BUFFALO -- Sometimes you hear something and it just kind of sums things up nice and neatly.
The topic was goaltending yesterday at the rink and Buffalo Sabres coach Lindy Ruff was talking about his own and the Senators'.
"They had some problems in goal and that's where the root of all evil started," said Ruff of the Senators situation. "They haven't really got it together since then."
The root of all evil.
That really does sum up much of the Senators this season and, in the bigger picture, the importance of goaltending in general.
Great goaltending can cover up a lot of evil perpetrated by the skaters.
Mediocre goaltending compounds it.
Nice quote, Lindy.
So, a little later in the afternoon, I'm reading through the clippings of recent stories about the Sabres and I come across one from last Sunday, "Power play is still the 'root of all evil.' "
Seems that's what Ruff said about the Sabres power play after their game with the Tampa Bay Lightning.
I guess whatever problem a team has is the "root of all evil," according to Ruff.
HEAR AND THERE: It's easy to get caught up in the breathlessness of the playoff races and the Senators' drama and then, right there, comes perspective.
Mike Weber peeled off his equipment in the Sabres dressing room after their optional skate yesterday morning and, on the surface of it, things look great for the 20-year-old defenceman, right? He's got a tattoo on his arm and that makes you think about what you read just a few minutes before. The tattoo is in memory of Mickey Renaud, the Windsor Spitfires captain who collapsed and died last month. "He was my best friend, my workout partner the last three summers," Weber told the Buffalo News the other day. "I was an extremely close friend with him, his family, his brother, his sister. It's a tough thing, but I guess now for sure I have a guardian angel watching over me. I know that he's watching. It was so tragic. I lost a brother, really. I've got to play for him because he should have been in the same position as me next year playing his first year (in the NHL). I know in the same breath, he's helping me out." ... Senators rookie Brian Lee got an early birthday present when he got the chance to make his NHL debut last night. He turns 21 today.
REVELATIONS: Senators coach and GM Bryan Murray broke up Ottawa's "French Connection" last night, just when they got to the home of the original. Antoine Vermette, Martin Lapointe and Randy Robitaille accounted for a couple of goals against the Habs on Monday night, but they found themselves all on different lines last night ... When Senators G Martin Gerber is playing like this, things get exciting for Senators fans and by exciting I mean like that feeling you get when you try your brakes and they don't work for a second or two.
SPECULATIONS: Robitaille was noticeable a couple of times for his hustle backchecking last night. Generally speaking, a player shouldn't stand out for hustling, but that hasn't exactly been the case with the Senators much lately, so when a guy does it, you notice ... With his haircut, Sabres defenceman Toni Lydman looks like he should be playing guitar in Supertramp or something (and save yourself the trouble of sending me those e-mails about how a bald guy shouldn't be making any comments about hair. Nothing is sacred in Cheapseats) ... After signing college free agent Jesse Winchester on Monday, the Senators are apparently among the contenders for another highly regarded player.
THE BUZZ: Everybody who sees him says the same thing: They can't believe how skinny Sabres goaltender Ryan Miller has become. I mean, he was slim before, but now he looks like a goalpost. I guess that's what playing 71 games as a goalie can do to you ... With the shuffling of the defensive pairings last night, Andrej Meszaros wound up with the most ice time through two periods, by a lot. He clocked 16:17 and partner Mike Commodore was next at 14:57 ... After seeing that gory incident involving Florida Panther Richard Zednik having his throat slashed open here, the Sabres were offered all kinds of different neck protectors. The only guy who started wearing one was D Henrik Tallinder.
JUST WONDERING: Has anybody ever held up a sign that says something like, "Paul Gaustad will you marry me?" and had it work?
PARTING SHOT: Had Bull Durham on in the background while I did some work yesterday afternoon. I thought Crash Davis was talking to the Senators. "Relax, have a ball out there. This game's fun, okay? Fun, dammit."