Buffalo Sabres (19-21-5 43 pts.)
As I watched the massacre at the Joe Louis Arena in Detroit, Michigan, I couldn’t help but notice how far away this team is from being an elite club in the NHL. After Detroit’s 5-0 win on Monday, the first thought that crossed my mind was simple, “Lindy Ruff should be fired by the end of the evening.” Now I understand that is typical fan talk that stems after a bad loss. But this game was a prime example of how fragile this team has become physically, and mentally.
Detroit out-skated, out-muscled, and out-classed Buffalo in all facets of the game. Seeing Buffalo attempt to create an offensive rush was almost comical. Derek Roy trying to maneuver his way through the neutral zone was met with a wall of red from every angle. Aside from last night’s debacle, it seems some of the team’s problems can be traced back to Buffalo’s “beloved” owner Terry Pegula. During his first press conference on February 22nd, he addressed the status of coach Lindy Ruff and Darcy Regier at the former HSBC Arena saying both men, “Ain’t going nowhere.”
Mr. Pegula, the Sabres are well on their way of being the league’s biggest disappointment after signing multi-year contracts to highly touted free agents Christian Ehrhoff, and Villie Leino. Fans expected with a bottomless wallet and a fancy new locker room, Buffalo would take the next step in becoming one of the league’s elite teams.
After sweeping the NHL Premiere series in Finland and Germany against Anaheim and Los Angeles, fans across the area were already touting the Sabres as world-beaters. However, these victories came against two teams that are experiencing struggles of their own. The Sabres are 17-21-5 since and falling faster than Rick Perry’s popularity among people with alternative lifestyles.
Let’s go back to when Buffalo was 10-5 going into Boston November 12th, 2011 against the Bruins. When Milan Lucic ran Ryan Miller after Miller tried to move the puck from his faceoff dot, Buffalo is 9-16-5 since the incident. They have lost their identity and need to figure out what kind of team they want to be going forward.
Pegula said that both Ruff and Regier are safe, but are the fans safe from another year of the two? It is obvious that the Sabres are faltering under Ruff’s style of play, which is nothing but constant dump and chase, with little to no creativity or passing past the blue line. When they can’t control the puck in the offensive zone, how can they expect to score consistently? To that point, Buffalo has scored 2 goals or less in 8 of their last 10 games. They were shutout twice against Toronto, and most recently, Detroit.
As Buffalo continues their six game road trip, tonight they travel to Chicago to face a very balanced Blackhawks team in a very hostile United Center. After facing Chicagon and Buffalo native Patrick Kane they will have the pleasure of facing off against the putrid Winnipeg Jets. Attempting to break a 9-game road losing streak with the team’s current state of mind, will make people who have Time Warner Cable thankful that they don’t have to watch it.
-Special thanks to Lars Lewis for his reporting and analysis.
Can the Sabres turn this around? How can they get the puck moving on offense? Let us know what you think via our twitter (@seeuinoctober) or leave us a comment.