By John Vogl
The Sabres couldn't score when healthy. Now that they're banged up, the results are predicable.
Buffalo returned to First Niagara Center today after a woeful road trip that featured a total of one goal in losses to Winnipeg and Minnesota. There's little reason to expect the floodgates to open for a team missing forwards Cody Hodgson, Drew Stafford, Ville Leino, Cody McCormick and Kevin Porter, plus defenseman Henrik Tallinder.
"If you look at our roster, we’ve got a lot of injuries," coach Ted Nolan said after practice. "We’ve got six guys out of the lineup, five regulars out of the lineup on a team that’s rebuilding and is a young team. That’s a lot for any team to handle."
Leino may return for Saturday's home game against New Jersey, but no one else is close. The Sabres' forward lines today looked like this: Matt Moulson-Tyler Ennis-Zemgus Girgensons, Linus Omark-Brian Flynn-Johan Larsson and John Scott-Matt Ellis-Matt D'Agostini. Steve Ott and Marcus Foligno skated together and could easily be joined by center Zenon Konopka, who was claimed off waivers today from Minnesota.
"Everybody probably knows he’s more of a gritty type of competitive guy," Nolan said. "Those type of guys are really good role models for the younger players. They last that long because they have that special ingredient to work and compete."
Konopka won't help the Sabres' scoring woes, but there's no magic fix for that.
"Almost every team in the league needs goal scorers," Nolan said. "To get those type of guys, nobody’s giving them away. In order to get them you almost have to build them yourself. That’s what the draft is for and that’s what rebuilding and restocking is all about. To get a goal scorer on the open market is pretty tough.
"We have to play a certain style. If we don’t, it shows. The last couple games if we veer from it, if we start adlibbing, if we start trying to do stuff that is out of our wheelhouse, we’re in trouble. We have to play a very simple, honest, north-south game. It’s not a boring game. It takes a lot of work, but we have to be willing to do it."