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Playing Not to Lose, A Losers Mentality



blog-0412243001333739067.jpgFor the second straight season, the Sabres were sent home after a game in the Wells Fargo Center. Offically making it 5 years without a playoff series victory and missing the playoffs 3 out of last 5 years. As I take a step back today and look at the big picture, I ask myself what this run really did for the Sabres as an organization. Sure you found out Miller can still play, Foligno is promising, and Ennis has a bright future. However Buffalo now sits with a mid first round pick and a late first round pick and nothing to show for it. You still have questions marks on your team in the likes of Derek Roy and Thomas Vanek being the headliners.

Before I go any further let me say Darcy Regier and Lindy Ruff WILL be back next season. I'll get to Ruff in a little bit. The most important thing to me right now is someone telling me what the heck is wrong with Thomas Vanek. His shoulder better have been taped to his body to explain his second half performance. Sure he had 9 points in his last 9 games however he was nothing close to the player he was before the all star break. If he is not hurt, we have BIG problems there. Also I had to check the score of last nights game at least three times today, everything I read blamed Miller for the loss last night. Reality check to Sabres fans he is reason number 1, 2, and 3 that they got back into the race. Sure he got beat on a breakaway goal by a 20 goal scorer in Matt Read (who he already stopped on a SH breakaway earlier in the game). Had his forwards converted on one of the two, 2 on 1's they had minutes before that it wouldn't have mattered.

I texted numerous folks after the first 10 minutes of this game, stating Lindy Ruff installed his panic game plan and the Sabres were doomed. The last three weeks the Sabres have put up huge offensive numbers, however last night with the season on the line they went away from it. Playing a conservative game to not lose instead of going for it all. Sure you were down Ehrhoff, Myers, and Sulzer, so what. I rather go out swinging instead of playing hope for a 1-0 win hockey. I remember maybe two times I thought nice save Bryzgalov, he has a bum foot and was barely tested. If Buffalo comes out hard and forechecks like they did against Toronto Tuesday, maybe they get 2 quick ones and Philly calls it a night. With the passive game plan Foligno was almost a non factor being unable to forecheck after he was a force against the Leafs. Buffalo had very little puck control in the offensive zone not taking advantage of a short handed Flyers D. That is the reason I think Buffalo needs a new coach, the loser mentality needs to stop. I don't want my team to be afraid of the Flyers, Bruins, or Penguins. I want them to go out and throw the punches. Under Terry Pegula I expected a new mentality or a new direction and it's the same old ideology.

Well now I get to turn my focus in these blogs to some league issues I want to talk about. I also get to jump on the Chicago Blackhawk bandwaggon. They are my go to team when playoff time comes around.

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I thought the Sabres ran out of bullets. And once you take out Gaustad and Kassian, there's not a whole lot of "punch" left (yes, fine - Kaleta...).

Buffalo has two first rounders and some nice space they can create on the cap. Voyes and Hecht free up about $7M and if they can get a skate sharpener for Roy, that's another $4M. Re-sign Kaleta and Ennis and you're still probably looking at enough room to sign a goal scorer to give some extra offensive punch.

And maybe bring Gaustad back?

They're set for D and G through the next two seasons at least. This run to the edge of the playoffs could be a positive influence for next year.

As for Ruff, I don't know what else he could do. He lost 2-1 to one of the top scoring teams in the league - and it took goals from two rookies to do it. I just don't think he had the bullets in the gun to pull it off.

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