Buffalo Sabres: 3 Ways NHL Lockout Would Affect the Squad
Hearing the phrase "NHL lockout" again is maddening. For a team like the Buffalo Sabres, it means the promise of a new season is on hold. To think that this would actually be a positive for any team is nonsense.
The Sabres badly need this situation to sort itself out. They're hungry to erase the disappointment that's still lingering from last year.
They're in a unique situation that doesn't come around often. That's because they've made the necessary moves to basically be able to reinvent this squad.
Yet none of this matters if there are no games to be played. The Sabres won't have the chance to get out from under the cloud they brought on themselves after they let Milan Lucic steamroll their goalie.
Again, looking at any positive in this is impossible. Ahead we're going to discuss three ways the 2012-13 version of the Buffalo Sabres will be negatively affected by this work stoppage.
1. Prolongs the Memory of Last Year's Disappointment
Few teams underachieved as badly as the Sabres did in 2011-12. After last offseason's acquisitions of Christian Ehrhoff, Robyn Regehr and Ville Leino, many had considered Buffalo a contender in the East.
The season began with promise after a 10-5 start. But after they showed their true colors with their lack of a response to the Lucic/Miller incident, they collapsed. The hole they dug themselves proved too deep to ever climb out of.
So where does that leave them now? Well, you can't answer that question as long as the lockout continues.
What is apparent is that GM Darcy Regier finally realized this team needed more size and toughness. The up-and-down hockey we saw after the last lockout has all but disappeared. Clutching and grabbing have crept there way back into the game.
The Sabres are desperate for this new campaign to begin, because year one of Terry Pegula's ownership hardly panned out the way many expected it would. The longer they wait, the longer the fans have nothing but last season's failures on their minds.
2. Postpones Them from Developing a New Team Identity
The biggest negative affect the lockout will have on the Sabres is that it prevents them from developing a new team identity. Since the 2005-06 season, Buffalo has been a smaller, skilled group that over the last few years has started to get pushed around.
We've seen the NHL shift over that time as well. The Sabres were as prepared as anyone coming out of the last lockout for the more focused offensive game we saw.
In contrast to that, though, they've been as slow as anyone to adjust to the more physical type of play we've seen in the last few seasons.
The additions of Steve Ott, Adam Pardy and Jon Scott are all signs that Buffalo's management finally gets it. It's about time too, because they were the laughingstock of the NHL last year. Their tepid response to their best player getting "cheap shotted" was embarrassing.
It's no secret the Sabres are out to prove a point this year. They want opponents to be scared to play them. But now they're in a wait-and-see game to find out when that can start to happen.
3. Keeps Ryan Miller from Reestablishing Himself as an Elite Goalie
Even though the Sabres are actively trying to change the makeup of their team, there's still one constant. They sink or swim with Ryan Miller.
He spent most of last year trying to recover from the damage to his psyche when his team failed to have his back. When Miller returned after missing nine games due to a concussion and neck injury he suffered as a result of the Lucic hit, he was clearly shaken.
Wouldn't you have been too? He's played with some of these guys for seven years now. To lack confidence in your own dressing room that you'll be protected has got to be discouraging. As a result, his performance on the ice was sub-par until late February.
Ryan Miller looks to return to form after a season that had some questioning if Jhonas Enroth should be the new number one. A team with Ryan Miller on it should never be questioning if the guy behind him is better. Miller needs to re-find his form.
He's chomping at the bit as much as anyone to get this season started. What's unfortunate for Miller is that at this point, that's completely out of his hands.