Ruff shakes up lines, Leino to center Vanek and Pominville

Lindy Ruff has decided that it is time for a change.  With a 1-2-0 record though the first three games of a five-game home stand; the Sabres were in need of a wake-up call.

The shake-up hit the top two lines as Luke Adam has been flipped for Ville Leino. Leino is back at center between the Sabres’ top two scorers. It looks as if Ruff wants Leino to play out of the funk he is in, definitely the best approach. While there is certainly a possibility to derail the early success Vanek and Pominville have had, Adam wasn’t a direct factor in their torrid start. If anything, Leino’s slickness will add an extra wrinkle to the already lethal wingers.

Adam will now skate alongside Derek Roy and Drew Stafford. Reports say Adam will be on the wing with the two veterans. This move won’t help or hurt a line that was largely in effective before Leino was moved to their wing. Adam has had a strong start to the season and has benefitted from his time with Vanek and Pominville. However, he wasn’t the only factor to their success. In fact, their continued success on the power play shows that they aren’t fully dependent on their center to produce.

Based on the limited ice time the Leino has been receiving, it is obvious Ruff hasn’t liked his game. Ruff is also aware that sitting a player on the bench won’t do much more than pile on the negative reinforcement. By placing Leino with Buffalo’s two best offensive weapons, Ruff has created the potential for Leino to utilize his tremendous playmaking ability with two players on hot streaks.

The key for Leino will be to make quicker decisions. It seems that he has been over handling the puck and thinking too long in regards to finding passing lanes or getting pucks to the net. If he is able to “simplify” his game there should be a marked improvement. Having two line mates who have been successful thus far is another added bonus.

A few thoughts on Saturday’s game since there was no Double Minors post:

  • Ryan Miller had a rough night. He let in an atrocious goal from Marcel Goc and got caught thinking a little too hard on the second Florida goal. For those thinking he was playing like an idiot on that play, please understand he actually played it properly. His responsibility was the man with the puck along the goal line. The reason Miller was lying on his stomach was to prevent the player from banking the puck in off him. It had little to do with bad goaltending. Know this.
  • Christian Ehrhoff has been brutal defensively. He is showing flashes of brilliance in the offensive zone. Sadly, he has not been very good from the red line back, so to speak. He was a minus two on Saturday and made two horrendous plays on the first two Florida goals.
  • It is time to put Mike Weber in the lineup. The Sabres are allowing far too many shots per game and some of the blame has to be placed on the heavily offensive lineup being iced each game. There are only a few defensively responsible players getting ice time, one more would be awfully helpful.
  • Brad Boyes’ resurgence is a breath of fresh air. He has been brilliant on the power play and fits well with the two bangers Lindy Ruff has him playing with. Matt Ellis and Cody McCormick are bringing out the best in Boyes, this is a very good thing for the Sabres.
  • The penalty kill finally surrendered a goal. Granted it was a pretty wicked deflection on an all-around poor backchecking play – and the Panthers player had just exited the box – but the practically flawless unit final gave one up. It was inevitable. The penalty kill remains one of the bright spots early in the year.
  • Whether or not Nathan Gerbe should have been called for tripping, he cannot take the extra minor in that situation. Sure, it was a tough call, but it had to be made based on the circumstances. Gerbe needs to be smarter in that situation.

Three Stars

1. Jason Garrison

2. Tomas Fleischmann

3. Jason Pominville

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