To continue the “pick me up Monday” theme, here is what was going on a year ago today:
– Ryan Miller was the best goaltender in the last 30 days…
– The Sabres were not in the playoff picture.
– Brian Campbell was a red-headed disaster.
– Tim Connolly had not played in a month.
– Thomas Vanek was not Atlas, but rather a guy that dropped a lot of F bombs.
– I missed all of Hockey Day in Canada.
– The Sabres were coming off one of the worst losses of the season (Boston), and were a day away from having someone almost die on the ice.
See? Some good there, but mostly bad. We are better off this season, with or without Vanek in the lineup. I honestly think we are going to be okay. The defense is getting healthy, and unlike early this season we are seeing relatively balanced scoring. The Sabres don’t need Thomas Vanek to be Atlas right now, but they could certainly use him in the lineup.
What is most interesting for me is what will happen to the power play. With Vanek and Gaustad out, both power play units are missing the player that camps out in front. This means different power play lines and perhaps a different philosophy when dealing with the man advantage. The shot selection on the point needs to be better, and there will be less-skilled sticks sitting in front when those shots do get through. Watch what the Sabres do very closely on Wednesday, as the power play only becomes more important with Vanek out.
Four weeks out means Vanek will miss about 12 games, with a likely return date March 10 at Philadelphia. That’s just after the trading deadline, and right when this team will be gearing up for the postseason. It will be an interesting time for sure, but I think he will be coming back to a team that’s still going strong.
The sky is not falling because Atlas isn’t there to hold up the globe. Rather, Vanek is going to need someone to take his place here and there, and plenty of guys have been quiet this year. Paille, Hecht, MacArthur, Kotalik. Four players that have been shaky all year and nonexistent at times. If they have any sense for the moment, they’ll come through at a time like this.
The sky isn’t falling, but someone needs to keep us up.