Quest for .500. Again.

by Ryan

So the Sabres play tonight against the Islanders.

No word on whether Mrs. Mike Comrie will grace us with her presence. Heck, we don’t even know what Sabres team will be in the building tonight.

We haven’t played the Isles since the home and home series that opened the series. Since that time we have gone 13-12-1. Hey, at least we’re .500 in that statistic.

Honestly, I’m not sure what there is to say about this game. If the Sabres put forth a good effort it shouldn’t be a problem. Then again, we put forth a pretty good effort offensively on Monday and there was a problem.

Looking back on the season, I keep coming back to that Isles game on opening night. The Sabres came out absolutely flying, obviously emotional from the ceremonies held before the game and the amazing energy from the crowd.

Both the team and the fans seemed to understand the moment perfectly: all this is nice, but there is a larger goal to be had. No one touched that trophy at center ice, and no one in that crowd was satisfied with some regular season success. That “Let’s Go Buff-a-lo” chant was probably the loudest I’ve ever heard, and the one that had the most purpose since the Aud closed so long ago.

Then the game started, and that feeling continued.

Less then three minutes in, Jaro crushes a slap shot just after a power play ends. It was just like old times. That first period was run and gun, flying up and down the ice, just like so many games we’ve seen last year.

But as that first period ended with the score 3-3, there was a sense of defeat in the air. Perhaps the players realized it might not work like it used to, or the fans were too concerned with our play in the defensive end. Whatever the case, I think a lot of people realized at that moment that this isn’t the same team we had last year.

Since then it’s been more of the same. Lax defensive play, people questioning “the system” in place, and suspect effort and consistency. We just don’t seem to win those close games anymore. Whether it is that our staggering amount of luck just isn’t there, or that expectations are too high for a team that’s just too young. Who really knows what the summer did to this team?

For me, it doesn’t matter. I don’t need a fantastic team in front of me to get excited about. I don’t need to blow teams out. Since July 1st I have known this team just isn’t going to be the same and have accepted that. When your front office tells you the Sabres will be “less competitive” this year you better believe them.

The truth is, I want to win games. I don’t care how, I don’t care through what means, and I certainly don’t care if it’s pretty or not. My generation has seen more ugly hockey in the past then you can imagine, and out of all those games, the wins still mean the same.

If it takes Goose running a a goaltender. If it means Max takes a hit to make a pass. If it takes Roy or Pomminville actually making contact with an opposing player. So be it.

Win hockey games. And start tonight.