All Sabres fans are well aware that Ryan Miller is the hero of the Sabres roster. I don't need to go into anymore "night after night" platitudes and blah blah blah because we all know what he does.
However, on those nights when the Sabres find themselves down a goal or two heading into the third, who do they rely on to get them those clutch goals?
Uhhhh? Vanek? Not at this pace. Connolly? Maybe. Royzie? He's too busy losing clutch faceoffs. MacArthur or Stafford? Occasionally. Pominville? Not this season.
When you can go through your top 6 and confidently say that none of them are heroic, reliable goal scorers at this point in the game, you have a problem.
Last night at the Arena while I was changing to go home, the score was still 3-2. I found myself standing in the lockerroom thinking this sentence: "Ok _____ time for some magic." And it occurred to me that I have no idea who could fill in that blank.
Last season Vanek offered heroics, and we've been able to rely on him a lot in the last few years to do that. This season has been slow going and no one else has stepped up to offer that boost, that feeling of "Don't worry, get him the puck and things will happen."
All of the boys in the top 6 can score goals, and they all have been (some later than others, ROYZIE). But none of them are are go-to goal scorer. That keeps the other team's defense guessing, they can never bee 100% sure who's going to be that player with the quick trigger. Crosby, Ovechkin, Malkin, Kopitar, Nash, Iginla, Zetterberg, Kovalchuk, all over the NHL there are teams with that one player or more than one sometimes. You keep that guy covered at all times. The balanced attack makes for a confused opponent, but it also leaves us without the game-saving goal scorer.
Miller can stop the pucks from going in (most of the time) but he can't score the goals for them. Someone needs to kick it up a notch or 10. Not just someone, but a lot of someones.
12-5-1 is still a good record through 17 games, let's not kid ourselves. This team isn't completely perfect. It's got a lot of really solid elements, but now that they've gone through their feeling things out phase, it'll be nice to see them kick it into that next gear they should be able to kick it into.
They need to push harder and drive harder and score more. Who's going to do it?