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Rochester, NY • United States • 22 Years Old • Female
After watching tonight's 7-4 win over Tampa Bay, I am convinced of one thing:

The Buffalo Sabres are schizophrenic.

The Sabres managed just two - that's right, two - shots on goal while giving up a pair of second-period goals to one of the worst teams in the league (last in the Eastern Conference with 66 points, or 15 points behind the Sabres). They left the ice for the second intermission with a 4-1 disadvantage and a chorus of boos from the HSBC faithful.

Maybe it was hearing that loud disgust from the hometown fans - some of the most loyal and supportive in sports. Or maybe Lindy ripped someone a new one in the locker room during intermission. But the Sabres came out for the third and played the way they were capable of playing all game, scoring six third-period goals while outshooting the Lightning 16-4 en route to a 7-4 victory, putting themselves a point behind the Flyers for the eighth and final playoff spot.

Thomas Vanek recorded three straight goals for his second natural hat trick against the Lightning this season. Jochen Hecht and Jason Pominville finished with two goals each, the latter's shorthanded tally one of the few highlights in the first two periods.

Vanek's performance was especially noticeable. Before this game, the month of March had been particularly unkind to him, as he'd scored just once since the calendar turned. His performance exemplifies what we have here, which is an incredibly streaky team with players who more often than not don't show consistency. The Sabres have now won three straight - but before this, they'd lost four straight (including once in overtime and once in a shootout). In their last 10 games, they're 4-4-2. Not what you want to see at this point in the season when you're scrapping for the last playoff spot. Not what you want to see when the team needs to keep momentum and make that final push.

Buffalo got a little out-of-town help tonight, as Chicago hammered the Capitals 5-0, keeping Washington in 10th, a point behind the Sabres. But the guys shouldn't be relying on help from other teams or things falling into place at this point in the season. Especially not when teams like Boston, Philadelphia and the Rangers will continue playing well. This team must control its destiny, and to do that, it must keep one objective in mind: win.

The rest of the regular season looks pretty brutal. A home-and-home with the hated Senators, plus two games against a classy Montreal squad. Two contests with the hapless Maple Leafs. And most importantly, two games (including the season finale) against the Bruins, currently in seventh with 83 points, two ahead of Buffalo.

Here's the thing. The guys can't get into a 4-1 hole if they expect to pick up two points against one of these teams. They can't expect to do that and win against another playoff team if they get there, for that matter. They cannot decide to play only 20 minutes and expect to still be playing come May.

The shrink should prescribe a little homework for every Sabre. Get out your notebooks. Write this 100 times prior to every one of those games:

I WILL PLAY 60 MINUTES.
I WILL PLAY 60 MINUTES.
I WILL PLAY 60 MINUTES.
Filed Under:   tampa bay   lightning   buffalo   sabres   playoffs  
March 20, 2008 2:51 AM ET | Delete
great blog, great analysis. i definitely agree with everything you said. they're hanging in this playoff race by a thread; they need to play with the emotion they displayed in the third period tonight the rest of the way to even have a chance.
March 20, 2008 10:35 AM ET | Delete
hmmmmmmmmm they could have a lot teams under their retainer...
March 20, 2008 2:49 PM ET | Delete
I was thinking if they lose to the last place team with their back up goalie in, then they don't deserve to be in the post season! Rake those Leafs on Friday!!!!
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