I was going to write this up pre-weekend, but I decided I wanted to wait until I saw what the Sabres did against the LA Kings and the Tampa Bay Lighting. I was glad I waited because I was definitely impressed by their play– even with the loss against Tampa. Since the last time I wrote up the report card the Sabres have improved, but they still have a long way to go before they’re on the Dean’s list.
Welcome back Thomas Vanek! In the last 7 games, Thomas Vanek has recorded 10 points. The resurgence of Thomas Vanek has been one of the biggest reasons why the Sabres have been successful as of recent. Prior to that the Sabres were relying solely on Derek Roy to produce. Fortunately for the Sabres, Derek Roy is playing out of his mind and playing above the point-per-game pace with 23 points in 22 games. Also, the Sabres are getting welcomed offense from newcomer Jordan Leopold from the blue line. However, it isn’t all happy times for the Buffalo offense, Tyler Ennis has cooled down a bit and only has 1 goal in his last five games and Jason Pominville is struggling with only 1 goal and 3 assists in his 13 games this season.
As for Pominville, Lindy Ruff explained to the press his thoughts:
“He’s missed a lot of great opportunities, probably too many,” “But I’ve seen it before when you’re coming back off a fairly serious concussion that it takes a little while. Some of those opportunities have got to turn into goals.”
Tim Connolly and Jochen Hecht also have been disappointing on offense. Both forwards have struggled this season and look to turn it around. Despite the lack of consistency, with Thomas Vanek back on track it gives the team a huge boost on offense thus improving the grade.
Captain Craig Rivet has had a rough season. After declaring that this would probably be his last season, Rivet has struggled to find himself in the lineup. Some have criticized him for looking sluggish and others have criticized him for his poor decisions. However, Rivet isn’t the only problem thus far. Free agent Shoane Morrisonn has been absolutely atrocious and impossible to watch. Rivet has been criticized for his sluggishness, but Morrisonn is looking even worse. Also, Morrisonn was brought onto the team to throw his weight around, but we haven’t seen much of that yet. Unfortunately since Morrisonn was a free agent, Darcy nor Lindy will sit him despite being the team’s worst defenseman thus far. There have been some bright spots since last report card though. Tyler Myers has started to play a bit better– specifically on offense. Myers has been a +4 in his last 9 games which is a big improvement from his dismal start to the year. Also, Andrej Sekera has emerged as the Sabres top defenseman alongside of Steve Montador. Defense is still and issue, but the grade has improved.
Ughhhh. Alright, I’m going to eat my words here. I defended Patrick Lalime because I like the guy. We’ve all heard the same story, you know, all the stuff about him being a “great guy”, but it’s time to give up on the aging backup and start anew. After watching what he did in Tampa, I can’t help but agree with Tim about ditchin’ this liability. Although Jhonas Enroth wasn’t particularly impressive in his starts, it at least looks like progression. With Enroth in net, we as fans can see what he has to offer. We know Lalime is a liability and he will only get worse, but Enroth has potential and at the very least he can be used as trade bait if he progresses to something more than just a backup. As for Ryan Miller, he hasn’t looked particularly elite and his knee looks like it could be a nagging injury, but he definitely has been good enough to help the Sabres win. I just think it is time to get rid of Lalime and let Enroth show his stuff– it can’t hurt right? As for grades, I do think Miller has played well and I think Enroth shows promies, but Lalime sets them back a bit.