|Will the team be adding more |
players to the 2012-12
The above photo pretty much sums up the team for the month of February.
Ryan Miller and Thomas Vanek have carried the Sabres to what little success they've had this season, and continued to do so in February.
On the surface, Miller's 2.83 gaa and .917 sv. % isn't awe inspiring, but the fact that he's come out of this past month with a semblance of sanity is a testament to his commitment and focus.
Miller has been bombarded with shots from every angle, standing on his head game-in/game-out to keep this team in any given game. The Sabres have given up the most shots in the league thus-far (711) and the most shots/game (33.9). If there were a stat given for golden opportunities against, Buffalo would have given up the most there as well.
After a rough start to the month where he went 1-2 giving up 14 goals in those three games, Miller buckled down. In three of the next four games he earned a game-star, two firsts in wins and a second star in a loss to Boston.
Vanek has also been carrying the team, albeit not as much as in January.
He lead the team in points and goals and was second in assists, which isn't all that great considering the horrid month the offense had. But he's been playing well, garnering the second most game-star points on the team.
For a bit of perspective, Nathan Gerbe was third in that department. He was the 1st star in their last game at Florida, his only star of the month.
That's not to say that Miller and Vanek are completely on an island.
Cody Hodgson and Tyler Ennis have been holding their own down the middle in the top-six. They are both young and skilled and are in top-six roles for the first time in their respective careers. Both are also clamoring for help from the right wing.
Hodgson is a part of Buffalo's first line along with Vanek and Jason Pominville. Vanek, as we've seen has been doing his part, but Pominville has fallen off of a cliff.
The captain was second on the team with 12 points in January, but was mired in a funk throughout February amassing a mere three points for the entire month.
Ennis has been on an island throughout the 2013 season thus-far. His wingers from last year--Drew Stafford and Marcus Foligno--have both failed to deliver with Foligno being a healthy scratch last game at Florida. Stafford has one goal and seven assists for the year.
Gerbe was moved up to Ennis' line to provide some badly needed spark and it took a number of games for him to have an impact on the score sheet. He potted a pair of goals at Florida, his first two of the season.
The 5'5", 175 lb. forward was coming off of major surgery and it seems as if he's finally comfortable enough to start playing his agitated style.
Forward Steve Ott, acquired last off-season for Derek Roy, has had a good month. Maybe it goes along with his "half-full" outlook on the team. He continues to contribute modestly on the score sheet but is a constant worker whenever he's on the ice. He's solid on the faceoff dot, solid on the kill and lead the team in plus/minus for February with a plus-5.
To put that in perspective, only two other players were in the plus column: rookie defenseman TJ Brennan (+3) who sees limited action and workhorse defenseman Christian Ehrhoff (+2.) Bottom-six forward Jochen Hecht was even as was bottom-pairing defenseman Alexander Sulzer.
Every other Sabre was in the minus column for the month as the team had a collective minus-28 for February.
Looking at stats like that, it's a wonder the team managed to go 5-9-0 for the month.
That being said, it would seem as if the team's fortunes are ready to trend upward.
Interim head coach Ron Rolston took the reigns and in his second game behind the bench was shut out by the NY Islanders 4-0. The team was booed off the ice. Rolston proceeded to win his first game after that at Tampa and came away with a 4-3 SO win two nights later at Florida.
The Sabres exited the month of February going 2-2 with signs of life. Goals against, as well as premium chances against are trending downward while the team received some secondary scoring in their last two wins--Tyler Myers with the game-winner at Tampa, Gerbe with two goals at Florida.
It should be noted that Rolston's first two games came without the opportunity for a full practice. They are 2-0 after that.
March begins this afternoon with a home game vs. the NJ Devils. They will be without goalie Martin Brodeur.
We'll see if we can add another player or two, or three to the "2013 team photo."
(special thanx to whomever came up with that)
- January--Thomas Vanek-15; Jason Pominville-12; Cody Hodgson-6
- February--Vanek-12; Hodgson, Tyler Ennis--11
- January--Vanek-6; Pominville-5; Hodgson-4
- February--Vanek-6; Ennis-5, Hodgson-4
- January--Vanek-3; Pominville, Steve Ott, Tyler Myers-1
- February--Vanek-2; Ennis-1
- January--Vanek, 9; Pominville-7; Christian Ehrhoff-5
- February--Hodgson-7; Vanek, Ennis-6
- January--Vanek, Pominville-3; Hodgson, Tyler Ennis, Ehrhoff-2
- February--Ennis-2; Foligno, Ehrhoff-1
- January--Vanek, Pominville-3; Drew Stafford, Ehrhoff-2
- February--Stafford, Ennis-4; Vanek, Ott, Jochen Hecht-3
- January--Vanek +4; Alexander Sulzer, Mike Weber +3
- February--Ott +5, TJ Brennan +3; Ehrhoff +2
- January--Stafford, Jordan Leopold -4; Myers, Mikhail Grigorenko -3
- February--Hodgson, Andrej Sekera -5; Stafford, Foligno, Regehr, Weber -4
Three Stars (1st=5 points, 2nd=3 points, 3rd=1 point)
- January--Vanek (10); Ryan Miller (7); Pominville (6)
- February--Miller (18); Vanek (17); Gerbe (5)
Goalies (year to date):
- January--3-2-1; .920 sv % (20th); 2.64 gaa (28th); 0 shutouts
- February--5-10-1; .917 (26th); 2.83 (T-45); 0
- January--0-1-0; 856 sv % (49th); 5.00 gaa (T-56th), 0 shutouts
- February--0-2-0; .847 (73rd); 4.75; 0