By Mike Harrington
EDMONTON, Alberta -- Out here in the Canadian Rockies, 2,200 miles away from the bouncing balls in First Niagara Center, Ted Nolan is apparently like most of you back home: He's sick of watching Ville Leino play too.
The Buffalo Sabres' goal-less multi-millionaire is a healthy scratch for tonight's game against the Edmonton Oilers and Nolan was as chafed as we've seen him all season when discussing Leino's play in Tuesday's loss in Calgary. On the Flames' first goal, Leino committed a giveaway that created the possession and then made a half-hearted effort to get to the point and stop a shot that eventually became the tying goal.
Leino didn't play in the third period.
"He has to be better," Nolan said. "Going forward here, we have to make sure the people in the lineup are giving what they can give. If they don't give what they can give, we'll make changes.
"We have a 1-on-3 two minutes left in the period and you try to stickhandle by someone. It's just not a smart thing to do at that time. He should know better. Maybe he needs a little rest and will wake up."
Leino is minus-14 on the season and minus-5 in the last four games. He doesn't have a point in his last 10 and has no shots on goal in five of those. Zenon Konopka is in for him on the fourth line with John Scott and Matt Ellis.
The Sabres have lost seven straight and tonight could be their first eight-game pointless streak in franchise history. Seriously. And that's what goaltender Matt Hackett has on his plate to try to stop in his Buffalo debut.
"You have to have pride in what you do for a living," Nolan said. "We're all professional hockey players. They have to have some pride in playing and competing."
"It's tough, one of those things where you feel like you're making progress in a game and it turns the other way and it's a loss," said Drew Stafford. "We cleaned up our neutral zone in Calgary but we couldn't hang on and put it away."
The Oilers will go with Ben Scrivens in goal tonight. Jordan Eberle, their No. 2 scorer with 53 points, is out with a knee injury and fellow former No. 1 pick Nail Yakupov is sidelined with an ankle injury. Edmonton is 10-4-3 in its last 17 games and 5-2-1 in its last eight to pretty much put the Sabres away in the battle to avoid last place overall. The Oilers have 59 points and Buffalo has just 46.
In other news, Nolan said Tyler Myers is still a week or so away from coming back from his arm injury and won't rejoin the club on the road trip. That means the earliest he'll play is March 29 against Tampa Bay.
Hear Nolan's interview below.