I know it’s only 3 games but at this point you can say Andrej Sekera received Lindy Ruff’s message loud and clear. Benched by the Head Coach for 3 games on the recent homestand, Sekera has responded with 3 of his better performances for the season. 1 goal, 1assist and a plus 2 against Detroit, 2 assists and a plus 1 in New York and then 2 more assists while breaking even in the plus-minus at Carolina. Sekera has looked like a different player, showing aggressiveness on offense while still playing smart and making good decisions with his puck handling and passing.
He wasn’t doing that on far too many nights which is why Ruff decided to make him a healthy scratch for the first time all season. As I mentioned, in the last 3 games, the Slovakia native has 1 goal and 5 assists and is plus 3. When he was taken out of the lineup for the February 20th game against Washington, Sekera had gone pointless in 19 straight and was a minus 2 over that stretch.
I wish I had a dollar for every time Mike Robitaille told how difficult it is to learn the position of defenseman in the NHL and how you have to be very patient with young guys back there. Tyler Myers seems to be the exception to the rule although he has had his struggles this season. Sekera made his Sabres debut in December of 2006 but he has only 216 games on his NHL resume, less than 3 full seasons of experience and he’s only 24 years old.
I don’t know if he’ll turn into Brian Campbell but Sekera’s learning curve reminds me of Campbell. Both were decorated defensemen coming out of the Ontario Hockey League, Sekera was named the OHL’s outstanding defenseman for the 2005-2006 season. Both went through their seasoning time in Rochester and both have had rocky moments over their first few seasons, earning prolonged stays in Ruff’s doghouse. Campbell had his breakout season in 05-06 when he played in all but 3 games and had 12 goals to go along with 32 assists but even on a winning team, Campbell was still a minus 14 that season. The next year he was an eye popping plus 28. Campbell was 26 when he had his first big year, Sekera will turn 25 in June.