Wednesday, December 13, 2017

'Gus' returns. It's Buffalo at St. Louis tonight

Published by, 12-10-2017

Buffalo forward Zemgus Girgensons was benched for the last two games. And rightfully so. It's been 19 games since the 6'2" 207 lb. forward has scored a point. October 14, to be exact when he scored a goal at Los Angeles vs. the Kings. "I wasn’t performing at my best," was how 'Gus' put it to the gathered media yesterday in St. Louis.

Girgensons went on to say that his play "wasn't good enough" and that he could ."work harder."

"Definitely the production isn’t good enough," he continued, "and the work ethic can be harder, I know that and everyone has seen from me that I can be better."

It didn't take a rocket scientist or long-time hockey person to figure out that Girgensons wasn't doing much of anything on the ice during games, or even at practice, and that's why Buffalo coach Phil Housley sent him to the press box for the last two games. “I thought this was one of his best practices in a long time," said Housley yesterday, "so we’ll make that decision tomorrow, but it’s good to see him with a little jump in his step and controlling the play in the small game area and he brought some good energy today.”

Interesting to note that a report pointed out how the team wasn't "down in the dumps" at practice after blowing a late lead and losing to the Chicago Blackhawks in overtime on Friday. "We just talked about our preparation and execution beforehand and everyone being accountable for each other," said the coach.

"I thought there was a lot of life and a lot of energy out there and really quick puck movement," continued Housley, "and we've got to continue work on that as far as the fundamentals go because it's part of our execution up ice."

The Sabres are going to need a lot of energy and execution as they take on the league's second best team in the St. Louis Blues who are coming off a 6-1 pasting of the Detroit Red Wings last night. It's a team that hasn't been to the Stanley Cup Finals since 1970, the season before the Sabres, and the Vancouver Canucks, became a part of the league.

Like the Blackhawks, the Sabres have had nothing but trouble playing St. Louis. Buffalo is 1-8-1 in their last 10 games vs. the Blues and 1-6-3 on the road. The Sabres haven't beaten the Blues in St. Louis since December 27, 2009. Buffalo's Tim Connoly and Mike Grier had two goals and an assist each while Patrick Lalime stopped 32 of 35 shots in the Sabres 5-3 win. Jochen Hecht scored the other goal for the Sabres.

The Blues come into tonight's matchup sixth in the league in scoring with 99 goals with a league-leading 24 coming from their defense. Conversely the Sabres have scored a league-low 62 with only one goal coming from the defense corps, which is also dead last in the league.

Housley did a little juggling with his lines yesterday with Girgensons on a line with center Johan Larsson and Hudson Fasching.

Fasching played the last two games with Ryan O'Reilly and Benoit Pouliot but was dropped down while Kyle Okposo was moved up to that line.

According to reports, these were the lines yesterday:

Kane - Eichel - Pominville
Pouliot - O’Reilly - Okposo
Wilson - Rodrigues - Reinhart
Nolan - Larsson - Fasching

Defensemen Rasmus Ristolainen and Zach Bogosian both sat out practice yesterday for maintenance days. Ristolainen played over 30 minutes for the second consecutive games, the first player to do so since Dmitry Kalinin in 2004, according to Mike Harrington of The Buffalo News, and Harrington sites Elias Sports Bureau as saying no Buffalo Sabres player has ever played 30 minutes or more in three consecutive days.

A maintenance day indeed.

Game time is 7 pm.

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