Thursday, October 25, 2007

You Gotta Have Heart

I'm not going to comment too much on last night's game because I missed it due to work. Because I didn't see it, it's hard to separate the reality of the game from the standard Buffalo crazy. I did also promise myself I was going to give the team 20 games before I made too much criticism of how they were playing because I do think it's going to take them time to get settled into new roles on and off the ice.

But I will say this: The lack of effort at important times the last couple of weeks is disheartening. At the very least I expected this team to play hard. They should have a chip on their shoulders about the way people seem so eager to credit all the success of the last couple of years to Daniel Briere and Chris Drury. They should be chomping at the bit to show people they're not devastated or rebuilding. They went from pressing a little too hard in the first couple of games to looking pretty disinterested in the last couple. I'd much rather watch a marginally talented team that plays hard than an extremely talented team that coasts so hopefully this gets straightened out quickly. Right now this isn't about Darcy Regier, Lindy Ruff, Chris Drury, or Danie Briere. The Sabres are not losing because they're getting out-muscled or out-skilled. It is about the players on the ice deciding they really want to win more than the other team. It's lovely that they're saying all the right things but at some point you have to stop talking about working harder and start to do it.

A few random thoughts:

- I can't believe how dismissive some people are being about Dmitri Kalinin's injury. He's been our best d-man so far this season (which is damning with faint praise, I know) and outside of the Ottawa series, I'd say he was probably our most consistent d-man last season too. If Tallinder and Lydman don't pull it together quickly, our defense could be extremely ugly without Tri in the line-up.

- I also think it's time for the Teppo haters to admit that our defensive group - if not the whole team - misses him and his steadying, veteran leadership. And while we're being honest, let's also admit that Nathan Paetsch was not ready to step seamlessly into Teppo's minutes. I'm not going to come down on him too hard right now since it's early and everyone is playing like crap, but he's looked very overwhelmed in his own end.

- I understand that Ryan Smyth was in Edmonton for a very long time and that the fans there loved him, but I do not get the concept of a pre-game video tribute to an active player on the opposing team. In fact, it's one of the dumbest things I've ever heard. Oilers fans, Smyth could've taken $100,000 less and stayed in Edmonton. He also could've come back to Edmonton as a free agent. Also did I mention that he's there to play on the other team? As in, against your team? I can't wait for the Jay McKee video tribute next month!

- “The Sabres have asked the NHL “to wear white jerseys at home for the month of November so that fans could differentiate divisional games from non-divisional opponents,” Sabres managing partner Larry Quinn said.” Thank you, Larry. How would we know the difference otherwise, especially since we play the same three teams 27 times in November?

I'm going to miss tomorrow's game too but I'm going to hope the 20 minute closed door team meeting involved someone flipping benches and throwing chairs and that we'll see a different team in Florida. I do not want to go sit in my freezing car during my break and turn on the radio just in time to hear the opponent score its fifth goal and our enforcer take yet another stupid, poorly timed penalty. So here's hoping!


Kate said...

I am also going to be working tonight, and I am not one bit sorry I will be missing the game.

You know, as painful as this losing stretch is for the fans, it's got to be much worse for the players. These are young guys who are used to playing on a decisively winning team. They are having to come terms with the fact that for whatever reason, they no longer have the "magic touch". Relying on a magic touch is lunacy- the sooner these guys get that through their thick skulls the better. It's easy to talk a big talk about having to "earn" wins, but in a lot of ways, that hasn't been the experience for these guys. Some weird part of me is sort of glad they are going through this. Better now than in the playoffs again. I just have to believe that sooner or later a switch is going to flip in their minds and we will see a harder fighting team. Maybe that motivation needs to come out of a complete breakdown of their egos. I dunno. Something has got to give here.

It's time to grow up, boys.

Kate said...

Hoooooray! Hoooray!