For the first time in team history, the Buffalo Sabres have started the season with three straight loses. Sure it is early but should they be worried? The answer to that question is definitely YES. The Sabres have struggled to find the back of the net, and have only scored two goals over the first three contests.
The Sabres who are in a re-building mode, will likely find themselves with pretty big decisions to make sooner rather than later everywhere from the roster to the coaching staff and perhaps even higher than that.
The first name that comes to mind when talking about the offense is Thomas Vanek. Vanek who sits 6th all-time on the Sabres in goals, has just one goal so far this season and is sitting at a -3. It isn’t for a lack of trying as Vanek leads the team and is 5th in the NHL in shots (15), but just can’t get any to go in.
Vanek who is in the last year of his 7-year contract, has said that he doesn’t necessarily want to be a part of a long term re-build in Buffalo. Faced with the possibility of being traded at the deadline last season, Vanek may find himself there yet again as this season continues. It is up to the Sabres to decide whether or not they want to move on without him. That decision may only be weeks away if the struggles continue.
So far the Sabres are last in the league in goals per game (0.67), 26th in the league in shots per game (25.3), and haven’t scored on the poweplay in thirteen attempts.
It Isn’t All Doom and Gloom
Ryan Miller who played the first two games of the season, has been outstanding after allowing two goals by Detroit on opening night. The only other goal he let in was the 46th shot from the Ottawa Senators with a little over a minute remaining in the second game. Miller seems to be back on his game which is very important for the Sabres if they have any chance at success this season.
Where he will end up by the end of the year is a different story. As is the case with Vanek, Miller is also on the last year of his contract. There hasn’t been much on the Sabres interest level on bringing him back next season, so if they continue to stumble look at him to possibly be the first one shipped out if they can find a trade partner.
Help Is On The Way
Marcus Foligno who has been sidelined for all three games with a strained shoulder may make his 2013-14 season debut against the Tampa
Bay Lightning on October 8th. Foligno is a hard worker and can be a presence in front of the net creating not only chances for himself, but opening up space for others to score.
Is Rolston’s Job Safe?
There has already been one coaching casualty this season as Pete Laviolette has been relieved of his coaching duties in Philadelphia. Rolston is starting his first full season as head coach of the Sabres after taking over for Lindy Ruff last season. It is going to be interesting to see how long Sabres management sticks with the coach of a team in re-build mode.
One thing that is certain at this point is there are 79 games remaining in the schedule. The Sabres are going to win some and are going to lose some. The side that tips more will be dependent on the play and the growth of one of the NHL’s youngest teams.
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John Is a contributor with The Hockey Writers covering the Buffalo Sabres. He is also a Senior Writer and Editor at MetsMerizedOnline.