Tag Archives: Tyler Ennis

The Injury Bug Strikes Again

So, while we head into the month of December, the Sabres find themselves with a slew of injuries, which even the best of teams would have a hard time overcoming. Let’s take a look at those injuries who is injured:

Ryan Miller – Concussion
Tyler Myers – Wrist
Robyn Regehr – Upper Body
Mike Weber – Upper Body
Brad Boyes – Lower Body
Tyler Ennis – Ankel
Cody McCormick- Upper Body
Patrick Kaleta – Lower Body
and following last nights loss to Columbus its being reported that a mystery forward is hurt and might miss tonight’s games. (UPDATE: Drew Stafford is reported to have a groin injury, according to WGR’s Paul Hamilton.)

Day-to-day injuries happen, and they are expected over the grueling 82-game season. The Sabres’ injuries fall mostly into the “wait and see what happens” category, with no real timetables for any player’s return. The only two players from the above list that have been skating in no contact drills are winger Tyler Ennis and defenseman Mike Weber.

To try to alleviate the pain from these injuries, the Sabres were forced to call up many players from the Rochester Americans. The Sabres must be relieved that they remade this partnership with the Amerks before the start of the season. So in case you’re having trouble matching the numbers to the names in tonight’s game here is a list of those players who were called-up:

54 – Zack Kassian – 1 NHL GAME – RW
58 – Paul Szczechura – 83 NHL GAMES – C
78 – Corey Tropp – 9 NHL GAMES – RW
33 – T.J. Brennan – 2 NHL Games – D
81 – Brayden Mcnabb – 0 NHL GAMES – D
31 – Drew Macintyre – 4 NHL GAMES – G

Hopefully the injured mystery player doesn’t prove to be too costly, and the Sabres can find a way to battle hard and pull out what should be a tough 2 points against a Washington team that is also in need of an important 2 points.

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Player Previews: Offense

Heading into the 2011-2012 season, expectations are high in Sabres Nation.  With the addition of Robyn Regehr, Christian Ehrhoff and Ville Leino, plus the return of first line center Derek Roy, the Sabres should be contending for the Northeast Division title, if not the Eastern Conference title.  Without further introduction, lets jump right into the offensive previews:

Jason Pominville- No better place to start then the player who was just named captain.  Pominville will be entering this year  after a season that was started and ended with injuries.  In the October 11th game vs. the Chicago Blackhawks, Pominville suffered a concussion which held him out for nearly a month.  After returning Poiminville struggled to find the score sheet only registering 4 points in his first 15 games back from injury.  Finding the score sheet is something Pominville will be asked to do more often even though his PP time might be lowered due to additions who could take over the QB spot, but more on that later.  Pominville should find himself on the first line with Thomas Vanek and Derek Roy, two of his assistant captains.  With that kind of  offensive talent Pominville should have no problem returning to the 70 point range.  Another thing  Pominville will be asked to do is be one of the team’s top penalty killers.

Thomas Vanek- Despite losing his perennial line mate 35 games into the season, Vanek has developed into a player who no longer has to rely on his center to carry the puck the majority of the time.  During Roy’s absence Vanek was able to put up 45 point in 45 games, often time playing with players who normally are not considered first line players.  More importantly than the points however, Vanek developed confidence in his game, a skill that can not be taught.  During this period he trusted himself to carry the puck more and not give it to line-mates.  He showed that he is capable of not only scoring, but passing the puck as well.  Besides Ryan Miller, Vanek is the player this team lives and dies with during the game.  Often times when Vanek is on his game, the rest of the team is, as well.   It would not be surprising to see Vanek topple some of his career highs this season, especially if both line-mates Roy and Pominville stay healthy for the majority of the season.

Derek Roy- Roy should be ready to start the 2011-2012 season where he left off the 2010-2011 season, barring the shoulder injury Roy has been nursing throughout the Pre-season.    The biggest question for Roy this season in my mind is if he can stay healthy, not if he can produce.  Over his career Roy has averaged .81 points per game.  Along with Pominville, Roy should also be asked to help in killing penalties.  It would be no surprise if Roy produces at a point-per-game pace, and having Vanek and Pominville flanking him will lead to many opportunities for all three of them to have success.

Drew Stafford- Stafford is coming off a season where he put up career high in both goals and points in a season he played only 62 games, his lowest since his rookie season.  Stafford should find himself on a line with Tyler Ennis and Ville Leino to start the season.  Stafford will be looking to prove that he has earned his newly sign contract and prove his worth to the City of Buffalo.  I believe that last season was no fluke and Stafford will add on to his previous totals.  He showed up this off-season focused and willing to do anything he could to improve his play.  If this line continues to click like they have in the preseason,  there is no doubt in my mind the Sabres could have their first multiple 40-goal-scorers in a long time.

Tyler Ennis- In his sophomore season Ennis  should be given a more prominent role in the offense.  Ennis last season ranked in the top 7 for rookies in most offensive statistics.  There is something I see in this kid that I just can’t put a finger on.  Often, I have said I see a lot of Daniel Briere in Ennis.  Despite their short stature (Briere is 5’10”, Ennis 5’9″), they are both willing to go to and around the net where they are constantly up against larger opponents.  Ennis will be looking to add to his rookie numbers,  This is doable if he sticks to playing his game, which is avoiding defenders and either getting open or getting the puck to the open player.  Ennis should see time on the Sabres second PP unit.  Last season Ennis put up 5 PP goals and 9 assists.  This season on the upside Ennis could put up 60 points to be conservative, If he hits the all too mentioned sophomore slump, 40 points would be the low-end of the spectrum, but I for one don’t see that happening with this kid.

Ville Leino- Rounding out the top 6 forwards will be newcomer Ville Leino.  Leino is joining the team as a premier free-agent signing, something the Sabres have been reluctant to do in the past.  Leino will be asked to play center, a position he has yet to play while in the NHL.  The Sabres are hoping that Leino will be able to renvert back to the position he played for his entire career before he came to the NHL.  While there are legitimate concerns on whether Leino can be a consistent top-six forward,  I believe the transition back to his natural position will produce a great deal of points.   Don’t forget, Leino was brought into the league by the Detroit Red Wings, who have shown us that when pertaining to scouting European talent, they are one of the best.  Leino is another player I wouldn’t be surprised to see have a career year this year.  Only time will tell if Leino can live up to the expectations that have grown for him in his short time in Buffalo.

Gerbe-Gaustad-Kaleta – This line will be used as the Sabres Third line.  At the end of the season this line really clicked and was doing everything all over the ice: hitting, passing, shooting, defending.  You name it and they were doing it.  During the playoffs this line often looked as though they where the best line out there.  Continuing on the Success from the late part of the season, these three guys took it upon themselves to develop their chemistry together.  They did this by meeting during the off-season and working off their success.  If this line sticks, they will often find themselves out there against any team’s top line.

Fourth Line-  The fourth line for the Sabres this season will often be a mix and match of multiple players this season.  To open the year, it looks like rookie Luke Adam will take the pivot with Cody Mccormick and Brad Boyes flanking his wings.  Other players who could find time him are Jochen Hecht once he returns from injury and Matt Ellis.  The line as it stands now is capable of putting up offensive numbers.  Adam and Boyes both are offensively gifted players.  Adam should be exciting, he has been labeled the center for the future, and the future starts now for this kid.  If he puts up solid performances, he could find himself skating on the top 6 by mid-season.  Mccormick will continue his role as the enforcer on the team, and dropping the gloves when it is required.  Mccormick is capable of putting up some points, last season he put up 20 points, which in my opinion is all bonus coming from your enforcer.

Stayed tuned.  Defensive and goalie previews are coming up.


Lindy Believes In The Core

Today, Lindy Ruff and the Buffalo Sabres announced their captain and alternate captains for the upcoming season.  To the surprise of some, Jason Pominville was announced as the 15th full-time captain in Sabres history.  His assistance for the upcoming season will be long time teammates Paul Gaustad, Derek Roy, Thomas Vanek, and Drew Stafford.

All of these players have been playing together on the Sabres since the 06-07 season,  Pominville, Gaustad, and Roy playing together since the 03-04 season (Sabres and Americans).  In this day of free agency and the trade deadline frenzy, its rare for groups of players to play long amounts of time together.  It has long been used as an excuse for past events, saying things like we believe in our core group of players and that the loss of former players wasn’t going to be a problem.

Ruff is putting all of his confidence into the core right now. With this move he, is telling them this is your team now lead us to the goal.  In the past a veteran player who developed in another organization would have been named captain.  The last Sabres captain that was drafted by the team was Mike Ramsey.  Ramsey was last captain back in the 1991-92 season.  Ruff could have easily named new veteran defenseman Robyn Regehr as captain and most would have been alright with this.  Instead, Ruff is putting this team on the back of the core group of players he has developed.

I couldn’t agree more with this move.  It is finally time to show the faith you have in these players and not just talk about it. Let this group prove you made the right decision in investing in them (35% of the cap hit).  This group will be entrusted in leading a group of players with high aspects for the upcoming season, along with mentoring possible future leaders like Tyler Ennis, Nathan Gerbe, Luke Adam and others currently on the Rochester Americans roster.


Smaller Players Stepping Up

 

Despite his size, Nathan Gerbe has show he isn't afraid to get physical.

Sometimes, size doesn’t matter.  That’s the mantra of the duo of the Buffalo Sabres’ small-sized forwards, Tyler Ennis and Nathan Gerbe.

While the pair of forwards struggled early on in the season, Ennis and Gerbe seem to have found their niche with the club.  With Ennis standing at 5’9″, and Gerbe measuring in at a mere 5’5″, it’s conceivable to believe that many people thought that they were outmatched for their roles in the NHL.

Ennis started the season slowly, netting only 9 goals and 18 points in 37 games.  Finding the right place is what needed to happen.  Ennis has been tossed from the 1st line to the 4th line, depending on how coach Lindy Ruff felt about his play, but seems to have found his home playing with proven scorers.  Ennis’s small size hasn’t hampered what he can do with the puck.

The small forward has great puck control, and speed reminiscent of the days Maxim Afinogenov raced up the ice with the puck.  Ennis’s puck control and decision making are what set him and Max apart.

Since the beginning of January, Ennis found the on switch for his production, scoring 10 goals and 27 points in 35 games, putting him on pace to finish with 22 goals and 30 assists, good for 52 points.

Gerbe traveled a different path to late season success.  Like Ennis, Gerbe was bounced around from line to line.  After a failed opportunity on the top two lines, Gerbe was put back with the checking line, primarily with Paul Gaustad and Rob Niedermayer.  He was often a healthy scratch in favor of players like Matt Ellis, or even a seventh defenseman.

Gerbe’s started the season slowly, not even scoring his first goal until his 21st game in the lineup against the Anaheim Ducks.  He had only 7 points in his first 24 games.

While it’s been said that the only way Gerbe can succeed is on the top two lines, the forward has found his way on the third line.  Gerbe’s tenacity to score goals in front of the net, along with some pretty goals, is what defines his play.  It is because of this that Gerbe has found his home on the third line with the big guys.

Since mid-January, Gerbe has added 18 points in his last 30 games.  This puts him on pace to score 13 goals and 28 points in a possible 64 games.  If he continues on the pace he’s had since January, he could end up with as many as 31 points.

It’s no secret that these guys use their size to their advantage.  Even Lindy Ruff agrees that their size may be what keeps some plays going.

“I think when he’s in tight…especially down low where you think he should be trapped and he’s not,” said Ruff, who was comparing his small forward’s play to Maxim Afinogenov.

It’s all happening at a good time.  The Sabres control their destiny when it comes to their playoff push.  They hold the 8th spot in the Eastern Conference right now, with a legitimate shot to grab 7th place.  Only time will tell from this point.


Roy Scores Two, Helps Sabres Beat Sens To Start Season

 

Derek Roy scores one of two goals against the Senators

The Sabres got off to a good start to their season, defeating the Ottawa Senators by a score of 2-1 on Friday night.

Derek Roy scored Buffalo’s only two goals in the Sabres’ first game of the season.  Tyler Ennis assisted on both of Roy’s goals.  Defenseman Shaone Morrisonn assisted on Roy’s first goal.

The Sabres played a fairly complete game, outshooting the Senators 36-26.  They outshot the Senators in the second period 16-3, yet the Senators scored the only goal of the period.

Buffalo opened the scoring when the play came out of the Buffalo zone in the first period.  Tyler Ennis floated a pass ahead to Derek Roy, who deked around Ottawa defenseman Chris Phillips before bringing the puck to his backhand and beating goalie Pascal LeClaire, who was still trying to cross the crease to stop the puck.

Ottawa tied the scored in the second period after Jordan Leopold mishandled the puck heading towards the blue line.  Jarkko Ruutu took the puck away and made a cross-crease pass that skipped over Steve Montador’s stick to Ottawa forward Chris Kelly, who potted the puck into the net behind a helpless Ryan Miller.

In the 3rd period, Buffalo went on a powerplay, and Derek Roy responded by scoring the second of his two goals of the night.  An Ottawa defenseman tried swiping the puck out of the Senators zone, but Tyler Ennis saved the puck from escaping, found Roy streaking up the middle and fed him a pass.  Roy didn’t get the shot away until he got behind the net, where he banked a shot off of LeClaire’s back as he watched the puck trickle in shortly after.

All in all, Buffalo put in a great effort to win this game.  They beat the team that has seemingly had their number for the past five years to start their season.  It was a game of toughness between the two teams, and for once, the Sabres won the battle.  Hopefully, the Sabres will be winning more and more physical battles like this throughout the season.


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