WGR 55 radio talk show hosts have most of it right. You just don’t get a good feeling this year. The up and down Sabres leave you with the feeling they will be battling for a playoff spot again this year. These are the reasons why:
Coaching: I am a Lindy Ruff fan. I watched him play and coach with passion. He gets the most out of his players. I don’t always like the line combinations and I think the power play point men are bad. Pomminville is not effective and they all lose the puck too often. The assistant coaches are all great too. Can’t blame the coach here.
Players: Here is a review of the Sabres, player by player:
9 Roy, Derek C – One of the top five players on the team. Immensely talented puck carrier and great shot. Even mucks it up a little. When he’s not going offsides and faking penalties, he is a top NHL forward.
10 Tallinder, Henrik D – He looked great a couple of years ago. Did injury effect him? He is still good but seems to have lost some fire. Maybe he likes to be more offensive and they won’t let him. Used to be a good point man on the powerplay.
12 Kotalik, Ales RW – I should start with the fact that he is the most frustrating Sabre to watch. He could be the number one guy when it comes to strength, speed, and shot, yet he just plain looks uninterested. He can take a useless shot from a bad angle without looking for anyone. He avoids checks and checking as if he were 150 lbs and sick. Please trade him.
19 Connolly, Tim C – What can you say. Stay healthy. If we could just put him in Kotalik’s body. Laser shot and Gretzky like stickhandler.
20 Paille, Daniel LW – Don’t trade this guy. Strong, young, and hockey sense. He is one of a half dozen Sabres that sctually check people.
21 Stafford , Drew RW – Maybe I thought he had more potential than he actually has. Just a shade slow but has lots of skill. He could flourish if surrounded by some good mockers.
22 Mair, Adam C – Should be wearing the “A”. The team example of determination. The kind of heart you see from players without lots of talent that comes through in playoff tough circumstances.
26 Vanek, Thomas LW – “Work on your defense Thomas”. He wouldn’t need to if he was playing with a whole team that played like they cared every night. This guy is a top NHL power forward and a class act. THE number one Sabre and should wear the other “A”.
27 Numminen, Teppo – You gotta love him because he plays so smart but let’s face it. Do you want to see him in the corners during the playoffs with Lucic or Latendresse? Time to hang um’ up.
28 Gaustad, Paul C – Should be the Captain – hands down, and a regular on the power play. He is all class and tough as nails. Plays hurt. Great in the playoffs.
29 Pominville, Jason RW – Remember that Hartford Whaler who scored 50 goals one year and was never heard from again. The long term contract was a mistake. He has skills and played a lot tougher when he was hungry. The teenage girls buy tickets to see him. Maybe Florida or LA would be a better place for him.
30 Miller, Ryan G – The fans in Buffalo adopt only special guys like Jim Kelly. Miller is a fixture and I think will always be here. He may not be the best in stats but look who he is playing with. He steals as many or more games than any goalie.
34 Butler , Chris D – With all the crappy non-checking forwards in Buffalo , the young defensemen give hope to the future. This guy can play. He does everything well.
36 Kaleta, Patrick RW – I don’t know about you but I think he should be getting more money than several hot shots on this team. He gives up his body every night.
37 Ellis, Matt LW – Wow, a real hockey player! Let’s just keep Vanek, Roy, Gaustad, Mair, Kaletta, Connely, and duplicate Ellis for the third and fourth lines.
38 Paetsch, Nathan D – Ditto again with Butler . Just a good hockey player.
40 Lalime, Patrick – Best backup in a while but could be a little more consistent.
41 MacArthur, Clarke – Cool name. Stands out in one of every five or ten games.
44 Sekera, Andrej – Great puck carrier who can play defense too. One of five good young defensemen this team has (2 are in Portland ). Don’t forget Mike Weber, he could be the best.
5 Lydman, Toni D – Sometimes is the anchor of the defense. Gets hot and cold in long stretches.
52 Rivet , Craig D – Solid two way defenseman. Should not be wearing the “C”. They need him to lead all those talented young guys.
55 Hecht, Jochen C – Enough is enough. Hecht and Kotalik – Portland or trade.
6 Spacek, Jaroslav D – I like him. He plays hard most of the time. One of the few guys that can come away with the puck from the power forwards. Not so hot at the point although at least gets some shots on the net. He and
61 Afinogenov, Maxim RW – Should score 50 goals with his skating and stick handling skills. Hands of stone. Should try a straight stick. Terrible shot.
76 Peters, Andrew LW – Getting a little better as a hockey player. Doesn’t really win fights big anymore. Should be dressed more against teams with big forwards who like to fight.
Mark Mancari – Looked decent.
Nathan Gerbe – Why he didn’t stay up and replace Hecht is beyond me. Tough little guy with skills.
Intangibles – Great radio and TV coverage. MM Arena caters to kids too much.
The American Italian Baby Boomer