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

Monday, April 13, 2009

What went wrong part 1

With the end of the season on Saturday, and the Sabres failing to make the playoffs for the 2nd year in a row. I will look into several reasons why the team didn't make the postseason. And being tough isn't one of them. Detroit never seems that tough to me, they just play hard. You can play tough and not win. Effort is more a reason then toughness. But in today's segment, we'll delve into offense.

The Sabres were known two years ago as a offensive team. They lead the league in goals and were dangerous from almost every line. They have 9 players with 40 or more points. This year they have 7. You may say well that's not much of a difference. But if you make the bar higher, say 60 points. The 06-07 team had 7 guys above 60 points. This year they had 3.

The loss of potent offensive weapons like Drury, Briere and Brian Campbell, has taken its toll on the team. Instead of replacing those losses, less offensive talents took their place. Derek Roy isn't Danny Briere. Jason Pominville isn't Chris Drury and Jaroslav Spacek isn't Brian Campbell. And the talent to replace those guys didn't matchup to what they were. It was a step down, all through the lineup.

On top of that, the top guys had down years. When you rely on your top offensive guys to produce, and they don't. You are going to struggle to win games.

Derek Roy 07-08 32 goals 49 assists for 81 points 1.03 points per game
Derek Roy 08-09 28 goals 42 assists for 70 points .85 points per game

Jason Pominville 07-08 27 goals 53 assists for 80 points .97 points per game
Jason Pominville 08-09 20 goals 46 assists fof 66 points .80 points per game

Jochen Hecht 07-08 22 goals 27 assists for 49 points .65 points per game

Jochen Hecht 08-09 12 goals 15 assists for 27 points .38 points per game

That is a drastic drop off from 1 year to the next. Whoever the Sabres depended on, had struggles. Even Vanek, after the injury his stats declined. But the biggest example is Jochen Hecht who was a blackhole for anyone around him. And the fact Pominville was constantly around him, brought him down as well. If these guys played as well as they did last year. They would have been in the playoffs. It wasn't goaltending that was the issue. It was offense. And if Ryan Miller had the year, he had last year. This team would be even farther down the standings. The team is flawed. There are major flaws up and down the roster.

2005-2006 272 goals
2006-2007 298 goals
2007-2008 251 goals
2008-2009 242 goals

The team scored 56 less goals then two years ago. Thats .68 goals per game. That is a drastic change. Top line guys didn't produce, and the guys behind them, didn't either. Dan Paille, Clarke Macarthur, Dominic Moore, Max Afinogenov all didn't produce.

The Dominic Moore Trade was a complete bust. He had 41 points coming into the Sabres. He had 4 points in 18 games the rest of the way. 4 POINTS! The guy was a waste of a trade. Ales Kotalik would have given you better stats. You can say the Tellqvist trade was the winner at the deadline. And in fact he's the Free agent you bring back next year.

Some guys had up years, Vanek had a better year, up until he took a puck to the face. Ryan Miller as dramatically better, Paul Gaustad was better. Matt Ellis and Adam Mair gave you good 4th line production. But when grinders and role players are the team improvements you are in a world of trouble.

These are just the forwards we are talking about. The Offense from the blue line was non existent this year. And looking back through the years, it always is. But when the forwards mask it, its never a big issue. Until now.

Offense from Defenseman

2008-2009 23 goals 152 points
2007-2008 25 goals 154 points

2006-2007 28 goals 184 points

2005-2006 32 goals 164 points

Its a declining stat. Which is interesting. Why are they getting less offense from the Blueline? And if they lose Spacek and Teppo retires. They are in major trouble on the backend for points. Craig Rivet would be their leading scorer on the blueline.

To put this in perspective. Mike Green had 31 goals this year and 73 points.

In the offseason, they need to acquire more 2nd level offensive talent. This will hopefully, let loose the pressure on the current top scorers now. Who are obviously feeling the pressure to produce. Though it did seem at the end of the year, the were a little more confident offensively, though when playing a Detroit or New Jersey, completely went into the tank.

Whoever the GM and talent evaluators are come this summer. Its obvious several of the players on the roster, can't handle being top dog. Its not in their nature. So to improve the offense, you may have to trade current talent for other talent. They might not be as flashy, but goals are goals and if you can get goals, you get wins. And a change in philosophy. Points are needed from defensemen. The young guys they have aren't the offensive kind. They need someone that can bring the puck from the point.

The trends aren't encouraging, but I don't feel a major overhaul is needed. Just some nips and tucks and the team is in contention again.

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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.