By Mike Harrington
We should hear an injury update from Lindy Ruff in the 1 p.m. hour as we head toward the 3 p.m. faceoff downtown between the Sabres and Florida Panthers. Can this club play any worse than it did Saturday during what John Vogl aptly called its beatdown in Montreal? Doubt it. But there's still 40 games left.
As I went through the NHL stat pack this morning, I pondered some of these numbers:
---Thomas Vanek enters today tied for the NHL scoring lead with Tampa Bay's Steven Stamkos. Both have seven goals and nine assists for 16 points, although Vanek has played one less game. Frankly, Vanek needs to get on the ice more. He enters today averaging 19 minutes, 13 seconds per contest -- and that's only 58th among NHL forwards. (Stamkos is at 21:13).
Here's the second page, which pegs Vanek right between Michael Grabner of the Islanders and Joe Pavelski of San Jose.
---What does Drew Stafford have in common with Jarome Iginla, Phil Kessel, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Jordan Staal, Mike Richards, Shea Weber, Alexander Steen, Brandon Dubinsky, Simon Gagne and Mike Cammalleri?
They're all members of the no-goal club this season. And mostly well-paid ones too.
Stafford has just three assists. Only Kessel, Iginla and St. Louis' Alexander Steen have more shots on goal among scoreless players than Stafford's 22 (Kessel leads the NHL with 36 and still hasn't scored!).
Stafford, remember, is in the second year of his four-year, $16-million deal. He got it largely on the basis of his 31-goal, plus-13 season two years ago. Last year, he slipped to 20 goals -- while playing 18 more games -- and plus-5. This year, a goose egg and minus-5.
---How bad has it gotten for Tyler Myers and Jordan Leopold? They are two of the 17 NHL players -- out of 662 to play this year -- with at least a minus-6 rating. Myers is minus-6 while Leopold is minus-7 -- the worst rating in the NHL for a defenseman and one of just four players in the league rated so poorly. Colorado winger David Jones is minus-8. Wingers Blake Wheeler of Winnipeg and Vinny Prospal of Columbus are also minus-7.
---The Sabres are 29th in goals against (29) and 27th in goals against per game (3.62). They're also 29th in shots on goal against (34.0). And of course, they remaind dead last in faceoff percentage at 42.5 -- when no one else is below 46.3. So much for defensive responsibility. Other team has the puck a lot it seems.
---Ryan Miller has slipped to 28th in goals-against average (2.98) and 16th in save percentage (.910). But he's fourth in the league in shots against (222) and fifth in saves (202). Just seeing too much rubber right now.
---Yesterday was an unusually bad first period for the Sabres, who have given up just three goals in the opening 20 minutes (only San Jose and Pittsburgh, with two, have been better). But it was another three-goal second period against which gives Buffalo opponents 15 in the middle stanza. No one else in the league has yielded more than 12.
---Most combined goals against in second and third period? Buffalo 25, Winnipeg 20. No one else over 20. Yeesh.
---The Sabres have scored 12 times in the third period, third to Tampa Bay (17) and Phoenix (13). That's good. Scoring just four in the first, one off the NHL low of several teams, is not.
taggedDrew Stafford | Jordan Leopold | Statistics | Thomas Vanek | Tyler Myers