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Lindy Ruff would like to see Cody Hodgson turn into James Neal

Mar 14, 2012, 9:21 AM EDT

Cody Hodgson, Lindy Ruff, Tyler Ennis Getty Images

The Sabres acquisition of Cody Hodgson hasn’t exactly lived up to the high hopes fans in Buffalo had when it went down at the deadline.

Hodgson is still without a point and spent practice yesterday working on the fourth line. With such an inauspicious debut, Sabres coach Lindy Ruff is reminded of another talented forward who was traded last year and struggled to settle in right away as John Vogl of The Buffalo News shares.

“It’ll come,” Ruff said. “I’m not concerned. I think you look at it, and it’s obviously disappointing. But it will come. It’s probably no different than when James Neal went to Pittsburgh last year. There was a ‘it’s not working out,’ then all of a sudden it works out.”

The key differences between Neal and Hodgson here are that Neal showed up in Pittsburgh last year and essentially didn’t have a center to work with. This year he’s riding shotgun with Evgeni Malkin and they’ve been dynamic.

If Hodgson can find a high-scoring winger to work with and form chemistry with, he’ll be golden. Buffalo has the guys to do it in Thomas Vanek or Jason Pominville, but for now it looks like the Sabres want to get Hodgson rolling on a line that isn’t their first scoring unit. If it works out this way, hey it’s a huge win for Buffalo. Getting a 21-year-old center right as he’s about to break out is a good thing.

  1. letangusespertplus - Mar 14, 2012 at 9:29 AM

    Keep dreaming girls name.

    Soup Can Army assemble.

  2. pftbillsfan - Mar 14, 2012 at 9:31 AM

    it is what us always is, Ruff ruins offensive players. People point to Drury and Briere as proof thats not true but look at the long line of failed acquisitions, Bernier Boyes Torres Hodgson I cant remember pre lockout but theyre there. We play boring slow hockey that stifles creativity and crushes the soul. The only two years we were exciting was first two out of the lockout when hockey was wide open and we didnt play Hitchcock hockey. I like Ruff as a guy but seriously 6 out of 10 years no playoffs, no stanley cups with his team, 99 was Muckler and Nolans.

    • davebabychreturns - Mar 14, 2012 at 11:32 AM

      I don’t think you can point to those acquisitions as proof Lindy Ruff can’t get offense out of players.

      It’s less ludicrous than pointing to them and saying that Lindy Ruff can get offense out of players, but still.

      Bernier played his way out of the league; Brad Boyes is a complete softy with three respectable seasons (-20 in one of them) in his seven years in the league – and the last three have not been among them; Torres has always been a streaky scorer who has not improved appreciably since moving on from the Sabres organization.

      Cody Hodgson is another matter entirely. Right now he may not be as good a player as he looked at times in Vancouver but he is a blue chip prospect who certainly will be able to contribute eventually. Will that be next next game, or even next season? I’m not sure to be honest. For now he will show flashes but he needs to figure out how to be effective against strong opposition and until then flashes will have to suffice.

      I don’t know whether Ruff is the best person to manage his development, I don’t follow the Sabres nearly closely enough to say. But when looking at the dismal offensive production of some Sabres over the last few years I think it’s worth looking at how those players performed after leaving Buffalo (no better), and it’s worth placing some responsibility on the shoulders of the GM who went out and got those players.

  3. fleurysteeth - Mar 14, 2012 at 9:34 AM

    i bet every coach wishes their no talents would grow sick hair and have a wrist shot like a fricking cannon.

    sca.

  4. obamablowz - Mar 14, 2012 at 12:33 PM

    And I would like to see Ruff fired and Buffalo moved to a real city

  5. buffalomafia - Mar 14, 2012 at 3:24 PM

    I would like to see Ruff & Regeire fired!

    Kaleta must go also!

  6. Buffalo Grumblings - Mar 14, 2012 at 9:24 PM

    Boyes was a goal scorer on bad St. Louis teams, Torres keeps getting traded, Zubrus was a rental that had no intention of staying and he’s still an average player. Drury never gave NY what he did in Buffalo, Briere has more talent in Philly. Hodgson was mostly a winger in Vancouver and they are trying to have him play center in Buffalo. So far its a struggle.

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