Tampa Bay - March 4, 2015 - Following every Sabres game, we’ll be taking a little look at the previous night’s action with a little segment called “good, bad and ugly”. Expect a loooooooot of ugly.
Back into the loss column go the Buffalo Wild…no, the Minnesota Sabres…no, that’s not it. You know who this team is: the NHL’s first all-AHL team! Yeah, they lost again, so let’s just get into it.
Look, we’ll just get this out of the way early and state the obvious: this team wasn’t going to win many games before and they sure as hell aren’t now that they’ve traded a quarter of their lineup away. They were woefully undermanned before and the trade deadline basically insured that they are in the best possible position to tank.
Having said that, it was good to see some fight out of the Sabres. Yeah, they didn’t score a goal and yeah they’re not likely to score many going forward, but seeing them work hard and at least try was sort of nice. I guess it says everything you need to know about a team when “hey, they tried!” is a positive, but that’s where we’re at with the 2014-15 Buffalo Sabres. We all knew the plan and we’re all just hoping it doesn’t backfire in the most spectacularly Buffalo way possible.
Having gotten the moral victories out of the way, let me just say WOOF to the penalty kill. They can’t even use the excuse that half the team has been traded considering they were dead last well before the trade deadline.
I know at this point there was never really a hope considering the lack of talent and the mounting injuries, but that has been one of their biggest Achilles heels to this point. The whole “not being able to put the puck in the net” is probably a little larger of an issue, but when you’re in close games and can’t kill off penalties to save your life, that tends to become an issue.
Watching the kills, I’m not sure if it’s simply a lack of talent or a coaching issue. They appear to play something resembling a box, but it shifts into this weird 1-3 at times and I don’t think it’s intentional. One guy gets too focused on the puck and chases instead of staying his lane and limiting the options of the puck carrier. It gets a lot easier to score when defenders are vacating their positions on the ice to chase, freeing up space for the extra man to make his presence felt. And no disrespect to Anders Lindback, but when you’re on the third option in net, there’s no one to cover up for those mistakes. I hope this improves as the talent level rises, but it’s something worth noting.
I’ve been joking since October, asking “is it June yet?” and only 60% meaning that. Now, it’s practically unbearable to watch this team. They aren’t competitive, they aren’t a threat to win and the end goal discourages winning, so being happy for a win feels counterintuitive.
Obviously, I hope this all pans out the way the Sabres have been planning and they land one of the top two picks. More importantly than that, I can’t wait for June to come and go so that I can go back to actually rooting the Sabres on to victory. It’s a very weird thing when you’re openly wishing your team loses and it never stops feeling a little icky.
I keep telling myself this will all be worth it when either Connor McDavid or Jack Eichel is holding a blue and gold sweater, but until that day actually happens it just feels like this weird alternate universe where I hate my favorite team. If I wanted to do that on a regular basis, I’d go live in Philly.
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