Soft Sabres Better Change Mindset.. Quickly

Posted on April 20, 2010 by Patrick Moran

Sabres Bruins PlayoffsLet’s not beat around the bush; the Buffalo Sabres are in a world of trouble.  Sure, even after losing Monday night in Boston 2-1, they only trail the Bruins by a game (2-1) in their Eastern Conference quarterfinal series.  If they can win one of two in Boston and hold serve at home they’ll be on their way to the second round.

But I know, you know and anyone who’s been watching knows that injuries and a rapidly growing hesitance to match Boston’s physicality have this series on the verge of implosion.  Simply put, Buffalo is taking numerous punches to the mouth without returning unfriendly fire nearly enough.

Claude Julien’s team has figured out they can physically push the Sabres around.  Speculation coming into Monday’s game centered on if Buffalo would seek retribution for the cheap shot “hockey play” Johnny Boychuk laid on Thomas Vanek on Saturday.  Not only was that answer a stern no, but Boychuk further fueled the fire by nearly decapitating Matt Ellis in the second period.

Truth be told, for the second consecutive game any forward not named Michael Grier did little more than make a cameo in the relevance category. Defensively Andrej Sekera played his way to a press box seat for game four on Wednesday while captain Craig Rivet should be glad Lindy Ruff doesn’t have the depth to give him a seat next to his playing partner.

Here is the reality.  Buffalo may have the better team on paper but that no longer matters.  Thomas Vanek is out and iffy to return.  Even if he does it’ll be on sure will and he won’t be close to full strength.  Tim Connolly has been in the lineup the past three games in body only— it’s clear as day to anyone his foot injury has hindered and rendered him near useless.  In turn that has severely weakened linemate Jason Pominville’s game.  An already timid Drew Stafford is even more so off the heels of a concussion, and the team misses Jochen Hecht’s 21 goals.

The Sabres are not good enough to beat Boston by out-skilling them, not with the injuries—not going to happen.

Instead if Buffalo is to come back and steal this series from its rivals, they’re going to have to man-up and find a way to punch the bully in the mouth.  Adam Mair, Patrick Kaleta and even Tim Kennedy all took runs at Zdeno Chara Monday night… and bounced off him like ping pong balls.

Speaking of Kennedy, his getting pushed off the puck by 97-year veteran Mark Recchi led to Boston’s game winning goal.

I don’t know what Ruff has to do—maybe he should pop in the Rocky Trilogy or something, but he needs to get his squad playing like their lives depend on it.  It’s one thing to lose a game or two in a series, it’s the playoffs and happens to the best of teams.  But the way Buffalo lost Monday was disturbing.  They were soft, undisciplined and times looked content to just keep the game close.

Boston was hungry while the Sabres looked like they were satisfied by gobbling up a regular season division title.  That better change…. And change very, very fast.  If the Sabres are going to come back and win this series, Ryan Miller needs help.  Guys like Gaustad, Torres, Mair and Kaleta need to leave the blood, sweat, tears—and possibly all their teeth on the ice.  And Connolly, Pominville and Derek Roy need to find a way to put the puck in the net.  The Bruins are not the Washington Capitals and won’t score five goals every game.  Unfortunately with the cowardly way Buffalo is playing, just two or three is plenty enough.

One last bad omen for Buffalo; they have NEVER won a playoff series when they have trailed two games to one—ever.

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3 Comments on Soft Sabres Better Change Mindset.. Quickly

  1. george

    the top 2 lines need to contribute ANYTHING to the stat sheet, so the bottom 2 lines can stop worrying so much about creating chances as standing up to the big bad bully the bruins seemed to have become in this series. ’soft’ is dead on as a description, but people are suprised for some reason, they have been playing that way all year round & simply are not built for a physical, grueling series

  2. bearfan

    bearfan here………..i have news for you Moron. Your Sabres are being outhit by a pussy team. This is the weakest B’s team i can remember sincce Michael Thelven was taking a beating in the 80’s Lindsay ruff could beat the crap outta 99% of em today.

    Anyways the only way besides miller stealing a game or two that Buffalo will win is to outskill the B’s. The dulledged Sabres may be the only team in the league that Boston can outhit.

  3. DZ

    Rob Ray made sense last night when he said the players don’t have to go after Chara and Boychuk, they need to go after the smaller players on the Bruins. It makes sense. If the Sabres don’t have the guts to take on the biggest bully in the school yard, then you take on somebody smaller than you so at least you aren’t perceived to be the weakest.

    I can tell you one thing, they better hit somebody tomorrow or the series is over.

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