Sabres Shuffle; Jackets Jumble

Updated: December 9, 2009 at 12:58 pm by Adam Burke

You know the best part about covering the Sabres and the Jackets for DailyFaceoff? Both of their coaches have some form of hockey coaching ADD and just can’t seem to leave things alone. As a result, there is no shortage of updates for these two teams heading in to action tonight. 


Sabres Trying To Make Things Line Up

Sitting here looking at the title of my article, the only thing I can think of is the ridiculously irritating Cupid Shuffle. You know what I’m talking about. It’s like the late 2000s version of the old Achy, Breaky Heart line dance from Miley Cyrus’s dad. There’s just less mullet in the recent one. Anyway, the Ruff Shuffle (what an awesome line dance that would make) is in full swing.

Recently re-called Nathan Gerbe will be on the right flank with Thomas Vanek opposite him and Timmy Connolly in the middle. Simply put, the Sabres miss Paul Gaustad and are looking for chemistry anywhere they can find it. Vanek and Connolly are two of the most talented players in the league when they want to be, and Lindy Ruff is hoping that they will be motivated playing together.

For the other Sabres like, Jochen Hecht and Jason Pominville will sandwich pivotman Derek Roy, the General Clarke MacArthur will play with Tim Kennedy and Drew Stafford, while the fourth line is rounded out by grinders Matt Ellis, Adam Mair, and Patrick Kaleta. Best wishes to Mike Grier who is home tending to his ailing mother.

If Gerbe can elevate his game, the Sabres top three lines are extremely deep. Having Hecht with Roy and Pominville will make him a good 2LW or 3LW pickup for the time being in most fantasy leagues.

Hitchcocking Around

The Jackets continue to struggle mightily and it has prompted Ken Hitchcock to throw the names of 11 forwards into a hat and see which combinations come out. With Rick Nash cemented at the top RW spot, Hitchcock continued his parade of left wings on the #1 line giving Kristian Huselius the call this week with Antoine Vermette at center.

The most interesting line will be Jason Chimera with RJ Umberger and Jake Voracek. Voracek’s been Columbus best all-around and most consistent forward all season and Hitch is looking to ride Chimera’s hot play. Umberger, meanwhile, is a -6 in his last two games.

The return of Derek Dorsett highlights the third line where he will monitor the right wing with Raffi Torres and Derick Brassard. Brassard is in the Grand Canyon stage of a sophomore slump with a goalless slump dating back to November 5 and sporting a -11. Torres and Dorsett have both battled injuries all season long and they have undoubtedly been missed. The Jackets have played pretty uninspired most nights and the lack of Dorsett could be a reason why.

The fourth line will see Andrew Murray return to action to play with Sami Pahlsson and Jared Boll. Not much fantasy value here except for Boll’s PIM totals, but this will be the hit & grind line for the Jackets.

Fantasy Impact

As said above, Jochen Hecht gains quite a bit of value skating with two tremendous talents like Derek Roy and Jason Pominville.

For the Jackets, either Umberger or Voracek look like decent pickups if available. Chimera’s inconsistency is not worth a claim, but he might be the unsung guy to get the other two players some goals or powerplay time.

Look for another one of these posts within the next week or so if both teams keep struggling. Ruff and Hitchcock are both very proactive coaches and have their darts ready in the office and the player mugshots on the wall.

Buffalo Sabres, Columbus Blue Jackets, Derick Brassard, Jakub Voracek, Jochen Hecht, Ken Hitchcock, Lindy Ruff, RJ Umberger, Thomas Vanek