MONTREAL – The Buffalo Sabres proved they are not ready for “The Voice.” Their coach showed he might be eligible for “Last Comic Standing.”
The Sabres ended practice Friday in Bell Centre by gathering at center ice to serenade Tyler Myers. The defenseman turned 23, and his teammates sang a raspy, off-key “Happy Birthday.”
Coach Lindy Ruff was asked if he got Myers anything for the occasion.
“I got him some advice,” the coach said.
The joke worked because Myers’ game is no laughing matter. The Sabres’ franchise defenseman is in a season-long slump that got worse during Thursday’s 7-4 win over Boston.
Myers and partner Jordan Leopold were on the ice for three of the Bruins’ goals. Brad Marchand undressed Myers and eluded Leopold to give Boston a 2-1 lead. Myers’ turnover early in the third period enabled the Bruins to go up, 4-3.
The duo remained together during Friday’s skate, but it’s unclear whether they will be linked this afternoon when the Sabres visit Montreal. T.J. Brennan could replace one of them.
“I’ve got one healthy defenseman, and the option is to use him, to buy a little bit of time,” Ruff said. “We know they both can play. They struggled. It’s no different that a lot of teams will have a guy struggling, and we’ve got to try to get them through it.
“There’s different ways of getting through it. Sometimes if you rest them, let them watch a game, it helps them. Sometimes you can let them work their way.”
Myers has just one point in seven games, and it was the game-winner in the opener when his shot from the point hit a Philadelphia defender. Ruff had a long one-on-one with the defenseman on the morning of the Boston game, and Myers knew he had to be better.
“I know it’s not good enough,” he said. “Two slipups could really get me in trouble. It’s something I have to clean up.”
Montreal might get a huge boost on the blue line. P.K. Subban, who missed the first six games while negotiating a new contract, skated with Francis Bouillon on defense and the power play at practice for the Canadiens.
“You can practice game situations, but being in a game is different,” Montreal coach Michel Therrien told reporters. “You can’t just say, ‘He’s a good athlete, let’s throw him out there.’ It doesn’t happen like that.
“We’ll make the decision on what’s best for the team and what’s best for the return of a defenseman.”
A beatdown at the hands of John Scott has put Boston forward Shawn Thornton on the sidelines. The Sabres’ 6-foot-8 enforcer pummeled Thornton on Thursday, and the Bruins announced Friday that he’s out seven to 10 days with a concussion.
“It is tough,” Boston coach Claude Julien told reporters in Massachusetts. “Unfortunately, there’s always a risk in that job. He took on a pretty big man, as we all know, 6-8, maybe around 280 pounds. He handles himself as best as he could, but those things are going to happen, and at the end of the day he still was willing to do it for his team.”
The Sabres host Florida at 3 p.m. Sunday, so backup goaltender Jhonas Enroth may get a start this weekend. Ruff refused to say.
Ryan Miller, meanwhile, rebounded from a forgettable 4-3 overtime loss to Toronto with a 38-save night in Boston.
“For getting scored on four times, I felt good in net,” he said. “They weren’t horrible goals. I would have maybe liked Marchand’s back where I bit really hard. I think Leo and I both bit really hard on that. Everything else was just stuff that happened night in and night out. I was happy to be there when I needed to be, and I was happy to respond.”