Rolston’s debut spoiled by familiar flaws

Hopefully you didn’t expect Ron Rolston to show up for 24 hours and sprinkle a magic cure-all on the Sabres roster. There certainly wasn’t much of a difference between the final game of the Lindy Ruff era and the first game of the Ron Rolston era.

A quick, uptempo start was erased by a poor second period littered with turnovers, penalties and a squandered lead. Ultimately the Sabres dropped another game (their second to the Leafs this season) and fell further into a hole that is looking near impossible to climb out of.

Firing Lindy Ruff was probably one of the toughest decisions Darcy Regier ever had to make. However, it was a necessary move that probably needed to be made sooner. Naming an interim head coach did a few things for the Sabres, namely keeping all options open once the season comes to a close.

You also might be able to speculate that having Ron Rolston take over on an interim basis keeps Darcy Regier untethered to any hire and may play a role in the expiring shelf life for the general manager. If Rolston has little impact on the roster, the writing would be on the wall for the Sabres to part ways with Regier at the end of the year.

As for Rolston, his impact wasn’t going to be felt in game number one. He officially took over just 24 hours previously and only had a morning skate as an introduction to his new team. Even tomorrow’s game against the Islanders will likely be a challenge as he will still have very limited ice and video time to impact his roster with.

Perhaps a more realistic expectation would be to wait until Tuesday night’s contest against Tampa Bay. By then Rolston will have had two full days of practice in addition to today to install some of the systematic tweaks he will want to run. Hopefully by Wednesday he has a firm grasp on running the team. Continue reading

Double Minors: Yet to reach rock bottom

Look on the bright side, Ryan Miller held the opponent to fewer than three goals. he made 26 saves on 28 shots.

Of course, the Sabres lost. A 2-0 shutout at the hands of the Maple Leafs. It would seem as if the Sabres are still spiraling their way to the bottom. Thomas Vanek left the game early, leaving the Sabres with one capable scoring threat. The Leafs had little trouble snuffing out the Buffalo attack on their way to an easy win.

A slow start equated to a flat effort that came from a team that is slowly drifting into coach-killing mode. As to what may shake the roster from the funk? It will either be a new voice or some new faces. Frankly, having the same players with a new bench boss will only go so far. Eventually these guys will revert to passionless hockey. The real solution would be to pluck a few from “the core”. These players need to know they aren’t safe, a shake-up would prove that.

  • Buffalo’s goal scoring has become flat-out embarrassing. To hear Darcy Regier say no shake-up is imminent goes beyond embarrassment to blatant lunacy. The Sabres are in desperate need of a new identity. Terry Pegula was supposed to bring that when he came on board, he was the first drop in the bucket. Now the Sabres need to identify the issue staring them in the face. It may already be too late.
  • Ryan Miller once again played a strong enough game to get his team the win. Considering the timing of some of the questionable goals he has allowed lately, early ones trump late ones in my opinion. If there was any heart or spark on that bench, the 2-0 deficit would have been easily erased. Hell, it happens enough in the other direction. Miller can’t be blamed tonight. Yet another game no goal scoring failed the team.
  • Hopefully Thomas Vanek truly did have the flu. The Sabres are an obvious train wreck without him in the lineup. He and Jason Pominville may be the only two players keeping this team on the rails. The “slump” being experienced by the Sabres’ depth scorers has far surpassed the typical definition of a slump. These players are flat-out underperforming with the production they have been putting forth.
  • Pat Kaleta’s game is going to drive him out of the league. His penalty today was borderline, but probably the correct call. While he is effective on the penalty kill, there is little else he can add at this point. It will be a tough call to re-sign him in the summer. Particularly considering Corey Tropp is knocking on the door.
  • How awesome is Toronto’s goal song? It is a rip off from a couple other teams, but it is tailor-made for an NHL goal celebration. However, based on Twitter, the atmosphere in ACC was generally awful. Probably because 60% of ticket holders show up in suits and want to discuss profit margins. I wonder how high their hockey IQ is.
  • January will officially determine if the Sabres are buyers or sellers at the deadline. If Regier makes a deal during January he will open the door for his team to turn around. If he waits, the Nail Yakupov sweepstakes will have begun.

Three Stars

1. Jonas Gustavsson

2. Nikolai Kulemin

3. Mikhail Grabovski

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