Sabres plan on rebounding after last year’s shocking finish.
For Buffalo Sabres fans drafting in the top 10 is not something they are accustomed to. This season will mark the first time Lindy Ruff is not behind the bench full time. During his stay with the club they made the playoffs 8 times and while they may have missed last year, they remained in the hunt throughout the season. This season, faced with a crop of young forwards and Ds, enormous pressure will be on the shoulders of Ryan Miller, Thomas Vanek, along with Christian Ehrhoff and Tyler Myers.
Vanek is largely expected to lead the team in points as he has been over the last few seasons. Cody Hodgson played exceptionally well for the Sabres last season, posting his personal best in points during the shortened season. For the Sabres to be effective, improving production from Ville Leino is a must. Although one can argue that he was injured last season, his numbers for the previous year were not to par with his pay-grade and the Sabres are looking for him to be a more productive asset to the team rather than a pending liability.
With Tyler Myers signing a lengthy deal it is expected he, along with Christian Ehrhoff will be getting the heavy workload. By reacquiring Henrik Tallinder they hope to reignite the chemistry he and Myers had during the latter’s rookie campaign and possibly mixes Ehrhoff with another partner in order to offer some flexibility in their Defensive system to help out their Goaltenders. 2010 first rounder Mark Pysyk should be written into the opening lineup and provide some good presence on ice during his second year in the league.
Ryan Miller has been Buffalo’s number 1 goalie for many years and justifiably so. He has had his fair share of backup challenges, but no one believes Enroth will be pushing him out any time soon. Miller still has game at age 33, and it’s entirely possible that he provides such good net presence that the team may not need that high level of goal scoring to win every night.
The Sabres have the ability to be a dark horse team that surprises teams, much like Montreal did a year ago during the regular season. Both benefited from having a high draft choice and both ultimately played such a structured game that the opposition could not keep up.