Column as I see 'em:
Darcy Regier and Lindy Ruff called it a positive when Derek Roy and Thomas Vanek questioned the coach's methods in season-ending interviews. So I imagine they were giddy to see Ville Leino's remarks in Sunday's News.
Leino suggested that Ruff misused players, mentioning "a lot of pieces that were kind of out of place" early in the season. He questioned the team's flow, the puck movement from "D" to forwards, the line shuffling, and the lack of team chemistry.
Sure, there's some sour grapes here from Leino, who struggled most of the year. He resisted the move to center and was switched back to wing by late October. But why give a guy six years and $27 million to play center if he's not wild about it in the first place?
The most damning quote, though, was Leino saying he had "to think too much" at times. That sounds like an indictment of Ruff's "system," which often has players overthinking instead of trusting their hockey instincts.
As usual, most NBA experts are dismissing San Antonio. Colin Cowherd says Oklahoma City will cruise into the Finals. But last time I checked, it was the Spurs who had the best record in the West.
I know, the Spurs were upset by Memphis as the top seed a year ago. They're vulnerable. But they're not your father's boring Spurs, either. They're second in the league in scoring (103.0). They're the NBA's top shooting team from three-point range and overall.
Tim Duncan (35) and Manu Ginobili (34) are in their twilight, but they've paced themselves through a compacted schedule and are playing well. Tony Parker is having a great year and the Spurs have a solid, if anonymous, bench.
In Gregg Popovich, they also have the best coach in the game. Take them lightly at your peril.
When rookie Braden Holtby was pulled after giving up three goals against the Sabres on March 27, I couldn't have imagined him playing in the Stanley Cup playoffs -- never mind leading the Capitals to the brink of an upset.
But Holtby has been one of the stories of the postseason.
The Bruins were supposed to have a huge edge in goal with Tim Thomas, last year's Smythe winner. But through five games, Holtby had outplayed Thomas, who gave up a soft game-winning goal late in Game Five.
Meanwhile, Ottawa goalie Craig Anderson was holding his own against the celebrated Henrik Lundqvist as Ottawa put favored Rangers on the brink of elimination. It's further evidence that you don't necessarily need a franchise goalie to win in the playoffs.
So much for the talk about Derek Jeter being finished as a hitter. The Yankee shortstop is hitting .382 with four homers. Jeter hit four home runs in his last 431 at-bats a year ago.
Evidently, reaching the 3,000-hit mark was a great boost.
Counting that epic 5-for-5 day last July 9, Jeter had gone 116 for 334 over the two seasons, a .348 tear.
Jim Baron is still putting together his staff at Canisius. How about his former star guard, Tim Winn? Winn, now working for a bank in Charlotte, hasn't coached above AAU, but word is he would love to help Baron.
Canisius needs to re-engage with the local hoop community. Hiring Winn, a Niagara Falls native, wouldn't hurt.
The Falcons have apparently turned down a chance to appear on Hard Knocks, the HBO reality series. You wonder why any NFL team would let TV cameras into their midst, after a documentary film-maker released sound of Gregg Williams urging the Saints to injure opponents.
Matt Kemp wants to become baseball's first 50-50 man. At this pace, he'll get the home runs. Kemp has nine bombs in his first 15 games. He has 15 homers in his last 25 games, dating to last season.
Regier was asked by our John Vogl why the Sabres didn't have a season-ending news conference. Regier said to ask Mike Gilbert, the team's head of public relations.
Way to throw the employee under the bus, Darc!