I wanted to wait until the Sabres were at least 20 games into the season before I started writing a blog. My feelings coming into this season were that the team would be fine without Chris and Danny, but that it was going to take about 20 games for them to find their way. I liked the make up of this roster, but knew that some changes would have to be made as the season progressed. Whether those changes were personel or just the current team adjusting to new roles I didn't know. The only thing I knew with absolutely certainty was that the team needed a stay at home D. We needed a lunch pail guy who would show up game in and game out ready to work and do the things that our current D was not doing. It looks like we've found that guy in Nolan Pratt. I can't say enough about how his play has helped, and I truly hope come Jan 1st that Darcy works on keeping here for a couple more years. Of all the FA's we have coming up I think he would be the easiest to get signed, and they should just pull the trigger and get it done.
The other feeling I had was that Jochen Hecht needed to move to center to really live up to his potential. When Connolly went down it was a definite blow to the team, but the upside was finally we got to see what Jochen can do in the pivot position. Strong on the faceoffs, solid two way game, great in the middle of the ice. I never felt Jochen was effective on the half wall, or at least as strong as he was in front of the net. I think that he has shown himself a capable center and hope he continues to log time there. That plus having MacArthur up has been a true boon.
Other players up to this point that have impressed are Paille and Mike Ryan. Is there a better wing combo on any 4th line right now? Not sure, but they bring that gritty, tough, workman attitude night in and night out and it is starting to really pay off as they adjust to their roles at the NHL level. Is either of these guys going to put up 30 goals or 50 points? No, but when they are out there it is obvious they bring a change of pace and style of hockey we haven't seen since the pre-lock out Hasek days. Working guys fighting to stay up on the big club, not taking anything for granted, eating up what the coaches preach like Baptists at a weekly sermon. It's great to see and I can only see these guys getting better with Mair's return. Lindy is going to have some tough decisions to make on who to sit and play once everyone returns, but that is better than trying to find someone who can play at this level.
Next up St Louis and Jay McKee.