For many Buffalo Sabres fans the hockey season officially begins today with the end of another disappointing Buffalo Bills season. There are many people that are upset with the way the Bills season ended (me included). All you have to do is venture over to Buffalo Rumblings to find out what I'm talking about. For Bills fans that will now turn their attention to the Buffalo Sabres, I'll try my best to some up the season.
The Sabres season began on October 10 (that's right, the hockey season began back in October) with a 2-1 shootout win against the heavily favored Montreal Canadiens. The Sabres played a superb defensive style of hockey just like they had talked about all off-season. Like the Bills hot start the Sabres followed suit. They began the season by winning six of their first seven games with the only loss coming in a shootout against the Atlanta Thrashers. It was the end of the October when things started going south for the Sabres. They dropped their last three games of the month and finished 6-2-2.
The Sabres started November much like they did October. They won their first two games of November without allowing a goal. The most impressive part of the Sabres victories were the opponents. Buffalo beat Washington 5-0 and New Jersey 2-0 to start the month.
Unfortunately the Sabres quickly turned in the opposite direction and lost seven of their next eight games. After playing so well defensively for the first month of the season the Sabres went back to their old ways and opponents took advantage. Buffalo allowed at least five goals in four of the eight games, of course they were all losses.
The Sabres November record of 4-7-1 speaks for itself. The promising start to the season quickly soured and it was easy to see that the team began to question themselves. The lack of leadership this team has exhibited became increasingly noticeable with every loss.
December has really been a back and forth type of month. On most nights the team seems to be improving and they are playing better in their own end...the biggest problem has been consistency. Every night when you turn the game on, you wonder which Buffalo Sabres team you will see. The team that can go out on any night and beat the best teams in the NHL or will it be the team that loses 6-1 on home ice against the Columbus Blue Jackets.
What's ahead for the Sabres
Now that I gave you a brief summary of how this season has gone so far it's time to prepare you for what you should expect from this team.
It's a team that has noticeable deficiencies and has fallen victim to the injury bug. It's no surprise that Tim Connolly is out of the lineup because we've all grown accustomed to that. It is a surprise to see Paul Gaustad, Craig Rivet and Patrick Kaleta out of the lineup. The Sabres definitely miss Paul Gaustad to take the key face-offs but more importantly they miss the leadership of Craig Rivet. Rivet has struggled when he was in the lineup but he was also nursing a very painful injury. There is a reason the players selected Rivet to be their Captain and they need him on the ice. Of course it would be nice to get the offensive ability of Tim Connolly on the ice but let's not hold our breath.
The two biggest weaknesses the team has are at Center and Defense. They need at least one quality defenseman and they need to upgrade the Center position. Jochen Hecht had the best season of his career last year and that masked what was a glaring need for this team. If the team is going to have any chance of making the playoffs they will need to upgrade the Center Position. If they ever get Tim Connolly back in the lineup he would fill that need but he has proven time and time again that he can't be counted on.
The last thing I need to inform you about is the coach. There is starting to be some rumblings from restless fans about Lindy being a problem for the team. The talk isn't nearly as loud as it is for Dick Jauron but if this team continues to spiral downward it could be. One big difference between the two is that Lindy Ruff has enjoyed some success in the league but he is the longest tenured coach in the NHL and has never won a Cup. That fact alone is enough to make people talk.
Now you are pretty much caught up on what has happened with the Sabres over the past three months. We are happy to have you on the bandwagon so sit back and enjoy the ride.