The Sabres are 4-1-0 to start the season. Ryan Miller is playing like it’s the Olympics, Thomas Vanek and Jason Pominville are scoring the way they’re being paid to do, rookie Luke Adam is forcing teams to take notice of him, and defenseman Christian Ehrhoff and Robyn Regehr are doing their jobs to the hilt.
So what isn’t working for the Sabres? Free agent acquisition Ville Leino. Leino spoke with WGR radio in Buffalo about how he feels about his slow start with the Sabres and he’s got a few things to get off his chest.
“I don’t know if it’s the system or whatever, but I’m sure that I’m not happy with how I’ve played. I’m sure Lindy isn’t happy either. I’m just trying to work here and get things working.”
Struggles can happen with a new team when it’s early in the year. It takes time to develop chemistry that works great. What’s concerning is that Leino was bumped down to the fourth line in their win over Montreal last night.
Part of the issue for Leino, he says, is that he’s struggling playing center. Remember Leino saw all his success as a Flyer last season as a winger. The Sabres signed him up for a monster six-year deal in the offseason to play center. Whoops.
Having Leino set up on the wing with natural center Tyler Ennis there to move back to the middle could be the simple tweak needed to get Leino right. Playing him on the fourth line forever isn’t an option. If this is the only issue the Sabres have to figure out for now, they’re doing just fine and helping make Terry Pegula and GM Darcy Regier very happy executives.
GM says Blue Jackets are ‘off the rails’ right now
Apparently Blue Jackets management is a little shaken by the second 0-3-0 start in franchise history, however.
Columbus GM Jarmo Kekalainen shared his shock and dismay with the Columbus Dispatch’s Aaron Portzline on Tuesday.
“I’m surprised how, in just five days, we’ve gone from a very confident group to something that’s the opposite of that,” Kekalainen told The Dispatch on Tuesday. “Our confidence, our game … it’s off the rails right now.
Maybe losing to the Buffalo Sabres stings a little bit extra?
Kekalainen said “there’s no excuse for how we played in Buffalo,” pointing out that every team in the NHL is a “good team.”
Indeed, just about every squad boasts some dangerous weapons if they catch an opponent sleeping.
Portzline goes deeper on Columbus’ recent history of stumbling out of the gate, but consider the foreboding stretch coming up.
Next four games: Three out of four at home Eight games following that: Seven out of eight on the road.
As you can see, winter is coming for Columbus, so they best get things together. All things considered, this is the right time for a wake-up call.
For bonus chuckles, here’s a photo of Kekalainen on a railing.
He entered the building considerably later than usual, but his presence at least opened the door for the possibility of No. 8 suiting up against the San Jose Sharks.
Instead, the Capitals will face the hot-starting Sharks without Ovechkin (personal reasons) and Nicklas Backstrom (injury).
That’s a tall order, yet it’s also an opportunity for Barry Trotz to prove his system is a difference-maker … and that the Capitals have the young players to take up the mantle when the big stars are out
This is how Washington’s forward lines may look tonight:
With Ovechkin out, Caps lines look like this: