BUFFALO – In Ville Leino’s defense, Ted Nolan said, the Sabres winger “has played in spurts, hit a couple goalposts.”
“He’s just missing here and just missing there,” the interim coach said this morning inside the First Niagara Center. “When those things just keep missing, you look at the overall picture that he’s not playing well at all. But, truth is, he has played in spurts. It just didn’t click in.”
Leino has zero goals in 37 games. The Finn will sit tonight against the Edmonton Oilers as healthy scratch for the third time this season. He was a minus-2 in Saturday’s 7-1 drubbing in Colorado.
“It’s just makes some changes,” said Nolan, who has repeatedly questioned Leino’s compete level. “Things didn’t go too well last game. When that happens, change is imminent.”
Meanwhile, winger Drew Stafford will return from a four-game absence after re-aggravating his upper-body injury.
“Drew, he comes back, and, boom, pucks go in for him,” Nolan said about Stafford, who scored three times after returning last month. “If that happens with Ville one day, you never know what you have.”
Winger Linus Omark, a former Oiler, will play on the top line beside Stafford and center Tyler Ennis. Omark has sat the last three games. Center Zenon Konopka will sit.
“After last game, desperate times make desperate decisions,” Nolan said. “We’ll see what transpires.”
Rookie defenseman Chad Ruhwedel will be scratched tonight for veteran Alexander Sulzer.
Why sit Ruhwedel, who appeared to be playing well?
“As I mentioned to Chad this morning, don’t read into any of it,” Nolan said. “As I mention to players, you just worry about your own play. … It has nothing to do with his lack of play. He’s played pretty well. There’s other things behind it.”
Backup goalie Jhonas Enroth will face Edmonton’s Ilya Bryzgalov in net.