Tonawanda News

Sabres

April 8, 2012

Sabres hit wrong checkpoints in disappointing season

(Continued)

BUFFALO —

– Nathan Gerbe scored six goals, as many as he had in March 2011.

– Ville Leino, who inked a six-year, $27 million contract in July, mustered only eight goals and 25 points. Some observers say he could be the worst free agent signing in NHL history.

– Brad Boyes, a 43-goal scorer four years ago, hit eight goals after scoring twice in the Sabres’ meaningless 4-3 shootout loss Saturday in Boston. He was a healthy scratch in two do-or-die tilts last week.

Injuries hurt

While man games lost to injury is an unofficial stat, the Sabres had approximately 329. Eight teams suffered through more than them, including the Pittsburgh Penguins and Philadelphia Flyers, who enjoyed terrific regular seasons despite missing superstars Sidney Crosby and Chris Pronger most of the year.

At one point, the Sabres had nine regulars sidelined. Top defensemen Christian Ehrhoff and Tyler Myers both missed significant time.

They leaned on the injuries hard. Coach Lindy Ruff said he didn’t want to make excuses, but kept talking about wanting his team back. Owner Terry Pegula said the Sabres had to “get Humpty back together.”

Still, for the all the injuries, the Sabres constructed a team they believed could roll four lines and use six defensemen. They had legit prospects and $200,000 veterans in Rochester capable of taking a regular shift.

They possessed depth. Maybe it just wasn’t good enough.

When the Sabres lost Ehrhoff and Myers again late, they lost three of four to end the season.

They couldn’t win on the road midseason

The Sabres lost 12 straight on the road in regulation from Dec. 17-Jan. 21, hitting their nadir with a 5-0 shellacking Jan. 16 in Detroit.

Minus those losses, the Sabres went 18-8-3 on the road, so they’re capable of playing well away.

If they had gotten a couple games to overtime and earned the consolation point during their skid, the Sabres might’ve snuck into the postseason.

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The Sabres have sent rookie defensemen T.J. Brennan and Brayden McNabb back to Rochester.

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