Alchemy

by Corey

courtesy AP

A refreshing breeze of abject failure after a hope inducing spurt of production from your local hockey team. Such is the breaks. Does a two game skid on the road spell doom for our heroes? Not necessarily. There is plenty of time left in the season should the team decide to completely change the content of their character. I, however, will not be holding my breath.

Look, I ain’t looking to bring no party pooper skills to the ball, ya’ll (as the kids say.) This is a situation where I attempt to gauge the likely success of a team based on their previous and current performance. It’s not unheard of. We do this all the time. We deploy our trustworthy tools of common sense, inference, observation, and deduction to predict future events. In this circumstance we are using these tools to figure out what is going on with the Buffalo Sabres.

Yeah, yeah, I know. “Not much! HEYO! Wakka Wakka! Tip your waitress!” No, really, what is their deal?

Currently they statistically suck. 11th place in the Eastern conference, eight points back of 8th place with the team holding that spot (the Bruins) having two games in hand on the Sabres. Potentially twelve points back, then. Meanwhile the Islanders are in dead last with 18 points, but they have three games in hand on the Sabres. Should the Islanders win those games, the Sabres would be closer to the basement than to the eight spot. I’m trying to use numbers to justify their badness. I don’t think I have to. I watch them, they are bad. The mythical “eyeball” test in use.

33 games in you think we would have a pretty good understanding of the shape of the team. I think we do. They are bad. This is open to change, naturally. Eight different players could hit hot streaks all at the same time. They could trade for someone, or make roster moves to attempt to fix what ails them. With each passing game the options begin to slide from their grip. Opportunities are lost. Disappointment sets in. We start talking about next year.

I’m growing tired of the wait and see crowd, the folks who make the case for the trickiest of shots and take affront to any attempt to point out it’s improbability. I’m a big fan of reason. “They can do this! If they win 66 percent of their games here on out, they’ll be fine. They have good players!” This is it folks. These are the teams they needed to beat to make up ground, Florida and Tampa Bay. Instead they get their asses handed to them. It is time for me to believe what I see, what I have observed, and what I can deduce from previous experience. It is not a time for me to believe what I want and hope to be true. A little more science, a little less alchemy. Hope is perfectly fine in sports. It is an emotional affair after all. There does come a point where you have to shut down the part of your brain that allows us to walk upright to keep believing in failure. This has been pointed out before.

The Sabres will have a chance to make the playoffs until they are mathematically eliminated. They can still totally make the playoffs. I still don’t think they will be any good should they make it. How odd is it that they made the playoffs as a division winner and got trounced last year, and could make the playoffs in inverse circumstances with probably the same fate awaiting them. Awesome. Who knows, maybe they make the playoffs and your goalie gets hot and you win every game 1-0. Maybe. Maybe I can turn this lump of lead into gold if I get it hot enough.

And we wonder why the building isn’t loud.

Wanna rock the twits? Bring it. CoreyGriswold on Twitter
Wanna hang out on Facebook? I don’t even know you.
Wanna send me some correspo’? Email me your static.

3 Comments

  1. Mike

    I just can’t agree. I don’t think they’re a bad team. I don’t think they’re a good team, either. They are an inconsistent, fragile team that happens to be currently playing poorly. Does that make the Sabres bad? In order to answer that question, I think you can look at the team across the ice in the last game. Were they a bad team last year? I think the conventional answer would be “yes.” But that team has a lot of the so called “core” that won the Cup. Were they a bad team when they won the cup? Obviously not. What changed from then? What changed from last year? The Sabres can find a lot of their own answers by looking at the Lightning, in my opinion.
    But more than that, I don’t really see how this post really adds anything from your last one.

  2. Just found this site today and I am digging it. As for this post, you hit the nail right on the head. The thing is they were the same team last year but they got the performance of a lifetime from Miller. That’s not to say he’s not one of the top 2 or 3 goaltenders in the league, he is just not playing out of his mind night in and night out to carry this bunch of sad underachievers to a division title, and not much else. Last year was an anomaly based on incredible goaltending.

  3. Jay

    “They are an inconsistent, fragile team…”

    …and they have been for close to 3 1/2 years now. Yet, we keep getting the same ol’ story out of HSBC Arena about the playoffs and how it’s about winning the Cup. Sorry, the sample size is plenty big enough for the main group of players here and the results are in — they are not good enough.

    Tough to make moves in-season in a salary cap league? I have no doubt. Means more shoulda been done over the summer to improve. We know how that goes around these parts. ANY other franchise (save the Predators) would’ve done something big over the last 42 months – new coach, new GM, big trade, some combination of the aforementioned. Not just continuously selling “You’re gonna love the kids comin’ up from the farm!” Yet………nothing. Steady as she goes.

    It shouldn’t take a lack of ticket sales for something to happen down there, it really shouldn’t. Booing them off the ice hasn’t had any lasting effect. Sitting on our hands, likewise. The standings appear unable to provide enough incentive to bother showing up in Sunrise, Florida last Friday. Aside from hoping that rumored new ownership provides a much-needed heart transplant to this operation, what else is left to affect change?