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Renovation Watch: Major slippage

Jan 12, 2012, 10:00 AM EDT

Vancouver Canucks v Buffalo Sabres Getty Images

Every now and then, PHT will glance at the teams who changed the most during the 2011 off-season in Renovation Watch.

Generally speaking, things have gotten quite a bit worse for the five most dramatically altered teams in the NHL since we last took a look at them before New Year’s. Here is a glance at how each squad fared, in order from highest standings position to the lowest (wins are the tiebreaker in one case, if it really matters).

Philadelphia Flyers

Record on Dec. 29: 21-10-4 for 46 points
Current record: 25-12-4 for 54 points

The Flyers already found themselves behind the New York Rangers for second in the Atlantic Division in the earlier edition; now it just seems like that surging, scrappy squad is that much further out of reach. Still, it’s likely that few teams want to tangle with this explosive Philly team, even if the wrong Russian seems to be in net most nights.

Minnesota Wild

Record on Dec. 29: 20-12-6 for 46 points
Current record: 22-15-6 for 50 points

It actually seems like Minnesota is righting the ship in most recent times, but maybe that’s just compared to their jarring fall from grace that was quite clear in the last Renovation Watch. They’re currently second in the Northwest Division, which is good for seventh overall in the West. It’s not an understatement to say that they have a tenuous grip on a playoff spot at the moment.

Florida Panthers

Record on Dec. 29: 19-11-7 for 45 points
Current record: 21-13-8 for 50 points

The Panthers have been exceedingly average lately, but give them a break. They’re taking some challenges in stride, especially when it comes to the health of their goalies. It’s tough to really be intimidated by this team as they’re currently constituted, but they are getting things done. Florida remains first overall in the once-again-weak Southeast Division.

Buffalo Sabres

Record on Dec. 29: 17-16-3 for 37 points
Current record: 18-19-5 for 41 points

Is it crazy to wonder if Lindy Ruff’s borderline-vampiric reign as the Sabres head coach is in danger? The NHL’s longest tenured bench boss is experiencing perhaps the most disappointing season of his time in Buffalo as the team’s summer splurge might not even amount to a playoff spot. They’re currently stuck in 11th place in the Eastern Conference and are only on top of the lowly Montreal Canadiens in the Northeast Division.

Columbus Blue Jackets

Record on Dec. 29: 9-22-5 for 23 points
Current record: 11-26-5 for 27 points

Speaking of coach firings, the Blue Jackets finally handed Scott Arniel a pink slip. Let’s face it, though, the team’s problems aren’t about X’s and O’s. They don’t have much talent to speak of, especially for a team that perennially gathers high draft picks. Really, the wrong Scott might have been fired, or at least both Scott Howson and Arniel deserved the axe.

  1. elemeno89 - Jan 12, 2012 at 10:16 AM

    as seen in 99, 06, and 07, if lindy ruff has the proper tools at his disposal, then he is a very capable coach. you cannot blame him for a lack of effort from his “core” players. you cannot blame him for injuries. the person to blame if any is darcy regier if any. lindy ruff’s job is not in jeopardy, and buffalo would be fools to fire him. his track record as a coach is too good, and he will end up getting picked up y another team immediately.

    • davebabychreturns - Jan 12, 2012 at 12:11 PM

      Yeah but a lack of effort and poor on-ice results will eventually be reason enough to fire the coach, fair or not. You can’t realistically expect the GM to come out and say “we are terrible because the players (I acquired) aren’t good enough and/or aren’t trying,” granted Lindy Ruff is a special case given how long he’s been behind the bench in Buffalo but generally the coach will pay for his players indifference.

  2. lordstanley716 - Jan 12, 2012 at 10:53 AM

    If any individual is responsible for the melt down in Buffalo it’s Darcy Regier. He has built a team around a core of soft, heartless players. While Derek Roy is at the center of most trade talks, I believe the guy to move with Roy is not Drew Stafford, but Captain Jason Pominville. Leading the blue and gold with 43 points this season, Pominville would net the greatest return and shake up the core of the team which has been together far too long. At some point Darcy has to make the tough decision and part with some of his over valued toys. He made a smart decision by drafting some guys with size, Adam, Kassian, Foligno and Armia… It’s time to part with the old and make way for the new. As for the C put it on 26 where it belongs.

    • taytay099 - Jan 12, 2012 at 7:51 PM

      At the beginning of the season I thought Buffalo was going to be a great team. They picked up Ehrhoff, Regehr and Leino. I thought Tyler Myers and Tyler Ennis would really step up their games, but they’ve either been terrible or injured. This must be a painful season for Buffalo fans.

  3. gnrfan8804 - Jan 12, 2012 at 12:04 PM

    completely agree with where the C belongs. last year, vanek put the team on his back and carried them. hoping for the same this year. also agree with roy and stafford. giving drew a new contract was a huge mistake, he may never score 30 again. as for roy, too many rumors and speculation that he is a cancer in the locker room….he’s not very good anyways. funny, but maybe just dumping a couple problem players, without getting much in return (let’s face it, what are u gonna get for roy and stafford) may make the team better…….

  4. riles1008 - Jan 12, 2012 at 12:39 PM

    Injuries have definitely been a major problem for Buffalo this year. I hope Ruff is given another chance. But a case can be made to dump him. A fresh start is always a good thing. Miller can not get motivated to look like he did two years ago. Roy is unproductive and lazy. Stafford, lazy. Almost none of the forwards back check and we get smoked on defense all the time because of it. Even with the injuries there is a lack of intensity, heart and effort. And that is a coaching problem. I don’t blame regeir. He has drafted some great players and when given the opportunity to acquire players he has. But his loyalty to Roy, Stafford, Hecht and even pominville must go. Until this year pominville has been nothing but average. Stafford and Roy are pathetic and Hecht should never be more than a third line center yet he’s always first or second line. Def need a trade to shake things up and need some two way offensive players

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