It has been a long January. A very long January. After tonight’s match up there will be a brief reprieve for Sabres fans during the NHL All-Star break. Perhaps the best part of the time off will be the opportunity the team’s walking wounded has to heal.
The Sabres skate into New Jersey with nothing to hold their heads up about. Their leading scorer has begun to slump, their most steady defenseman has been out injured, their replacement defensemen have been quite average and their goaltending continues to perplex. Oh, and they have lost 12-straight road games and still can’t score goals. Like I said, a long January.
Somehow, there is still some hope floating about. Truly. Christian Ehrhoff returns from a rib injury that has held him out for some time, Tyler Ennis and Robyn Regehr are skating in full and trade talk around the league is heating up. For those hoping for a Marlins-esque deconstruction, keep holding your breath. But don’t be surprised to see some moves made.
The Sabres are playing a very beatable team this evening. Unfortunately Marty Brodeur seems to do his best “Marty Brodeur” every time these teams meet. So goals will certainly be at a premium. Ryan Miller played the last game at The Rock, and played pretty well. He still yielded three goals, but you couldn’t hang the loss on him. This smells like a great opportunity for Lindy Ruff to use his backup. Let Miller take a full week off and decompress. Of course, Lindy Ruff will probably play Miller. It just seems like a good opportunity to let him collect his thoughts.
The only key to this victory will be Buffalo’s forwards. They have been the biggest underachievers over this entire losing streak. If they can find a way to score a few goals, there is a good chance Buffalo breaks this losing skid.
Christian Ehrhoff. Ehrhoff very well may exhibit all the tell tale signs of a lengthy injury layoff. However, his presence has been missed by the Sabres. While he isn’t scoring goals at a break neck pace, Ehrhoff has been steady for Buffalo and has actually been money well spent – no matter what anyone else tells you.