Many times in Buffalo when Lindy Ruff’s name is spoken, it is spoken with reverence. He brought a core of young players together, and over the past few seasons have really helped a lot of them to find their place. Sadly, just when things looked brightest injuries to every line slowed the momentum of the team two seasons in a row. Injuries have been an issue again this season, and of course those aren’t Mr. Ruff’s fault. What is his fault, however, the inability to get goal scoring out of his team.
When your backup goaltender (of questionable worth – ask the half dozen or so other teams he’s played for) puts up some decent numbers (for a backup) – like holding a bottom feeding team to 2 goals – you expect to win, or at least put on a good show. Instead they don’t find the net. Not once. People are quick to point out how the team suffers with Vanek out of the lineup, but face it, if one guy is your whole offensive output you’re not a team in very good shape.
Sure, Afinogenov hasn’t been having a banner year. Then he strained his groin. However he’s been cleared to play medically for 10 days now and still he has remained a healthy scratch, still sitting on the IR list. I know Ruff wants to make a point, that if you’re not producing you’re not going to play, but this is ridiculous. No one on his team is producing. He’s holding back an asset ready to get out there and earn his spot back. What, is he afraid of sending someone like Matt Ellis back to Portland which he’d have to do in order to reactivate Afinogenov? Well I have news for you, Ellis belongs in Portland. In 109 career NHL games he only has 17 points. That’s .15 points for game in case you were wondering. That’s not where you’re going to find offensive production. We need points on the board Mr. Ruff! We need some creative line juggling. We need firey speeches, and wrath of god-like threats to the players, the staff, and any one else out there who will listen. We need a Buffalo Sabres team that has fire in their belly, not the current Sabres team who couldn’t seem to care that they are hanging on to the last playoff spot by a thread.
In the wake of all the other coaches who have been sent packing maybe, just maybe Buffalo should start doing the same thing. Afterall Lindry Ruff is a proponent of benching those who aren’t performing up to par – and lets face it, right now he is the one who’s not up to par. Get that fire back Mr. Ruff, or open up the classifieds and start looking for work.