Posted 9:51 AM ET | Comments 6
Let’s face facts, the Sabres are getting beaten by a better team. They need to come to grips that the mythical 2nd gear that we have been waiting all playoffs for does not exist. They are not better then the Sens, and do not have the players to beat them on talent and skill alone. This sounds defeatist, but it is just realty. The coach and players need to finally accept the fact that at the very best they are equal to the Sens, not superior. I think this attitude has cost us the cup this year.
For game 4 the team needs to make changes. The current squad is not getting it done and the only player on the team who should feel his job is secure at this point is Miller. I have said all year that he is an elite goaltender, and I still feel this is the case but if the team in front of him can’t get out of the zone they aren’t going to win.
What does Lindy do at this point? Well, for starters he needs to inject some life and positive attitude. This starts with Paetsch and Stafford. Stafford looked tired and needed to sit, but he has spent enough time on the bench. I think his size and attitude fit perfectly with the situation we are in – a quiet, unassuming humble kid with a motor who can score. What more do we need now? Size? Check. Hitting ability? Check. Toughness? Check. This kid has done nothing but give 100% every night and produce for this team, time to bench Kotalik and get him in. There are other players that deserve to a seat in the press box as well but we don’t have the horses to put in to make us a better team, other than Stafford. Paille, while a very good player in his own right, is not enough of a step up over anyone else.
Kalinin, at this point, has to sit. He had probably the worst game of his career last night and has been a total liability when he is anywhere near the puck. Personally, I think he can bounce back and still become a solid defensemen in the NHL, but for the next game he needs a break. That being said, Spacek is not very far ahead of him in my mind. He has been horrible with the puck, lazy on his keep ins, awful with all of his decision making, and terrible in the physical department. He sits after game 4 – if we get there. Both these guys need to know that they are not playing at a level that warrants a spot on the bench. Personally I wouldn’t care if Spacek never played again as a Sabre, but Kalinin needs to sit next game over him. While Kalinin has looked confused, with him it appears to be more of a confidence issue than anything else, whereas with Spacek I think he just has mentally not been willing to do what it takes to get this team over the hump. Confidence being shaken is excusable, lack of effort is not.
A lot has been said about Grier, McKee and other Sabres that are not here. Grier would have been great for this team in the playoffs, but unfortunetly from what I read he CHOSE to go to San Jose. We put out a matching offer, and he decided he didn’t want to come here. That I can accept. If he didn’t want to play here we really can’t dwell on that. McKee, in all honesty, would not have made a difference in this series. The Sabres have been pressured in their own end all series, something that McKee never was the best at handling. His toughness is better than most of the Sabres D right now, but his lack of speed and scoring ability would have hindered us even more. Our play in our own end defensively has not been the major issue. In fact I think the team has done quiet well in that regard, and the goals that Ottawa has scored McKee I don’t think would have had any major impact. He would not have helped us score. He would not have fixed the power play. He would not have improved our outlet passes, and he for sure would not have helped our team speed. Say what you want, I think that we would have done worse with him back there and people would be calling for his head.
Two players I can think of that we truly miss are Curtis Brown and Stu Barnes. These two guys showed up every night, even when we sucked. Effort was never questioned from either of them. Instead we have to watch players like Roy and Kotalik. That grit and determination and never say die attitude that Stu and Curtis brought is sorely missing on this team. Yes we gained skill, but at what cost? Roy is never going to be the player that those two were, he may get more points but he will never have that strength of character that Brown and Barnes brought.
Somebody on this team needs to step up and start holding people accountable for their effort. We need to understand that Ottawa IS the better team right now, but that does not mean they are unbeatable. I remember many Sabres teams that were not better that won on effort alone. This team is the opposite of that. They lose because of a lack of effort and win in spite of it. While I wrote at one point that they were my favorite team of all time, what they have shown in the series has disgusted me. I am taking nothing away from Ottawa, they are a great team. But Sabres teams of old have have beaten better teams, beaten great teams. This team matches up against anyone in the league better than any of the Sabres I’ve seen, but they lose because they are not putting in a full effort. Lindy needs to show this team how far other teams got with so little so they understand that they are embarrassing themselves and our city. Or even maybe someone needs to remind Lindy himself. Put up or shut up time.