Byron scores again; 'Piques fall in opener

Paul Byron scored his 22nd goal of the post-season, but Gatineau opened the 2008 Mastercard Memorial Cup with a 6-5 OT loss to host, Kitchener. Trailing 3-1, Byron crashed the net in the second period to slide a rebound past Josh Unice to close the gap to one. Before any of the eleven goals were scored, Byron made noise with the first hit of the game just :15 in that sent Rangers scorer Justin Azevedo down to the ice in the neutral zone. With coach Benoit Groulx separating the red-hot duo of Byron and Claude Giroux (51 playoff points) for most of the night, one may wonder if Gatineau takes the heat off each player, and rolls with what has worked best when they take the ice Monday against Belleville.
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Gaf
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Sunday, May 18, 2008 ×

Hey Kris!

No doubt Byron has the speed and knack around the net to be a solid scoring pro. I think it was on Kitchner's 2nd goal that Byron was out of position or didnt really seem to know who to cover. What's your take on his 2-way ability? Does he have the passion to be compete in all zones?
On a side note, I think its great that the Sabres take chances on timbit sized guys, but down the road can they compete in the playoffs w/ Gerbe, Byron and Roy on the ice? They do need to have a mix of different sizes and skillsets. --Probably an unjustified worry on my part.

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Kris Baker
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Sunday, May 18, 2008 ×

George-
Definitely not an unjustified worry, but as you eluded to, hockey is a team sport. Byron was drafted for one thing - his goal scoring ability. I'm thankful that he's been under the watch of Benoit Groulx, who's an excellent coach at both ends of the rink, but we won't know much about his true D ability until his speed is neutralized at the next level. Now at 6'2, 198 lbs., Gogulla looks like a guy who can dig pucks out for the smaller, shiftier guys to go-to-work with. Bernier, too. Guys like this riding shotgun will be keys to success for the smaller, playmaking forwards up front, and add a little beef on the backcheck. For now, we see a theme of needs building for the Sabres that should be addressed immediately at the draft table - size down the middle, and attitude at both ends.

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