Buffalo Sabres' Ville Leino (23), of Finland, battles Washington Capitals Roman Hamrlik (44), of the Czech Republic, for the puck in front of the Capitals' net during the first period of an NHL hockey game in Buffalo, N.Y., Saturday, Nov. 26, 2011. (AP Photo/Gary Wiepert)
Buffalo has lost to two cellar dwellers in Columbus and the New York Islanders in the past two weeks. Now they welcome the Detroit Red Wings into town Friday night, the same Red Wings who are on an 8-2 streak in their past 10 games. The Red Wings always play the Sabres tough, and to make matters worse Buffalo still hasn’t been able to find consistency at home this season. A 4-5-1 record at home is unacceptable in so many ways. It seems like the team needs some kind of injection of energy
Rochester Amerks call up Zach Asian has provided a physical presence with ability to put the puck in the back of the net, and has played with a high energy level since coming up and playing his first game against the Blue Jackets. However, Kassian isn’t enough to boost the Sabres to elite status. As a result, there have been a lot of trade rumors flying around. Rumors have included names like Ryan Miller, Drew Stafford, Marc-Andre Gragnani and Mike Weber. Miller, however, spoke out against rumors that he is on the trading block, insisting that he loves the situation that he is currently in and has no desire to leave.
As for Stafford, Gragnani and Weber, these three names have been rumored in a potential trade with the Anaheim Ducks that would move them to California in exchange for George Parros and Bobby Ryan. Whether or not these rumors are exactly relevant or not doesn’t really matter. The fact that the rumors are there is proof that Buffalo is in need of some kind of a shake up, whether it be in personnel changes or in some other facet, that will help improve their play.
Part of improving is getting healthy. Currently, the Sabres have three players on injured reserve in Brad Boyes, Cody McCormick and Tyler Ennis. Tyler Myers is out for 4-6 weeks with a broken wrist, which is also a huge loss for Buffalo. These four players play major roles on the team and Buffalo has certainly missed them. The good news is that Tyler Ennis is very close to a return. He could play this weekend, and that would be a huge boost for Buffalo’s offense. Also, Ryan Miller, who has been out since mid-November, is nearing a return as well. Buffalo has also inserted another monster defenseman into their lineup for Friday. Joe Finley, who has spent the season thus far with Rochester, is a 6’ 8” beast, who will look to provide physical presence on the blue line that the Sabres lack without Tyler Myers.
Friday night’s game against the Red Wings should prove to be an entertaining one; look to see if Miller and Ennis are back in the lineup, and if they are, expect to see the Sabres go toe-to-toe with one of the Western Conference’s best teams. Buffalo needs to play with some urgency, as they are just seventh in the Eastern conference with division rival Ottawa only one point behind them. With Ennis and Miller back in (hopefully) they will certainly be leaps-and-bounds more competitive.