Well, we’re 10 games into the season and I know many of you are panicking because of the Sabres’ inconsistent play. Lets just say I can’t blame you. Every game is like pulling teeth and soon enough we’re not going to have enough teeth to pull.
Now, I figured this would be a good time to bring the Sabres to school and give a 10 game report card. I’m going to focus on all of the major areas: offense, defense and goaltending.
Consistency, consistency, consistency– this is the major issue. Other than Derek Roy, the Sabres can’t find another forward that will start producing on a more consistent basis. There are periods in games when the Sabres’ offense looks unstoppable, but then there are periods where they look completely stale. Fortunately we have seen a resurgence of Thomas Vanek and hopefully his hot streak will continue, but prior to that he was completely MIA. As for Connolly, Tim put it nicely when he said Connolly looks like he has lost his hockey soul. Maybe the team misses Pominville more than we would think. Pominville’s replacement, Nathan Gerbe, has only put up 1 assist in his 8 games. Granted, Gerbe is only a rookie, but maybe we are seeing that his size really does hinder him from being offensively productive. Finally, where has Jochen Hecht been? Although he is a notoriously quiet player who often has relatively productive years, Hecht has yet to find twine. Unfortunately for the Sabres, players like Roy, Ennis and Stafford are just enough to give this offense a passing grade: C-
Well, it looks like the sophomore slump is true. Is there any way to describe Tyler Myer’s play other than ghastly? Colin at “The Hosers” gives a good in-depth look at Myer’s poor play and what is truly going wrong. Also, unfortunately for the Sabres’ captain, Craig Rivet is looking like last season should have been his last. Rivet looks sluggish and he has made a myriad of mistakes. I’m usually a big proponent of Craig Rivet, but so far he has been possibly the Sabres’ worst defenseman. On the flip-side, I have been thoroughly impressed by Steve Montador’s play this season. Although I still don’t understand why he insists on skating the puck in front of the net so much, he has become the Sabres’ most consistent and reliable defenseman. Montador sports a team best +8 and has shown a lot more confidence with the puck. It is also promising to see that Chris Butler has been playing with regained confidence as well. Butler, who was a promising young defenseman seemed to lose confidence in his game after a knee injury limited his playing time last year. Hopefully that is behind him and he can find his consistency again. As for the rest of the D-corps, there isn’t much to say. Sekera isn’t very noticeable out there. This isn’t a bad thing– it means he hasn’t screwed up much nor has he done anything spectacular. Morrisonn has been out with a groin injury, which means there isn’t much to evaluate and Weber hasn’t played much either. The defense has looked pretty average, so I guess that gives them an average grade: C
Ryan Miller really made me look like a fool yesterday. I was just defending him up and down, explaining that Miller has played well despite the rest of the team’s poor play and he goes off and has an off-night. Prior to last night’s game, Miller was coming in with a respectable .919 GAA; however that was all shattered against the Flyers. I’m really not concerned about Miller, but if the Sabres want to make the playoffs this year Miller may need to steal a few if the forwards don’t start producing. As for Lalime, well, it’s Patrick Lalime. Everyone in Buffalo knows that Lalime isn’t a great backup and yeah, we all know what a great character guy Lalime is, but the simple fact is that he needs to win games. Lalime has only played 1 game so far and he actually played decently, but we all know what Lalime is capable of. Look for this aspect to improve for the Sabres, but for the first 10 games the goaltending has looked as average as their grade: C
Let me know if you disagree with my assessment by emailing me at [email protected] or leaving a comment here. I’ll try and do this update every ten games to measure their improvement and let’s hope they do improve.