A View From the Roost: Hope is Irrational

by Ryan

It was like a bad horror movie: You knew what was coming and it wasn’t entertaining at all.

The easiest thing to do is say the Sabres are bad. That much is obvious, but to leave it at that is actually quite pointless. The Sabres are playing bad, yes, but I have a very hard time saying they are a bad team.

They are a talented team that is playing poorly, and look outstandingly unorganized right now. How many times did the Sabres run into one another last night, or horribly misuse the time and space given to them by the Bruins? The power play is the perfect example of that: The Sabres look absolutely disgusting with the man advantage.

Forget about the pair of shorthanded goals Boston netted, that doesn’t begin to explain how out of sorts the 5 on 4 (or better!) looks for Buffalo. No one seems to know what the other player is doing, it’s as simple as that. Defenseman don’t have forwards covering on the pinch. Players don’t look for rebounds on the shot wide, or simply occupy the same space at the same time.

It looks like a team has never practiced together, and as far as I can tell that isn’t the case.

(Sidenote: If Lindy Ruff is untouchable, is the assistant coach running the power play in the same boat? When does the name Brian McCutcheon start getting into the mouths of Sabres fans and the media?)

The defense is a mess. Tyler Myers has collected more pint glasses than points this season, and Craig Rivet is still a step behind. Despite the goal, Sekera looked completely lost at times and Montador was noticeable. Which is a bad thing.

What is upsetting about last night, more than anything, is the complete lack of emotion from almost anyone wearing blue. Aside from Vanek (who was the team’s best player by far) smashing his stick or the bench door, no one did much of anything last night.

Cody McCormick did his job and he’s one of the few you can say that about, but no one followed it up. For as much as the Buffalo News crew will most likely get flack for the post game, I’m sure they would have loved to write the “McCormick sparked a Sabres comeback story.” That’s the better story, but instead we have this mess.

So what is the story here? Is it the campaign to fire Lindy Ruff that will suddenly see a lot of momentum from Sabres fans? Is it trading for Jarome Iginla? What about Golisano and Quinn cleaning house? What’s going on with Tyler Myers? As much as we will talk about all of those until Friday and beyond, none of that is THE story to me.

The story is this:

I think that we have to grind this thing out together. I’m not going to make any decisions until we get (Miller) back and we get Pommer up and running and then you can ask me that question a couple of weeks from now. – Lindy Ruff

In other words, we have our answer to all of the above. It’s the same answer I came up with last week. No matter how bad things get, nothing is going to happen. Despite all the signs that something “drastic” needs to take place, Lindy Ruff is hoping time is all this team needs.

What’s scary is that time may be the only card Ruff really has left to play. The team clearly isn’t getting the message, and benching his captain has had no effect on anyone. He badly botched the goaltending situation on Wednesday and may have obliterated the confidence of another rookie netminder.

Ruff looks and sounds exhausted, and maybe he is. I’ll say it again: If there’s nothing left for him to give, what exactly are we holding on to? Despite Lindy Ruff’s sterling reputation throughout the league, anyone can see that something is terribly wrong with this team.

But again, we already know the answer to this: Lindy isn’t going anywhere. This marriage has gone through worse, and gosh darnit, we can beat this thing.

And so we wait, but I can only wonder how much time we have here. If this team can’t get out of its own way, how long do we hold out hope that things change? We’ve been told by both parents that nothing is going to happen, and I don’t think either of them are fibbing.

But this isn’t exactly a “Santa is real” kind of fib, either. This kind of truth can do some real damage, and the deeper this goes the worse it gets. Time heals flesh wounds, but it can’t fix things that are truly broken. Even the best cars rust, the best watches stop ticking and the most beautiful sand castles can asphyxiate on their own vomit.

The motto for this team for the past few years has been to “Dream and Believe,” to hope without fear of failure. No opponent’s lead is safe, and no shot is unstoppable with Ryan Miller in net. At 3-0 last night, however, no one really thought the Sabres were coming back.

After last night, no Sabres fan is sleeping soundly.

11 Comments

  1. Mike

    The time thing only works if you sort of know how to get out. It might take time to dig your way out, but you can make it. The Sabres look absolutely terrified and like they have no idea how to escape from the hole they dug themselves. Nobody looks like they trust anyone else in the locker room and I don’t blame them. There’s only so much Lindy can do, and as you said, he’s not going anywhere. With that being said, I sort of blame leadership on the team as they’re the ones that are supposed to be getting them through this spell.
    With that being said, what the hell happened to Paul Gaustad? He used to be one of my favorites because of his effort, passion and leadership. I haven’t seen it at all from him for the past two seasons now. Now he’s just a faceoff specialist. Doesn’t that make him the Sabre equivalent of Garrison Sanborn?

  2. lulu

    I admittedly don’t know the business side of the game with regard to the cap and waivers and such, but can you still send guys down to Portland as opposed to benching them? Could Vanek or Connelly or Rivet or Gaustad be sent packing to Maine for a few weeks so we can bring up some of the young guns?

    I think it may be time for the team to stay in a hotel the night before home games. I believe Lindy did that once or twice before when our road record was better than our home record.

    I also think Lindy should make the players pay to play. That is right. Each player pays $1,000 for the privilege of playing each game. Give the money to the Sabres Foundation. While the product on the ice has become a perpetual disappointment for fans, I can only only imagine how bad things must be in the locker room. SHAKE IT UP!

  3. I’ve been calling for McCutcheon to be lead in front of a firing squad for two years. We as Sabres fans didn’t know what we had in Scott Arniel until he was gone.

  4. I wrote on some blog over the summer that the Sabres had a prime opportunity to get Arniel back, but they showed no interest and watched him sign with Columbus — where he’s coaching them to a 7-4 record so far. That is, 1 point behind Detroit.

    But hell, I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that I think my mother would be doing a better job than the pair of Darcella/Lindsey right now.

  5. Mike

    This is probably totally grasping at straws but…from Vogl at Sabres Edge:
    “I’m just trying to sense where I’m at,” said Miller, who did a lot of splits and stretches. “It’s not so much stretching to try and loosen it up. It’s just like, ‘OK, where is it at?’ It’s something where I want to feel like I’m comfortable.

    “IT’S BASICALLY BEEN SINCE TRAINING CAMP. A guy falls on my knee and then you’re playing not entirely comfortable. I don’t want to do that all year. I want to get it back to where it’s feeling good.”

    It’s a small thing but could one of the reasons the Sabres are playing just so poorly is because they know that Miller hasn’t been healthy all season? I think a lot of team confidence stems from Miller. We’ve seen what they play like when he’s not back there. When Lalime has been successful, it’s been because when the team is so hot that they’ve got a ton of confidence, either that or when he’s been able to play more regularly. Could it be that they feel the pressure amplified because they know they don’t have a healthy Miller back there who would be able to necessarily bail them out? If that’s the case, it would speak volumes about their mental toughness.

  6. Salty T

    Lalime (or any backup for that matter) is successful when the rest of the team shows up. Being a backup behind Miller must be awful because the team sells you out every time you hit the ice. I’m not trying to be a Lalime apologist or anything, but he’s always been pretty good in the games I’ve seen him play – the goals the opposition gets are generally chances that he’s at a disadvantage because the guys in front of him fucked up or didn’t try very hard (for example – they gave up 41 shots his last game)…the skaters figure its a game they don’t have to give a hundred percent because they’re not expected to win anyhow.

    Look at the goals on Enroth last night – I remember two of them and another chance – a breakaway, one across the crease (or was this the washington game?) that I like to call a Sega 94 goal, and then some dude standing at the side of the net by himself getting three whacks at it.

  7. Ryan, love the article.

    And as usual, I have no idea what the connection is between your article and the pictures dispersed throughout. I don’t even know what the first two pictures are of, haha.

    Also, I really like Iginla.

  8. Ogre39666

    To those who want Lindy (or Darcy for that matter) removed:
    Who would you replace him with and what makes you think they’d even be close to as good?

  9. Jay

    Ogre,

    At what point did Lindy & Darcy become Supreme Court justices and receive lifetime appointments to their positions?

    Why is Buffalo doomed to hiring Mike Milbury 2.0 as GM if Regier were to be dismissed?

    There’s really no chance that the next coach of the Sabres is going to be anything other than another Ted Sator?

    The math right now is daunting for this team to make the top 8 by mid-April (figuring they need to win probably at least 38-40 of the remaining 69 games). It would be 3 missed playoffs in 4 years. At some point, the players AND THE MEN WHO PICKED THEM AND COACHED THEM have to be held accountable for that lack of success.

  10. Salty T

    So who’s the top prospect in the draft?

  11. This team is a mess. You are correct that it is Lindy’s ‘last card he has to play’. I also agree that this team isn’t as bad as its record. Watching other games around the league, there’s so much more fire and intensity. The Sabres have nothing in the way of intensity or emotion.

    I think the coach needs to be changed, but not because he’s bad; because the team needs something different. It’s not Lindy’s fault that Rob Niedermayer and Shaone Morrisonn aren’t playing to their potential, but it is his fault that this team is sleepwalking thru the season.

    As for Iginla, I did a bit of writing on the matter:
    http://bleedblueandgold.com/articles/should-the-sabres-trade-for-jarome-iginla