An attempt to be humorous and logical about the Buffalo Sports Scene.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Sabres Preview Part 2

Mark Mulville

I love how Kevin Sylvester doesn't even hide who he works for. I work for the Sabres, I am also a Journalist, but yeah I'm wearing a Sabre jacket, jealous John Vogl?

Well Craig Rivet is probably the one player we all will be looking at for a couple months. He's the new guy, he's the new captain, and is supposed to be the guy to solidify the defense. And that is where this preview is focused. Defense.

Defense First

Calling the defense last year, average, would be a compliment. They were not good. Nothing signified that more then having Weber and Sekera playing top pair minutes. Tallinder struggled, Lydman struggled, Paetsch was terrible. Spacek was probably the best player all year on defense, Pratt was adequate and they got rid of Campbell who wasn't that awesome. Now they bring in a solid physical guy like Rivet. Have Numimmen back for the year. And Sekera is way more experienced. Plus Weber has to go to Portland. They have 8 solid NHL defensemen right now. Plus Card and Funk if things get dicey.

The solid play of 6 or 7 guys is critical for the Sabres this year. Ryan Miller isn't Hasek, who can have a terrible defense in front of him and win games. He isn't that good. But you put a solid group in front of him and he'll make the saves you need to keep a lead. Just like Osgood in Detroit. There is no doubt this group is an improvement on last year. Everyone struggled, and everyone is looking to make up for their poor play. Sekera and Spacek probably have nothing to make up for, but I'm sure both will add to their play.

But the key is Tallinder and Lydman. The so called "top pair" really didn't shut anyone down last year. The Ottawa line routinely lit this team up last year. These two really have to bring their A game this year. No lazy passes or defensive lapses, or this team will be in trouble. Their play was pretty typical of last years Sabres. Off and on, interested and bored, score 10 goals or get shutout. I like to call the 2007-2008 season, the Lost Season. Because their was no identity, you had nothing to rely on. You knew the players, but nobody wanted to take charge, nobody seemed to care, it was all about who wasn't here, and who was leaving. Now, people are locked down, the past years are exactly that, in the past. Thats why Tallinder and Lydman should be better this year. Because its time to move on.

It will be interesting to see who they put Sekera with. Rivet or Numimmen or Spacek. I would put him with Teppo. The young kid could really learn under Teppo, and turn into the best defensemen on the team. Then have Spacek and Rivet together to really bring toughness to the blueline. Yes it would put the tough guys together and then have more skilled players without a backup together. But its just what I would do.

Goalie Time

Now we get to Miller. The man with the new contract. The Face of the Sabres. This is his team now. No matter if he doesn't want it. Ryan Miller is the Buffalo Sabres. The future and success lies on his skinny frame. Like it did on another skinny goalie a decade ago. Last year wasn't good for Ryan. He played too much, let in too many goals, and really showed what he can and cannot do. A bad year, but also a good year. Good as in "HEY DON'T PLAY ME IN 76 games I CAN'T HANDLE THE WORKLOAD" good. Now, the contract is over with, a better backup is in town, and we know what Ryan Miller can do. There are no questions. And when you don't have questions, you can approach games with the right mindset. Especially true for Lindy Ruff.

Lalime seems to me the perfect backup. Former starter, played pretty well in front of a young Blackhawk defense, and in front of a more mature crew, should really play well. His job is simple. Spell Miller, don't suck, and be supportive of Ryan when he comes off the ice. And if you want to heckle players on the bench, go right ahead we love that.

Anyway, the Sabres should be fine on the backend. No matter the pairings. Miller and Lalime should be solid. And I'll leave the captain doing what a captain should do. Someone touches a teammate, they get a pounding.

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Buffalo, NY, United States
A Stay at home dad, who has more hot takes then your average stay at home dad.