As I watched the game last night, I was extremely worried towards the end. For a moment, it looked like Buffalo was going to be able to hang on to the victory. The Isles should have been an easy 2 points, especially since the Isles got creamed against the Senators the night before. However, Buffalo just got out of First Niagara Center with 2 points.
Buffalo played a mediocre game. Especially in their own end. Buffalo looked decent for the first period, but then started to give the Islanders simply phenomenal shots on goal. I mean, shots that other teams only dream about getting a few times in a game. The Islanders had about, oh, 31 of those. Buffalo did have some good scoring opportunities, but nothing to the degree that the Isles had.
The Sabres originally started out playing the defense I’ve been preaching for months. They stood up the Isles at the blue line and limited their opportunities. As the game progressed, Buffalo stopped doing this. Early in the game, they were pressuring the Isles and forcing them to make bad decisions with the puck. Buffalo made horrid passes too. I can’t tell you how many times I saw a Buffalo player pass it to.... no one. Plus, Buffalo was going hard to the net, and it resulted in 2 goals. The few times they did it last night, it worked to their advantage... So why wouldn’t you try to do this more often?!?!?!?!?! Then Buffalo stopped crashing the net and playing aggressive defense (continued with bad passes), and the Isles had a decent shot to win this game. And they would have if it wasn’t for 1 person...
If he doesn’t show up last night, Buffalo slips down in the standings instead of climbing one point closer to 8th place. 6 points, yes, it’s doable, especially with 22 games to go.
If Buffalo plays this way against the Bruins on Friday, we all know what would happen. Same thing against the Rangers. This weekend’s games could be a preview of potential playoff match-ups the Sabres would face if they make the playoffs. However, that’s a long ways off.
Unfortunately Buffalo has been like this all season. Playing great occasionally, but more times than not, limping through a game with schizophrenic play.
Now, we all know that it’s the 1 year anniversary since Pegula took over the team ...
This team is still in the same position it was in last year, on the outside looking in. The problem is, this team is worse than last year. Nothing has changed. So right now I ask, what good has Pegula done? Ok, so the team has a new locker room, more money spent with the salary cap, and it’s all for a 12th place team right now. Also, Regier is still in place, as well as Ruff after this debacle of a season. Buffalo should consider themselves lucky to even be mentioned in regards to the playoff race.
Personally, I think everyone in Buffalo expected Buffalo to at least be in the top 6 teams in the East right now, and have a little breathing room heading into March. Nope, we’ren right where we were last year.
If Pegula thinks that this team can barely get into the playoffs the way they have been playing this season, and then win in the playoffs? He’s got another thing coming.
As I listened to Schopp and the Bulldog on WGR yesterday, they talked about how Pegula believes in Regier and his system to building a championship team.
To Pegula, I ask this; What proof do you have for that? How many championships has Regier brought to Buffalo? Oh wait... 0. None.
But we believe in Regier. Like I said before, Pegula is just a new face in the front office right now, who has put more money into the team, but it’s yielded no results.
Buffalo has two options, and they need to make some decisions right now. Buffalo needs to decide whether they can be sellers or buyers for the trade deadline which is in 5 days. Personally, I’ll be honest, I want to see this team make a serious playoff run. Right now, it’s not possible and it won’t happen. Not with the players Buffalo currently has on the ice. That being said, Buffalo has the benefit of being overloaded with players, and can be both a buyer and a seller. However, Regier won’t necessarily do this. He’s the type of guy who would call up the Penguins, say “I’ll give you Roy for Malkin”, think that that’s a fair deal, and then wonder why the Penguins hung up on him, laughing.
What should Buffalo do? Say we can’t win the Cup this season and start planning for next year, (like Tampa Bay), or take the approach that all they need to do is make the playoffs, and then take it from there.
My opinion, the playoffs are a different season. All one has to do is make the playoffs, and they have a realistic shot at making it to the Stanley Cup finals. Philly made it to the Cup finals in 2010 with the 7th place seed in the East, after beating Montreal who was the 8th place seed in the Eastern Conference finals. ANYTHING can happen. All you have to do is make the playoffs, and you have a shot.
Buffalo needs to take that mantra, and try to build on it. Make some moves, but make sure that they better this team. Again, go back to Punch Imlach’s method of making deals back in the 70’s. If he could make a trade that improved his team by 5%, he did it. If he made 5 moves, that each improved his team by 5%, his team was 25% better. Buffalo has an opportunity to cut some dead weight from the team, and get a competitive hockey team.
However, even with new players, the Sabres can’t play like they did last night. Against the Isles is one thing, but against the Bruins and Rangers this weekend? Consistent hockey is the key right now for the Sabres. If Buffalo can come out and play like they did against the Penguins on Sunday, or the Bruins a few weeks ago, they’ve got a shot. But if they play like they did last night, they’ve got another thing coming.
In the end, all that matters is the 2 points. I’ll take the win. I’m not happy with how they played, but they got the points.
However, don’t expect Buffalo to get any points this weekend if they play like they did last night.