“The Buffalo Sabres are a dumpster fire! How can you cheer for that team?” Says the guy who is currently a “die-hard” Tampa Bay Lightning fan…fresh off his two-year run as hardcore Penguins backer. We all know those guys. And while they are seemingly basking in championship glory year-after-year. Johnny Bandwagon will never get to experience the highs and the lows of being a true fan of a team. A fan who still hopes, even when that hope is completely unfounded. Even when their team finds themselves, in a year when the rebuild was finally supposed to be over, staring down the long dark path of yet another last place finish. A fan who remembers the pain of all the almosts, and all the not-even-close. We hang on, and continue to hope, because we’ve invested so much into this team…that when that day finally comes, if it ever comes, it will make all these days of torment so worth it.
ON ROBIN LEHNER:
Time to move on. I’ve seen enough. I don’t believe that he has the make-up to be a championship caliber goaltender. Yes his numbers are decent. But decent numbers don’t win games. Lehner has very rarely delivered when the game is on the line. He’s notoriously bad at shootout’s and penalty shots. And for such a big goaltender, he’s surprisingly out of position a lot. Goaltenders are a different breed. The good ones seem to be the perfect blend of being an intense competitor with ice water running through their veins. Lehner has the competitive side, no doubt. But he lacks the ice water. When he gets going, he seems to overreact. Firing him up doesn’t make him better, it makes him worse. He overplays shooters, starts getting scrambly, and loses his net. Linus Ullmark’s latest appearance in the Sabres net had all the talking heads going on about how “quiet” he was in his net. His movements are subtle. Calculated. He didn’t jump ahead of the play. But let the play come to him. The way he played was calming, and probably had the defense feeling relaxed, like they knew he was in control. I don’t get the impression that Lehner has the same effect on his D. I would move him, be it now or in the off-season. He’ll be an RFA in July.
ON EVANDER KANE:
Obviously, he has to be moved. Kane is not going to forego his chance at unrestricted free agency. This is his time to make the big bucks. I am a little nervous the longer this goes. Kane has never completed an entire 82-game schedule…it would be awful for something to happen to him and not allow the Sabres the opportunity to gain some important assets.
ON PHIL HOUSLEY:
With the way this season has gone, you knew that eventually you’d start hearing fans calling for Housley’s head. I think this is absolutely laughable. The bottom line…the Sabres are not good enough. They are too slow. Too weak. And they lack top-end skill outside of Eichel, Risto and Kane. Coaching is a funny thing to me. I think a good coach can unite the right group of players and help lead them. But at the end of the day, it’s ALL on the players. How many years has Joel Quenville been considered one of the best coaches in the NHL, and now, with his Hawks on the outside looking in…he can’t coach? What about those calling for Babcock’s head? Torterello has been fired how many times? Coaches come and go. Jack Adam’s winner one year, bum on the street…has no clue…the next year. The coach is only as good as his players. And newsflash…the Sabres are not good. Pep talks? The majority of players don’t even care about pep talks, they look internally for motivation. Systems? You listen to what the NHL’ers say about systems, there really is nothing new under the sun, and the majority of them are so similar it doesn’t make that much of a difference. The players aren’t playing hard enough, has he lost the room? Yeah, it’s THEY aren’t playing hard enough, it’s not HE’S not yelling loud enough.
ON JASON BOTTERILL:
There are also those calling for his head. Are you kidding me? This isn’t NHL ’18 on your PS4. Overhauling a roster takes time. Give the man some time. I really feel like we’ve got a good one, and I’m really excited for what the trade deadline and draft will reveal.
ON JACK EICHEL:
Wow! All I can say about the last couple of months is...WOW! He is consistently living up to his status as a franchise player. I often forget the kid is just 21. His size, his speed, his shot, his vision, his playmaking ability, and now his work ethic? He's transforming into a complete player right before our eyes. I love watching this kid carry the puck. I love waiting to see what he's gonna do next. I love watching him chase down the opposition and wheel back the other way. I love watching him effortlessly bowl guys over in the corners. A few months ago I wasn't so sure. But Jack has turned a corner. His effort is consistently outstanding. He will be the next captain. He will eventually lead this team back into the playoffs. And I still say I would give him the captaincy before this season ends. Give him the chance to adjust. Allow him to test drive it to the conclusion of this season, so that next year he can start out with no uncertainty, and finally help us to a positive October.
ON ANOTHER DRAFT LOTTERY:
Fingers crossed. We’ve gotta be due…no? Rasmus and Rasmus….or maybe just another almost.