Yesterday’s game... Wow, what can I say about that game in Montreal for the Sabres?
Nothing good. It was an abomination, and too be completely honest, this was a long time coming. How can I say this? Easily.
I’ve been watching the Sabres play this lazy style of defense for a long time. When Galchenyuk waltzed between all 5 Sabres on the ice, slid a pass to Eller, and he put it past Miller, it summed up Buffalo’s soft defense. Buffalo picked up a batch of players to help build up the intensity and physical element on the team. Unfortunately, what’s the point if you don’t utilize it correctly? I saw it last season, I see it now, Buffalo just allows their opponents to walk into their own end.
Hockey games are wars. For 60 minutes, you’re at war with your opponent. You have your zone, your opponents zone, and the neutral zone. Just like your opponent wants to keep you out of their end, you want to keep your opponent out of your end. When they try to get into your end, they should know it’s not going to be easy, it’s going to take a lot of work, and you will get hit. Hard. Instead, Buffalo is waving the white flag, and then getting massacred. The shots they allow, are shots that no good team would let be taken. Buffalo needs to get physical in their own end, and stop playing so softly in their own end.
If they keep playing this way, the Montreal Massacre won’t be the only time that it happens this year.
My other concern, is that Buffalo is continuing to depend on Vanek very heavily. He’s single handedly carrying this time right now. No one else is really helping at this point in time. He finally seems to be stepping into his role as a top scorer on this team, and continues to make great plays. Unfortunately, they cant rely on them forever.
Don’t get me wrong, I love watching the Sabres win. To a degree, I don’t care how it’s done. A wins a win. I’m thinking long term. They need to start getting some secondary scoring to help out. If that comes for Buffalo, they may become a lot tougher to beat. Against Florida, Buffalo has looked strong on the offensive attack. They just can’t find a way to bury their chances. Vanek and the top line cannot continue to be the only offensive threat on this team.
The other thing I’ve saw in this debacle of a weekend regarding hockey, is that there’s been a lack of leadership. Both of these games that Buffalo has played were games that could have been won. Yesterday, Lindy Ruff failed to take a time out in order to refocus his team. I feel it should have been called after the 3rd goal for the Habs. It was still early, 3-0 is not insurmountable when there’s still over half a game yet to play. Still, no attempts to try to get the team grounded, and attempt to get back into this game.
Then you have today’s game. Buffalo’s up 3-1. Panthers get 2 in the 3rd (1 with less than a minute left in the period) and reclaims momentum. It’s obvious, especially when looking at the shots taken, that Buffalo clearly didn’t have the edge anymore. This is when your leaders, Vanek, Stafford, and Pominville, and the coaching staff, need to take a time out, and try to get the team focused again. Instead, they just let the period unfurl and eventually go down 4-3. Someone needs to step up and try to provide a spark to this team in these situations.
This weekend has been just dreadful for Buffalo and there’s no reason for it to happen. They get a huge win against the Bruins, one of the best teams in the league. Then, they get pummeled by Montreal, and then blow a 3-1 lead to the Panthers.
No more excuses. Time to find answers as to what’s going on in Buffalo. Otherwise, this is going to be one long season for Sabres fans.
Follow me on twitter- @SabresBTB. I live chat during Sabres games.