Pacific Woes for Sabres: West (Side) Coast Story and a Duck Tale too
Well, after giving it hard to the Carolina Hurricanes before hitting the tarmac at the Buffalo Niagara International Airport, you would think the Sabres, being winners in six of their last seven games prior to boarding the plane, could carry the momentum forward.
Things didn't turn out to be so.
Coming off of a 4-1 loss where the Sabres grabbed a relatively early 1-0 lead against the Ducks, Buffalo got pummeled by the slumping Kings 8-2. Where do they go from here?
Well, obviously, into San Jose. What concerns me the most at this point is that the Sabres took on the weaker teams of the Pacific in the last two games. The Ducks were merely 5-4-1 in their last ten contests, and the Kings were a measly 2-7-1.
The next game, however, will be against a stronger San Jose Sharks team that is 7-1-2 in their last ten games.
The problem? They're getting hot like they should have been in the beginning of the season, and carry some big fire power from Thornton, Cheechoo, and Marleau. Though Cheechoo and Marleau are having a slow start this season, Thornton is getting fired up, with a team leading 12 goals and 22 assists.
Ok, enough with the scare tactics. The good news is that the Sharks are playing the Phoenix Coyotes the night before they play the Sabres.
Why is this good news? The Phoenix Coyotes will, by chance, tire out the Sharks before they take on the Sabres (Please Bryzgalov, let them win, but make it tough).
It seems as though the league has a weird way of showing its difference in parity among teams. When a team loses one night, expect them to play like hell the next. That's where I find that if the Sharks win out on Friday, the Sabres will pound them on Saturday.
Desperate teams will play using desperate measures. The Sabres couldn't do that tonight against the Kings, considering they started out with the cold Thibault in net.
Will the Sabres go with Miller on Saturday? Of course they will! Do I think Thibault should be blamed solely for tonight's loss? I think he deserves 50% of the blame.
Which leads me to my big question: Do the Sabres make a trade at this point in the season to pick up a strong offensive forward? Or do they trade for a top defenseman? Or...do they not trade at all?
I think Rochester is deep enough for the pickings. Why not try out someone on the point like Mike Funk or Andrew Orpik [edit: Orpik does have a semester left in college. My assumptions were based on his family's NHL experience and size. So he is not relavent to this.]?
Why do I suggest those two in particular? Because size does seem to matter in my mind of defensive zone coverage. Punishing the man with the puck can help create offensive breakouts. You take out the offense of your opponent, let your faster forwards sweep in and take control of the defensive zone breakout, and you'll see some odd man rushes.
The Sabres need intensity on defense, folks. There's no doubt about it. Brian Campbell is doing a fine job. Jaro Spacek can do great things in the offensive zone, but when it comes to playing defensive hockey, he runs around like a headless chicken.
Until Lindy reintegrates Dimitri Kalinin and Henrik Tallinder, try out some size on defense to toughen things up. Maybe then our offensive talent can show their stuff as the defense crushes the opposition. Think about it.
Of course, many of you critics will tell me: "Lindy's system is fine. It just needs some fine tuning."
The Sabres don't have the offensive talent anymore, and our defense is crumbling at the hands of newly constructed offensive super teams. They need to reform now before it's too late.
I don't care if the Sabres are 6-4-0 in their last ten—the team is in the basement of the Northeast Division...BEHIND TORONTO!
I think Buffalo is doing a fine job of coming back from a very shaky start, but maybe they do need a little something extra. I could also be dead wrong, and perhaps Kalinin and Tallinder are the missing links.
Teppo Numminen—get well soon (faster is better). The Sabres need your leadership here, Tep. They need your skill, but mostly your leadership to push this team through adversity.
Oh, and a long distance "Welcome back!" to Scott Niedermayer. I can't believe it took you five months to figure out how to say the word "Yes" or "No." I understand it's a tough decision, but now you think coming back will save the team. I doubt that.
Temmu Selanne, if you're reading this: Congrats on the new baby! PS.: If you're short on cash because of the new kid, come back and play for the Ducks.
Now there is a guy you should be talking to. This guy is what can fix the team. Oh, and, of course, Dustin Penner.
Well, the Sabres gave the Ducks some confidence after their 4-1 win. Now let's see if Burke's team can roll.
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