GDHQNHL15_2pg-Buffalo Sabres 2

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defensive line. Gorges was brought in from Montreal to replace Christian Ehrhoff, who signed with Pittsburgh after the Sabres bought out his contract. Gorges will add a veteran presence to the unit that could serve Myers well. Paired up behind them may be a combination of a youthful talent and a veteran signing. Rasmus Ristolainen appeared in 34 games as a 19-year old rookie. Although the 6-4 Finnish defenseman struggled early and was sent down to the Rochester Americans of the AHL, Ristolainen showed growth in his second stint with the team. He could be paired with Andrej Meszaros, who was signed in the offseason after splitting time with the Philadelphia Flyers and Boston Bruins, which included appearances in four playoff games for Boston. Mike Weber appeared in 68 games for the team last season and Mark Pysyk saw action in 44. They will likely be pushed for playing time by the likes of Chad Ruhwedel, Andre Benoit, and 20-year old Jake McCabe. Goaltending The Sabres goaltending situation is unsettled. They traded long-time goaltender Ryan Miller to the St. Louis Blues at the trade deadline and then quickly dealt goalie Jaroslav Halak, who they received in return for Miller, to the Washington Capitals for Michal Neuvirth. Neuvirth played in just two games for the Sabres before being shut down at the end of the season. He’s put up pedestrian numbers in his six NHL seasons, posting a 2.67 GAA and .910 save percentage, and it’s tough to see the 26-year old developing into a franchise goalie. Jhonas Enroth played 28 games for the Sabres last year but he did not excel either. He posted a 2.82 GAA and a .911 save percentage while the Sabres won just four of those 28 games. The end of the season saw a goalie rotation that included Matt Hackett and Nathan Lieuwen. Twenty-one year old Andrey Makarov was also called up from the ECHL but did not see any ice time. All five guys will be in the mix, but Neuvirth and Enroth should see most of the time in net. Power Play With their offensive struggles, it’s no surprise that the Sabres were near the bottom of the league in power-play percentage. They converted on just 36 of their 256 man advantages, and that 14.1 percent conversion rate was second-to-last in the NHL. They also allowed five shorthanded goals. Hodgson had a good season leading the Sabres’ power play, as he finished tied for 21st in the NHL with nine power-play goals. And a full season of Matt Moulson, who also scored nine power-play goals, will bolster the unit. One of the team’s most prolific scorers, Steve Ott, was traded at the deadline. He scored six power-play goals in his 59 goals with the team. But hope is that youngReinhart will fill the void. Reinhart scored twelve of his 36 goals with the WHL Kootenay Ice on the powerplay. But at 18-years-old, it’s unclear how much time he will spend with the NHL club. The team also got little production from the blue line. The team’s defensemen scored just six goals on the power-play with three of them coming off the stick of Myers. Penalty Kill The Sabres penalty kill was a bright spot for the team. Their 51 power-play goals allowed ranked eighth in the league, although their 81.4 percent penaltykilling percentage ranked just 20th. Young Girgensons showed promise on the unit and should see time alongside Drew Stafford and Marcus Foligno. The losses of Ehrhoff and Matt D’Agostino will force some of the other Sabres to take on their ice time, especially on special teams. But it will give an opportunity to Ennis and Myers to take a bigger leadership role on the club. Prediction It will be another rebuilding year in Buffalo, but there is some hope for the Sabres. They brought in a solid group of veterans to go with their young core. It will be easier to watch the Sabres this year, but they still won’t win many games. Scoreboard 2013-14 2012-13 2011-12 2010-11 2009-10 PLAYOFF FINISH DNQ DNQ DNQ Conf QF Conf QF REGULAR SEASON 21-51-10 21-21-6 39-32-11 43-29-10 45-27-1 POINT TOTAL 52 48 89 96 100 SHOOTOUT RECORD 7-5 7-4 7-7 5-1 4-6 GOALS SCORED 157 125 218 245 235 GOALS ALLOWED 248 143 230 229 207 POWER-PLAY % 14.1 14.1 17.1 19.4 17.6 PENALTY KILL % 81.4 79.2 81.7 83.0 86.6 Matt Moulson Bill Wippert/NHL/Getty Images


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