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“Cleared But Not Out”: Welcome To The Bottom, Sabres

Posted on November 5, 2010 by Will Eldredge

SabresWell, things have gone from bad to worse for the Sabres.  After earning one point in two games over the weekend, Wednesday’s 5-2 loss to the Bruins dropped the Sabres’ record down to 3-8-2, with five of those defeats coming at home.  That’s right ladies and gentlemen…  Your Buffalo Sabres are the worst team in the league a month into their 40th Anniversary.

But don’t worry folks; the people responsible for this have been sacked.  The team has decided to make changes in both the front office and on the bench and even though the trade market isn’t red hot, they’ve even made a small transaction there too!

Does that sound too good to be true?  Well, unfortunately, it is.  Despite the team playing wimpy, unmotivated hockey, the man who assembled the team, Darcy Regier and the man who’s coaching the team, Lindy Ruff are staying put.  And even worse, so are the players.  Regier has faith in what he views as a 100-point team and Northeast Division Champion despite the fact none of the factors that contributed to the Sabres first post season appearance in three seasons are currently present in the lineup.

  • Gone is the depth brought by a bottom six firing on all cylinders.  Ever since Tim Kennedy’s play at center tailed off, the team has lacked the depth to play the puck possession hockey that brought them so much success at the beginning of last year.  Rob Niedermayer’s two assists in 12 games on what was supposed to be the third line certainly aren’t helping things either.
  • Tyler Myers is still trying to do too much.  Instead of slowly earning top minutes the way he did last season, Myers has come out of the gate expected to face top competition on a regular basis and he just looks uncomfortable at times.  Jamie Benn’s shorthanded goal on Saturday being a perfect example of this.
  • That being said, his league worst -12 is just as much a measure of horrendous luck than sloppy play.  All season, he’s been on the ice for a mere four even strength goals for.  Comparatively, Steve Montador, who sits amongst the league leaders in plus/minus has been on the ice for four times as many.
  • Most importantly though, is Ryan Miller.  Miller’s .903 save percentage is a far cry from his Hasekian first half of 2009/10.  It’s recently been revealed that the Veznia Trophy winner was battling a knee injury since preseason and hopefully his recovery is a speedy one.  It also explains his feistiness in protecting his crease, something that was only seen in spurts last season.
  • But letting Miller get jostled is nothing new for Ruff’s Sabres, who have been allowing opposing forwards to invade the paint for years with no sign of toughening up.  Even Ryan going after guys who have invaded his personal bubble haven’t sparked a response from the team.
  • Even more telling about Ruff’s style of coaching is that Cody McCormick is the only player on the team to register a fighting major.  The former Colorado Avalanche was also stapled to the bench against the Bruins after his instigator penalty against Mark Stuart negated a Sabres power play.
  • Ruff’s soft stance on fighting would be defensible if the team was performing, but as it stands, the team is in the bottom third in terms of power play and of the five worst teams while shorthanded.  Not to mention the whole part about being dead last in the league in terms of points.  Letting the league handle it just doesn’t cut it when you haven’t won a game at home.
  • The lack of accountability is clearly evident in the players themselves as well.  Tim Connolly has been a black hole of suck, gifting the Bruins two shorthanded goals off of turnovers.  Paul Gaustad has been a complete non-factor, a far cry from the dominant forecheck presence that stuck up for teammates and was unbeatable at the dot.  Mike Grier and Rob Niedermayer, the supposed veteran presence of the forwards don’t have a goal between them.  Captain Craig Rivet has played so poorly that he was benched for the weekend, only to play fourteen minutes, score zero points and be a minus against Boston.

But don’t worry fans; this is a 100-point team with two of the top twenty centers in the league and an elite defense.  They have accomplished so very much for playing in a small market.  And even more importantly, Miller’s been hurt!  But we’re not making excuses guys, we’re really committed to winning!

As the spin pours down from the front office, it’s a sad realization that it’ll take even more losing, more misery, more spineless and passionless play to enact real change..  The longest running GM and Coach combination needs a shakeup.  \


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3 Comments on “Cleared But Not Out”: Welcome To The Bottom, Sabres

  1. Jim

    This organization and their arrogance is an insult to the fan’s intelligence. I don’t buy their merchandize and I don’t go to their ‘shit-sandwich’ they present as pro hockey any more.

  2. Patrick

    It’s a bit unfair to attack Ruff at this point. I agree that the front office has problems, the biggest being that they think they have a 100 point roster. Ruff has to use what he has and what he has isnt getting it done right now, obviously. While in a team sport the blame so to speak needs to be distributed, I think the players and the people responsible for putting them on the ice shoulder the brunt of responsibility for this abismal start.

  3. tom

    2 things – is there any truth to the rumor that the team is down on management because of the shitty way they dealt with Tim Kennedy?

    Also, has Ryan Miller given any interviews or been reported as in attendance at any of the recent games he’s missed? I think his injury may be slightly made-up, and that Ruff is not going to punish him until the team figures out how to win without him. The extra part of that is, should the team win 4-5 in a row with Enroth/Lalime, then maybe they trade Ryan since he’s the only player they can really get something good for.

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