I was amazed at Buffalo’s win on Thursday night against the Bruins. I would have written sooner, but I was about ready to fall asleep after I watched it, so I went to sleep. I won’t focus on that game, lets just leave it at that Buffalo beat the Bruins, and picked up 2 much needed points.
What I’d rather do is take a look at the use of Grigorenko and Brennan in Buffalo. Both of these players have the potential to be up and coming stars. By no means will I say that these guys are the saviors of Buffalo, or allude to them being the hottest players in the game. I will say that there’s a lot of potential with these 2 players. Let’s start with Brennan.
I went to several games in Rochester this year and got to take a really good look at TJ Brennan. He was great on the point, especially on the power play, and he wasn’t too shy to throw his body around and let his opponents know that he was there. He was on a roll in Rochester, averaging a hair under a point a game (35 points, 36 games) before taking the trip to Buffalo.
Why’s this guy on the bench?
I would at least like to see Brennan used in power play situations. Rochester had a great set up and utilized his cannon of a shot regularly. McNabb and Brennan played the point on the PP. McNabb and other Amerks would pull their opponents to one side, and then McNabb would slide the pass over to Brennan and he’d let his blistering one timer go. While it may not have worked every time, it’s a good weapon to have. Yes, it’s tough just dressing one guy for just power plays, but Buffalo needs to plan for the future as well. Brennan isn’t going to improve by sitting on the bench.
Yes, he may be practicing with the Sabres, but practice isn’t live game experience. So forget that.
I feel that Brennan should have been in the line up opening night. He was on a roll in Rochester, especially for a defensemen. When someone is playing well, you don’t put them on the bench. Especially with how the Sabres defense has been playing as of late. The D hasn’t looked the greatest, and needs improvement. I’m worried that Brennan’s talent may be going to waste, and he’s not getting the experience that he desperately needs.
I’ve got one more point I want to make on Brennan, but I’m going to tie it into Grigorenko later.
First off, let me say that it was great watching Grigorenko’s celebration after scoring his first NHL goal. I’d like to thank Foligno for not killing him in the celebration. Jeanneret summed it up accurately, saying that one would need “a stick of dynamite to get the smile off his face.” He even picked up a nice assist on Thursday night against the Bruins, making an easy pass to Sulzer.
Unfortunately, Grigorenko has been on the bench a lot in crucial situations in games, and he’s busy playing on the 3rd line. The most amount of ice time he’s picked up as at this point in time is not a lot. He logged his most ice time against the Capitals, playing 17 minutes and 10 seconds. Next game against the Leafs, 10 minutes 5 seconds. Bruins, 8 minutes 57 seconds. As I said before, this guy is supposed the be the number 1 center in a few years, if not sooner. How’s he getting experience sitting on the bench?
Now, we all know that Ruff loves playing with his lines throughout the games. I’d like to see Grigorenko get a few chances a game to be out there with Vanek and Pominville. I’m liking that he’s been playing with Foligno lately as well. However, I think he needs to play with some more of the veterans on the team. I’d also be open to him playing a little with Stafford as well.
I mentioned the power play with Brennan earlier, I feel the same thing applies to Grigorenko. He deserves a shot to be out there come power plays. I liked during one of the games, and I can’t remember what one, but I saw him go straight to the net to screen the goalie. He’s a big boy at 6’3”, and that’s right where he needs to be sitting on the power play. Plus, I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again, he’s supposed to have a great shot. Let’s see it. While his back hander against the Leafs was nice, but I want to see what his wrist and slap shots can do.
Finally, this applies to both Brennan and Grigorenko. I believe firmly that the best way to bring along a player is to give them the experience they need. Both guys deserve to have ice time. Grigorenko more than Brennan, but the same rule applies. If they want these guys to grow and get more experience, put them on the ice in key situations. If the game’s tied with 5 minutes left, give Grigorenko a shift or two. Put Brennan on the power play when Buffalo needs to get a goal, and see what he can do. They’re not helping these guys at all by letting them sit on the bench in Grigorenko’s case, or sit in the press box if you’re Brennan.
How you handle young players when they come into the NHL is key. I feel that both of these players have enormous potential. However, if the coaching staff doesn’t use them correctly, it could be detrimental to these 2 young players.
I’m now gearing up for the Sabres matinee with the Habs. I’ll have a weekend recap tomorrow before the Super Bowl. I’ll be live chatting during this afternoon’s game on twitter- @SabresBTB.