Buffalo Sabres: Captain Craig Rivet a Healthy Scratch

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It is no secret that the Buffalo Sabres are off to one of the worst starts in some time. One of the reasons for this slump has been the play of the defense. On Friday night against the Atlanta Thrashers, Captain Craig Rivet was a healthy scratch as he watched his team lose to the Thrashers 4-3 in overtime.

Lindy Ruff, when asked about his decision to scratch Rivet, said that “the guys that are playing the best are going to have to play.” Rivet has been the most inconsistent defenseman this season and has looked very slow ever since he came to Buffalo in 2008. One could say it is his age, but over his career Rivet has been a very effective defensive defenseman. So far this season he has one assist in nine games, along with a plus-1.

In 2008, Rivet was elected captain by his teammates. But his leadership has clearly taken a hit after being benched for most of a 6-3 loss against the Philadelphia Flyers, and now he is sitting in the press box.

This clearly sends a message not only to Rivet, but to the rest of the players. They are going to have to play hard in order to stay in the lineup. This slow start is now officially a slump for the Sabres who are digging themselves a big hole in the Eastern Conference race.

Rivet’s benching may signal a captaincy change, but it is too early to tell if Ruff will play him again to re-discover his game or sit him for an extended period of time. With Rivet’s absence, young blueliners Chris Butler and Andrej Sekera will get extended playing time, and if they play well, Rivet could very well go from team captain to the eighth defenseman on the Sabres’ roster.

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