I hate the Sabres. Right now I should be writing a big celebratory post about how we beat a really rotten Rangers team that's clearly in a tail-spin. I should be laughing at all the the maroons in Buffalo who heralded Glen Sather as a smart, daring GM while complaining that Darcy Regier is dumb and ignorant and not splashy enough in his signings. I should be delighting in Chris Drury having yet another quiet night. Instead I have to sit here and complain about how ridiculously soft the Sabres are. Way to COMPLETELY RUIN MY NIGHT, GUYS!
After watching replay after replay (after replay after replay), I really do think the slew foot was accidental. Scott Gomez completely lost his footing and happened to be in the right spot to upend Ryan Miller. That said, Gomez was clearly looking to make some kind of contact with Ryan - no way he was pulling up moving as fast as he was - and someone should've put his teeth in the back of his head on principle. I don't understand how that wasn't a penalty - I can't remember the last time someone made contact with a goalie outside of the crease and didn't get called for something - but guys, COME ON! YOUR GOALIE IS KIND OF IMPORTANT!
I do get what Lindy Ruff was saying in his postgame presser. They needed the win. The Sabres are in a spot where the two points they won tonight could be the difference between making the playoffs and not making the playoffs especially since they're now looking at a stretch of games played without their starting goalie or their biggest offensive contributor. I understand the idea of beating the opponent on the scoreboard where it really counts.
But I also agree with what Jerry Sullivan (pretty sure it was him) said to Lindy in that same presser: There are some things more important than winning the game. Ryan Miller is the goalie. He's the one person on the ice who can win or lose a game all by himself. He's also, just for the record, a scrawny little dude. His ankle is probably only a couple of inches in diameter. You have to protect him. You HAVE to protect him.
I do think if Craig Rivet had been on the ice instead of in the penalty box, Gomez would've found his face in the glass pretty quickly but Rivet should not be the only person on the team willing to step up on Ryan's behalf. This has been an ongoing problem with this team and Rob Ray was right when he said during the game that this is something that should've been dealt with 20, 30 games ago. When you look at how much contact there is between opposing teams and Ryan, I don't think you can deny that the Sabres have developed a reputation for being a team that will let people knock their goalie around and we saw the worst possible outcome of that tonight: A guy comes in to make contact and intentionally or not, does some real damage.
The Sabres have taken a lot of lumps for not fighting enough or playing physically enough and I've been slow to jump on them for that because some people just aren't fighters and some people just aren't physical players. A player can't be something he's not. But to me this is something different. This is sticking up for a teammate. This is defending one of the most important players on your team. This is battling for a guy who battles for you. There's a lot of talk amongst certain players on this team about how close they are and how much they love each other. Where was that tonight? Where has that been all season? Ryan Miller crawled back to the crease and repeatedly tried to stand up despite being in a lot of pain and you repay that by... doing nothing? Not only is that soft, it's heartless.
(Since I kept quoting his question here and in the comments, I'll mention that Jerry Sullivan repeated his opinion in a story that's definitely worth reading if you haven't already.)
(Since a few people have asked, yes, I saw Sully's column about trading Hank. Some thoughts about it later tonight, I think.)