drew stafford:

Weathering The Storm

What in the H-E-double-hockey-sticks happened against the Pittsburgh Penguins? How can a team completely fall apart like that? We’re not going to make the playoffs with a team like this! We should trade Miller, Stafford and Roy, fire Regier and Ruff, burn the city to the ground and start over from scratch!

Ok, I’m overdoing it a bit. But it’s still pretty chaotic with all the injuries. Heck, even Thomas Vanek didn’t practice on Monday, sending tendrils of fear all through Sabres Nation. It’s been bad, and many are calling for heads to roll, for players to be traded, for Ruff to be fired… and worse. Wow.

A big part of the problem may be that we have a lot of history and buildup with the current team. Expectations were high even before Terry Pegula bought the team. Then he came in raised the bar even higher and said, “We’re going to hit this mark”.

Yeah, these Sabres are all over the map with their play, but that’s to be expected when your entire team consists of the entire roster of your minor league team, minus perhaps a goalie. When Lindy Ruff was asked about getting back to consistency he responded thusly:

“I don’t think you can talk about that until you get your team back,” coach Lindy Ruff said. “You’re looking at a line out there of [Evgeni] Malkin and [Chris] Kunitz, and I’ve got [Zack] Kassian, [Paul] Szczechura and Luke Adam on the ice. You’re asking a lot out of the kids, and they’ve played hard for us. But we need some bodies back.” (Source – Buffalo News)

On top of the injuries, another thing that really makes it hard for us fans right now is that we don’t know what we’ve got in this team. Unlike say, the Boston Bruins or Detroit Red Wings, we cannot unequivocally say we’re going to make the playoffs and be a real threat to go deep and win the Stanley Cup. And unlike the Columbus Bluejackets or New York Islanders we are not totally out of it and looking just to rebuild over the next year or two. No, the Sabres are… well, a pretty talented but young team with a lot of injuries.

And sure, there are a lot of negatives going on right now that we can point to as validation for hitting the panic button. For example, Ryan Miller’s stats are horrible. He has a GAA of 3.12, good for 37th in the NHL, with a save percentage of .902 (32nd in the league.) We also let a guy named Sneep score against us in his very first NHL game! Sneep! I’m sure he has a 1st name but I’d like to pretend otherwise. Sounds like a name from some children’s book. It is, you say?

 Weathering The Stormbuffalosabresnation.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/Sneep_Stewart-150x150.jpg 150w" sizes="(max-width: 300px) 100vw, 300px" />

The Sabres saw a Sneep. It lulled them to sleep. They barely even made a peep. They were in much too deep. (Dr. Seuss, I'm not.)

So with everything going crazy right now, some might point out the example of the Philadelphia Flyers who made some moves in the offseason that seemed insane at the time. But so far, trading Jeff Carter and Mike Richards has turned out pretty well for them. It feels good to hit the “detonate nukes” button. (It’s such a pretty, shiny, red button.) It’s easy to place the blame on one or two guys and just get rid of them.

It’s hard to not press the button.

But I don’t think we need to do that. Nor is it time to do so … yet. Now, I’m not trying to look at things through rose-colored glasses or tell you that everything is going to be just peachy (or be preachy). I’m just saying that Ted Black and crew deserve some time before we rush into destroying things that the Sabres have taken years to build. Shouldn’t Regier and Ruff get at least one full season under the new ownership to see what they can do? Haven’t they earned that? Same goes for the players.

Like Lindy Ruff teaches, perhaps we shouldn’t get too high or too low. Maybe we should just enjoy the season as it unfolds and take the long view. We’ll have some amazing hockey and some crap games as well. As the season progresses, the Sabres will hopefully gain more chemistry and consistency.

With that should come wins and a playoff spot. And if the younger guys’ streak of nastiness can mesh with the cores scoring ability? Come playoff time they could be downright dangerous. We just need to weather this storm for a while.

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Sabres Officially Request Fan Support

I love these quotes from Jason Pominville and Drew Stafford.

From the Buffalo News:

“Obviously you hear the fans,” said captain Jason Pominville. “I don’t know if they realize it, but sometimes they have a huge impact on the way we feel, the way we work and compete. We feed off the energy they bring to us.”

“We know we have one of the best fanbases in the league,” added Stafford. “They support us every game and we want to put on a good performance for them. At the same time, we need them to have our backs.

“When we’re not doing well on the power play or getting outshot bad, they’ll start booing us and we deserve some of that. At the same time, it’s nice to have them cheering.”

Buffalo fans aren’t renowned for berating their Sabres. We certainly gripe about sloppy play when sloppy play spills out on the ice in front of us, but we don’t boo at the slightest impulse. We’re a hockey savvy town, and I like to think that we’re boo savvy, too.  Still, this is the third time I’ve been compelled to touch on the subject of fan noise in the arena in the last year.

It just keeps coming up. This time, the issue was brought up by none other than the team captain. So just what is going on here? Who’s to blame for this latest mention of fan complacency/irritation?

SabresFans 300x220 Sabres Officially Request Fan Supportbuffalosabresnation.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/SabresFans.jpg 677w" sizes="(max-width: 300px) 100vw, 300px" />

This guy.

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