Well, Sabres fans, we may only be one game into the season, but everyone is a critic. It has been well documented that Buffalo has a surplus of defensemen on the team, not to mention some great prospects (and now veteran Adam Pardy) playing in Rochester. Here is my recap of the Sabres blueliners following the 5-2 victory over the hated Philadelphia Flyers.
Tyler Myers – What shows on the scoreboard, is the game-winning power-play goal that Myers scored. What the scoreboard doesn’t show, is the bumbling awkwardness that Myers exhibited for much of the game. After winning the Calder Trophy as top NHL rookie in 2010, projections and hopes for Myers remain high, as we all not only wait, but expect, him to develop into a Norris Trophy candidate. This is now his 4th NHL season, and Myers will be turning 23 on February 1st. In last nights game, he still looks like he is not accustomed to, and uncomfortable with, his 6’8 220lb body.
Of course we want him to be an All-Star immediately, but bear in mind that Zdeno Chara did not his his NHL stride until arguably his 5th or 6th season, when he was around 25 years old. It does tend to take defensemen around 4-6 seasons to develop their overall game, so these games are bound to happen.
Robyn Regehr – Unless Regehr suffered an injury from the shot he blocked early in the game, red flags were waving all over the place inside my mind. His play last night was reminiscent of Craig Rivet – Regehr looked sluggish, slow, and out of place. Expected to be a leader and one of the more physical d-men on the Sabres, he only recorded one hit against a team that likes to play chippy hockey.
Christian Ehrhoff – Ehrhoff was largely invisible, which for most defensemen, is a good thing. It means they didn’t make glaring mistakes. Yet, Ehrhoff is being paid very handsomely on the Sabres to add some offense, and on a 5 goal night with 6 power-plays, not being on the scoresheet is a bad sign. He may not have had any points, but he did play a sound game overall.
Jordan Leopold – One of the better Sabres blueliners last year, Leopold was flat out terrible against the Flyers. If one of the d-men were to go, I would make it Leo. TJ Brennan should be able to equal, if not surpass, the offensive capabilities of Leopold, while adding more speed and grit. This is a sellers market for defensemen right now, and the return for him should be at least a 2nd round pick, if not better. In this shortened season, teams out there will be looking for a veteran player who can add some offense. If Leopold is to stay, lets hope last nights game was just a fluky-shaking-off-rust performance.
Andrej Sekera – Sekera still drives me nuts. One minute he flies up the ice with speed and creates a scoring chance, then the next shift, he looks discombobulated. He had an average night, and added an assist.
Alexander Sulzer – Did you notice Sulzer? Probably not. He was busy enjoying a quiet night, being a sound and responsible defensemen, being in the right positions, and keeping the Flyers shooters to the outside. I will not lie, I am a fan of this guy, even if he isn’t flashy or putting opponent through the glass.
Ryan Miller – Of all the articles I read following the Sabres game, I did not notice this mentioned: Miller was giving up tons of juicy rebounds left and right. Buffalo is very lucky that none went right to a Flyers stick, or this game could have had a different outcome. Overall, the Sabres defense kept Philadelphia to the outside lanes, which helped prevent those rebounds from bouncing into the wrong hands, and Buffalo never gave the Flyers much chance to develop a “hang around the net” game. Both Flyers goals came from the outside, due to the boundaries the Sabres established.
Now, lets see how the “D” fares tonight in Toronto!