nhl trade rumors

#blog-pager { display:none; }

Myers Suspension, Playoff Push

Yesterday was about as bad a day for the Sabres organization as can be had on an off day. Late in the afternoon it was announced that NHL disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan had ruled on a three game suspension to Tyler Myers for his hit on Scott Gomez in Monday night's OT win over Montreal. To make matters worse, the NY Islanders blew a 4-1 lead at home to the visiting Capitals to extend Washington's lead back to 4 points over the Sabres for eighth place in the conference. Tampa Bay and Florida also won.

Buffalo has been a resilient squad this season, with the amount of man games lost to injury and the long stretches of poor play by some of the team's leaders they have managed to scratch and claw their way into the playoff picture. Now with only a dozen games remaining their fortitude will be put to the test having to play their next three contests without arguably their best defenseman.

I cannot argue whether or not the hit was legal, Myers clearly hit Gomez from behind, and the principle point of contact was the head/neck area. The bigger argument lies in the punishment. Why was Myers punished for a quarter of the team's final games when similar hits, especially Evgeni Malkin's on Shawn Thornton, were not met with a suspension?

Complaining about officiating, or league discipline is futile. It is something the fans, coaches, and players have little control over but the Sabres organization must be seething over the ruling. Buffalo needs to channel that anger towards their next opponent, the Colorado Avalanche.

Brayden McNabb will be called up from Rochester to skate in Myers stead the next few contests. Andrej Sekera is already out with pneumonia and the recently acquired Alexander Sulzer has been filling in admirably for him. The Sabres next three opponents, Colorado, Florida, and Tampa Bay are ranked 16th, 26th, and 10th respectively in scoring. With the exception of Steven Stamkos and the Lightning Buffalo will have the advantage of avoiding offensive juggernauts while Myers is out of the lineup. The way Ryan Miller has been playing the Sabres will likely miss Tyler's offensive abilities more than his defense in these next three games.

This next week is also critical as the Capitals face a week of difficult road contests, at Winnipeg, at Chicago, at Detroit, and at Philadelphia. If the Sabres can manage 5 out of a possible 6 points during Myers suspension they should be able to gain ground on Washington. The Capitals schedule softens up considerably after this road swing so it is imperative the Sabres make up the ground sooner than later, yet another reason the Myers suspension is so costly.

While Buffalo may ultimately fall short of the post-season, it won't be for lack of resiliency. Their ability to weather the storm with their backs to the wall will be on display tonight on national television, at home against Colorado. It is also why I believe they will rally around the Myers suspension finish the season strong. Will that be enough to sneak into the dance? Let's hope so.

Brandon Hess
Follow me on twitter @SabreHess

No comments:

Post a Comment