This is Blake Wheeler.
Before you wonder why I have a picture of a shirtless hockey player, well, just wait until you see the Tim Connolly post.
Anyway, a few weeks ago Puck Daddy had a post about his number change and how it affected his play. The two he credited the number change to were Thomas Vanek and Phil Kessel. It’s an interesting move for sure, but you have to wonder just how much it can really affect your game.
There is a lot of talk about numerology, but just how much can what is on your back effect how you play? So much of what a player is capable of is natural talent, so you would think that talent is used no matter what number you attach to a name. Still, hockey players are a superstitious bunch, and for a lot of players their game is more mental than physical.
Who knows how Blake Wheeler turns out, but right now I can think of a few players that could use an emotional number change as well. Lindy is just starting to call out Derek Roy, but his 2008-09 campaign has been the biggest disappointment on the team. I was among the many who praised his contract last summer, even with the meddling of Nathan Horton. Right now an outsider would look at him and say he’s regressed in every way.
We make fun of his spot on the all star ballot, but he truly isn’t playing like he should and it really worries me. In fact, take away Vanek and and Miller, two shoe ins for an ASG spot, and what do you have on this team? Connolly and Kotalik are hurt, defenseman are struggling, and Adam Mair has more goals then 75% of the roster. Even with Atlas at his peak this is not the makeup of a playoff team. This Sabres squad is built on team play and balanced scoring, and the guys who should be stepping up simply aren’t there.
The schedule is quirky this month, but the long break should be used as an opportunity to break bad habits and come out strong. Every game against Boston is tough, but you have to start beating good teams to get some confidence back in this team. Going into another weekend on a three game losing streak is another recipe for disaster, and suddenly the roster is a bit thinner than it was a few games ago.
There aren’t many must-win games in November, but this is a huge game for Buffalo in a lot of ways. Someone has to step up and make something good happen, and this team has to play a full sixty minutes to have any chance against the division leader. The fewer divisional games you play the more important they become, and tonight at The Hub is huge.
This city needs a change of pace after last weekend. Let’s see if Atlas and Co. can lift this place up a bit.