After seeing his team get outscored 9-4 in two losses to the Carolina Hurricanes, Lindy Ruff needed to do something to shake things up to wake up the Buffalo Sabres – who started the season 2-0 and on top of the league in terms of goal differential.
After the run against the Carolina Hurricanes, Buffalo now finds themselves in dead last in the Northeast Division, and the only team with a negative goal differential. While the 6-3 loss on Thursday had a lot to do with that, the fact that the team is only getting scoring from the likes of Thomas Vanek, Jason Pominville, and Cody Hodgson has a lot to do with it as well.
While Vanek was given a maintenance day to rest a pulled muscle, Marcus Foligno jumped up onto the top line during practice. Vanek is expected to play on Sunday – so during games the line of Vanek-Hodgson-Pominville should remain in tact. If that is the only thing going for you, you don’t split it up as your first resort to solving your lack of offense – just in case your initial play goes horribly wrong, you might still get a goal or two.
The Tyler Ennis-Drew Stafford-Marcus Foligno line that clicked so well at the end of last season will get broken up, as rookie Mikhail Grigorenko joined Stafford and new Buffalo Sabres forward Steve Ott.
Ennis is going to remain at center, getting between Jochen Hect and Patrick Kaleta.
The fourth line should not expect to get much ice time, as the team has John Scott, Matt Ellis, and Nathan Gerbe.
I know the team is looking to increase its toughness, but rolling that fourth line is as useful as tits on a bull. While Matt Ellis is a great utility player, the Buffalo Sabres need a fourth line that can bang bodies and put the puck in the net – not just bang bodies and take up space. The fact that Scott has been in the lineup regularly since the start of the season and not just against teams that the Buffalo Sabres should be scared off says a lot about the makeup of this team.