Can't say I'm surprised the injury riddled Sabres showed up with a lacklust effort thus resulting in a 4-1 loss to rival Ottawa and dropping them to 10th place in the East. A couple quick notes before I get into the meat of this. First Marcus Foligno was sent back to Rochester today, he played hard last night, but showed is isn't ready for the NHL. Brad Boyes will not play tomorrow in Toronto, but Patrick Kaleta is expected to play (3rd time now this is being said I'll believe it when I see it). Kaleta returning to the lineup does little to excite me, sure he's a h-e double hockey sticks raiser, but doesn't provide scoring which the club needs.
Ok back to Ottawa last night. Although the Sabres were crushed with injuries it wasn't the kids that cost them the game last night. Jordan Leopold was soft with puck as it was picked off at the blue line and Mike Weber was soft and lazy covering his man on the rebound. On the 2nd goal Weber was again soft with the puck giving it away at the blue line(a theme last night for the Sabres) with help from Szezechura on a 2nd chance to clear the zone. Instead of Weber covering his man he watches the play happen and is late to cover Condra who scores on the rebound. Weber continues to show why he cannot play consistently in this league. Get well soon Tyler Myers, because I would rather not see Gragnani or Weber any time soon. On the 3rd goal after a dumb Paul Gaustad penalty with a little over 3 minutes left in regulation, Jason Pominville decided to not cover Karlsson as he crept in for a back door PPG lay up to ice the game. Condra would then add an empty netter seconds later.
After a awful outing in Pittsburgh, Miller brought his game to Ottawa. The Sabres came out flat right from the beginning and Miller did his best to hold his team in it. He made 35 saves on the night, he can't pitch a shutout every night.
On to my two usual players who seem to be consistent at giving effortless performances, Derek Roy and Drew Stafford. Derek Roy just floated around all game making sure he did everything possible to not get hit and when he was touched he flopped to the ice looking for a penalty. Lost faceoffs on a consistent basis (along with the rest of the team). One goal in 16 games now, he also did his best to turn Thomas Vanek into the old Vanek. Luckly for Vanek he got a PP point without Roy on the ice. Drew Stafford is much of the same as Roy. He doesn't use his body, doesn't drive the net, and takes lazy dumb penalties. Lindy Ruff made sure that Stafford got a good luck at the rest of the game from the Sabres bench in the 3rd period. Stafford was a 30 goal scorer last year in only playing a little over 60 games. He was rewarded with a big contract and he has fell face first to the challenge. Also a little of topic I would like someone from Sabres mangement to explain why it took so long for Derek Whitmore to get a call up. He was probably the best player in blue and gold last night besides Miller.
The Sabres now sit in 10th place and are in danger of falling out of the playoff picture with the next 5 games against the Leafs, Caps, Devils, Caps, and Sens. The reinforcements will not back from injury in time for those games. This situation make me wonder if it is time to blow up the core of this team. Roy and Stafford have affordable contracts for the history they have put up in this league, Roy more than Stafford. Hecht's contract is up at seasons end along with Gaustads and Boyes. Pominville isn't going anywhere because he is wearing the C and Vanek is your team. I think it could be time to start to build this team around Vanek, Miller, Kassian, McNabb, and Myers. Time to yank out the old core that has been in place since July 2007. That core has got the Sabres 0 playoff series wins and 2 playoff apperances in 4 years. So to recap as the trade deadline approaches it is time to show Roy, Hecht, Gaustad, and Stafford the door. Also if this is going to happen the GM and coach need to be let go as well. It's time for a new voice and for a new set of hands to construct this team. Ruff and Regier have got this team nowhere and they are track for nowhere again this season. I'm not saying full on rebuild Oiler style, but maybe it's time for the Sabres to take a page from the Flyers book from last offseason. They reconstructed the core of their team and are still a top team in the NHL. Terry Pegula showed he was getting annoyed last weekend, if a few weeks into January this team hasn't rebounded, heads are going to roll.
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