While the losses in Buffalo have continued to mount, there’s something more disturbing about their play of late.
The Sabres are a soft team.
This might not be too much of a shock especially after seeing how the team didn’t respond to Milan Lucic running over Ryan Miller over a month ago, but team-wide the Sabres lack any sort of presence on the ice that makes them feared. Oh sure, there’s plenty of talent there with Thomas Vanek, Jason Pominville, and Derek Roy. There’s plenty of speed to burn here too, but both up front and on defense they lack any kind of intimidating physical presence.
Take a look up and down the Sabres lineup and try to find a physical, defensive player that makes you think they’ve got that sandpaper-like ability to win those power battles. Robyn Regehr is the closest player they’ve got to that on defense. Amongst the forwards, Cody McCormick plays tough and Patrick Kaleta makes sure you have your head on a swivel, but a power forward? Nowhere to be found.
That lack of physical presence is hurting them too. The Sabres look out of sync defensively and teams are able to maneuver around them too easily. Look at what Ottawa did to them last night winning 4-1. Lindy Ruff can only do so much with who he’s got and it’s up to Darcy Regier to fix this very apparent hole on the team before things get too out of control.
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It’s going to be interesting to see if Hammond can replicate the success he had last season, when he came out of nowhere to go 20-1-2 with a 1.79 GAA and .941 save percentage, and finish seventh in Vezina voting.