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Kalinin's defensive play no longer up in the err - Buffalo News
By TIM GRAHAM
Dmitri Kalinin can make a strong case that he's become the Sabres' top defenseman.
SUNRISE, Fla. - Mistakes, he's made a few.
But Dmitri Kalinin's contributions are outnumbering his gaffes of the past.
Kalinin can make a strong case he has become the Buffalo Sabres' top defenseman. He's showing signs he can develop into a force in the NHL.
"He does have a lot of skill, and you're starting to see some of it now," Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said. "It's what we hoped for, and it's a sign of things to come. He can be a premier player in this league."
Kalinin has been one of the Sabres' best players heading into their game against the Florida Panthers at 7:30 tonight in Office Depot Center (Empire, Radio 107.7 FM).
"He's been very good for a long stretch now," Ruff said. "I don't know if there's been a better defenseman for our club."
The Sabres' 18th overall draft choice in 1998 always had been known as a no-frills, reliable blue-liner. He's 6-foot-3, 210 pounds. He's mobile but far from sleek.
"Dmitri's not a flashy guy," Sabres goalie Martin Biron said. "He doesn't go out there and blow everybody's mind away with speed or moves."
But guess who is leading Buffalo defensemen in scoring?
Kalinin, despite being a healthy scratch for nine of the Sabres' first 10 games, already has matched his goal output from his first two full NHL seasons combined. He has six goals and 13 assists.
The 22-year-old Russian hasn't gone more than two consecutive games without a point in over a month. He had two assists in Thursday's 4-2 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs. He has two goals and nine assists in the past 14 games.
"It's surprising for other teams because he's got such great hands," Biron said. "He'll come in and make a move on you that you don't expect from him, especially with his size. A lot of times you'd think a guy with Dmitri's size won't have the hands to show for it, but he does.
"He's got a great shot, great vision, and he's still young. You've got to think there's a lot more to come."
Kalinin is thriving off increased ice time since defensemen Jay McKee and Henrik Tallinder were shelved with injuries. Tallinder is out with a high ankle sprain and might not return this season. The outlook for McKee's sprained knee ligament is similar.
Kalinin has been playing around 25 minutes a night and sometimes close to 30 after his ice time for much of the season hovered near the upper teens.
"I have no pressure lately," Kalinin said. "When you're having fun, you don't have to worry about nothing, especially when you have so much ice time. It gives me confidence on the ice and lets me play my game.
"If you play more you feel more in the game. It shows the coaches trust you as the best defenseman on the ice."
Kalinin has his share of miserable defensive moments this season. There were games when he was downright awful, making poor decisions he didn't seem to make even as a rookie.
"I don't like to think he's making my job more difficult," Biron said diplomatically before emitting a laugh. "I just think sometimes I have to be a little more careful."
Ruff said the 4-1 loss to the New Jersey Devils on Feb. 4 "might have been (Kalinin's) worst game in a Sabre uniform." Kalinin was a minus-2 and played only 12:50. He played 13:37 the next game but hasn't skated less than 20 minutes since.
"What you see with young players is inconsistent play," Ruff said. "You've got to wake them up every now and then. They go to sleep on you. They make some real big mistakes.
"Dmitri has coughed up some pretty big plays that have been goals going the other way. But through that process he's learned."
Biron has been impressed with how Kalinin has learned to cope with his miscues, making them less frequent and less costly.
"The big thing isn't the amount of giveaways you make," Biron said. "It's how you respond after them. In the past, you'd see him make a mistake, and he would have his head down on the bench and get too hard on himself. Now he knows he'll make mistakes. But when he does he wants to get back out there and play twice as hard and to make a big play right away.
"That's a big quality for a guy his age. That's maturity."
Страничка Дмитрия Калинина на
сайте "Звёзды с Востока"
27 декабря. Дмитрий Калинин: В «Буффало» не соскучишься
- "Советский Спорт"
27 декабря. Дмитрий Калинин: В «Буффало» не соскучишься - "Советский Спорт"