lindy ruff:

Bills And Sabres Making All The Right Moves

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It’s a pretty great feeling when your favorite sports teams seem to be making all the right moves. As Buffalo sports fans we’ve certainly dealt with a lot of stomach-roiling management over the years and it’s nice to feel like things are finally going well for both the Sabres and the Bills management-wise.

As for the Bills we had to put up with some horrible coaching ever since the Marv Levy days. Wade Phillips, Gregg Williams, Mike Mularkey, Dick Jauron and a brief look at Perry Fewell. Fewell didn’t have enough tenure for us to know much about him but the rest … ugh.

 Bills And Sabres Making All The Right Moves

The “Dick Jauron Face”. Passion-inspiring it is not. We had to put up with THREE YEARS of this.

Chan Gailey is such a breath of fresh air form those guys – especially from Dick Jauron. It’s ridiculous to think back on the fact that he fired his offensive coordinator and had Alex Van Pelt install a no-huddle offense mere weeks from the start of the regular season. “Hey build me an awesome offense quickly. It’s easy, right? Hey, you’ve got Trent Edwards so don’t complain.” Er, yeah.

Mismanagement. We’d dealt with it for over a decade.

Now the Sabres have fans thinking that it’s possible they could pick up any player in the NHL. Rick Nash? Certainly possible. One source said they had $100 million offers in on both Parise and Suter. They’re willing to spend money and do anything – absolutely ANYTHING – that is necessary to make the team better.

The Bills got Mario freaking Williams to come to Buffalo. They’re signing great talent at every position and appear to be on the cusp of better-than-average-ness (I won’t say greatness because it’s been too damn long since we could say that and I don’t want to jinx it.)

There’s a disturbance in the force. Great players are being attracted to Western New York. Maybe it’s the prevalence of chicken wings across the country. Perhaps it’s a decades-long plot finally coming to fruition where scientists figured out a way to inject hot sauce with a mind-controlling substance that calls atheletes home to the wing mecca that is Buffalo.

Whatever the reason for it, it’s awesome. The Bills and Sabres may not reach their expectations this season but it’s still a great feeling to know that the organizations are willing to do the right things. That they’re willing to spend money and be aggressive. That they don’t just follow someone else’s script, but instead blaze trails with their own gameplans.

Another thought is that I used to give bad coaches the benefit of the doubt. After a year of guys like Williams/Mularkey/Jauron I’m usually like, “chill people, let’s give them a couple of years and see what they can do when they’ve established their system”. I used to think that 3 years was what it took for a new coaching regime to get their things going.

That’s bull. A new coach’s presence should be felt immediately. The team might not start winning right away, but you should be able to see their affect on the team. We saw that early on with Chan Gailey. He was willing to switch from Trent Edwards to Fitzpatrick within weeks of the regular season starting. He recognized that Edwards’ brain didn’t work at the game speed required at the NFL level while Fitzy’s did. Chan pulled the trigger and reversed his decision while other coaches (*couch*Jauron*cough*) just stay stuck in the mire of the decision they made in the past.

Thank goodness for Chan, Nix, Lindy, Darcy and perhaps most of all the Pegula clan. They may not make ALL the right moves, but you can’t be perfect. At least they’re sticking to their blueprint for success and being unabashedly aggressive about it. I love it. And it bodes well for an exciting 2012-2013 for both franchises.

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Sabres Flyers Disaster Provides Image of the Year

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There’s no reason to argue over just how bad this game was.

Or just how terrible this season has been. It’s over. Time to talk trade deadline and the draft. But before we do, here’s an image from last night’s game. I think it sums up the entire season pretty well.

RuffNite 300x224 Sabres Flyers Disaster Provides Image of the Year

Yep. That's our 2011-12 season.

The Sabres turned in yet another coach-killing performance last night. What a sucky present for Ruff, who turns 52 today. What are the odds Lindy gets the axe on his birthday? That would be an even suckier present.

If you’ve followed me on the Twitter today, you’ve noted my frustration has given way to childish mockery (it’s either laugh or cry at this point):

Enjoy your fancy locker room while you still can, Sabres. Next year a lot of you will be in the crappy visitor’s room. And NO MORE COOKIES.

Don’t you just want to sneak into the Sabres’ locker room during intermission, stomp your foot on the logo, and walk out in a huff?

Anyway, enjoy the fire sale.

mban2051l 265x300 Sabres Flyers Disaster Provides Image of the Year

Pegula. Darcy.

Go Sabres.

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The Tease Is Over This Year For Sabres Fans – Now What?

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A tease.

That’s what this year has been.

We were teased with a competitive team after the offseason. Then teased again when the Sabres put together a short winning streak in late January/early February.

Big 80 s Hair the 80s 300441 308 194 300x188 The Tease Is Over This Year For Sabres Fans   Now What?

No not that kind of a tease.

After the 7-2 absolute drubbing at the hands of the hated Flyers, we now know there is no hope for this team, this year. Well, of course many of us knew before this, but some of us held out the slightest glimmer of hope. I did.

We were teased last year with the 16-4-4 run to end the season and make the playoffs… only to be crushed at the hands of those very same hated Flyers. Now we know that the run to the playoffs was more flukey than being eliminated in the 1st round and the record the Sabres currently hold (24-27-6).

The combination of the bad record despite the high expectations, the mediocre play on the ice, the Lucic Incident and issues of softness, and the TV problems with Time Warner make this season a difficult pill to swallow for Sabres fans.

funny dog pictures clean up ile 274x300 The Tease Is Over This Year For Sabres Fans   Now What?

Cleanup was indeed needed after the Sabres D soiled themselves in the 2nd period against the Flyers.

Lindy Ruff’s birthday is today but the celebration of his day has to be marred by where this franchise is at. This was supposed to be a mecca of hockey. A return to greatness. No, not even a return to greatness, but something better than we’d had in the past. Pegula labeled it “Hockey Heaven” – claimed a Stanley Cup was in our future. We got the Amerks back in the fold, got coaches entrenched that could coach Lindy’s “System”, the whole deal.

Pegula, Ted Black and the rest of the Sabres brass has consistently said we need to stay the course, to do nothing drastic.

At this point, even they have to see that something needs to be done. Questions come up about the coaching, about the general manager and about the heart of some of the players.

I don’t know what the answer is, but I don’t think we can just stay pat with the cards we’re holding. Perhaps it’s as simple as a trade or two now and build towards next year. Maybe it’s as drastic as firing Lindy Ruff.

After all, the team seems to embody his “nothing is wrong, we’ll get through this” mentality. Yes, it’s good for a coach to keep an even keel, but sometimes you need to light a fire under the guys.

Maybe Lindy does that, I don’t know as I’m not close enough to the team. All I know is that I see some guys on the ice who aren’t giving their all. I know that Lindy has had years of chances with different versions of this team and he hasn’t won a championship. There’s two sides to that coin: a) He’s done well over the years and gotten us deep in the playoffs b) It’s him holding us back from doing better than we could.

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THE ANSWER! Ok, not gonna happen, but it's fun to think about. More likely he'll go NASHville. These captions are horrible, but they're free, so quit yer whining.

In the end, I will have faith that “Pegula knows best”, that Ted Black and the rest of the staff are smart hockey guys and will get this thing figured out. But now we have to turn our attention to trades and a better draft pick and I don’t like that.

Go Sabres. /sigh

[Update: I was remiss not to say this: #DoSomethingDarcy]

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Maybe I’m On Something. Onto Something. That, and a Flyers Sing-Along.

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I hope we’re still Pals, Mike and Lindy.

Yesterday’s post called out the play of Mike Weber this season, and called out the handling of Weber by coach Ruff. In short, Weber emerged as a rugged leader on defense last season, and this season, well, has been a disaster for him. How Lindy has handled his ice time, in my theory, played a big role in his regression.

Today, sports hypothesis becomes fact!

From NHL.com’s preview of tonite’s Sabres/Flyers matchup:

Sabres: Less, apparently, is more for defenseman Mike Weber.

In a 13-game span from Dec. 28 to Jan. 21, Weber played at least 20 minutes 11 times, and had 1 goal and a minus-8 rating. In eight games since then, however, he’s averaged about 16:30 per game, and has 2 assists and a plus-2 rating.

More importantly, the Sabres went 2-9-2 in those 13 games with Weber playing extended minutes, and 5-2-1 since he had his ice time cut back.

“That’s been the biggest, to get back to playing the minutes he seems suited to, that he’s not trying to do too much, that when he gets out there he’s fresh,” coach Lindy Ruff told the Tonawanda News. “His game is a lot of times energy. It’s playing hard in a short period of time, and I think when we’ve overplayed him he’s just tried too much. He’s over-handled some situations. He tried to make plays into areas he doesn’t need to make plays. I think that part of his game has really cleaned up.”

Figure it out, Lindy!

Anyway, there you have it – my hard-hitting Sabres analysis, backed up a day late by real news sources. Beer: earned.

Tonight Lindy, Weber, and the rest of the beleaguered Sabres take on the Flyers in Philly. It’s the return of Leino to Philadelphia, in a game that means virtually nothing for either team. Should be fun. Oh, and there’s these people, too:

FlyersPython 300x203 Maybe Im On Something. Onto Something. That, and a Flyers Sing Along.

Flyers fans!

It’s 9am right now. I wonder if they’re booing yet?

In any event, the correct lyric is “puts on women’s clothing.” Figure it out, Philly fans!

And there you have today’s hard-hitting sports analysis.

Go Sabres.

 

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Us Lucky Buffalo Sabres Fans

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Are we lucky as fans or what? After one of the worst slides in Sabres history, they go on a 4-0-1 tear – against good teams even. I feel sorry for anyone who left the First Niagara Center early last night, as they missed a great show.

When it went to a shootout, I felt confident in Miller. He let in a few, but he was solid overall. When Gerbe’s shootout chance came, I knew he would sink it. Hell, the whole game I wasn’t worried about their play. The team is playing tough, confident hockey, with smarts to boot. They’re making crisp, quick passes and working hard in the corners. If they lost, they lost, but they were playing hard most of the way.

I don’t do much “real” analysis about the Sabres, as that’s not really my mindset (or forte). I’m more of a fan who just loves the game and makes bad jokes – but even I can see how much better this team is than just a few short weeks ago.

Perhaps part of it is the German bump, although the Sabres were playing well before the contingent of Mannheim Eagles fans came to Western New York. For more on that go here, it’s a feel good read.  And we could take some notes from their cheering playbook. They were rambunctious, perhaps annoyingly so to some, and even tried to get the wave going.

021112city 300x235 Us Lucky Buffalo Sabres Fans

European hockey fan enthusiasm is a little different than our brand, but we could certainly up the energy a little bit.

Or maybe it was Lindy Ruff. Perhaps his ego overshadowed the players and now that he’s injured they can finally play their best hockey. Now, I don’t believe this, but I’m sure there are detractors out there saying that. But the Sabres started this run well before Lindy fell and busted up some ribs.

Whatever the case, the Sabres are playing tough and are now eight points back in the East. I don’t think I need to say “buckle up”, we’re all pretty aware that this will go down to the wire, much like last year. But you couldn’t write a better script: a billionaire owner takes over the team, spends gazillions picking up all-star talent. The team flounders and all hope seems lost. Then, in Act 3 they get it together and miraculously make a huge comeback.

The only question is how does the story end – do they win it all, or is it just a feel-good drama where the team takes 2nd place but that was further than they ever should have expected to get to?

mighty ducks flying v 300x222 Us Lucky Buffalo Sabres Fans

Maybe James Patrick is using his time at the helm to teach the Sabres the Flying V.

Whatever the case may be, it’ll be damn exciting to be a part of. The Sabres are eight points back now with the Tampa Bay Lightning coming into our barn. We’ve got a lot of good hockey to watch ahead of us the rest of the year.

Go Sabres.

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