Why the Buffalo Sabres are Horrible
The panic button has been pressed and it’s time to admit the Sabres are a bad hockey team. It may still early in the season but it’s clear that this team needs some dramatic changes and key players to step it up in order to right this ship. Here, in my mind, are the top 5 issues this team faces.
Coaching – I’ve never been on the fire Lindy bandwagon. Not last season after the disappointing playoff loss or the seasons before after being playoff no-shows. That was until last week. The number one problem with this team is lack of motivation. It’s not solely the coaches job to get a team to put in 100% every game but they’re a big part of it. Coaches in the NHL aren’t exactly teaching players how to skate. They’re more motivators than teachers, trying to get their team to work together as one and play at their best. Whether it’s through game plans or in between period shout-fests, the coach has to get their team ready to play at its highest level. It’s clear that Lindy has lost this ability.
Not only will a new coach bring in a new viewpoint but the firing of a coach, who currently has 999 games under his belt for the Sabres, might be the wake-up call this team needs. Proof that ownership and management is tired of the same story season after season and they’re ready to do something about it. Lindy is too comfortable. If he’s not fearful of losing his job (which I don’t think his is) Darcy should at least be in his office reminding him there are plenty of other people willing to coach an NHL team.
On Ice Leadership – When a team benches their captain you know they have leadership issues. Rivet came into Buffalo and was immediately assigned the C. I was a bit skeptical at first but after thinking it through it was a young team and he was one of the few who had the experience required for the job. Essentially he became the captain because no one else had the requirements.
Since then I haven’t thought much about it. Rivet’s worn the C and that was it. Thinking back though that’s not really a good thing. We never saw him step up in a moment of need and give the team that extra push they needed. The only mention of him as a captain was the occasional practice after a rough game where he would call a players only meeting to try to regroup them. A captain should be at the forefront of this team and remind us every game why he’s wearing that letter. You’re not a captain if you’re blending in with the rest of the team, that was Rivet’s problem.
His benching was an obvious sign this team is leaderless. The C on Rivet’s chest has a limited lease at this point and where it’ll end up is anyone’s guess and a-whole-nother topic of discussion. The only question left in this saga is will he get another chance and step it up when he does. He’s been in the league for a long time and this could be the beginning of the end for him. I’m sure this isn’t how he wanted to go out.
Ryan Miller – If you told me a year ago I’d be writing a list of problems the Sabres had and Ryan Miller was on it, I’d probably have done my best to find a new team to root for this year. Miller has been a pillar of this team for years. He’s been our superstar and the one to dig us out of holes on a regular basis.
This season that isn’t the case. Call it a Vezina hangover or whatever you’d like but Miller is no longer that superstar goalie. I hate to admit it but Lalime looks just as good as Miller this year and that’s not saying Lalime has improved. Miller is 29th in sv% and 20th in GAA. Last year he finished the season second place in both categories. Take out the couple good games he’s had and it gets ugly.
Miller needs to step it up in order to give this team a chance. If not the Sabres need to start scoring goals which, judging from previous seasons, is easier said than done.
Tyler Myers – Keeping with the topic of players having horrible years add Myers to that list. Sophomore slump doesn’t begin to describe the issues he’s having. He constantly makes mistakes and big ones at that, there have been multiple (3 I can think of off the top of my head) that have led directly to goals for the opposing team. His -10 rating shows this and his 3 goals are easily canceled out by his mistakes.
The blue line lost 2 key players this off-season and we all justified that because of Myers, knowing he’ll fill their shoes. If we knew he’d be -10 12 games into the season we would have been panicking at the loss of Lydman and Tallinder. Leopold has been the only saving grace on defense this year, save Sekera who has stepped up his game slightly.
Penalty Kill – Not only have the Sabres been taking stupid penalties lately but they’ve been allowing those penalties to turn into goals against. The Sabres are 74.5% against the power play, good enough for only 27th in the league. In their last 3 games alone they’ve given up 7 power play goals. That’s 50% of the total goals against coming on the penalty kill.
I’m fine with the team taking stupid penalties as long as they can prevent the team from scoring in those 2 shorthanded minutes. However they don’t have the penalty kill to be able to do that. It’s either step up the PK or stop taking the penalties, I think the latter is the easiest.
So there you have it. My top 5 reasons the Sabres are a horrible hockey team. This team has talent, there’s no doubt about that. They have Calder and Vezina trophy winners on their team. They have a new guy who is getting votes for the Calder this year. They had a guy who at the start of the season at least was leading the league in goals. They have a goalie who almost lead the underdog US to a gold medal in last years olympics. They have the skill. It’s just getting that talent to show up every night that’s the issue. It’s getting the few guys having a bad year to snap out of it.
If all that happens soon we’ll be fine. If not we’re in for a long season.