A few thoughts after Monday’s matinee:
• Daniel Paille is becoming a force. A kind that always seemed so unsure of himself sure looks like a first-rounder now, doesn’t he? The best thing about Paille is you can throw him on the ice in nearly any situation and he’s capable. Big, fast and suddenly more physical, he’s been a pleasure to watch early.
• Brian Campbell was great, but this team is stocked with fast legs. Here’s to all those people who said some grit might make a difference. Enter Craig Rivet. Wow. This a link to the Hollwig fight, but his tangle with Sean Bergenheim was a dandy. Nasty stuff.
• I’m sorry, I think Adam Mair is a cheapshot artist. Always has been. Although he’s become a decent third-liner and you can’t fault his effort, you just don’t do things like punch a guy while a linesman is holding him. There were rumors last year that Mair made a nasty below-the-belt comment to Ottawa’s Danny Heatley about his part in the death of Dan Snyder. Word is Mair’s knee has been holding him back from fighting. No problem. Bow out quietly and fight another day. But don’t play your game (read: chippy and goading) and not expect to be called out on it. Maybe I’m wrong, but all the SPCA work in the world doesn’t give you a free pass from being a stand-up guy.
• The reason Patrick Lalime looked so good was because it isn’t November. Typically, Lindy Ruff waits to put his backup in for about 10 games. Not good enough. Lalime is no better than Jocelyn Thibeault, who was no better than Ty Conklin. All were average goalies who need regular work to contribute.
• It scares me when Jochen Hecht scores from behind the net like he did to open things up. Means he’s going to take 100 more horrible-angle shots before the next one bounces in.
• I’m sticking to my gun on this one — Pat Kaleta is a better all-around player than any “tough guy” the Sabres have had in 20 years. At one point in the opener, he bounced a touch pass of the boards on an odd-man rush, hitting Clarke MacArthur in stride. Few “energy guys” have that kind of touch.