What to do with the Sabres?
Buffalo sits 11th in the East, six points out of a playoff spot, with seven games left. (Photo by Jen Fuller/Getty Images)
What to do with the Sabres?
In case you’re curious, nothing has changed about THN’s mailbag process in the past seven days. You submit questions, I choose a whack of them and answer them in one of our three platforms (online, on THN Radio and in the pages of our magazine. I also thank all question-senders before moving on to answer them. Which I’ll do now:
Adam, what's your take on the Sabres? I can't decide to root for them to make a miraculous comeback and make the playoffs or for them to lose enough to insure they get one or two of the premium picks. Also, should Darcy Regier be trusted with making the picks?
Brian Pesci, Lackawanna, N.Y.
You wrote this question prior to Buffalo’s insipid 5-1 loss to Montreal Thursday night. Anyone who watched that debacle – in which the Sabres were outshot 42-15 (!) – could only answer your question by saying major changes are in order for that franchise.
Sabres GM Darcy Regier knows it as well. That’s why he began stripping down the team at the trade deadline and why it is very likely cornerstone goalie Ryan Miller will be on the market this summer. Now, would I still keep Regier around to make that decision? Despite the fact I loved his deal that sent Jason Pominville to Minnesota for a Kings’ ransom, I’d say no. Regier has had 15 years in his current role and that’s a great run by NHL GM standards. It’s time for a different architect.
Adam, if the Bruins are struggling to score goals, why is it that they play Jay Pandolfo and Kaspars Daugavins who do not help the team in any way and have a legitimate goal scorer in prospect Alexander Khokhlachev – who at every level has shown he can produce – buried in Providence?
Phil Bristow, Wareham, Ma.
Firstly, I wouldn’t say Pandolfo and Daugavins don’t help in any way. The former is an experienced Stanley Cup winner and the latter has been adept at shootouts. But more importantly, putting the 19-year-old Khokhlachev in a high-pressure situation on a bona fide Cup contender is a risky proposition to say the least. Moreover, the youngster would hardly get the kind of ice time necessary to put up decent offensive numbers. Better to let him develop in the American League and be more prepared for a meaningful contribution down the line.
Hi Adam! What are the odds Mike Babcock will change addresses this summer (by his own decision or not)? And do you see him coaching in Philly?
Eric Barriault, St-Constant, Que.
While I’d heard whispers last year that Babcock’s time in Detroit might be winding down, the job he’s done this season with a Nicklas Lidstrom-less Red Wings team suggests he’ll stick around for at least the start of next year, if not longer.
However, if Babcock and the Wings part ways, I think he’d likely have his pick of a few open positions. And when you take a good, honest look at the shabby state of Philadelphia’s defense corps, is that the ideal place for him to go? I’d suggest it isn’t. Instead – and this is assuming current Flyers coach Peter Laviolette is fired, which isn’t a given – my best guess is the leading candidate to replace him in Philly is currently working behind the bench of the New York Rangers.
That’s right – John Tortorella. Of course, the Blueshirts would have to falter (either by not making the playoffs or bowing out meekly in the first round) to push Tortorella out of town. But honestly, would there be a better fit for a famously aggressive, in-your-face franchise than the league’s most aggressive, in-your-face coach? It’s destiny.
Adam, can Braden Holtby take the Caps on a deep playoff run with Alex Ovechkin playing the way he is?
Scott M., Moncton, N.B.
Your question is a bit confusing, as Holtby’s play isn’t directly linked to Ovechkin’s hot streak. The goalie and the rest of Washington’s team are beneficiaries of Ovechkin’s strong rebound from a poor start to the season, but you can’t presume one is a direct result of the other.
I recently wrote an opinion column for our magazine arguing the Capitals should be blown up – and although Washington has vastly improved their at-one-point-longshot-playoff-chances, I remain unconvinced they’ll do much damage if they do qualify for a post-season berth. As many have pointed out, the Caps have devoured their opponents in the truly awful Southeast Division (13-3-0), but when it comes to the other Eastern Conference teams, they’re terrible (9-14-2).
Now, Holtby showed last spring he has the capability to get on a hot streak and steal a couple games. He’s also shown this season he can be eaten alive by teams. So nobody can say with certainty which Holtby (or Ovechkin, or Capitals squad) we’ll see in the playoffs. And with Winnipeg just two points behind them in the standings, there’s no assurance they’ll make it there at all.
Ask Adam appears Fridays on THN.com. Ask your question on our submission page. For more great profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, subscribe to The Hockey News magazine. Follow Adam on Twitter at @ProteauType.