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Bad Time To Develop An 'Edge'
March 13, 2012 - Matt Spielman
Sabres star defenseman Tyler Myers picked a bad time to develop the "edge" everybody wants to see out of him.
After getting clipped with a high stick and driven into the boards Monday night against the Canadiens, Myers looked like a man on a mission to hit the next Montreal player he encountered. That player was Scott Gomez and with the Canadiens' 5-foot 11-inch center's back squarely in his crosshairs, Myers unloaded.
I thought it was bad when it happened and I don't feel any differently after watching the replays. Gomez had no idea Myers was coming, had already played the puck and hitting him did Myers and the Sabres no good. Now it's going to cost them. Brendan Shanahan, the NHL's senior vice president of player safety came down hard on Buffalo's 22-year-old blue-liner on Tuesday with a three-game suspension.
The punishment couldn't come at a worse time for the Sabres. In the midst of an impressive run just to get back into the playoff race, Buffalo faces Colorado, Florida and Tampa Bay in the next three games. Playing without their best defenseman and one of their most important players will be a challenge for a desperate Sabres team. A defenseman from Rochester will have to be called up, likely Brayden McNabb. Even though McNabb played well earlier this season in abbreviated action, the intensity of March hockey can catch up to a rookie in a hurry. Luckily Myers will be back for Buffalo's matchup with eighth-place Washington next week.
Myers stepped up later in Monday's game with the winning goal in overtime, but showcasing his talent is a lot more important than showcasing his aggression this late in the season. When situations arise like Myers was confronted with in the third period against the Canadiens, the former Calder Trophy winner can't let his emotions get the best of him.
Sabres fans are probably upset because of the non-suspension of Milan Lucic earlier this season when he ran into Ryan Miller or the non-suspension of Marc-Andre Bourdon earlier this season when he hit Nathan Gerbe from behind resulting in a concussion. Those are fair arguments, but if the NHL really wants to make the sport safer it has to crack down on hits like Myers'. Two wrongs don't make a right, so even if the NHL were to admit that it missed the punishments on previous hits, it still has to react in the proper way this time.
If you asked general manager Darcy Regier or coach Lindy Ruff — without the context of previous hits that went unpunished — they both would say that a hit like Myers' should be suspendable.
Sabres fans have been clamoring for the team to hit more all season long, but it seems the most memorable hit of the season might turn out to be this one by Myers. For all the wrong reasons.
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Buffalo's Tyler Myers (57) scores the game-winning goal on Montreal Canadiens goalie Peter Budaj during overtime in Buffalo on Monday.