BUFFALO — With Sunday night’s 3-1 loss to the Bruins, the Sabres are a lackluster 5-7-1, a resounding thud after a late-season charge in 2011-12 left them within a stick length of reaching the playoffs. Impatient Sabres fans, who haven’t seen their charges advance beyond the first round of the postseason since 2006-07, now wonder what has happened to fourth-year blue liner Tyler Myers.
The 6-foot-8-inch Myers, the NHL’s rookie of the year in June 2010, was scratched (coach’s decision) Saturday night on Long Island, and again on Sunday. Once considered one of the league’s more promising talents, his game this season has been a shambles, both on offense and defense. He stands a team-worst minus-9.
“He’s beating himself up,’’ said coach Lindy Ruff, following his club’s morning workout. “I’m trying to get him to park some of the bad stuff that’s happened.’’
Myers, with only one point (a goal) in 11 games, showed a lack of confidence from the start of the season, leading him to a series of blown coverages, bad passes, and overall poor decision-making (opting to pinch or not to pinch at the wrong times). Ruff said he essentially needs Myers to attempt a career reboot.
“He has to go to ground level,’’ said Ruff. “I know he’s had some good talks with [teammate] Robyn Regehr, who’s had similar struggles in his career. Tyler’s now got to succeed at ground level, and then get to the next floor after that.’’
Bruins coach Claude Julien, speaking in general terms about players whose games fall off, said he knows Myers is a good player and expects he will rebound.
“See the open man and move the puck,’’ said Julien, asked what facet of the game a player such as Myers can exploit to begin a rebuild. “Eighty percent of the game is the mental part. It’s how strong you are between the ears that makes the difference.’’
Jay Pandolfo remains a man without an NHL contract, but he was part of the Bruins’ traveling party, participating in the morning workout before shifting to the press box come game time.
“I hope to, but it’s sort of a day-to-day thing now,’’ said Pandolfo, asked if he were drawing closer to signing a contract with Boston. “For now, though, I’m just happy to be here. I’ve got no problem at all.’’
Pandolfo, 38, played last season with the Islanders, then reported to Bruins training camp in January as a walk-on invitee.
A reliable, durable checking forward, he played all but 62 of his 881 regular-season games with the Devils, but he left that franchise, his contract bought out after the 2009-10 season.
If Pandolfo lands a job with the Spoked-Bs is contingent, in part, on how many contracts the Bruins have tied up between Boston and Providence. He likely would need a couple of games with the AHL affiliate in order to tune up for life back in the NHL.
“Yeah, I think I’d have to do that,’’ said Pandolfo, a proud son of Burlington, Mass., who twice won the Cup with the Devils.
Early Sunday, the calendar on the Bruins’ website noted Friday, April 26, as a “new’’ game, with the Lightning visiting for what would be Boston’s final home game of the season.
The Bolts were in town Saturday, of course, but the 7 p.m. game was knocked off the books because of the residual effects of the blizzard.
Bruins spokesman Matt Chmura explained Sunday afternoon that the Bruins do not manage the game calendar portion of their website.
All such calendars throughout the league are administered by NHL headquarters.
“I know that was one of the dates being discussed,’’ Chmura said, “but we haven’t received confirmation on that.’’
By midafternoon, for reasons not immediately known, April 26 again was blank on the Bruins’ website. It originally showed the Tampa Bay logo, along with NESN as the TV partner, and a start time of PPD.
For now, the game remains unscheduled.
Sabres winger Tomas Vanek entered Sunday night as the league’s leading point-getter, connecting for 11 goals and 23 points in 11 games, but was held off the scoresheet by the Bruins. The last player to finish the season north of 2 points per game: Mario Lemieux, who clicked for 69-92—161 in 70 games for the 1995-96 Penguins . . . Patrice Bergeron entered Sunday ranked 15th in faceoff wins (111) this season. However, among the NHLers with the most wins, he ranked No. 1 for win percentage (63.4). No. 2: Detroit’s Pavel Datsyuk (62.4 percent). He won 12 of 19 against the Sabres . . . The Rangers will be in the Hub Tuesday night to face the Bruins, who then go on the road for five straight, not returning until a Feb. 28 matchup with the Senators. The first of those five roadies has the Bruins back here Friday evening.
Kevin Paul Dupont can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.