The answer is way simpler than you think: Do nothing.
At practice on Tuesday morning, he was skating with John Scott and Cody McCormick. Maybe a wakeup call? Maybe just a line shakeup. But none of that is needed...
Drew Stafford is like a baseball player who hits .200 one month and .400 the next. His average comes out to .300 at the end of the year (or 50 points), but there are a lot of ups and downs along the way. The Sabres' winger has been a streaky scorer since he took a step forward to a Top 6 player in 2010-11, when he scored 31 goals in 62 games.
His 10-11 season set a ridiculous level of expectation that has caused fans and his coach to over react to the ups and downs. During his 31-goal season, Stafford's shooting percentage was an unsustainable 17.3 percent. He also netted four hat tricks that season. A player can go seasons without one, but somehow he managed four - an impossible feat to repeat.
The norm for an NHL winger is around 10-12 percent. Shooters with a high amount of power play time might end up with a career percentage around 14 percent. For Stafford, his 17.3 shooting percentage was well above his career 11.7 mark. Like the .300 hitter, NHL players tend to return toward their career shooting percentage. So even an outfielder who hits .350 one year will likely drift back toward .300 the next season.
Why does this happen? Because, believe it or not, 62 games is a small sample. In fact, 162 baseball games can be a small sample. Factors such as "puck luck" or facing bad goaltending or playing with good teammates or power play time can all affect total goals just like bad fielding or good bounces can alter a batter's average.
Over a career, these things will even out. While there can be stretches in which a scorer goes cold because of confidence or whatever, players are who they are.
Last year it was much of the same in terms of bumps in the road for No. 21. Last season, Stafford only had 12 goals heading into March, then he scored eight in one month.
Back to how to fix him.
Stafford's shooting percentage is 2.1 percent this year. Two-point-one. He has one goal in 47 shots.
This year, he's averaging 2.9 shots per game. In 2010-11: 2.9. Last season? 2.8.
It would be a major concern if Stafford was not getting shots. But he's getting shots.
Power play scoring and player usage also plays a role in whether he knocks pucks past goalies. Stafford scored 11 power play goals in 10-11. So far, zero. When he's on the ice, the Sabres average 45 shots per 60 minutes at 5-on-4. The last two years, it's been around 41. Again, when he's on the ice, pucks are going to the net. Eventually, they'll go in.
Stafford also isn't seeing the offensive ice time he did in 2010-11. This season, his Offensive Zone Start % is 48.1 - only Jochen Hecht, Cody McCormick and Patrick Kaleta have lower O-zone Start %. In 2010-11, his O-zone Start % was 57.5. Simply put, Lindy Ruff was putting him in more offensively advantageous situations and he scored more.
So there's no fix to it. Keep playing him on the top line and power play and the scoring will come.
In things unrelated to scoring, he's been close to the exact same player as last season.
Shots vs. per 60 minutes
Corsi On (shots for vs. shots against while on the ice)
The small gap in Corsi can probably be attributed to the dip in offensive zone starts.
How about his physical play? So far Stafford has 20 hits in 16 games. The only forwards with more on the Sabres are Steve Ott, Patrick Kaleta and Marcus Foligno. In fact, last season the winger set his career high with 102 hits in 80 games. Oddly enough, this year's rate comes out to the same 1.2 hits per game as last season.
None of this is to say Drew Stafford is a perfect player. He's a scorer whose points come in bunches. When he isn't scoring, he's an average possession player and that's about it.
The problem is, it seems his coach wants him to be a consistent, two-way player a la his captain. But that will never be Stafford.
Moving him to the 4th line might be more than an over reaction by Ruff. It could also be a deversion tactic - one that Ruff has used for a long time: When the heat is on, change the conversation. Pick a player, make an example of him. Point the finger at Drew Stafford or Brad Boyes or Luke Adam or Derek Roy or even Thomas Vanek or the countless scorers who have seen that first-to-fourth line drop before.
Whatever the reasoning, it doesn't help the Sabres for him to play on the 4th line. It helps to keep giving him offensive minutes and wait for the .400 hitter to return, just like he did last March.
Agreed. Lindy flexing his muscles again. Puting him on the fourth line does nothing. PLus all this means is we get to see more of Jochen Hecht. yay.
Hit the nail on the head. I get that the team needs scoring, but like you said, he's always been streaky. Demoting him doesn't solve it. Have to let him play through it.
Its because Ruff is out of ideas
Ruff's idea rolodex is empty. He needs to take his book of tricks to a new NHL team so that the Sabres can get a burst of life to wake up the team wide dormancy. We're one coach and one defenseman away from being a strong team. After umpteenyears with nothing to show for it, it's at least time to try even if Ruff wins a cup somewhere else. Some matches aren't meant to be.
Matthew Coller needs to be beaten until he stops writing articles like this one.
Do nothing and hope he improves
....are you sure you work for WGR? 'Cause this is a well thought out, well researched, well presented article. In short, nothing like I usually read here. Kudos.
Couldn't agree more!
It's not like Stafford hasn't been hustling. He FINALLY gets on the board and gets a boost to his confidence and Lindy pulls one of classic moves and drops down to the fourth line. He also has Grigorenko riding the pine in favor of the goon squad. Ruff is a moron!!!
BIGGEST PUPPY IN THE NHL!!!
WE NEED CHANGE!!
PLEASE MAKE ONE THIS RECORD IS NOT ACCEPTABLE
Stafford stinks, and collers articles are poor, this guy should be with the amerks...
Stupid question How to fix Drew Stafford?
YOU TRADE HIM. Is that answer simple enough? Come on now Matt!!! Get with the program.
Brad Boyes watch: 4 goals, 8 assists for 12 points with the Islanders. How could that be?
The last stand...
A loss tonight should do it for Ruff? Darcy would have no choice at this point, no?
FIRE RUFF HIRE AN NHL COACH!!
That would fix all the problems!
Walmart: The Biggest Nickle and Dime Franchise IN PRO SPORTS!
FORE EVER FORE!
Keep making excuses
Keep losing fans
Remember the old Michael Jordan joke. Who was the last guy to hold Michael Jordan under twenty points? The answer?Dean Smith...Thats Ruff. He turns fifty goal scorers into thirty goal scorers and thirty goal scorers into ten goal scorers. If Ruff coachedGretzky he would have been a career minor leaguer. 'But he aint goin nowhere.' Thanks Terry.
And the beat goes on...
Unbelievable Part IV...I have been a loyal Sabres follower since 1971. The Sabres have a stable of talent yet underperform yearly....so why, against the Jets do we see the classic Ruff 1 goal offensive offense performance? They've scored 3 goals or less in 80% of their games this year. Why does Ennis disappear and come up so small so often? Could it be he and Gerbe are undersized and get outsized, outmuscled, and outpositioned for the puck 90% of the time when he's ice? For that matter, that can be said about the sabres top 2 lines 80% of the time? When the puck is in the corner, they are constantly getting outpositioned and outfought for the puck and their little pokechecks are fruitless....shouldn't R&R have recognized this and fixed it by now because it has been the overall style of their play (and losing ways) over the last 2 years? I'll give them credit... at least they finally recognized that Brennan can be more of a factor than Leopold and his tendency to forget to cover the open man in his zone. But what about all the other guys that are now "along for the ride" and not scoring (only 1 goal or less in over 16 games, 1/3 of their schedule - Gerbe, Hecht Regehr, Kaleta, Weber, McCormick, Stafford, Leopold, Foligno, and Sekera)? You can't win many games if you get outpositioned, lose so many puck battles and get outscored. So many non-factors and no differencemakers. It's the Sabres version of the NBC News segment the "Fleecing of America"...should this 2013 act be named the "Fleecing of LONG Suffering Buffalo Hockey Fans", given the salaries doled out? This makes having the status quo in place for so long unbelievable.
What qualifies Adams and Patrick as good coaches..what is on their resume, where have they coached to build up to the NHL level not too mention stanley cup level coaching? The Pitt game makes it 5 games (one third played) now where they have given up "puck caroms/rebounds off the backboard into the slot goals"...why haven't they figured out how to defend this popular trend in the league and why haven't they scored any like this yet? Are they lacking in defensive awareness, creative thinking and if so why haven't they done something to address this? Do you think they give draft prospects a creativity test...its part of the game, so why not? We need more Chip Kelly's and fewer Jaurons. Call it puck possession or whatever, clearly they are weak up the middle, so why not get O'Reilly in a trade for Ennis, or Grigorenko, another prospect, and/or roster defensemen and/or a draft pick or 2? Armia, Gergenson, and Piscik have done nothing at the major level yet. Where do any of these show they are capable of being valuable assets that can distinguish themselves above the current status quo of performances? If you have a clear weakness why not address it? If you have depth on the farm, it shouldn't matter what you give up at this point.So far Grigorenko is just potential and unproven and he's at least 2 to 3 years from being an asset (and also showing indications he may end up with serious holes in his defensive game). If you have a cap problem, you fix it even if the trade is negative in the talent swap. Why have Boyes and Kassian been so point productive since leaving the Sabres? Could be the setup done the middle by the centermen? Even with Roy gone, why do the Sabres still have so many midgets, Gerbe, Ennis, Leopold, Pominville and holes on their top 2 lines? Its clear they are getting outpositioned and out fought for the puck on the boards...isn't this a puck possession issue? Who was responsible for selecting them. Why haven't they obtained a game changing "homerun hitter" in Regiers and Ruff's 15 yr tenure...that surely is not a money issue? Drury was the closest thing and they have his second coming beckoning in Colorado. Surely there must be someone on the farm or available from another team (O"Reilly that could move the franchise in the direction of fixing the problem. If the midgets are 1 trick ponies (scorers) and they are not scoring, doesn't it make sense? Their effort seems to be there so it can only come down to physical limitations and coaching. It's now been 42 years and counting without a cup, isn't it time to fess up and say we have problem? Because all the arrows point in that direction. Besides, why have so young many players brought up thru the Sabres system regressed badly: Myers, Enroth, Stafford, Kaleta (he was scoring goals early in his career), Sekera, and not there are signs that Foligno may not develop into an all-around top 6 forward? It seems to me like a lack of creative vision (something the current head coach lacked as a player) and thinking (Regier),proper coaching/skills development. Only very talented players can lift elevate a team to the point where playing the game is fun more ofetn than not. That's how the Kelly Bills did it. They're clearly not having fun which indicates their talent/skill and coaching level is not there. It will also be reflected in their record over the long term, just like the Bills, they may get hot for a short streak, but eventually the losing wins out in the long haul. I'm hoping Ted Black and Terry Pegula read this because I truly beleive this gets to the root of the problem. This franchise history is littered with too many "ole" players lacking the combination of physical ability, stature, will, & determination. It is in desparate need of a character, ability, skill makeover, coaching and talent evaluation makeover. Many of these thoughts have been echoed by co-workers, friends and fellow fans alike. We hate to see this turn into the NHL version of what has "dissolved" into the abyss located at "no" Bills Drive in OP. It's not about not getting to up or down on the team, its about taking a step back and looking at the big picture & admitting theres a big problem, because this is first step to getting back on the right track.
I Assume this Piece Was...
Written before the Sabre's 2 - 1 loss to Winnipeg. It reminds you that the suggestion to do nothing to fix Stafford is slightly ridiculous. True he may pile on the goals by the end of the season, but how does that help a team that needs goals to win the games in the first 2/3's of the season. By the time Stafford picks it up the season is over for the Sabres.
Who Cares !!
Tired of your boooring stats columns..He could score more if he showed up every night. It is painfully obvious when he is skating hard and going to the net and when he isn't. that is the difference, not your statistics. Your the same kind of personwho makes every decision in poker on math.Yaawn !!
Coller is hilarious
Another stat-hack piece about how nothing is really wrong with our last place, abomination of a team. The next piece should be entitled "Advanced Stats Say Coller Doesn't Know How to Interpret Them". Don't worry Sabres fans, all is well with the team, Advanced Stats say so!
by firing Ruff
To all of you out there in Pegulaville who believe Terry is a great owner and Lindy Ruff is a great coach, I say this, get your head out of the sand. Youre delusional and self-centered and could care less about winning a Stanley Cup and more about consistent losing.
Great Coaching, Great Management, Great Ownership
a...no, its all horrible and needs to change. For all of you who believe Terry Pegula is this white night riding into town to save all of us Sabres fans, youre out to lunch. THis guy is a joke and only cares about playing w/his "new toy" and being buddy buddy w/his coach and GM.
Now thats pathetic.
I hope the Sabres lose the rest of their games and fans BOO them mercilessly, then maybe Ruff will get fired and real change will come.
What a dolt!
Hi Im Matthew Coller and I have no idea what Im talking about but dont worry I learned about "advanced stats 101" at ECC. THis guy should run for office in WNY and join the rest of the BS artists.
Just like the Faceoffs dont matter article
The best thing for Stafford is to be traded, but Marcy probably thinks he should get 3 1st round picks in return. This team didnt even compete last night it was a sorry display. And Hodgeson lost another key draw in the closing seconds deep in the Winnipeg zone. AND how many time is he going to wacth a guy all alone in the slot score on Miller. He is more of a defensive liability than Roy was and clearly is NOT a 1st line center, nor is Ennis. Nice going Marcy, maybe you can pluck Tim Connelly out of the minors after all he was one of the top 20 centers in the NHL right??? YOU KNOW WHATS EVEN MORE INTERESTING??? THE AMERKS WERE THIS BAD UNTIL THE STRIKE ENDED AND ALL OF THE SO CALLED NHLers LEFT THE TEAM!!! Now look at Rochester!! What a difference.
No "Billyball" here!!
How's that "analytics" workin' for ya?? Get another player on the cheap, and keep an out of touch coach. You can see it now, Marcy's gonna deal just to pacify the fans... so he thinks! Get the pitchforks and torches, it's time to seize power!!
Last nights game has to be it
This has gone on long enough. Changes have to happen now. First order of business is get Regier and Ruff out of here either by firing or have them hand in their resignations. This is beyond a joke. Its obvious trades are not getting done by this idiot GM to fix it. Get someone in here that will do it. I had it with Ruff period. As far as the players, I had it with Miller, end the Gerbe and Ennis experiment, Stafford is no use, All the defensemen except Myers, Errhoff, and Regehr are of no use. The Grigorenko thing is a joke not playing him. Things have to change "BIG TIME". I really hate this team and Lindy heard me say that as they walked off the ice at the end. This is pathetic. I as a season ticket holder expect to hear press conferences as soon as today and change this scene and show me the reason for existence. NOT THIS ANYMORE!!!
There is still UNFINISHED BUSINESS Darcy
Fire Pegula gula gula gula ...
can't stand this gula guy
There is a cancer in that room
Millers ego and his big mouth. Get rid of him! Is he being payed to stop the puck or getting payed to shoot off his trap? Play goal and stay away from the media. It's too late to even think that now. Move the heck out, the damage is done.
You can't fix Drew Stafford
He's a headcase. Ship him out. But I'm whistling Dixie thinking the "Sabres management" is going to do anything. Their sole reason for being is to protect themselves. Why should we be fooled into thinking they'll actually make moves that will improve this club when all they're interested in is feathering their nests and protecting their jobs?
SEND HIM TO A VET AND HAVE HIM NEUTORED!!!
He needs to drive the net more ......
when he does that and stops playing off the boards he becomes very effective.
He is a 20 goal scorer who doesn't play defence.. there are 6 other guys like him on this roster.. time to gut the fish at the trade deadline and rebuild this roster. They are not talented enough outside of goalie to win.
Where are the comments on Sabres lose to the Jets?
How does Humpty Dummy get fixed now after that performance last night? I don't see anything changed yet and its 12:18 PM, the day after.
Any trades yet??? Any firings yet???
After last night, where are they? Maybe Terry Pegula may have thought they were Druuuuuuuus for Drew Stafford and not boos and I hate this team cat calls were for the Winnipeg Jets. The Sabres suck and something has got to be done about it. Wake up and show Lindy the door.
effort and consistency
Production may be a problem with Drew but my problem with him is his habit of playing one game with full effort followed by SIX where he spands all of his time skating the perimeter and not engaging in the tough areas of the ice. His effort lacks consistency...if he hustled like Ott he'd be a 30-goal scorer every year...but that will never happen...he should be part of a deal for Ryan O'Reilly
Re: YOU TRADE HIM.
To who? For what? If you're in the business of taking someone elses junk for your family's heirloom silverware, call me up. I'll come right over with a bag of rusty cans and an 88 ford escort. C'mon dude! Do you even understand hockey? The time to trade Stafford was when he was scoring! But Darcy didn't have the foresight. Most Sabres fans knew that Staffords Streak wasn't going to last for ever. We could have fleeced a GM who wanted to add a "Scorer" and push for a playoff run, but we didn't. No one is going to take our junk off of our hands in a trade. And if he starts scoring, Darcy won't trade him because he's a "Top 6 player." Sabres fans just keep watching the BS wheel spin with this team....
Easy fix for Drew Stafford.
Waive him. He is NOT Cam Neely, he is NOT Ryan Getlaf. He is a one trick pony. He skates to the outside, then just before the goal line he cuts in front to score a "pretty goal." Unfortuately, the other teams figured that out after two seasons ago just before he signed his contract. Now, he floats around and hopes for a "cute" goal. Meanwhile he is USELESS in every facet of the game, kinda like Gerbe only without the complete lack of anything other than heart. Don't worry Sabres' fans, just like Ruff Stafford will be here for years to come.
The Sabres should waive him. If someone claims him, fine, but if not put him in Rochester for a few weeks to humble him and motivate him. Corey Tropp can come up and add grit and perhaps go to the net and score a goal every once in a while. I'd rather have a guy play hard and backcheck then get pair and do nothing.
We need Ryan O'Reilly. Not Drew Stafford. Is there really anymore of an upside to Stafford that we haven't seen? Package him with Sekera and ship them out for something of value.
second on the team with shots on net
just need some of his shots to go in the net
get rid of him and marcy
I have been saying get rid of him for the past 2 years, get rid of him sekera hecht gerbe weber and play grigorenko more ice time.