On the heels of last night’s stirring 6-5 overtime win against Toronto, the Buffalo Sabres received some bad news today regarding defenseman Tyler Myers. Following practice at First Niagara Center, head coach Lindy Ruff confirmed that Myers will not be available for the team’s final two regular season games this week in Philadelphia and Boston.
“He won’t be on the trip. Tyler’s out. It’ll be a period of time,” said Ruff. “What time frame that is? It’s more than just this week.”
Ruff wouldn’t divulge any specific details of the injury, only saying that Myers has a “bad foot.” Myers has missed the past two games after taking a shot to the foot late in Friday’s loss to Pittsburgh.
The absence of both Myers and Christian Ehrhoff has created a noticeable void on the Buffalo blueline. The Sabres have allowed 14 goals in their past three games (including an empty netter vs. Pittsburgh), after surrendering just three in their previous four – victories over Washington, Minnesota, New York Rangers and Montreal. In last night’s game, Toronto jumped out to a 3-0 first period lead on just 13 shots on goal.
Not only have the Sabres missed the offensive skills of Myers and Ehrhoff, but other players have been forced into extra ice time in unfamiliar roles. Andrej Sekera misplayed a puck into a first period shorthanded goal for Toronto on Saturday, and was on the ice for all three of Toronto’s first period goals last night. After averaging around 18 minutes in his previous three games, Alexander Sulzer has averaged 23 minutes a night in the past two games. Jordan Leopold has led the Sabres in ice time over the last three games, eclipsing the 25 minute mark each night.
Ruff realizes the challenges that lie ahead for his blueliners, but also knows that tightening up defensively and limiting scoring chances will be the keys to sustaining their push for a playoff spot.
“We went through that game, we went through the first period, went through the chances, and emphasized the importance of staying inside some of the mistakes we made. Some of it was lack of communication. Some of it was the coverage. But we do have to tighten up, there’s no secret," Ruff explained. "That’s on myself and my staff to make sure that we tighten up those areas so it’s not a game where you give 16 or 17 (chances). We’ve got to get it back to the norm, which is somewhere around 10 or 11, in that area. And not give up the high quality.
"We worked hard on that this morning, went through that with the players. We understand that we know how to play, and we know how to play in our own end. It should be an easier fix. Some of it is adapting to the players we have in. Some of it is just system related."