Nov 24, 2013; Buffalo, NY, USA; Buffalo Sabres left wing Ville Leino (23) against the Detroit Red Wings at First Niagara Center. Mandatory Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

The Official Ville Leino Support Thread: Day One

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Sabre Noise readers, I was all set to get to work on this post in anticipation of last night’s game between the Buffalo Sabres and the Ottawa Senators . . .

Oct 26, 2013; Tampa, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Radko Gudas (7) defends Buffalo Sabres left wing Ville Leino (23) during the first period at Tampa Bay Times Forum. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

and then Ville Leino went and got himself benched, and I had to put this on the back burner and wait until today.

Such is the story of Ville Leino’s career in Buffalo.

As Sabre Noise founder Tim Redinger pointed out earlier today, Ville Leino has drawn the ire of many fans due to the fact that he has not come even close to earning the $27 million contract he signed back in 2011.  You can blame injuries – he certainly has suffered enough of those – you can blame his coaches, or you can outright blame Ville himself; the bottom line is, he’s been an unequivocal bust since arriving in town.

It would be easy, then, to call for the Sabres to buyout Leino at the end of this season.  The organization may already have plans to do that very thing, for all I know – but that’s not why I am here.

Instead, I am making it my personal mission to champion the cause of Ville Leino and write a series of posts until he scores his first goal of the season.

Look: if you haven’t noticed a change in Leino’s play since Ted Nolan came into town, then you’re blind.  Or a Boston Bruins fan.  Either way, I can’t be bothered with you.  Seriously, Leino has kicked it into a higher gear since the Sabres let Ron Rolston go, but all he has to show for it is five assists and a healthy scratch.  However, if you look at Leino’s advanced stats and compare him to all of the players on the Sabres roster who have played in at least 50% of the Sabres’ games this season, you’ll see that Leino has the fifth best Corsi number and fourth best Fenwick rating.  (Oddly enough, the player with the best Corsi and Fenwick is Johan Larsson, who should not be playing in Rochester right now.  There – I said it.) (Stats courtesy of extraskater.com.)  For a team that ranks dead-last in the NHL when it comes to (among other things) puck possession, Leino is actually one of the reasons why Buffalo’s Corsi and Fenwick numbers are not much, much worse.

For that reason, I will personally focus on Leino before each and every game, and highlight the positives of his nightly efforts in an effort to provide him with the moral support he doesn’t even know he needs.  Once he scores a goal, I’m outta here – so let’s hope he finds the back of the net soon, so I can move on with my life!

Tune in tomorrow, then, as I examine Leino’s match-up against the Ottawa Senators and attempt to set odds on whether he will score his first goal of the season against them.  Thanks for the read!!

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Tags: Buffalo Sabres Ville Leino

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