Well, the Sabres are certainly challenging the whole notion of having fun with hockey, aren't they? The little rat bastards.
I can reason away last night's loss to Chicago. The Sabres played much, much better. They looked like they have, in fact, played hockey before at some point in their lives which is a much appreciated change from the preceding home games. And the bottom line is, the Blackhawks are a superior team. They're the defending Stanley Cup champions for a good reason, you know? I love the Sabres, but I will reluctantly admit that there are teams in the NHL who are better than them at hockey. That said, there are certainly things to be concerned about. I have a ton of school work to do today so I'm too lazy to arrange these thoughts in a nice organized way. Here they are as the pop into my brain:
-- Let's start with the good. Derek Roy. I know! I had no idea that giving him a second chance would revitalize him so. Maybe I should write to many, many other Sabres and tell them the same thing. I know it's six games so I don't want to get carried away, but Derek actually looks like he cares this season. And honestly, I can't remember the last time he looked like that, particularly when everyone around him is struggling so much. You can legitimately say that little Roy-Z is carrying the team right now. I have to admit, I think that's awesome. Mark and I are getting a kick out of saying things like, "If only the whole team was skating as hard as Derek Roy right now. OH MY GOD IT'S A SIGN OF THE APOCALYPSE!" (Hey, we have to entertain ourselves somehow.)
-- And straight to the big bad. Tyler Myers. I know! I was hoping he was just getting caught in some bad moments, but I went to the Montreal game with Kate, and I could not believe how bad, bad, bad he looked. I figured there would be a bit of a post-Henrik Tallinder adjustment, but this seemed so far beyond that. In fairness, the Montreal game was the first game post-Shaone Morrisonn injury so Myers was playing with a NEW new partner, but it didn't seem like miscommunication with Jordan Leopold so much as it looked like a 20-year-old kid being completely overwhelmed by the NHL. He was playing the way I was afraid he would last season. I don't think it's any secret that the Sabres organization was banking on Myers being even better than he was last year. Better in the defensive end and more productive offensively. This is a pretty obvious observation, but if he continues to play like this things are going to get very bad very quickly.
The only potentially good thing here is that maybe Myers' struggles will slow down the whole "He's going to be the best defenseman in the history of the Buffalo Sabres!" conversation. He may well be - six bad games doesn't mean he isn't going to be - but let's not forget he's a 20-year-old in his second NHL season.
-- Quite frankly, I hate our entire defense. Right now watching this team is like nails on a chalkboard to a defense-loving fan like myself. I just curl up in a ball and cover my ears and eyes, occasionally weeping. Obviously, I miss Hank, but jeez, I really miss Toni Lydman back there too. Some of that could easily be new pairings not having enough time to gel yet, but man, thank goodness for Steve Montador. His play hasn't been perfect, but it hasn't been godawful dreadful either. And for crying out loud, does Mike Weber have to kill someone to get in the line-up? Regardless of how he played in the preseason or how he's playing in practice, I think it's time to throw him into real NHL action and just see how he responds. We've been hearing for years that he's the future. Lord knows our current defensive corp is not so stellar that it can't be touched.
-- Along those lines, I told you guys that Craig Rivet at 100% wasn't going to be that great. I TOLD YOU!
-- What is up with the sharp difference between the way the Sabres play at home and the way they play on the road? I don't have the stats to back this up - proof is for journalists - but I feel like this group of players has never played very well at HSBC. Are they too distracted by things like wives/girlfriends, kids, and Chippewa Street when at home? Is the atmosphere that bad here now? (And if so, guys, give us something to be happy about.) Do they really press that much more at home than on the road in a desperate effort to impress us? (You know what does not impress me? Trying to make a fancy pass when you should be shooting the puck. You know what does impress me? Wins.) I don't get it at all.
-- All the above said, I'm not panicked yet. I'm not sure panicked is the correct word anyway since it suggests high expectations, and I think my expectations coming into the season were pretty reasonable. That said, the Sabres are currently below even those expectations. I recently read somewhere - and I'd link it but I don't remember where I saw it - that conference standings generally don't change much after Thanksgiving. The number of three point games makes it hard for a team to rise or fall a lot. So I'm holding off any official panic until Thanksgiving. After that, well, we'll see.