One point but not enough

Remember 2003-04? The last season the Sabres tried this rotating captaincy thing? The Sabres just missed the playoffs and it wouldn’t be until after the lockout when everything came together. You all know the rest of the story.

Tonight the Sabres stole a point, sure. They probably should have walked out of Carolina down five points to Philadelphia for that last place spot. Instead they’re down four points with 13 games left to play.

Eighteen points should put them in a very good place. The playoffs.

Monday against the Rangers, Wednesday at Pittsburgh, Friday against Carolina, Saturday against the Leafs. Three of those four games should be very winnable, but we never know what team is going to show up every night.

Will it be team that looks like it cares (Nashville game) or the team that coasts through 48 minutes and hopes they can do enough in the other 12 to take two points (Washington last Wednesday)? We just don’t know.

They’ve been a streaky team all year, winning four losing three, winning eight, losing 12…on and on and on. The 2007-08 Sabres have been inconsistent and mediocre. That’s why they’re going to be fighting for their lives to earn that eighth seed.

Fighting for their lives. Bold statement. It’s what we all want to see from them, but do we even know they’re capable of doing that? We’re almost 70 games into the season and all we know is that we don’t know what we’re going to get from this team night in and night out.

Just looking at tonight’s game, the defense was atrocious and, for the most part, the offense wasn’t much better. Dmitri Kalinin has been mostly an embarrassment. He’s supposed to be able to step up and be a top four defender and he hasn’t been able to do that. When Brian Campbell was traded and no one else was brought in, you could look at that as a message from the front office to Kalinin to step up and play for a contract. He’s failed miserably at that and the whole team is suffering from that backfire. Nathan Paetsch hasn’t been much better and with Tallinder out and both of those guys in the lineup, you’re going to see this team give up three, four goals a game.

I liked Afinogenov’s game a lot tonight. Personally, I’m not the biggest supporter of Max but he’s been one of the Sabres best players in the last three games. It’s only a matter of time before he slips into “Old Max” and starts putting his teammates offsides again, so enjoy this stretch while it lasts.

Having Hecht back in the line up helped too. He played a strong game tonight which can’t be said for many of his teammates. He played a huge part in Lydman’s goal, winning the faceoff and being a presence in front of the net, where it’s usually Vanek causing a disturbance.

And speaking of Vanek, where was he? Tonight was one of the few games during this latest stretch where he was noticeably invisible. Not a good sign for Atlas if he wants to live up to that promise.

Four points out with no games in hand. Which Sabres will show up on Monday?