With the news that injured forwards Paul Gaustad and Tyler Ennis are returning tonight, when the Sabres invade Le Centre Bell to take on the Montreal Canadiens, it would seem that (with only Jochen Hecht and Brayden McNabb left on the shelf) the Sabres’ injuries can’t be used as a crutch anymore.
Beloved Sabres owner Terry Pegula and President Ted Black have pulled out the injury card before, when asked why the Sabres have struggled, seemingly to no end, this season, and it certainly can’t be discounted.
While many would agree that the team hasn’t iced a full team since they started the season in Europe, and to fully evaluate the roster, as a whole, has been almost impossible to do, the lack of competitive spirit on most nights can’t be ignored. It’s one thing to say that the team hasn’t had enough talent on the ice to win some games, it’s a whole different story to see them (especially some of the veterans) go through the motions, and lose many of these games the way the team has done this season.
It’s a tough spot to be in for Sabres’ brass, especially General Manager Darcy Regier, who has faced the most wrath from critics and fans this season for not making any types of changes to a losing roster. It’s tough enough to make trades in the post-lockout NHL with a healthy group of skaters, but try wheeling-and-dealing when any number of your players are injured from night to night.
It’s true what they say, that if you don’t have your health you don’t have anything. Now that all but a couple Sabres players are back in the lineup, starting tonight in Montreal, the real supposed real evaluation of this roster can begin. Barring any more injuries to his roster, Regier has 28 days (before the NHL trade deadline) to see what he’s got, and what he wants to do.
I realize it’s tough to play with broken bones, separated shoulders and concussions, but we’ll see if lack of competitiveness was an ailment the whole group has finally gotten over.
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