So I finally don’t have to watch a crappy internet stream… and apparently the Sabres look worse in HD. Over the last few weeks, ANYONE with two eyes has had their criticism of the team and everyone’s got a different reason. After another loss, I am running out of people to blame. It’s do this detective style and look at the cases for each:
Lindy Ruff – Probably the most popular scapegoat for the fans is none other than the coach. Much like a quarterback, coaches get too much credit when they win and take too much criticism when they lose. Unlike coaches in football that directly call the plays on the field, Ruff is often times at the mercy of his players. Is Ruff to fault for a soft goal or defensive giveaway? Is Lindy out there putting voodoo on Stafford’s stick? Of course not, but why is Matt Ellis getting ice with 1 minute to go protecting a lead against Toronto? What happened to the goalie rotation? What is the thought behind certain players like Luke Adam, not seeing ice because they are not producing? If we take that logic, the Sabres would only have two players (26 & 29) on the ice each game! I am a DIEHARD Lindy supporter, but even I am having a hard time arguing for him to keep his job.
Darcy Regier – My personal scapegoat is the GM. While the coach is at the mercy of his player’s performance, who puts the players on the team? Darcy always had the easy out of being on a budget. If there was a shortcoming, it was because the Sabres couldn’t go out and offer the big contracts other teams could. Under performing players were kept for too long and trade acquisitions lacked impact (Steve Bernier anyone?). Now that Terry Pegula has given Regier the PIN to his bank card, there are no excuses and nowhere to hide for the architect of the team.
Terry Pegula – As Lindy leads to Darcy, Darcy leads to Terry. Some say Pegula should have cleaned house when he took over the team last year and others say he should clean house now. Going down the food chain, if Darcy can fire Lindy and Terry can fire Darcy, it only seems like something should give. To defend Pegula, if a team has over a decade of stability, how would it look when an outsider and a fan (for all intents and purposes) comes and cleans house in 10 months? Terry is a billionaire… he didn’t get there by making rash decisions.
Injuries – Walking down the similar path where one leads to another, owner Terry Pegula recently blamed the Sabres struggles on injuries. While it’s no secret “Healthy Changes Everything,” the Sabres have made mental mistakes and that has little to do with a shorthanded team. If your team is losing because they simply aren’t good enough with a depleted roster, I understand. If your team is losing because your forwards play scared and your defensemen can’t hang on to a puck, that’s entirely different.
Secondary Scoring – When a majority of your goals come from two players, you have a problem. Luke Adam is 3rd on the Sabres with 10 goals. That’s right, halfway through the season and your third leading goal scorer has 10!!! The list of players that are MIA is very, very long. Not worth beating a dead horse here.
Pick your poison. I didn’t even touch poor goaltending and library-like atmosphere at First Niagara center. Both goalies have been bad but the D is doing nobody favors with mental lapses and half-assed effort. Can you pin ALL the blame on one thing? You could make an argument and I bet it would sound good. To me it’s more of a perfect storm. Everything that could go wrong… IS! Obviously a lot needs to change and there is no quick fix. Awful defense, sieve goaltenders and a lifeless offense will not win any games. Poor game management, average players and a lack of direction from the top will kill you. I’m just not sure how much more everyone can take.
I eat, sleep and breathe Sabres hockey. I have been into the sport literally my whole life. I started going to games when I was 9 months old and have been hooked ever since. Growing up, I played against guys like Ryan Callahan, Patrick Kaleta, Tim Kennedy and now I have to pay money to watch them in person... Funny how things change.
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