Several issues are facing the Sabres today. There’s so many disasters in Buffalo right now and there’s several voices looking at this. I figured instead of doing a “Here’s another night of disappointment” blog after the Sabres game (1-1 right now), I’d look at some of the issues facing the Sabres.
Say what you will, the power play against the Islanders looked a lot better. Yes, I know they didn’t score. But they certainly spent a lot of time in the Islanders end for their opportunities. The team applied good pressure, cycled the puck well, and took shots. I didn’t see any fancy plays to enter the zone, or trying to make too many passes. I liked what I saw, and I see no reason to start tweaking the power play. If they continue to do what they did against the Isles, the puck will end up in the back of the net.
Earning Ice Time/Power Play Ice Time
This brings me to the next point that I’ve seen a lot of talk about, which is players earning ice time on the power play. I agree with this whole heatedly. In fact, I’d like to see this taken to a higher degree in Buffalo instead of just the power play. Players need to earn ice time period.
Ron Rolston needs to find ways to motivate this team. Good players want to be on the ice in crucial moments during the game. Power plays are some of those moments. In Buffalo’s situation, it can provide a much needed spark. Buffalo needs to get that spark. So, the players who earn it, within reason, are the one’s who deserve to be on power play. Certain players who are struggling, need to show why they deserve to be out there when the Sabres have the man advantage.
I feel that Rolston is trying to get to the key issue for the Sabres right now; effort. There is none. So if you want to be on the ice and get your playing time, put forth the effort. Athletes hate sitting on the bench during crucial moments in games. Players hate sitting on the bench and just watching the game develop while they’re nothing more than a spectator.
The message to the players is clear; You want to be on the ice? EARN IT.
Which brings me to this player;
He has earned absolutely NOTHING with his time in Buffalo. I don’t understand how people keep saying that he’s this great player, because at this point in the season, I have yet to see it. He hasn’t really set the world on fire, and he’s not delivering to the degree that everyone expected. I blame certain people hyping him up to much, making him sound like he walks on water.
Grigorenko has 3 points so far this season in 15 games. How is that earning his ice time? This kid can be great, but I feel Rolston’s right. He’s got a ways to go before he gets there. He’s still 18 for God’s sake. He is working, he is improving, but he’s still not a top line center. At this point in time, I’d say he deserves to only be on the 3rd or 4th line.
To be completely honest, he’s not the greatest hockey player in the game, he’s not going to be this super hero who saves the Buffalo Sabres. He doesn’t deserve to be on the power play right now, and he needs to develop. When he shows that he can play at the NHL level, which he hasn’t, let’s stick him on the power play. Until then, he gets even strength time, and that’s it. But, I left my final point for the end here...
Mikhal Grigorenko, should NOT be in the NHL right now. He should be playing in Quebec with the Ramparts.
And that leads me to the final point I wanted to make. It’s a combined point-
The R’s of Buffalo- Darcy Regier, and Ron Rolston
I’m not willing to throw Rolston under the bus yet. I like what he’s doing, and he deserves time to develop. I like the concept of players earning ice time, and having to put forth an effort in order to get more time on the ice. It’s the right decision to put him behind the bench, and contrary to what others say, the man deserves a chance.
Rolston has inherited a complete and utter disaster in Buffalo. He has a team that’s not working well together, plays horrible defense, and they’re deflated instantaneously. He doesn’t have enough players to make good lines that are balanced and that compliment each other either. He has his work cut out for him, and he can’t be blamed for the problem in Buffalo.
I personally will choose to blame Regier.
I don’t buy for 2 seconds that the trade market is difficult right now. Two trades went down today alone. Gagne to the Flyers, and the Habs sent Cole to the Stars for Ryder. I just think that Regier has put the Sabres into such a huge hole by over paying his players, that he’s never going to be able to deliver a deal. It’s not that the market is cold right now;
It’s cold for him.
Regier should have also sent Grigorenko back down to Quebec for the season instead of wasting a year of his rookie contract. He’s done nothing spectacular and clearly would benefit from playing a full season with the Ramparts. Not just that, but it’s only a 48 game season, so that almost makes this worse. Regier has wasted 1 year of Grigorenko’s contract.
Talk about throwing your money away.
This is just one of several fireable offenses that Regier’s given the front office staff in Buffalo over his 15 and a half years with the organization.
Time for him to go.
These are just a few of the many issues that face the Sabres. However, there’s a reason I left Regier for last in this blog. He’s the key. He goes, changes get made. Unfortunately, I feel that Regier keeps putting Buffalo into a bigger and bigger hole by over paying players, and not accurately assessing talent.
Personally, I think that Regier is turning Hockey Heaven, into it’s exact opposite.
Follow me on Twitter- @SabresBTB I live chat during the games.