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Moore Offense Needed
March 12, 2009 - Matt Spielman
I'm in a large minority when I say this, but I don't care about the Sabres "toughness."
Sure, Dominic Moore does the "little things" ... but how come Buffalo never gets anybody that does the "big things."
When the Sabres went to back-to-back Eastern Conference finals, they didn't go with their toughness, they went with four lines that could score goals.
I know, Buffalo's fourth line can hit people and get under their skin, which sometimes draws penalties. But you know what else draws penalties? Speed.
The season is slipping away and the offense is showing no signs of busting out anytime soon. My proposal: call up Nathan Gerbe, Tim Kennedy and Mark Mancari from Portland, put them out as the fourth line and see what they can do.
I like Matt Ellis and the "intangibles" that he brings, but intangibles don't win hockey games, they win championships. Right now this team doesn't need to worry about championships. Adam Mair is good for a penalty per minute when he is on the ice and I'm not sure why Andrew Peters is still receiving a paycheck.
I equate it to the NBA's Phoenix Suns. Last year, after several years of playoff losses in a row, Phoenix management decided to get rid of Shawn Marion to bring in Shaquille O'Neal. The Suns made the playoffs with a fast-paced offense despite O'Neal and then got bounced again. Head coach Mike D'Antoni was gone after the season, Terry Porter came in with his half-court offense, but the Suns were already in a hole that is probably to deep to climb out of and he was let go. Boris Diaw and Raja Bell were traded for a past-his-prime Jason Richardson. Under new coach Alvin Gentry, the Suns are again playing uptempo basketball, scoring a ton of points and exciting their fans. With Shawn Marion, Diaw and Bell still on the team and Amare Stoudemire not injured, the Suns would probably make the playoffs and lose in the conference finals. But at least they would be exciting and in the playoffs. The same can be said for the Sabres. No, they probably wouldn't win a Stanley Cup playing that style of hockey, but at least they'd be exciting and in my opinion, have a better chance at making the playoffs.
Enough with the line juggling too. Put Derek Roy back between Thomas Vanek and Drew Stafford. Put Tim Connolly back between Max Afinogenov and Ales Kotalik -- oh wait, he actually scored goals so we got rid of him -- put Jason Pominville on that wing, he isn't scoring from the other side anyways. Let Paul Gaustad center Dominic Moore and Patrick Kaleta. Jochen Hecht could probably learn something from some time in the press box. Granted, we haven't seen much of anything from our three Portland prospects to this point, but maybe bringing them up together and placing them in a position of familiarity will help them and actually strike some fear into opponents when the Sabres fourth line is on the ice.
I understand Lindy Ruff trying to tone down the offense and play a more checking and defensive game because that is how the league has turned, but coming out of the lockout, this team didn't play TO the rest of the league, it let the league COME to it.
Take some offensive chances, let a forward hang out in the neutral zone waiting for an outlet pass. The only chances the Sabres have been taking lately are pinches from the defensemen when they are already losing by a goal. Since Ryan Miller has been out, most of those odd-man rushes have turned into goals. Take nothing away from the job Patrick Lalime is doing ä he is making many important saves and most of the saves he should make ä but spectacular game-changing saves just arenát his thing.
Four points out with 15 games to go is not an insurmountable deficit, but why not take a chance at more offense and in the process gave some prospects a little seasoning before the end of the year.
What's the worst that could happen, you miss the playoffs?
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Philadelphia Flyers' Arron Asham, right, lands a punch on Buffalo Sabres' Patrick Kaleta during the third period Tuesday in Philadelphia. The Sabres fought and they still lost. AP photo