"We've hit a tough stretch and now it's time to see how we react to it" - Lindy Ruff following an embarrassing loss to the last place Carolina Hurricanes on home ice.
What we have seen out of the Buffalo Sabres recently could be termed "a tough stretch" but prefer to call it complete failure. It's tough to pinpoint what is going wrong because the losses have been team losses. Earlier in the season there was always someone to step up and that someone was usually Ryan Miller. While Miller hasn't been the reason for the recent losses he deserves some of the blame for the teams recent failures.
There was a time when we were hailing Ryan Miller as a potential Hart Trophy candidate but he has struggled along with his teammates the past couple of weeks. Miller was not awful by any stretch but he let in the winning goal tonight on a shot he stops 99 out of 100 times. Miller needs to better if the Sabres are going to break this recent slump.
This game had a bad feeling right from the opening faceoff. You would think that a team that has lost two straight would have some intensity against the last place team at home but the Sabres came out flat. They managed only five shots in the first 20 minutes but somehow they came away tied at one after the first period.
They finally picked up their game in the second period but in typical Sabres fashion they couldn't finish and the game remained tied at one heading into the third period. The biggest worry I have is the way they played in the third period. Although Carolina scored first the Sabres managed to take the lead on two goals by Stafford. Playing with a lead in the third period has been automatic for the Sabres this season but tonight they allowed a last place team to come back and win in regulation.
Nobody can deny that this isn't the same team the Sabres had a month ago when they seemed like they could not lose. They are not playing with the same confidence and swagger they had earlier in the season. They are playing scared and trying not to make a mistake when the game is on the line instead of going for the jugular.
I have my finger on the panic button but I'm not ready to push it just yet. They have four more games before the Olympic break to turn things around and if they don't there should be some changes before the deadline.
- Andrej Sekera has struggled in the defensive zone the last two games but he has been great creating chances in the offensive zone. I feel he needs to stay in the lineup to get some confidence in is own end and there are plenty of other players struggling on the blueline that can be sent upstairs to watch. Chris Butler is one players that comes to mind.
- It will be overshadowed by the loss but the line of 9-26-21 looked good tonight and they have really been playing well in recent games. Thomas Vanek deserves the most credit for the play on that line.
- Adam Mair played only two minutes in the game and was on the ice for the Canes first goal. He should be in the press box before Ellis if they Sabres are going to dress seven defensemen again. Mair had a stretch where he was playing well but he has been a liability in recent games.
- Interesting how the NHL fixed the HD camera above the net after the controversy on Wednesday night. We might look back to that disallowed goal at the end of the season.
- The Sabres are still in a good position to win the division if they can get back on track. They still have some winnable games coming up and have a fairly easy schedule the rest of the way.
Roll Call: David Oleksy, sabre74kkn, destinsabresfan, Ubiquitous, Monotonousblob, twoeightnine, TEMSON, Rafal Ladysz, FloridaBuffalo, krytime, manic hispanic, North Java Sabra, kitaman27, BFLOS OWN, Jsz
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