Niagara Gazette

Pro Sports

December 11, 2007

SABRES: New style, new Spacek — better results

BUFFALO — Chalk it up to a change in philosophy. Perhaps a different supporting cast. Or maybe Jaroslav Spacek is simply more at home — at HSBC Arena, in Buffalo and most certainly as the triggerman on the Sabres’ power play.

Whatever the difference, the results have been quantifiable.

After being considered a minor bust during his first season with the team, one in which he was Buffalo’s headline free-agent signing with a three-year deal worth $10 million, Spacek has responded with what looks like a career campaign.

Before he lit the lamp Monday — Buffalo’s only goal in a disappointing 4-1 loss to the Boston Bruins — Spacek had already passed his total of five goals from 2006-07. With Monday’s power-play tally, his seventh in just 20 games, it looks as if the nine-year veteran will make a run at his career high of 10 goals from the 1999-2000 Florida Panthers.

As was expected when the team brought him in last season, Spacek’s biggest contributions have come with the extra man. Five of his seven goals have come on the power play.

“We’re playing the power play in a different way than we played last year. We try to set up on both sides. We try to shoot the puck more,” Spacek said. “Last year, we tried to play more low and tried to go for empty-netters. Now, we’re shooting the puck and trying to recover the puck.

“That’s my bread and butter.”

Monday’s goal was a perfect example. Tim Connolly shot the puck from the top, and after Alex Auld made the initial stop, Paul Gaustad’s backhanded flip found Spacek all alone with an empty cage.

“That’s what we’re looking for. We’ve got two or three guys outplaying them down low and two guys just shooting the puck all the time,” Spacek said. “We go for rebounds (and) hope those bounces come back to us, because we’re working hard to get those rebounds back.”

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