situation. So when you read comments such as “They’re a good team”, “Chemistry”, “Getting bounces”, and best of all “Definitely”, yeah, those are Pominville template buzzwords.

This also reminded us of a light-hearted story we did last summer on former Bisons skipper Torey Lovullo, whose predictable commentary (“We battled”... “He’s a professional”) we ended up dubbing “Torey-alities” Just like Pominville, we usually knew what he was going to say before he said it.

Lovullo saw that article in Artvoice. Let’s just say he was not amused and leave it at that.

Taro Sez

■ Florida’s David Booth’s penalty shot goal against Ryan Miller this past Monday was the first one Miller has allowed in his NHL career. He was 8 for 8 in saves prior to this attempt. Miller shrugged it all off “Bound to happen. That’s alright.” Miller laughed after the game.

■ Islanders to Kansas City? Anxiety is growing on the Island as the team has scheduled an exhibition game this fall at the gleaming new Sprint Center in Kansas City. NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman minced no words about the Islanders’ arena situation. “That building has to be replaced. And if I were (Islanders owner) Charles Wang, I wouldn’t sign an extension for a new lease under any circumstances.”

■ Seen on the Panthers’ (antiquated) jumbotron Monday—the weather report! Waxing poetic about the beautiful 72 degree day in Sunrise, while mocking Buffalo’s “bitter” 16 degrees. Memo to South Florida: we have never covered our windows with plywood, collected batteries, candles and potable water, or fled down evacuation routes to some school hall or firehouse, all because of a blizzard. So there!

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