The Sabres Observer
by @DaveDavisHockey on 03/28/11 at 12:35 PM ET
I don’t know what’s riskier, walking on the Sabres logo in the locker room or bringing a negative vibe to any conversation involving this team in the midst of its playoff-bound bliss, but I’m going to walk a fine line with the latter while looking at the big picture here.
If I’m Darcy Regier or Lindy Ruff, the first thought to cross my mind when picturing this team in late April without Jordan Leopold is the ugly 0-19 power play drought that cost the Sabres a playoff series against Boston last spring. That may be overplaying it, but in my opinion not by much.
With Leopold suffering a hand injury that will keep him out for the rest of the regular season and possibly longer, you have to wonder if the Sabres will want to take another peek at Marc-Andre Gragnani, who has been breaking scoring records down in Portland (AHL).
Only Thomas Vanek (10) and Drew Stafford (9) have more power play goals for Buffalo than Leopold (5), whose presence is a big reason why the Sabres (18.6%) are 11th in the NHL with the man advantage, ranking higher than their three most likely first round opponents (BOS 18th, 16.9%; PHI 20th, 16.7%, WAS 21st, 16.5%).
Not that it’s an easy decision, but the Sabres aren’t lacking in candidates to be replaced on the back end. Shaone Morrisonn has zero points in his last 19 games, but it’s not a foregone conclusion that you take out a guy who hits people and blocks shots. Hal Gill was a stalwart playing that kind of game for Montreal in last year’s playoffs.
Of course, if the Sabres keep racking up wins, Ruff is unlikely to change anything. If Andrej Sekera and Chris Butler can hold their own defensively while getting the job done playing the left point of the power play, or if Leopold can come back healthy for the playoffs, then the question is moot.
Gragnani has zero points and is a +1 in three games with the Sabres this season.
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About The Sabres Observer
Dave Davis has covered the Buffalo Sabres for various NHL accredited websites and newspapers since 2003. He was the senior writer and Sabres correspondent for The Fourth Period, covered hockey for Western New York Sports and Leisure Magazine, and has had articles featured on NHL.com, FOX Sports, Yahoo Sports and in New York Sportscene. Sabres news and notes can be found on his Twitter page.
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: [@DaveDavisHockey]