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Should the Lack of Secondary Scoring Worry the Buffalo Sabres?

James Guillory – US PRESSWIRE

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The Buffalo Sabres lost a tough game to the Carolina Hurricanes last night 6-3 thanks to an Eric Staal hat trick and another slow start to a second period.

While there were certainly issues all around, including the lazy defensive zone play by most of the defenseman, bad puck movement in the neutral and offensive zones, and a few goals Jhonas Enroth would like to have back. Yet there was one that stood out among the others: The lack of secondary scoring.

The Thomas VanekCody Hodgson - Jason Pominville line struck again last night for all three Buffalo goals, bringing their total to eight of the ten goals scored by the team this year. It’s early, but the team will not be able to manage if this trend keeps up.

If there is anything encouraging about what has happened on lines two through four the past three games it’s that they certainly have had their chances. The Marcus Foligno - Tyler EnnisDrew Stafford line had a number of glorious chances last night, especially in the third period, but could not finish those chances. The third line also had a few good chances, especially a Mikhail Grigorenko wrap around that barely caught a Carolina skate, but again, they were unable to finish their chances.

Essentially, it will be interesting to see what the Sabres respond with tonight. If the team lights up the scoreboard and the entire team, including the defense, gets involved, most will breathe a sigh of relief. If they light it up but Hodgson, Vanek and Pominville do all or most of the damage, then the discontent will only grow. It’ll be anarchy in the streets if every line is shut down.

It’s certainly not the time to juggle things right now, especially when the team’s main focus is what to do with Grigorenko by Tuesday. While he has to be able to respond to line juggling, Lindy Ruff certainly does not want to throw him into a completely new situation with new responsibilities before he knows he’s got some stability in terms of sticking with the team.

Basically, the Sabres had the chances to keep up with the Canes last night, even with Enroth letting in five goals. They just need to finish. Eventually they will, but Sabres fans have to hope its much sooner rather than later.

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Quick Hits:

Grigorenko looked great last night with more offensive zone responsibility, getting some time with the second power play unit. His patience with the puck on the half wall is excellent and, despite a bad turnover, he showed his worth.

Ville Leino was put on IR yesterday to make room for a healthy Nathan Gerbe last night. His injury has been revealed to be a hip issue, but surgery is off the table in the short-term according to Ruff.

Ryan Miller will get the start tonight in front of the home crowd as well as on Sunday against the Washington Capitals.

Non-Sabres musing: Nail Yakupov’s celey after tying the game at one with Los Angeles last night was amazing. Say what you will about how over-the-top it may have been for a regular season game, it was refreshing not only to see his obvious personality shine through, but also the kind of excitement we haven’t seen since Alex Ovechkin was arguably the best player in the NHL.