All right, Ville: it’s game day!
I hope you have your head on straight; I’m sure being made a healthy scratch Tuesday night against these very Ottawa Senators had you scratching your noggin a bit. From what I hear, you kind of dogged it at practice – don’t shake your head at me, I’m just telling you what I heard – but personally, I feel like you got the short end of the stick. You’ve been working really hard lately, really battling on the boards and doing your best to help Buffalo maintain possession of the puck, so don’t think some of us haven’t noticed this! Keep trusting yourself and busting tail, and you’re bound to put one in the back of the net tonight.
Having said that . . . here, take this chair, and make yourself comfortable. Good. Now: as much as I would love to see you score your first goal of the season tonight, your history against the Senators doesn’t exactly fill me with a lot hope. According to Hockey-Reference.com, you have faced the Senators ten times in the regular season, five times as a member of the Buffalo Sabres and five times during your stint with the Philadelphia Flyers. Your numbers across those ten games? One goal, four assists, five total points. Not exactly your best match-up, from a goal-scoring perspective.
Don’t get discouraged, though! Use your getting benched the other night as some motivation, and take heart in the fact that goaltender Craig Anderson is probably starting for the Sens tonight. After playing like a Vezina Trophy Finalist last season, Anderson has come back down to earth, posting a very human 3.40 GAA and .895 save percentage this season. My advice: keep battling, but stop looking to make that home-run pass for an assist and take a few more shots, since you are averaging exactly one shot per game over your last five outings. Shoot the puck, Mr. Leino!
Good luck – we’re pulling for ya!