There is certainly hope for the Buffalo Sabres in the second half of the season. The Sabres have only played 39 games, leaving 43 games on the schedule to make a playoff push. The Sabres are currently only four points out of a playoff spot behind the New Jersey Devils.
It has been a very interesting season thus far with many injuries and inconsistent play. The hype surrounding the team may have got to them early on in the year, but it seemed as if every time they were starting to pull something together that they had a player go down with an injury.
The Sabres can hopefully turn the corner from the injury bug that his bitten them so many times this season and stay healthy. Players like Ville Leino seemed to not have enough time to gel with his teammates before he was injured.
Leino showed his great defensive play and stick handling but failed to put the puck in the net. Christian Ehrhoff and Robyn Regehr have certainly proved that the moves in the offseason to pick them up were worth it.
The two of them have been by far the Sabres best defenseman this year. However as the injury bug has infected the team it has also got to Ehrhoff who will miss time due to an apparent rib injury suffered to the Washington Capitals just before the end of the 2011 calendar year.
It might have been a blessing for the Sabres to have so many injuries in the beginning of the season and were forced to call up their young talent from Rochester. It can benefit the Sabres now because you would much rather start the year slow and pick it up in the second half going into the playoffs and now they are able to see what the young guns can do in the big leagues.
Call ups such as Zack Kassian, Brayden McNabb, Corey Tropp, TJ Brennan and Marcus Foligno all were able to show their abilities to some degree when being called up. Brayden McNabb has shown tremendous abilities on the blue line and has recently stepped up his offensive ability from the point with two assists last game.
TJ Brennan has surprised many as he is a very fluent skater and can move the puck without hesitation. All the hype was surrounding Zack Kassian and he lived up to it for the beginning but many people would like to see more intensity and hitting around him as well as scoring. He was given the opportunity to play on the first line last game with Thomas Vanek and Jochen Hecht but was unable to really produce anything.
The Sabres have been snake bitten with injuries to veteran players such as Tyler Ennis, Brad Boyes, Ville Leino, Jochen Hecht, and Patrick Kaleta. Ennis it seems has barely been on the ice as he has battled a sprained ankle for most of the season, leaving him to play in just 15 games.
Leino has returned to practice and started skating so hopefully his return to game play will be soon. Brad Boyes since coming back from injury has played well but has had an extremely hard time putting the puck in the back of the net.
The Star players of the Sabres that include Thomas Vanek, Derek Roy, Drew Stafford, Jason Pominville, and Ryan Miller have had very different seasons. Vanek and Pominville are clearly leading the way in points and productivity in the stats department.
Roy and Stafford have had very uncharacteristic seasons with barely putting the puck in the net. The combined have a total of 46 points, which is just six shy of what Pominville has been able to do by himself. Roy and Stafford better step it up in the second half of the year or they may find themselves on the way out when the trade deadline comes around.
Ryan Miller started off to a really shaky start and being injured by the hit by Milan Lucic. Miller recently has looked like Miller of old and the true franchise goalie again.
Look for Darcy Regier to give no slack with this team at the trade deadline and make a move like they did last year in Brad Boyes. Since Darcy has had Pegula as his boss he has made some great moves but the injuries have kept the wins off the scoreboard.
The Sabres can easily catch up in the Eastern Conference and make a good run at the cup and are still only nine points behind the hated Boston Bruins. However, the Boston Bruins have played five fewer games than the Sabres.