I’m getting to the point where I’m having a difficult time starting these blogs. Yes, the season is still young. Yes, a lot can still happen over the next 42 games. But there’s one problem with all of this.
We have all watched this style of play from the Buffalo Sabres before.
I saw Buffalo do this last year, and the year before that. There’s been elements of this style of play periodically over Ruff/Regier’s tenure in Buffalo. What’s the explanation for all of this then? Something needs to change, especially since a lot of the so called “game plans” that have been established don’t seem to work.
For example, last year, Buffalo began a new approach to their power play. They would send 4 guys strong through the neutral zone, with 1 man trailing. Then, whoever is carrying the puck, dumps it back to the trailer while that player tries to weave through his 4 players, and his opponents 4 players to set up said power play for Buffalo. Guess how many times I’ve seen it work? To make it worse, the Amerks were starting to try to do this too. However, Ron Rolston realized “Hey, this isn’t working” and stopped doing it.
This is just an example, the passive defense, lack of good odd man rushes for Buffalo, players who’d rather pass than shoot, etc. You get the point. Plus, I’m sure this stuff looks great in practice. However, that’s practice. Come game time is when you make your decisions. If it doesn’t work in the game, after awhile, you need to abandon that plan, and develop something new. The creative from behind the benches seems to have hit a barrier preventing new ideas for the Sabres.
Tonight’s game wass no different. Poor decisions on the ice, allowing one’s opponent (Leaf’s tonight), to just waltz into their end and dictate the game, Buffalo continues to pass, pass, and pass some more instead of taking their shots. These elements we have seen for quite awhile in Buffalo.
They DO NOT work.
So I ask, what is it going to take for a change to be made? Do the Sabres need to not just lose, but be buried by their opponents? Or do they need to just keep losing regardless of the score and whether it’s in overtime?
Again tonight, Buffalo drops the game (despite getting a point) as time is set to expire in overtime. Leopold should have simply hauled down Frattin and took the penalty. Don’t let him walk in like that on Miller! While Buffalo may not have allowed as many shots, the ones they gave up were simply phenomenal. I covered a college game once where the winning team allowed 60 shots on their goalie, but they were all poor quality shots, and easy saves for the goalie. While Buffalo only allowed 24 shots, they were some pretty high caliber shots.
Yes, it’s great that Buffalo continues to stand up for each other. Yes, it’s great that Grigorenko finally got on the board tonight with his first goal, and then nearly got killed by Foligno in the celebration. Yes, getting a point is nice, but it’s still not 2 points. In the end, it’s still a loss.
So when does it end? Personally, a 4 game losing streak isn’t really getting things straightened out in Buffalo. While there are positive things, and there’s negative things, it’s all a moot point. If Buffalo continues to play this style of hockey, I’m going to start thinking about a top 5 draft pick for the Sabres.
Buffalo now sits in dead last of the Northeast Division. They continue to drift down and can’t seem to right this sinking ship. Yes it’s early in the season, but Buffalo hasn’t really been tested by a lot of tough teams. They lost to the Canes, Capitals and Leafs. Leafs are ahead of Buffalo in the standings, Canes and Caps are behind them. After tonight, I’m going to ask what everyone is thinking...
What is going to happen to Buffalo when they take on the Bruins (Number 1 team in the East) on Thursday?
Terry Pegula may want to start taking a serious look at this team, or this 4 game losing streak is going to get worse very quickly.
Follow me on Twitter- @SabresBTB
Here's link for Sabres chat on Between The Benches Radiohttp://betweenthebenches.com/2013/01/29/between-the-benches-radio-ed-5/