Buffalo - January 6, 2015 - After losing eight of nine, the Sabres are looking for a boost. Something to get their momentum going in the right direction.
How about the return of their best defenseman?
Tyler Myers expects to return to the lineup tonight in New Jersey after missing the last nine games. Before that, the Sabres had won 10 of 13 and looked like they might be turning a corner after starting the season in abysmal fashion.
Losing Myers on the ice not only hurts the performance of the team, but missing their best defenseman can damage the already fragile confidence of the undermanned Sabres. Said Myers:
“The way we went during our winning streak, it brought a belief factor in the room I think we’ve been lacking a little bit in the last year or two. Just knowing we can do that gets guys to work that much harder to try and keep doing it.”
To those who look solely at stats, Myers hasn’t been all that impressive. But to those who have watched the Sabres this year, especially the team’s management, he’s been the clearcut #1 defender and they’ve leaned on his as such. He’s become better at using his huge frame to keep forwards on the edges, he’s gotten stronger in the corners and he’s making smarter decisions with the puck in his own end. Just as importantly, though he hasn’t rediscovered his offensive touch, he does have those beautiful dashes up the ice from time to time.
The team leans on him as if he’s an elite shutdown defender, starting 37 percent of his shifts in the offensive zone; that indicates he’s more of a defensive specialist at the moment than anything else. Of course, this is the worst offensive team in the league, so take that into consideration as well.
Having Myers back in the mix doesn’t automatically mean a return to their winning ways, but the team is clearly better with him in the lineup. We’ll see how things change tonight in New Jersey.
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