Really, you just can’t know how a team, any team, will respond to an injury to a key player. Many of us wrote off the season after Roy got hurt (myself included), but all the Sabres have done since then is go on a run. Since the 5-2 loss in Calgary, Buffalo has gone 4-0-1, including a 7-6 barnburner highlighted by a Drew Stafford hat trick, and a 3-0 real shutout of San Jose, and a 2-1 win against the Coyotes, games in which the Vezina quality Ryan Miller made appearances.
Players and coaches will always throw out the ‘other guys need to step up’ cliche when an injury like this happens, but it really is true, and it’s happened here. EX:
“Since Derek’s (Roy) gone, there’s a chance for a lot of guys to step up and play some extra minutes. Guys are trying to take advantage of that.” Jochen Hecht
Stafford is on a tear (in addition to the hatty he had an OT game-winner in Phoenix), Jordan Leopold has 10 goals, Shaone Morrisonn has brought an increased physical presence, Mike Weber has too (in addition to a few goals!) and there have been goals by Jochen Hecht, Luke Adam, and Jason Pominville, all guys who are in that ‘needs to step up’ category.
Looking at the standings, Buffalo is currently 10th, 8 points behind Boston and Montreal (catching both would jump them all the way into 3rd). The schedule for the month means Lalime will be keeping the bench warm quite a bit, as there is only 1 back to back set of games as part of a 3 in 4, with two of them against the Isles. Gotta get him in once there, I’d think. There’s a game each against the teams they are chasing in the Northeast, how successful January is probably turns on how they do there. It’s a tough lead to make up, but a team that plays the way they have in the past few games can do it. They are making it interesting, at least.