Sunday, December 22, 2013

Sabres fall in Beantown, net one goal. John Scott is probably to blame

When the Buffalo Sabres were rolling four lines the last two games without John Scott in the line-up they had back-to-back four-goal games that wound up being back-to-back wins.

To the anti-Scott contingency, those two games were proof that the Sabres didn't need a talentless goon/enforcer wasting a precious spot on the ice even against a tough team like the Boston Bruins, a team who the Sabres had beaten 4-2 two nights earlier. They have legitimate fourth-liners like Matt "Freakin" Ellis, Kevin Porter, Matt D'Agostini and now Linus Omark to skate a regular shift.

What was that?

Oh, he didn't play last night in their 4-1 loss against Boston?

Hmmm. So that's why the Bruins Zdeno Chara used Steve Ott as a tree stump to hack at. Oh yeah, and that's why the Bruins Johnny Boychuk was flying around the ice laying to waste any Sabre he wanted. (How's your hip, Porter?)

Even the Bruins Patrice Bergeron had his chest full last night, slashing away at Tyler Myers before both dropped the gloves. It was Bergeron's first NHL fight (and Myers' second.)

In anti-Scott circles (mostly outside of Buffalo) the common refrain is that Scott is totally worthless.

In Buffalo, the following from a Sabres fan in a Sabres thread who calls himself (or herself) sbroads24, sums up the local anti-Scott contingency:  "John Scott has 0 points and is a -9 in his career as a Sabre, also being by far the worst possession forward on the team, maybe even the league. Most of his shifts start in the offensive zone and end in the defensive zone. He's not a good player, Nolan can try all he want that won't change. Waive him, no one will take him, let him play in Rochester until someone cheap shots us again. He's wasting a spot that could be occupied by a young player."

He (or she) continues in a later post:  "The numbers prove he's an awful player, our record proves him being here does nothing to help the team. People like him because they like fighting, that's it. I'm pretty confident Scott will not be here next year when a new GM is here, and wouldn't be surprised to see him waived at some point. The last 2 games proved he literally makes no difference and they are better with other guys in his place."

The Sabres would be better this year with other guys in his place, if the other guys were, say, Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Pavel Datsyuk, Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, etc...

But, unfortunately on this edition of the Sabres, the team only has a bunch of borderline NHL'ers ready to take his spot. A handful of players who are a dime a dozen, who do skate a regular shift, but whose contributions are so scarce that a win or two because of them will probably not make much of a difference when all's said and done.

What we do have, though, at this point in the season are black and white numbers that can help frame the Great John Scott Debate because the Sabres have played 36 games this season and Scott has played in 18 (drum roll please):

The record with Scott in the lineup--4-11-3, 11 pts. Without Scott--5-13-0, 10 pts.

Goals-for with Scott in the lineup--25, 1.38/gm. Without Scott--39, 2.16/gm.

Goals-against with Scott in the lineup--48, 2.67/gm. Without Scott--56, 3.11/gm.

Goal differential with Scott in the lineup--minus-23. Without Scott--minus--17.

It's pretty simple. Obviously Scott really doesn't have any skill to speak of, and he certainly isn't helping the team on offense.

Defensively, though, the team is a bit better when he's in the lineup.

Overall, things balance out to the point where this year the team snagged one more point with Scott in the lineup.

So speak the numbers.

Personally, I wouldn't worry about Scott taking away time from the likes of Ellis or Porter or even a young borderline NHL'er like Luke Adam this season. What I do worry about is the burden of protecting teammates falling on the shoulders of Steve Ott, Cody McCormick and Mike Weber.

They should not be tangling with the heavyweights of the league and/or getting their heads bashed in ala Corey Tropp. At least not on a regular basis.

Overusing tough, gritty players to stand up for their teammates in an enforcer role put a hurtin' on former Sabres like Craig Rivet and Robyn Regehr. The goal should be to keep tough and gritty players then add to the lot, not hasten their demise by having them play an enforcer role.

In this year of transition, where more of an emphasis is on tougher and grittier, the Ott's and McCormick's as well as youngin's like Marcus Foligno and even Zemgus Girgensons need Scott. Methinks that the rest of the team like having him around as well.


Tyler Myers drops the gloves with Patrice Bergeron.

Umm, Tyler? You might want to bring that swing a little lower when the guy is that much shorter and, ummm, an upper-cut coulda really done some damage.

Just a thought.

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