As of today the Buffalo Sabres are in ninth place in the Eastern Conference and only eight teams make the playoffs. That minute detail didn't stop Thomas Vanek from saying the team would make the playoffs, in fact he guarantees they will make it.
"At the end of the year, we’ll be in the top eight, and that’s all that matters for right now"
At the end of the day this is the confidence and leadership the team wants from their highest played player. The suggestion that this puts some undue pressure on the team is ridiculous. Thomas Vanek has been criticized for his lack of production and his lack of leadership and now he is showing both. He has seven goals in his last six games and is the most confident player in that locker room right now. It appears that he used that confidence to try to become a leader in the locker room and we'll wait and see how the team responds.
Lindy Ruff is not upset with the comments that Vanek made, in fact he likes what he is seeing and hearing from his high priced forward.
"I still think we can finish higher than eighth and we feel we’re a playoff team," Ruff said Monday. "Thomas has been able to light the lamp on a regular basis now [seven goals in the last six games] and that’s going to be a big help for us. You better have the confidence you can finish in the top eight. That’s a great statement to make.
"That’s not putting any pressure on. That’s where we would expect to be. I expect no less from anybody in that room. I think it’s great. He’s got some confidence behind him now and he feels the need to step up and be a guy that’s counted on. That’s a statement I think he should make."
As for the Brian Campbell situation that grows in uncertainty by the minute. It is impossible to keep up with all the rumors involving Campbell because they are everywhere. I can't tell you the best place to go to find out the latest but TSN is usually quick to post and doesn't usually get things wrong. I can tell you that you should NEVER and I mean NEVER PAY to find out rumors. The latest rumor that I read came from Bruce Garrioch at the Ottawa Sun, he says Campbell will sign a long term contract with Buffalo in the next couple of days. He lists six teams, including the Senators and the Ducks, has having inquired about Campbell.
One thing is for certain about Campbell, he needs to start playing much better if he is going to help any team in their playoff run. I mentioned on Sunday that I thought this contract situation was getting the better of him and I'm not alone.
"You’re always concerned this time of year," acknowledged Sabres coach Lindy Ruff. "But that’s all part of it when you have a couple games that pair has had. I always lump a pair together because it’s the support your partner gives you or the communication your partner gives you.
"That pair hasn’t been good enough for us but [Campbell] has got
to deal with it. Part of the game is focus, and Brian is good at it. He’ll bounce back, and he’ll be one of our better players Wednesday night."
Lindy Ruff obviously agrees with the take on Campbell but he is more optimistic that he will bounce back. I'm at the point that I feel the only thing that will help Campbell is to get the contract situation resolved, whether that be by signing or being traded it needs to get done.
The final news worthy item is the benching of Clarke MacArthur. I have said this about MacArthur since last season, when I thought he was somewhat out of place. MacArthur appears to have all the talent in the world but his consistency is lacking. The problem is that the consistency is lacking because of a lack of effort. MacArthur played sparingly in the loss to Pittsburgh on Sunday and you have to wonder if he may be on his way back to Rochester very shortly. Could the Sabres use MacArthur as trade bait over the next week? I'll have much more on that at a later date.