It seems as though Lindy Ruff has had enough of this team losing and he is making changes. Some of the changes are necessary due to injury but others became necessary because of poor play. Ales Kotalik will be out of the lineup for several weeks with a hamstring injury and Tim Connolly is out with an upper body musculoskeletal injury. Connolly has recently been listed as week-to-week with his most recent injury.
Unless the Sabres decide to call up a player from Portland they will have to use every healthy forward on the roster. The biggest change is the demotion of Derek Roy to the second line. Lindy Ruff has made it clear that he is not happy with the play of Roy while 5-on-5. I have been an avid supporter of Derek Roy but he has struggled lately and needs an adjustment. I still believe in the talent that Derek Roy has but he is hurting this team right now. Lindy feels that he may be pushing too hard and that a lesser role may help him get out of it.
Derek Roy is expected to play on a line with Clarke MacArthur and Drew Stafford. C-Mac has to be wondering what he did wrong to get stuck with two struggling forwards. Stafford has been a huge disappointment this season and has spent a couple of games watching from the press box and Derek Roy has been more of a liability than an asset this season.
The pair of Thomas Vanek and Derek Roy has been a fixture for the Buffalo Sabres, as has the pair of Jochen Hecht and Jason Pominville. Vanek will now try to be the tird man in the Hecht-Pominville pairing. It should create a high-powered offensive line for the Sabres but it may make them one dimensional. The Roy line has some potential but beyond that you have to wonder where the goals will come from. Throughout the past couple of seasons we have heard so much about secondary scoring and there is concern that Buffalo will not have any.
The fourth line will be a hard hitting energy line with Gaustad-Peters-Kaleta but will not be turned to offensively. The third line will consiste of Mair-Paille-Afinogenov. Mair has played well this season but he is better served as a fourth liner. The problem is that he has outplayed Gaustad this season and deserves to be on the third line ahead of him. It seems so far that Paul Gaustad may be the highest paid fourth liner in the league and he hasn't been very effective in that role. Gaustad is still the Sabres go-to-guy for face-offs but they expected a lot more from him. It's still early in the season and he missed plenty of time with a thumb injury but at some point he has to be held accountable for sucking (yep I said it).
The Sabres will get their first chance to show off their new look lines on Wednesday against the Boston Bruins. Check out Die by the Balde for game preview and update.
Another thing that I found interesting was from Lindy Ruff's press conference today. He basically told the media that the season has gone the way he expected. He knew they weren't as good as their start but it's nice to see that he doesn't think they are as bad as they have been lately. How do I know that...he is changing the lines. He knows that he can get more out certain players and he obviously likes what he is getting from others.