Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Today's matinee: Sybil, or which Sabres team will show up today?

Published by hockeybuzz.com, 1-16-2017

For those unfamiliar with the movie Sybil, it's the story of a woman with 16 different personalities, which is pretty much the way the Sabres have played all season and we're not sure which one will show up today vs. the Dallas Stars. Game to game, period to period, shift to shift, Buffalo's inconsistencies on the ice are frustrating and it's left a fairly talented group of players looking at the playoffs from a great distance. About the only things we can count on is Rasmus Ristolainen carrying the load on defense and head coach Dan Bylsma juggling his lines.

But Bylsma will have an reason to do some line juggling today as Tyler Ennis will return to the lineup after early November from groin/hernia surgery. Ennis played in 12 games but was insignificant to the point where I had to back-track and edit a previous blog because I had him as being out all season. I was wrong. He had a goal and an assist and was a minus-6 in 12 games this season.

The 5'9, 180 lb. Ennis has had injury problems dating back to last season when he only appeared in 23 games registering 11 points (3g+8a) and was a minus-9. As one of three holdovers from the tank years who lead the team in scoring, Ennis was expected to at least continue contributing to the Sabres offense but he's been struggling with injuries and the propensity to play an east/west game instead of going north/south. Granted, he's one greazy son-of-a-gun, but too much dipsy-doodling leads too many turnovers and too many odd-man rushes the other way.

Regardless of his struggles the Sabres are welcoming the top-six help as a reinforcement for the left side. Ennis is slated to be on the top line with center Ryan O'Reilly and right wing Kyle Okposo while Marcus Foligno and Evander move to the next two lines. Rookie Will Carrier, who at one time was playing up top, is on the fourth line bumping Nicolas Deslauriers to center or to the press box.

Reports have Cal O'Reilly being recalled from Rochester but the projected lineup from Jourdan LaBarber doesn't have him in the lineup.

The Sabres defense should remain the same with Ristolainen/Jake McCabe, Zach Bogosian/Cody Franson and Taylor Fedun/Justin Falk.

Robin Lehner gets the start vs. the Stars.

Yesterday's blog had some eastern vs. western conference comparisons and despite being in the West, the Stars play an extremely fast Eastern-style game so it will be interesting to see how the Sabres fare. Buffalo is 7-3-2 vs. the West but only 9-14-7 vs. the East which creates a problem since they reside in the Eastern Conference.

That said, we'll see which personality presents itself today. “Consistency is the answer. Consistently doing the small things, consistently doing the simple plays because that opens things up," said Lehner to the gathered media yesterday after watching the team on TV while recovering from an illness. “It’s easier for the team to get better and see where pieces are missing and what we need to do to go forward if we do what we’re supposed to. Right now some games when it goes wrong, everyone is kind of all over the place and it’s kind of hard to pinpoint.”

Tell us about it. We've been watching a schizophrenic Sabres team all season.

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