We’re officially less than 2 weeks away from hockey season starting. Buffalo Sabres hockey starts with a lot of huge questions and there really aren’t a lot of answers. The roster is slowly getting trimmed down, and the next thing we know, Buffalo will be taking the ice at Joe Louis Arena for their opening game against the Detroit.
While there are a lot of concerns, I think a few things need to happen to at least ensure some success for this upcoming season.
Leadership is key. This is going to be a very young team on the ice come October 2nd. They need a captain who is charismatic and has a ton of energy. I’ve been preaching this since the last Sabres captain was traded; Steve Ott needs to get the C. There’s no other option as far as I’m concerned.
The only other viable captain that I’m hearing a lot of argument for is to give it to Vanek. I urge people to consider this; a goal scorer does not equal a captain. I don’t necessarily have a problem with Vanek getting an A like he has had in the past. Ott is a tough power forward who can score, but also is a great 2-way player. There’s a certain energy that radiates from Ott. With all the young forwards on this team, that’s what’s needed. Vanek is a great goal scorer and is fun to watch, but I just don’t feel the same energy coming from Vanek as I do Ott. Give Ott the C. This shouldn’t even be a discussion for the Sabres. Just do it.
Defense is another change that needs to happen. Buffalo has far too many defensemen on their roster. They need to keep the best 7 defensemen and ensure that they simplify their game. I’ve watched the defense for Buffalo just look abysmal night in, night out. They’d make sloppy clearing passes, too many passes, and not play physical hockey. The Sabres need to defend their end with aggression and toughness. They have lacked these qualities for years. Buffalo’s opponents need to know that setting up in the Buffalo end is going to be difficult and painful. I’ve felt that opponents have had no trouble setting up and scoring easy goals against the Sabres. That needs to end immediately.
Finally, I want to see balanced offensive lines. Everyone realizes that putting Grigorenko with John Scott isn’t the brightest idea in the world. If he is going to be in Buffalo for 82 games (he shouldn’t, but according to Darcy, he will be), he needs to play with other offensive players. I actually like the concept of Grigorenko and Girgensons together on a line. I really do. I think there’s a lot of potential there. Ron Rolston has to have line combinations that work well together, play similar styles of hockey, and can compliment each other on the ice. If the Sabres are to succeed, they have to get the most out of their players, and this is the best way to get it.
I know that Buffalo has looked good in practice. Again, it’s practice. They should look good in practice. Same thing with preseason to this point in time. It’s preseason, I want them to win when the games actually mean something. The real show starts on October 2nd. That’s what I’m waiting for.
Follow me on Twitter- @SabresBTB. I’m going to try to hop online tonight for a little bit and live chat during the Sabres vs Leafs game tonight. As always, I’ll be on live chatting throughout the Sabres season.
I can’t say it enough, Thanks for reading!