And then there were 5. Thanks, Mike Weber! (And Lindy Ruff!)
The Sabres can now afford to lose only 5 more times in their remaining 26 games if they want 93 points.
The Sabres have been on a fun run lately, and I hope they keep things fun for Sabres fans, but the mathematical reaper is coming for our boys in Blue and Gold. Well, not all of them. Some of them will likely be sold off to playoff contenders, something that the Sabres were before a couple things happened.
- That 12 game home losing streak. (I said it before, but it bears repeating – just 5 wins in those 12 games and we’d be skating in the top 8.)
The Sabres were close last night. The second period came to a close before the game winner was up on the scoreboard. Then, before Buffalo could head into the locker room for an inspirational “ribbing” by Lindy Ruff, Mike Weber was being assessed a cross checking penalty.
At the 20:00 mark.
While the Sabres were already short handed.
Sure enough, the Sabres heroically survived the ensuing :47 of the 5 on 3, before giving up a goal on a deflection during the remaining 5 on 4. Weber was excused from the box, and for all intents and purposes, the Sabres were excused from the playoff race.
We talked on BSN about how adding experience to the blue line would be a huge step for the Sabres as they plot their course towards a Stanley Cup – and I’m sticking steadfast to that. It’s not the defense’s fault that the offense decided to stop scoring goals, and it’s not anyone’s fault that injuries hit the team as hard as they did this year.
But for Weber, I can’t say enough how disappointed I am in him this season. After a 2010-11 campaign where he lead the team in hits, was 3rd in blocked shots, and was 2nd in +/-, I expected big things from the gritty young defender this year. Especially with the arrival of Robyn Regehr, who he models his game after.
Then again, at least for me, one of the greater mysteries of this season happened: Lindy Ruff put him in the pressbox for the start of the season. And there he sat, and stayed, while fellow youngsters Marc-Andre Gragnani and Andrej Sekera were kept on the ice along with the other 3 offensive-minded defenders (Leopold, Ehrhoff, Myers). Weber didn’t get out onto the ice until November 2nd, and his play was terrible. He’s currently on pace to have his statistically worst career season in points per game and +/- (he’s last on the team in that latter category now – quite the reversal from last season).
He’s certainly regressed. Whatever happened up in that pressbox for the first month of the season wasn’t good. Lindy had chance to play Weber before November, to give him some ice time with Regehr, or anyone for that matter. For whatever reason, he never did.
Weber’s pro development has stalled. His play hasn’t been the same since last season, when he had found consistency and tenacity at the NHL level.
Well then, maybe it was fitting that Weber took that cross checking penalty that sunk the Sabres last night. For better or worse, it was the perfect statement play by a player who was passed over by his coach and who is now overdoing it to try to get his team and his own inconsistent self going again.
As a result, the Sabres remain mired in 14th place. The win would have put them within 6 points of 8th. Now, one bad hockey decision later, they are just 5 games away from oblivion.
He screwed up.
That last sentence applies to Weber and Ruff.
next post: Maybe I’m On Something. Onto Something. That, and a Flyers Sing-Along.