How many times have we seen the Buffalo Sabres do what they’ve done this week?
The Sabres came up with 3 great wins against the Penguins, Senators, and Devils. They pulled themselves into a great position, having gotten within 4 points of the elusive 8th place seed in the Eastern Conference. Hope, for the fans of Buffalo, had been restored.
Heading into Tuesday night, the Buffalo Sabres had the opportunity to leap over Winnipeg with a win, and within 2 points of 8th place. This was a game that had huge implications for the Sabres, and was one of those games that requires a desperate type of play from the Buffalo Sabres. Nothing but a complete 60 minute effort would do if the Sabres wanted to stay in the playoff hunt.
So what happens? Buffalo gets embarrassed by the Winnipeg Jets by a score of 4-1.
Just one loss right? Teams have bad games. Plus, Winnipeg is a tough place to play. Buffalo can bounce back on home ice against Montreal. Heading into Thursday night’s game, Buffalo is only 6 points out of 8th place. It’s another great chance to try to grab 2 much needed points, and narrow the gap. So, against Montreal, Buffalo will come out with the desperate style of play, and scrounge up 2 much needed points.
WRONG AGAIN!!!! They looked even worse as Montreal made the Sabres look like a pee-wee hockey club, and annihilated them 5-1. Montreal looked like they were just having practice on the ice at First Niagara Center Thursday night.
So where are we tonight?
Buffalo is still 6 points behind the Rangers, and the Rangers have 1 game in hand. The Sabres have 7 games left, and pretty much need to win out in order to make the playoffs, and have some help.
How many times have we been through this with this team?
They get your hopes up, and then lose in such a spectacular
fashion. We know it’s going to happen, we know that the team isn’t going to be able to pull off the big win when they need it.
I’d be even willing to say that this weekend the Sabres will beat Philly and Tampa and claw their way back into playoff contention. I wouldn’t even be surprised if they give the Bruins a run for their money next Wednesday as well. Then what will happen?
The Sabres play the Rangers, the very team they’re chasing, next Friday. My Sabres sense is tingling... I sense another choke attempt coming.
At this point, I’m going to segway into one of my favorite movies, Miracle. We all know the story of the 1980 USA hockey team. There’s a scene in that film, where Herb Brooks’ character is talking with his wife about the upcoming game against the Soviets. Brooks has just finished saying how his team doesn’t match up, and how they’re playing one of the greatest teams ever to play hockey. Here’s the dialogue that follows
Patty Brooks: “Herb, there’s no disgrace in losing to this team.”
Herb: “Yeah I know.”
Patty: “The important thing is you got this far.”
Herb: “The important thing? The important thing is that those 20 boys know that in 20 years, they didn’t leave anything on the table. They played their hearts out. That’s the important thing.”
So why the movie quote?
There’s something to be learned from this. Buffalo is in a position that no one expected them to be in, fighting for a playoff spot after a fairly dismal season, and a big coaching change. They’ve played some competitive games, and normally aren’t getting destroyed. With that in mind, and the season coming to a close, this quote comes into mind for one reason.
When you’re fighting for a playoff birth, and fighting for your chances in the playoffs, you don’t want to leave the ice thinking “Did we play as hard as we could have?”
I’m pretty comfortable saying that the Sabres aren’t putting forth 100% effort every night. Getting outshot 42-15 against Montreal doesn’t scream that the team is playing as hard as they can to make the playoffs.
Shouldn’t the fact that the team is fighting for a playoff spot be good enough motivation to come out and play a solid effort every night? At least know that even if you lose, you played your heart out, and gave it your best.
If this team really wants to be a contender, you play hard every night
. I’m not saying that Buffalo would have beaten Winnipeg or Montreal. However, you at least are able to watch the team play, and know that they’re giving it their all in order to win those games. As a fan, while it’s tough to watch these loses, at least you can say that your team gave it their all, and “didn’t leave anything on the table” so to speak.
In the end, the Sabres just don’t seem to want it.
I’m ending this with just 1 more Miracle quote. After getting creamed by the Soviets 3 days before the Lake Placid games, Herb Brooks tells his goalie, Jim Craig, that he’s going to bench him.
Craig:” Wait a second, I’ve given you all I’ve got, and now you’re pulling the plug on me?”
Brooks: “Have you? Given me your very best? Because I know there’s a lot more in you, a whole other level, that for some reason you just don’t want to go to!”
If I’m Ron Rolston, I’m asking my team this question. We know they can be better, we know that they can beat good teams, and they showed that they can play well against good teams. But for some reason, the Sabres just won’t go to that level.
And the Sabres are quickly approaching the point where it doesn’t matter what they do on the ice. It’ll be too little, too late.
Follow me on Twitter- @SabresBTB I live chat during games. Tomorrow is an exception, I will be heading to First Niagara Center for the matinee against the Flyers. I’m going to be in my old school Hasek jersey, sitting in 317 row 8. Feel free to come on up and say hi if you’re there and we can chat Sabres hockey. I may even work you into a blog
As always, thanks for reading.
We have seen the coach go, as well as a major part of the core of this team. The look and feel is still the same. What does that tell us? To me it speaks more to the type of player a certain GM is drafting. Drury, Briere, Ott...Beside Kaleta, the only home grown heart and soul player I can think of is Peca, and he was run out of town on a rail by this GM. This team, his teams are weak minded and have no heart. This is the reason they struggle year in and year out. Every GM gravitates to "his type of guy", it just so happens that our GM likes the nice guys, with talent that will deliver us what we have seen ad nauseum. How else do you explain the great drafts along with the great trades, yet the complete lack of results.
The veterans are not pulling their weight and it shows (goals in last two games where by call ups, Flynn and Porter. I think some of the old attitude is still there with Vanek in the locker room. He is a good player but when he gets frustrated, he beats himself up hard, and from what I have heard, openly. I think young players observing that get the wrong idea about how to look at their game personally. The locker room needs to keep players with better attitudes (Steve Ott) and move those who focus too negatively on their team and their own play (Vanek).
I think Jerry Sullivan of Buffalo News said that he thought Vanek was playing for himself... He may have a good point
He probably is done with Buffalo since they are rebuilding. Vanek had a decent game yesterday but Flynn, Porter, and Ott seem to be getting on the board regularly now.