Call it a Christmas hangover, call it whatever you want but I'll call it another loss. This time the Sabres didn't earn a point and they didn't deserve a point. They seemed to have very little energy and had very few offensive chances. The final stats have Buffalo listed with 24 shots-on-goal but you could count the number of scoring chances on one hand.
Buffalo seemed to play well in the defensive zone but they didn't get much help from their goalie. Patrick Lalime earned the start in the first game of back-to-back games and he was not sharp. He stopped 31 out of 34 shots but there were not many good chances for the Caps. The first goal was not scored until there was just over two minutes left in the second period and it was shot from along the boards by Viktor Kozlov. It's a save you expect your goalie to make and a save that I am sure Miller would have made.
Last season the Sabres had plenty of issues with their back up Goalie and that forced Miller to play in every game down the stretch. This season is starting to look eerily similar to what we seen happen last year. We learned last year that Miller can't handle the workload and he may have no choice.
This was a game that seemed lost from the outset and maybe that is the coaches fault. I'm a huge fan of Lindy Ruff but he seemed to set his team up for failure tonight. Ryan Miller had three days off yet he did not play tonight against a team that the Sabres are chasing in the standings. It seemed like Lindy was willing to concede tonights game on the road in an effort to assure a victory on home ice Saturday. The problem is that nothing is a given in this league and they still have to come out and play tomorrow night.
Is the Sabres apparent lack of effort tonight an extension of their coach? Was tonight a scenario where the team thought the coach didn't give them a chance to win? I can't answer these questions but it appears that way to me. It seems like Lindy Ruff went into the weekend with a two out of four mentality. He decided to play Lalime against the better team, allowing Miller to play against the weaker team at home. The Sabres now find themselves in a position where they have to win on Saturday or they find themselves earning no points this weekend.
Many of us, myself included, expected bigger things out of the Sabres this season. The funny thing is that the team did almost nothing to improve upon what they had last year. This is the same group of guys that missed the playoffs last season and they are well on their way to missing them again.
The Sabres have an opportunity to get right back in the swing of things because they welcome the NY Islanders to the HSBC Arena on Saturday night. The Sabres dominated the Islanders earlier in the season but they lost the only meeting between the two teams at HSBC Arena.