I’ve been slowly subtly pointing out what I think the root cause of the Sabres sloppy play this season in my past blogs. However, tonight, I’m going to just say it, point blank, what the problem is.
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The problem is...
Again, to Lindy Ruff fans, I apologize. I’m a huge fan of him. He’s done great things for Buffalo hockey. But at this juncture, it’s time for a change.
I’ve watched Buffalo’s style of play all season this year. They are completely listless. On defense, I’ve watched Buffalo clump up in front of Ryan Miller and give him little to no support. The Sabres also continue to just give their defensive end to their opponents. No matter what, their opponents always seem to be able to find a patch of open ice Buffalo doesn’t bother to challenge their opponents, force them to make a pass, or take a shot they don’t want to. That’s just the beginning.
Break out plays, Buffalo takes forever. Buffalo will circle in their own end, allow 1 forward from the opposing team to apply a solid forecheck on 2 defensemen, and then tries to pass the puck up the ice. Meanwhile, the 3 Buffalo forwards on the attack try to get through the wall of opposing players just to chip the puck in deep and attempt to go recover it.
Offensively, 1-2 players move, however it’s the guys who are fighting for the puck, or who control the puck. No one is circling, looking for an open patch of ice. Plus, it makes the Sabres very easy to defend. Buffalo almost always seems to have no space to move when they are on the attack. Meanwhile, their opponents seem to always have time and space to move the puck.
Plus, wherever Buffalo is playing, no matter in their end, the offensive end, or in the neural zone, instead of trying to play the body, the majority of the Buffalo players play the puck, instead of the body. Someone skating with the puck, Buffalo tries to poke at the puck, instead of just taking the man off the puck.
How does this relate to coaching? Simple. Buffalo isn’t just playing this style of play once in awhile. Buffalo is doing this on a nightly basis. This is practiced. Buffalo continues to do this night in, night out. This is the type of play that the Buffalo coaches wand the team to play. I have also seen a lot of the recent call-ups from Rochester play for the Amerks this season. I notice drastic differences in style of play. For some reason, the aggressive play that the call-ups had with the Amerks, seems to disappear with the move up to Buffalo.
Let me say this loud and clear. This style of play that Buffalo is playing and practicing, will not work in todays NHL, and continues to just push Buffalo further down in the standings.
Will Buffalo do anything? Probably not. It is very easy to blame this lull on injuries. However, it’s not an excuse. The majority of Buffalo’s big names haven’t been hurt, or miss more than just a few games. But in the end it’s way to easy for Buffalo to blame the injuries on this shoddy play.
Unfortunately, I feel that Buffalo is going to continue to play this style of hockey. Buffalo needs a change in coaching to try and get this team playing in style that will help them succeed in the NHL.
As much as I like Lindy Ruff, I feel a change is in order. Buffalo needs a coach that will get Buffalo playing with authority, and in a manner that will allow them to be competitive in the NHL. Until that time comes, I fear for how far down in the standings Buffalo will sink.
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