Defending the Homefront?

by Ryan

4-2 Final from HSBC Arena tonight. It… it didn’t go very well. Some thoughts about the game while we sacrifice some oxen to the Blueline Gods:

– Nolan Pratt is not a miracle worker. Granted, he got burned badly by Zednik on his first shift. He looked very rusty throughout the game, and I think pairing Paetsch with him was not the best of ideas. After the second Florida goal Pratt was paired with Captain Finland. He ended up a -1 with 13:27 in ice and will get better in time, but with an overall defensive performance like that it’s hard to claim he looked good.

– The newest edition of The Hockey News lists the Sabres defense as the 9th best in the league. I… I tend to disagree after tonight’s performance. The forwards didn’t seem interested in back checking all night, and Sekera looked like balls again. Campbell was probably our best D tonight and he ended up a -2. That pretty much sums things up.

– It is stunning to see this team continue to regress in their own zone, and I don’t think any amount of line juggling is going to fix it. Lindy needs to figure out what pairs he wants and stick with them. The same goes for his forwards. They need to learn to play together in their own zone before they can get anywhere offensively. A lot of the chaos is caused by players out of position, and more than once there were multiple Panthers alone in front. Just awful.

– I loved the Mair/Montador fight. For one, they actually threw punches (I’m looking at you, Petey) and when they both fell they were man enough to let the other player get back up. I know during a fight you are supposed to be mortal enemies, but I liked the gamesmanship both players showed. Nothing scripted about it, but a generous enough move by both players that led to a much, much better fight. Even if it was a draw.

– Man, that crowd was saying “GOOOOSE” a lot in the third. Oh, they were booing? Fair enough then.

– Stafford can’t get anything going right now. Maybe he should pray more.

– The Roy/Vanek/Afinogenov line is responsible for three goals tonight before they were blown up. That’s a lot of payroll finishing -9 on the night.

– Zednik had two easy goals tonight. He also make Sekera look like me playing D in pickup. Therefore, I hate him.

– Goose absolutely destroyed Greg Campbell in that fight. He didn’t mess around, and put a few uppercuts in, then pulled the poor chap’s jersey over his head. In a related story, Colin Campbell has suspended Goose indefinitely, proving that Greg’s dad doesn’t have to beat up Paul’s dad to settle the argument.

-The Harry Neale Quote of the Night:

“Dumb and Dumber. That was a good one. Might describe some of the plays tonight.”

– Greg Campbell took a four minute high sticking penalty on Goose late in the third. Did anyone else imagine Colin Campbell literally looking the other way when that happened? I know it was incidental and everything, but he’s just so good at it when it’s not his son…

So what to do with this team? It’s been a frustrating first 11 games to say the least, and the booing tonight seemed pretty justified to me. We’re 1/8th through the season and sitting in the basement of the Eastern Conference. Teams like Ottawa and Montreal aren’t waiting around for us to catch up.

The next nine games are going to say a lot about this team, and I think after this stretch I will be able to adjust my expectations of the team. If this group don’t step up during we are losing four points a game. At this point we can’t afford to fall further behind.

To me, Monday can’t come soon enough. You can tell from the postgame interviews the players know what is ahead, and I want to see what they are made of.