How John Scott Could Assist Buffalo Sabres' Power Play

By Rafal Ladysz
Timothy T. Ludwig-USA Today Sports

At 6′ 8″ and 270 pounds, it does not require a genius to uncover what John Scott offers to a National Hockey League club.

Pronounced the winner in just about every on-ice fight he has taken part in, Scott is a physical specimen who can cause a lot of damage with his fists. With the exception of Zdeno Chara, he will have a sizable height and reach advantage over anybody who is actually willing to engage in a bout with him.

Due to the paltry ice time he receives, which hovers around five minutes or so,  it is conceivable for Scott’s penalty box totals to be eclipsing his actual game action.

After seeing Ryan Miller bowled over by Milan Lucic and being diagnosed with a concussion as a result, it was decided that the Buffalo Sabres were in dire need of protection. General manager Darcy Regier spent $600,000 in loose change to gather the big man’s services in 2012.

Scott fought on seven occasions, being voted the winner in four, the loser twice and drawing once. Although he was used sparingly, his presence in the lineup was sufficient to dissuade others from trying to take liberties with some of the other players.

While one problem was resolved in giving the Sabres some toughness, everything else fell apart in a hurry. In shatters from top to bottom, Buffalo’s abject efforts were unsavory, as the team could hardly even find little solace in its collective failures.

Buffalo’s Achilles heel could be found on the power play, where the group converted 14 percent of its chances and placed 29th in the league. Getting set up was in itself a nuisance, as the opposition experienced little trouble in winning foot races, intercepting errant passes and clearing the zone.

Thomas Vanek’s proficiency in comparison to the rest of the team was riveting, as he struck for nine of the 23 goals that the Sabres procured on the man advantage.

As integral as the Austrian is to the team’s offense, he can not do it all alone, which is why it became simple for opponents to shut down Buffalo’s power play. So long as opponents closely monitored Vanek, they would survive the penalty kill in all likelihood.

Head coach Ron Rolston will be given the unenviable duty of turning around a power play unit that was incapable of breaking through and stifled all year long. Between Jason Pominville‘s expertise being missed and Christian Ehrhoff failing to operate as smoothly as he did with the Vancouver Canucks, Rolston will be drawing up a ton of experiments, hoping that something pays dividends.

This week, Scott re-signed with Buffalo, and while many might grimace at $750,000 going to someone who rarely plays upwards of ten minutes, the Sabres need to keep the grit afloat. Otherwise, it will be open season on the goalie and some of the smaller forwards.

One way for him to grasp a larger role could be on the power play.

If Rolston plugged Scott in front of the crease, goaltenders would struggle to see around his massive frame and spot the oncoming shots. Also, he’s not exactly going to be muscled out of the crease easily and as such, he’d be positioned to bury rebounds.

There is a concern regarding his hands, which are not exactly soft, and their capability of quickly depositing goals before someone intervenes. He’d also have to learn how to plant himself so close to a goalie without drawing an interference penalty – not an easy feat nowadays.

Given the right tutelage and opportunity, it is a plan that can work out. It might fail miserably, too.

John Scott certainly is not the most gifted of hockey players, but the Buffalo Sabres will welcome all of the help they can get, especially on the power play.

It’s worth consideration at least.

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