Wanna blog? Start your own hockey blog with My HockeyBuzz. Register for free today!

Changes Are On The Way

January 25, 2013, 6:06 PM ET [684 Comments]
NHL news by Garth • RSSArchiveCONTACT
Tough back to back losses for the Sabres to the Hurricanes.

The Sabres committed enough mistakes in the past two games to fill the deck of the USS Little Rock. No wonder they lost. Terrible D zone coverage like Regehr on the Semin PPG on Friday night. Like Myers gacking up a puck on the wall on the PP, thus creating a 3-on-1 breakaway for the Canes. Good thing Eric Staal hit the post on his shot attempt. Like the putrid face off losses by the Sabres centres, especially the D zone faceoff that Harrison scored the GWG on. Is it too much to ask to win a draw? Or, better yet, is it too much to ask the Sabres wingers to use their sticks, feet, and asses to win loose pucks off of face off losses.

Not all things were bad for the Sabres in the two losses to the canes.

Lindy Ruff praised the Vanek-Hodgson-Pominville line for their heroics. he especially praised Thomas Vanek for leading the team offensively.

Ruff let it be known that beginning Saturday, his bottom nine forwards are going to be mixed and matched. Changes are on the way.

I won't be at all surprised if Mikhail Grigorenko is in the middle of Marcus Foligno and Drew Stafford. Why not? Lindy's got nothing to lose at this point. His team has scored 11 goals in four games, and Vanek-Hodson-Pominville have scored 9 of them.

Thanks, sabres.com


Understandably, Thomas Vanek was pissed off after the loss. He took a critical penalty at an in opportune time with two and a half minutes left in regulation in a one goal game. Vanek was sent to the box. Skinner scored the empty net goal.


Vanek suffered what Lindy Ruff is calling a muscle strain in his back, which caused the leading scorer to head into the Buffalo room to seek treatment during the second period. Vanek would return to the game and he finished the game, albeit in the penalty box. Vanek will most likely receive a maintenance day on Saturday, which menas he won't practice with the team.


I had a nice chat with Mikhail Grigorenko in the Buffalo room after the game.

The rookie skated only two shifts in the second period Friday night. That's better than the zero minutes he received in the third of a one goal game. Grigo's TOI was 6:48 for the game, by far his lowest ice time out put if his four games in Buffalo. Was he benched? Was he injured? Was he forgotten about?

After the game, Ruff summed up the Grigo sitaution as being a direct result of trying to match the kaleta-Hecht-Ott shut down line against the Eric Staal line. You'll recall that the Canes captain scored three goals in their 6-3 win over the Sabres on Thursday night.

Plain and simple, Grigo lost his ice time to the 35 year old Jochen Hecht. Ruff wanted a lock-down unit on the Staals to prohibit them from going off again like they had on Thursady night in Raleigh.

Ruff noted this after the game. The kid's not hurt or in trouble. He lost shifts because Kirk Muller rode Staal heavily in the final period.

"It was the coach's decision", Grigo said after the game. "I'm just happy to be here", he added.

The Sabres have a decision to make after Sunday's game. Do they keep Grigorenko in Buffalo and burn one year off his three year entry level contract by letting his play the third of fourth line centre role? Or, does Ruff say "ah, screw it", and play Grigorenko on the second line with Foligno and Stafford? The 82-63-21 line has had its chances to score in the first four games, however, they have nothing to show for the hard work. Ruff promised changes in his post game presser, and I'm going to hold him to his statement. I think the head coach should move Ennis out of the 82-21 combo and replace him with Grigorenko.
Foligno and Stafford are too valuable to the Sabres offense to have them stuck on sero goals.

I seriously think that you will see Grigo on the ice more often vs, Washington on Sunday afternoon. What does Ruff have to lose? Take the kid's training wheels off and let him ride the bike. Give him 13-15 minutes, with some PP time included, to see what the kid can do, Grigo has every right to bitch about his situation, which changes daily with the injury to liney Ville Leino, Nathan Gerbe moved into the lineup on Thursday and was placed on Grigo's line with Ott. Then on Friday night, Ruff flipped the script and played Grigo and Gerbe with Big John Scott, which was a nice idea on paper, but in the real world was not such a great idea. I like John Scott, however, he shouldn't be skating on a line with a world-class talent like Grigorenko.

Grigo understands Ruff''s motivations.

" I just come to the rink every day and work hard".

Grigo's not pissed off at Ruff for his reduced role o Friday night.

Grigo told me that he made sure to stay aware and to be ready for when his name was called by Ruff in period three.

He also understands his role in the NHL. He's not in the Quebec Remparts lineup where he gets north of twenty minutes per game.

"I'm kind of in a smaller role, I'm not going to play 25 minutes a game like in juniors," Grigo said

"Every shift I'm going to try to do what coach wants from me, and I'm trying to work as hard as I can, and that's it you know. Hopefully I will be good enough for this team."

Grigo says that he is playing the exact same style that Ruff has told him to play in his first four games,

"Keep it simple," Grigo said. "The most important, just play good defensively. Strong in battles, compete and if I have the puck, just do what I can."

I'm impressed that the kid held his head high and he had a smile of his face, despite seeing limited ice time on Friday night. For an eighteen year old kid to oll with the adversity of sitting when he used to playing at a high level tells me that this kid is a great team mate. He's not a prima donna. or a "me guy". Grigo is the real deal.

Put him in coach. Grigo is ready to play. He's got a one game tryout against the man they call Ovechkin on Sunday.


Third Period:

Vanek takes a dumb penalty, while Sabres trailing 2-1 late P3.

Lindy Ruff will not be happy about this loss.


2-1 Canes

Harrison scores off the face off.





1-0 Sabres

Vanek strikes for Sabres. beauty PPG

Second Period:

Sabres out shooting Canes 17-9 here in P2. 27-23 overall


Sabres with 27 hits: Regehr 5; Foligno and Vanek 4 each; Ott, Scott, Kaleta 3 each; Myers and Sekera with 2 each


Grigo with only 6:48 TOI after 40. No PP time


Foligno wrecks Harrison with a heavy check on wall


Vanek on the ice during timeout. His back looks to be the area of interest. He wiped out and appeared to be favoring his back as he went to the Buffalo room.


Myers with an Afinogenov turnover on the wall at end of PP. Miller saves his bacon with a great save on the 3 on 1 break!

Myers labored to back check. Either he's out of shape or the ankle is an issue. No jump


1st Period:

Lindy will have to tighten up the neutral zone D. Too many easy entries and flow from the Staals and Skimnner in P1.


Scoreless after 1. Canes lead shots 14-10.


Maybe Lindy has a plan for Grigo. The kid skated 4:54 P1. This is more TOI than 82, 63, 36, 21, 9, and 42


Grigo starts the game on the fourth line with John Scott and Nathan Gerbe.

Not a good sign for the youngster, who has tonight and Sunday to prove to Ruff that he belongs in the NHL.

Grigo will get limited ice time in this game and will not have an opportunity to skate the 11-12 minutes that he has grown accustomed to in his first three games in Buffalo.

If this is it, then send him back to Quebec tomorrow. Why waste his talents on the mop-up crew?

let him play top line minutes in Quebec.


**** Warm-ups ****:

Big John Scott cruised across centre ice and did a fly-by in the Carolina zone twice during warm-ups. One time, he skated right at Chad LaRose with a maniacal smile on his face. Scott didn't move. LaRose did.

There's an unwritten rule in the NHL:

Do not cross centre ice during warm-ups unless you want baaaaddddd things to happen. Scott wants to send a message to the Canes that the Gerbe hit was not acceptable to he and his team mates.

Moments later, Scott chatted with Sabres brawler, Rob Ray, who was getting situated in his home away from home, between the benches. Scott nodded and smiled at Rayzor. Talk about two choir boys.

Westgarth does know that he is fighting Scott tonight, doesn't he?


Same lineups as Thursday night in Buffalo, Jr.

Matt Ellis, Mike Weber, and TJ Brennan will be the scratches.


Thomas Vanek is the first player in Sabres history to record eight points in the first three games of the season.

Five players have had seven in the first three games: Gilbert Perreault (1972-72 and 1979-80), Don Luce (1975-76), Danny Gare (1979-80), Bob Sweeney (1992-93) and Pat LaFontaine (1992-93). (Source: Elias Sports Bureau).


Vanek recorded a career-best five points (2+3) Sunday vs. PHI, becoming the first Sabres player to notch five points since Drew Stafford (3+2) vs. ATL on Jan. 18, 2008. He followed up the five-point performance with an assist on Monday at TOR and two more assists last night at CAR, and has been on the ice for all 10 Sabres goals this season. Dating back to last season, Vanek has 19 points (5+14) in his last 13 games.


-This is the second of three meetings between the Sabres and Hurricanes this season.
- Last night, Carolina defeated Buffalo, 6-3 in Raleigh
-The Sabres are 5-4-1 in their last 10 games vs. the Hurricanes; 6-4-0 at home.
-This is the 184th game all-time between Buffalo and Carolina; Buffalo leads the series with a 96-64-24 record. They are 54-29-8 at home against the Hurricanes.


The Sabres have three players ranked in the top 10 in the league in at least two statistical categories: Thomas Vanek (6 assists, 1st and 8 points, T-2nd), Jason Pominville (3 goals, T-6th, 4 assists, T-6th and 7 points, T-4th) and Ryan Miller (.953 SV%, 3rd and 1.50 GAA, 5th) and fifth in goals against average (1.50) after two games.


My advice to Nathan Gerbe:

Next time Dan O'Halloran refs a Sabres game, waste a hard dump in on his side on a line change.


Bush league move by an experienced NHL ref. How embarrassing.

Thanks, Greg Wyshinski and Puck Daddy for the video

Join the Discussion: » 684 Comments » Post New Comment