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Buffalo Sabres Pregame Skate: Tampa Bay Lightning

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Are the Buffalo Sabres ready to take on the state of Florida?  Even when things are going right, the Blue and Gold don’t do well when visiting the Southern most teams in the Eastern Conference.

Heading into the contest, they can’t even play well against any teams – but a road trip to Florida might be what the doctor ordered to do a few team building exercises with the new coach – who needs to get a little NHL ice underneath his skates.

Still looking for his first win as an NHL head coach, the Buffalo Sabres are hoping that they don’t have to wait long for Ron Rolston to get winning back in the equation.  I honestly didn’t think I would be considering what it would be like to draft first overall in the draft come the end of February.

The Buffalo Sabres have not picked first overall since 1987 when they selected Pierre Turgeon – before that it was the famous Gilbert Perreault draft.  In fact, you have to go all the way back to Thomas Vanek in the 2003 draft ten years ago to even find a top ten draft pick.  Ok, enough draft talk, there is hockey to play.

Tonight’s opponents are the Tampa Bay Lightning.  In the last ten games, Buffalo and Tampa have a similar record.  Buffalo skates into the night winners of three, going 3-7.  Tampa was able to get on extra point, stealing 3-6-1 out of their last ten foes.

Buffalo is on a four game skid, and needs a win in the interim coach’s third game behind the bench.  Rolston seems to think that it is only a matter of getting the grey matter between the ears right for the Buffalo Sabres to turn things around.

“The work is there. The care is there. Right now it’s just the psyche part,” Rolston told NHL.com Saturday. “It’s important for [the team] to stay on and stay positive.”

Staying positive is hard to do when you give up a weak goal to the New York Islanders and then tuck tail and run the rest of the game.  I don’t know if Ron Rolston is watching the same hockey team as the fans, but regardless of what face is behind the bench, regardless of the message coming between periods, the team looks very similar to what it did just a week ago.  It is going to need more than a change in psyche to get on the winning track.

No one wants to say it, but Ville Leino might be the spark this team needs to get going.  Right now its all talk for the failed center experiment – but hopefully the winger can step into the lineup and perform under pressure, or if 2013 will end the same way 2012 did with fans wondering why we chose Ville Leino has the second place prize in free agency sweepstakes.

The cycle of walking wounded continues for the Buffalo Sabres, as quick as Andrej Sekera enters the lineup, Alexander Sulzer goes down.  Insert Adam Pardy into the lineup.  Hopefully he sticks around longer than one game this time.  I think its time you roll the dice and get T.J. Brennan back down to Rochester.  Give the kid the playing time he needs to develop  and let him break that 40 year old Amerks record.  Give the kid some hope for the future, instead of a membership at Office Depot so him and Mike Weber can share sign making materials #freeweber #freebrennan.

Lindy Ruff was right about one thing before he left, Thomas Vanek cannot keep up the pace that saw him atop of the league in scoring, while his team quickly dropped to the bottom of the standings.

For the Buffalo Sabres to turn things around, the line of Jason Pominville, Vanek, and Cody Hodgson need to respark the magic they started the season with.

I am not asking for five point nights out of the Austrian winger, but a couple of goals here and there might help.

Shuffle the lines, shuffle the leaders – bench guys, give more ice time to John Scott.  Whatever it takes, something has to be done to break the funk.  The Buffalo Sabres have not seen a win get notched in the column since February 15th against the Boston Bruins, over a week ago.

Game time is set for 7:30 tonight.

Next up for the Buffalo Sabres is the Florida Panthers on Thursday, and a matinee with the New Jersey Devils on Saturday.  Its a week of first for the Buffalo Sabres who are facing these opponents for the first time this shortened season.  Can’t we just play the Boston Bruins again?

What do you think boys? Can we keep it from reaching five in a row?


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Tags: Buffalo Sabres NHL Tampa Bay Lightnig

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