There’s no easy way to say it: Buffalo Sabres defenseman Marco Scandella is not having a good season so far.
Here’s the numbers: he’s leading the team’s defensemen in giveaways - tied with Rasmus Ristolainen, with nine each. He’s played just 31 seconds on the man advantage this season, but has played a total of 35:44 shorthanded - but he also leads the team in shorthanded giveaways (3).
His 44.3 CF% is one of the worst on the team, and his relative CF at even strength is -6.9. The Sabres face an average of 3.4 goals-against while Scandella is on the ice.
Aside from the numbers, one needs only to watch a Sabres game this season to see that Scandella needs to sit, at least for a game. He’s been a liability at times for the team, particularly in times like Tuesday’s final minute against the Calgary Flames, when the Sabres put Scandella on the ice over others like Rasmus Dahlin.
From having trouble breaking out of the zone, to relentless turnovers, Scandella is having a rough season regardless of who he ends up on the blueline with. We’ve seen him struggle with Rasmus Ristolainen and Zach Bogosian, among others, and in nearly every situation and it’s been downright painful to watch at points.
So what happens now?
Some have suggested sending Scandella to the press box for at least a game, perhaps calling up Lawrence Pilut from the Rochester Americans in his stead. Maybe that’s a temporary solution, but it is only 10 games into the season, and it’s a small sample size, but the Sabres can certainly improve in this position.
Scandella has been the Sabres’ worst defender this season, making some big mistakes that lead almost directly to goals against. The problem with calling up Pilut? He may not be NHL-ready in terms of defensive strength - after all, he’s only played eight games in North America in his entire hockey career.
But - if the Sabres want to sit Scandella for even a game or two, it won’t kill things even if Pilut isn’t top-notch. Can it be worse than it already is? Of course, with Jake McCabe back in the lineup, maybe Scandella just finds himself out on the outside for a game. He was on a pairing with Bogosian at Wednesday’s practice, but that doesn’t put a healthy scratch out of the question in the future.
The fact is this: yes, it’s only a handful of games into the season; but at the same time, being so early in the season means it’s the perfect time to make sure players are in their place, know their job, and are doing it well.
Let him sit for a game or two, let someone else get their chance, and see what happens from there because right now Sabres fans are often left yelling “Marco!” and waiting for a response that never quite comes back.