The day after a playoff series loss is probably one of the worst feelings ever for a hockey fan. Knowing that you have to wait another five months to see your team play again and chase that elusive dream of a Stanley Cup yet again. What was the downfall of the Sabres and how can it change heading into next season. Please note, I'm writing this shortly after the team's Game Six loss, so if it sounds a litter bitter you know why.
Tim Connolly and Derek Roy
A total of $9.5 million dollars in cap space scored a total of zero goals and three assists lead to a lack of primary scoring. While secondary players like Mike Grier and Patrick Kaleta stepped up and scored some crucial goals, the Sabres needed to find the scoring touch from the players they pay to score. Connolly has one more year left on his contract while Roy has three years left on his contract. The Sabres success on offense falls on the core players they have paid to score, Pominville, Roy, and Vanek.
Power Play and Special Teams
When your power play goes 0 for 19 in six games, there are some serious issues that need to be addressed. Much of it goes on the shoulders of the above players, Connolly and Roy. The absence of Thomas Vanek did hurt the power play, but certain players have to step up and fill in that role. If no one is willing to get in front of the net, then the team needs to find certain players that will be willing to step up and fulfill that role
Following the jump, we take a look at whether this series can present some changes in the offseason
While the team had fairly low expectations that making the playoffs would be a decent season, winning the Northeast Division and gaining 100 points puts a different level of expectations on this team. Not making it out of the first round against a division opponent is just clearly unacceptable and some changes are going to need to be made if this team is going to build and become a Cup contender.
Let Lindy Ruff Go
While this may seem like an overreaction at this point in time, it really seems like this team needs a change in direction and that change has to start at the bench. Lindy has been apart of this team since 1997 and has had some success as Sabres head coach. During parts of this season and this series, it feels like certain players have given up on their coach. It is no coincidence that players that have come in during the last three trade deadlines have played terribly during their time as Sabres players. Steve Bernier is having success in Vancouver again after struggling to find his scoring touch and Torres will probably take off again once he leaves the Sabres.
Lindy's defensive system works for certain teams, but come playoff time it seems to stifle the offense players if they don't stick to the system. How often during the playoffs is the system going to go exactly as planned as it usually does during the regular season. While the Sabres shouldn't outright fire Lindy, they should do as the Devils have with Jacques Lemaire, let him leave on his own terms while still saving face.
This team is a few steps away from becoming a Stanley Cup winning team because they have the one piece that few teams have, a solid goaltender. The Sabres can focus on bolstering their offense during the offseason and they have some key players that can do that in Tyler Ennis and Nathan Gerbe. Both players showed signs of greatness in the playoffs and they have shown that they have promising NHL careers. While the Sabres don't usually break the bank when it comes to free agent acquisitions and really don't have the cap space to pay big bucks for a player, they have to add some more scoring threats with the $12 million of approximate cap space they do have heading into next season.