Kukla's Korner Hockey
by @DaveDavisHockey on 10/12/10 at 12:07 PM ET
Some Sabres musings compiled while looking at 29 different angles of the big hit last night, and wondering what they really put in those shoulder pads…
• With an extended absence from Jason Pominville likely, courtesy of Chicago defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson, the opportunity is there for Nathan Gerbe to cement his place in the starting lineup. But with the way Portland Pirates (AHL) forward Luke Adam is playing, it might need to happen sooner for Gerbe rather than later. There is already talk of Portland commandeering an AHL Rookie of the Year three-peat. Gerbe and Tyler Ennis have won the award the past two seasons.
• Thomas Vanek’s stat line (3 games, 0 points, -4) is ugly but also misleading. He leads the team with 14 shots on goal, and many of them have been point blank scoring chances. Sure, he’s missed badly on some of those opportunities. He’s snakebit right now - but you can’t fault the effort, and there’s too much talent for the drought to drag on much longer. He even has some of his teammates practically blaming themselves - this from Tim Connolly: “I think he’s the best net front guy in the league. We’ve got to get more pucks to him.”
• The Sabres early season struggles with defensive zone coverage have brought out the armchair GM’s, who are chastising management for not overpaying Henrik Tallinder and Toni Lydman to stay here. With Jordan Leopold and Shaone Morrisonn now in the mix, a few players have alluded to some problems with communication in the defensive zone. But any way you slice it, nothing could help Buffalo on the blue line more than an improved showing from their superstar sophomore. Tyler Myers has had a tough time of it the first 3 games and has the worst plus/minus (-5) on the team.
• In an effort to improve what was a miserable power play last season, the Sabres coaching staff has implemented a strategy consisting of more movement and motion from the forwards away from the puck to try to create some openings. With 2 power play goals in 15 opportunities it hasn’t quite clicked to this point, but give them a little credit for trying to be somewhat innovative. Of course, no man advantage strategy used by this team will mean anything until Vanek begins to cash in on his scoring chances.
• Good or bad, the discussion about keeping Patrick Lalime as the backup to Ryan Miller will soon be brought back to the forefront. The Sabres have completed half of their brutal season-opening 6 games in 9 nights stretch, and you have to think Miller will be getting his first game off this week. It’s fine that Lalime is loved and appreciated by his teammates in the locker room, but imagine how much stronger the love will be if he can play .500 hockey this season.
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Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
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