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Struggling Sabres Bench Hasek


The Buffalo Sabres are still without a victory and goaltender Dominik Hasek is without a starting job at least for now.

The Sabres sent their struggling goaltender to the bench after one period in a loss to the Nashville Predators and have decided to leave him there awhile.

Third-string goalie Martin Biron will start against Carolina on Friday as the desperate Sabres try to stave off the worst start in team history.

How long Hasek remains idle depends on 22-year-old Biron.

"If Marty plays unbelievable and wins games, he's going to play," Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said Thursday. "That turns up the competition level, too. The team needs that fire right now."

Hasek admitted he was lacking intensity after he allowed two goals in the first period including one at 46 seconds in a 4-3 loss to the Predators on Wednesday night. Backup Dwayne Roloson gave up two more goals in the second.

"It just doesn't seem that our goaltenders are on top of their game," Ruff said.

Hasek vowed to work hard to win his job back and end his slump. "I have to solve it," he said. "I have to play better."

The Sabres called up Biron from the team's AHL affiliate in Rochester, N.Y., where he has won all six of his starts this season. "I was surprised and happy at the same time," Biron said.

The wiry and acrobatic Biron, a Hasek clone in appearance and style of play, had a 1-2-1 record and a 2.14 goals-against average in six appearances with the Sabres last year.

"This is getting out of hand," defenseman Jason Woolley said.

The Sabres are 0-5-2, the longest a Buffalo team has gone without a victory at the start of a season since the 1990-91 Sabres went 0-4-3. Another loss would set a franchise record for games played without a first victory.

"That's a distinction that we really don't want to be associated with," Ruff said.

Hasek, who announced in the offseason that he will retire at the end of the season and move back to his native Czech Republic, appears to have run out of enthusiasm.

Ruff is running low on patience with his goaltender, a two-time league MVP who won the Olympic gold medal in 1998 and has been voted the NHL's top goaltender five of the last six years.

"When he's focused he gets himself in a zone," Ruff said. "We haven't seen that zone yet."

In six appearances Hasek is 0-3-1 with a 3.04 goals-against average and 15 goals allowed. His .911 save percentage pales next to last year's .937, the best of his career.

"There's been times in and out of games where you've seen those incredible aves and it seems like he's not going to get beat, but he hasn't really put it together for a full 60 minutes," Ruff said.

The Sabres are running out of patience.

"If there's a message being sent here, it's being sent not just to the goalie but to all of us," Woolley said. "All of our jobs are in jeopardy here the players, the coaches.

"Changing the goalie is the biggest move you can make on a team. We'll see if it works."

There are other ailments besides the goaltending. The team is averaging 2.1 goals per game; the potent line of Michael Peca, Dixon Ward and Vaclav Varada is still looking for its first goal of the season.

The Sabres started training camp without five holdouts including last season's leading scorer, Miroslav Satan.

"That's no excuse anymore," Woolley said. "We've run out of excuses. We have to win Friday."

©1999 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed

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