The Buffalo News’ Mike Harrington opines that the Sabres need to turn things around fast during a season that was supposed to be more successful. Harrington wonders if head coach Dan Bylsma is heading down “Ryan Road,” a nod to the embattled Buffalo Bills head coach, Rex Ryan. From Harrington:
Lately, it seems as if Bylsma has lost his mind. It’s to the point where it’s now an open discussion among Sabres fans if Bylsma, in just the second year of a five-year contract, should be heading down Ryan Road to the unemployment line too if his team continues to implode.
From there, Harrington lists a number of Byslma missteps which include everything from benching Jack Eichel on the power play to a philosophy that doesn’t seem to benefit the team, and instead, makes them less sure of what they’re doing. He also lays blame at the feet of general manager Tim Murray, imploring him to make a trade for a defenseman desperately needed by the team.
Not letting anyone off the hook, Harrington takes aim at ownership, wondering what their plan is after six years of no playoff appearances. He adds that it feels like nothing more than regrets for what they don’t have, and that the Sabres have played second fiddle to other teams when it comes to acquiring someone who can help Buffalo escape its recent culture of losing.
- The Sabres head into Detroit to take on the other team jostling for the basement of the Atlantic. MLive’s Ansar Khan reports that Detroit needs to “chip away” at the deficit they face in the division and conference. Khan offers salvation in the way of listing three teams (Philadelphia, Tampa Bay, and eventual champ Pittsburgh) who were outside of the playoff hunt looking in last year at this time. But the Red Wings, fairly or unfairly, do not have the star power of a Pittsburgh or Tampa Bay. Khan believes that in order to ascend, the Wings must take advantage of beating the “bad” teams and Buffalo offers a chance to take advantage of this. The power play must also improve, as Detroit has the worst man advantage success rate in the league, and historically, it’s one of the worst during the entire salary cap era. Khan also thinks that help is on the way with Mike Green, Alexey Marchenko, Tyler Bertuzzi and Justin Abdelkader on the mend.
- The Ottawa Citizen takes a look at the Senators by the numbers and finds that the team has a lot to be proud of as the new year approaches. The most compelling number? -1: the goal differential of a team in playoff position. It’s noted, however, that four others teams sitting in playoff spots are also sporting negative goal differentials, but those teams (Boston, Anaheim, St. Louis, and Calgary) are worse in that category than the Sens.