For those of you demanding change as the Sabres dropped their fourth game in a row, the obvious answer is clear--fire Lindy. Let me stop by being realistic now and tell you that that is just not happening.
There is no doubt that changes need to be made and that the onus falls on the coach to put a winning team on the ice. Lindy Ruff is just as responsible for the team's failure as he is for its success.
But if the coach isn't going anywhere, what can the team do to ensure improvement on the ice?
What the team can change is its philosophy. The name of the coach is not going to change, but what needs to is his style.
Right now, Lindy Ruff is coaching scared. In a tie game with under a minute to go in regulation, he sent out a line composed of Marcus Foligno, Jochen Hecht, and Matt Ellis. Now normally I am all for playing for overtime, but the team had an offensive zone faceoff against a Leaf team they were able to maintain decent puck possession against all night. Instead, he nailed one of the hottest lines in hockey to the bench and tied his rookie sensation's leash to a stake.
Ruff's handling of Grigorenko is a testament of its own to his non-aggressive coaching style.
It can be argued that Mikhail Grigorenko has been the best center for the Sabres thus far this season, yet Lindy has shown he still does not completely trust him. Despite the fact that he was a -2 last night, the kid scored his first career NHL goal in a key moment and looked better than both Hodgson and Ennis.
Ruff's infatuation with sitting the talented center is beyond frustrating. Grigorenko made it this far due to his offensive abilities and skill. The maddening part of the situation is that Ruff continues to be afraid to use him in his proper role.
Any player can dump the puck in and chase after it, so why do you need to burn a year off your highly touted prospect's contract to do it?
Mikhail Grigorenko is here to provide offense and therefore should be playing offensively, as with the rest of the team
Lindy Ruff, and the team as a whole, need to comprehend the importance of every game in a season this short. The time to wake up is now.
It comes down to the desire to win. Desperation and compete will drive this team to victory. The Sabres need to be playing desperate for points whistle to whistle from Game 1 all the way to Game 48. And this sort of team attitude has yet to be seen like it has in past playoff runs.
It's time for the Sabres to, as they say, "play like you mean it."
Below I've posted new line suggestions that I think would bring out the best in each player:
PP1: 26-19-25, 29-10
PP2: 63-9-21, 3-57