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Split Personality

January 27, 2013, 2:33 PM ET [754 Comments]
NHL news by Garth • RSSArchiveCONTACT
Five games into this abbreviated season, the Sabres have their loyal fan base slapping their foreheads. This team has a split personality. One game its dominant like it was against Philly and Toronto, the next game its dreadfully flat like it was against Carolina.

The Sabres started the season in impressive fashion, scoring 7 goals in two games. They were 2-0 and felling good about themselves. Then, they were run over, twice, and humbled by the Carolina Hurricanes. On Sunday, the Washington Capitals corrected their course by beating Buffalo. The Sabres have lost three straight games. Lindy Ruff and Darcy Regier now have more questions than answers.

This team is missing something.

Scoring. Secondary and tertiary scoring. No Vanek, no offense. no excuses.

Once again, the Sabres failed miserably in the faceoff circle.

Add it all up and you are left wondering what the braintrust of this team is going to do.

Three game losing streaks in a 48 game season can be crippling and debilitating.

Ruff needs to huddle with his coaches and then get back to work immediately building a better sixty minute effort.

In one week's time, the Sabres have gone from the penthouse to the outhouse. They were in first place in the Northeast division on Wednesday morning. Four days later, they find themselves tied for last place in the division with the Maple Leafs. Toronto will visit Buffalo on Tuesday night. Loser will own last place.

The Sabres won the first twenty and last twenty minutes. They stunk out the joint in the middle twenty.

Lindy Ruff offered this assessment of his team's incomplete effort in Washington:

“ I thought the second (period), we passed up some opportunities to take it puck to the net. We didn’t take the puck to the net. We looked some situations for high-slot, and I thought that there were four or five when we could have attacked (the net). We didn’t, and that resulted in not a lot of opportunities".

Tyler Ennis and Marcus Foligno followed their coach's instructions to drive the blue, and they were rewarded for the efforts on Foligno's goal. Nothing pretty. Just Drive, penetrate, turn their D's out, go hard to the net with the puck, and pound home the rebound.

Ruff wants to see more of that type of determination and compete from his team. He wants multiple bodies in the other goalie's face, more often. In the first five games, he's only getting brief glimpses of down-low domination.

“We, as a team, just have to do a better job around the front of their net. We’re not getting enough bodies to there”, Ruff said.

Ruff wasn’t very fond of the way the 42-19-29 line competed in Washington. They seemed to ignore Ruff's edict to knock-off the river hockey junk and to play north-south, responsible hockey. The captain was invisible with Vanek. Hodgson made unforced errors with the puck, and Gerbe appeared to be lost at times. Ruff remained patient with the group, but later in the game, he mixed and matched Gerbe-Hodgson-Pominville looking for offense.

“As a line, they didn’t get much goin' on. It looked like a little fatigue in their game”

“I thought some other guys really picked their games up, where they had been struggling

Ennis and Foligno worked hard, listened and snapped out of their scoring slumps. So why can't everyone on the roster do the same thing?


I've been telling you for weeks that Mikhail Grigorenko will be making this Sabres team after his NHL tryout period is up.

I'm ready to sit Gerbe and Scott to make a roster spot for Grigo.

The kid was the best player on th eice for Buffalo on Sunday. He skated and distributed the puck well. He attacked the net with vigor and near beat Michal Neuvirth but for an impressive leg save by the caps goalie. Grigo has read the script and has memorized his lines perfectly. he's doing everything that Lindy Ruff is asking him to do right now.

Ruff rewarded the youngster with 17:43 minutes of TOI and PP time in th eloss to Washington. The Sabres brass have to make a decision on the future of the kid in Buffalo.

He's earned the right to stay and play in Buffalo.

After the game in Washington, Ruff was asked about his impressive rookie's body of work:

“I thought overall, it was a good showing for him”

“He got some good help from Marcus and Jochen, and I thought he made some nice plays. We’ll have to look at his whole package”.

“He’s worked hard. We went over some things this morning. We actually had him look at some small plays within the game. I think he’s receptive. He understands that there are some areas that he has to get better. I though tonight that maybe it was his best effort”.

Time for the kid to call Quebec City and have all of his personal belongings UPS'd to Buffalo.


What is it about Buffalo being the kind of all slump-busters?

Teams who are stuck in the mud have found their winning ways against the Sabres.

- Today, Alex Ovechkin scored his first goal of the season. A pretty PPG. He entered the game with one secondary assist.

- The Caps were winless before the Sabres came to town.

- Last week, the Carolina Hurricanes were a hot mess until they played six inspired periods of hockey against the Sabres.

- Alex Semin was mired in a dreadful goal scoring drought until the Sabres showed him the back of the net


Ive seen all that I need to see.

After five games, the sabres don't have enough offense in their lineup. You take vanek away from Hodgson and Pominville and the rest of the team goes limp. Good of Ennis and Foligno to score in the 3-2 loss to teh Caps, however, they need to do that every night. When you are a top six forward, more is expected of you.

This team needs find a veteran centre who can score, win faceoffs and make plays.

Once again the Sabres were beaten by a sound margin in the faceoff circle. Washington beat Buffalo 32-20 on draws.


Props to former Sabre, Zack Kassian. He fought a great white shark, and lost.

Ryan Clowe is one tough hombre.

Nice effort by Kassian


3rd Period:

3-2 Caps

Marcus Foilgno scores his first goal of the season off a pretty dribble-drive by Tyler Ennis. Foligno would not be denied access to the loose puck in Neuvirth's crease.


3-1 Caps

Sulzer takes delay of game penalty and Ovechkin scores the PPG, his first of the season.


2nd Period:

Sabres trail 2-1.

Caps are trapping and all flow is strangled.

Sabres with decent zone time, however, no sustained pressure.


I'm liking the Foligno-Grigo-Hecht line a lot. They are getting pucks deep on entries and they are recovering with ease. Nice blend of power and finesse. Foligno playing heavy hockey, like a snow plow.

Grigo's net front presence is strong and solid. he screened Neuvirth several times in first period. At 6'3 220, he presents a huge problem for opposing D and goalies. Foligno is large and in charge. He's blocking shots and finishing checks with fury. Hecht's hands are in midseason form and he's finding 25 and 82 in areas on the ice.

P1 TOI; Grigo 5:13, Ott 5:35, Hodgson 5:22, Stafford 5:58, Pominville 5:16, Hecht 5:46



Joel ward scores the equalizer on Miller.


1-0 Sabres

Why lookie here. A Sabres forward not namned Vanek-Hodgson-Pominville or Ott has scored.

Otter and Stafford made two beauty passes and Tyler Ennis is rewarded with a pretty back hander past Michal Neuvirth.


Updated 3:00pm:

Grigorenko will skate with Foligno and Hecht, not Ott and Strafford.

Sorry for the confusion. i was at my grandmother's nursing home when I uploaded to the website. Wifi issues!


Dual plot lines running in Washington today.

Thomas Vanek's back strain will not allow him to play today.

Rookie Mikhail Grigorenko will play his fifth game in his NHL tryout. Grigo will get top six minutes playing with Ott and Stafford.

More to come....
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