No, I am not jumping off the bandwagon. Though it’s funny how two ugly losses changes the mind-set around here, isn’t it? The Buffalo Sabres started the season at 5-1, and visions of Stanley Cups danced in everyone’s minds. Then Guy Boucher‘s 1-3-1 trapping machine caught up with the blue and gold, and exploited their weaknesses. It’s only 8 games in, and the Sabres will have a few losing streaks to be sure, but I feel like a damn yo-yo…
- With the team looking for answers after losing two straight, will defenseman Mike Weber finally get his chance? Dude has been waiting patiently since, oh I don’t know, LAST APRIL (!!!) to get into a game. I understand why Lindy Ruff was hesitant to change a winning lineup, but it’s no longer a winning lineup, coach!
- Speaking of which, who does Lindy remove from the lineup? Obviously, Tyler Myers (although he looks like he could use a seat), Robyn Regehr, Christian Ehrhoff (despite his team worst -5 rating) and veteran Jordan Leopold are fixtures. Reggie Sekera, a perennial whipping boy, is a team best +6, while youngster MA Gragnani has 3 points in 8 games, and is a +5. What does this say? It says that, if Lindy does insert Weber into the lineup, the defensemen that are playing the worst will get to dress, and one of the two most consistent rearguards thus far may have to sit. I don’t like it. Send a message, Lindy.
- Speaking of looking a bit lost out there, Ville Leino has got to take the puck to the net. I think he knows where the cage is, don’t you? He spends way too much time along the side boards playing dipsy-doodle. I realize his game is to hold on to the puck for that extra second, theoretically allowing his linemates time to get open to accept a sweet pass. Only there’s one problem: Either they’re not getting open, or Ville is doing his best (or worst) Trent Edwards impression. I still have high hopes for Leino, and believe he will break out one of these days, but it is a little worrisome…
- Jhonas Enroth has played in one game. Not that it was Ryan Miller‘s fault, but after two losses to a boring hockey team (Tampa Bay Lightning) and a career backup goalie (Mathieu Garon, or as Versus analyst Pierre Maguire likes to say, “Gah-rlahwn”), I think it’s time for another one game breather for Miller, if nothing else than to change it up a bit. The last time Miller had a rest, he allowed one goal in two games upon his re-entry.
- How about that hit Regehr laid upon a 6’4″, 210 pound Vinnie Lecavalier during Tuesday night’s game in Buffalo? That’s the type of hit Regehr is notorious for: a clean, yet vicious lambasting along the side boards. Just ask Edmonton Oiler forward Ales Hemsky, who probably still has nightmares about Regehr.
- Where the hell would the Sabres be without the line of Thomas Vanek, Luke Adam and Jason Pominville? The trio has 12 goals and 16 assists for 28 points, and is a collective +5. The rest of the team has 11 goals and 26 assists for 37 points. Players like Drew Stafford, Derek Roy, Brad Boyes, the aformentioned Leino, and the injured Tyler Ennis (zero points in seven games before his ankle sprain) have got to pick up some slack.
- Nathan Gerbe deserves, and earns, every minute of ice time he receives. There are very few players in the lineup who can boast a better work ethic than the mighty mite. He will, no doubt in my mind, score some big goals and be a very important cog in Buffalo’s lineup going forward.
- 5-3 after 8 games, five of which came on the road. Not too bad, but they have got to learn how to win at home, for crying out loud. Their only “home” win came in another country, in another time zone, halfway around the world. Does this team feel too much pressure at home, given everything that’s happened (new ownership, new players, new dressing room, millions upon millions (upon millions) of dollars being sunk into the organization, fan expectations, etc.)? Or is it the cute (over)passing and spotty defensive zone play as of late (I’m looking at you, Myers!) that has cost them two in a row?
- Thursday, at home, the Sabres face a Columbus Blue Jacket team that has won only once this season. I hate to say it, but this game spells danger once again for the blue and gold. One thing that can be said, despite their 1-7-1 record, is that Columbus comes to work every night. Guys like RJ Umberger, Rick Nash, Antoine Vermette come to play every game, while defensemen Aaron Johnson, Grant Clitsome and Kris Russell are dangerous from the back end. The Sabres cannot afford the be outworked or out-hustled again. Nip it in the bud at two losses in a row.
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Tags: Andrej Sekera Brad Boyes Buffalo Sabres Christian Ehrhoff Columbus Blue Jackets Derek Roy Drew Stafford Jason Pominville Jhonas Enroth Jordan Leopold Lindy Ruff Luke Adam Mike Weber Robyn Regehr Ryan Miller Tampa Bay Lightning Thomas Vanek Tyler Myers Ville Leino