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Buffalo Sabres Fighting for Last Playoff Spot or Are They?

Mike BurnsContributor IMarch 19, 2009

March madness is in the air, the trees begin to blossom, and the birds are heading north for the spring.  But what I love most about this time of year is National Hockey League Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Sadly, unless the Buffalo Sabres become an entirely different team in the next fourteen games they will be looking for channels to watch the games like me. 

The players have quit on the coach. They have been one of the best first period teams in the league all year, but they forget after 20 minutes that there is 40 more minutes left to play.

The perfect opportunity to save the season and shake up the players would be a coaching change.  Lindy Ruff's message to his players has been lost.  This is a group that for the most part has been together for several seasons, which by itself in today's NHL will create mediocrity. 

Yes Lindy Ruff has been the longest tenured coach in the league and has taken this team to the conference finals three times and the Stanley Cup finals once, but he has also missed the playoffs in four of the last six seasons with that number getting ready to grow to five out of seven seasons.

Injuries to Ryan Miller and Thomas Vanek have affected this team, but Vanek is back and the poor play has continued in the later parts of the games.  Lalime has played very well as Miller's replacement posting a .919 save percentage (which was the same as what Miller had at the time of his injury).

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Tim Connolly has dropped off the map since he signed his contract extension and Jason Pominville's name has been barely seen on the post game stat sheet.

This team has run out of desire to win and seems very tired by the time the third period begins.  General Manager Darcy Rieger and Managing Partner Larry Quinn did almost nothing at the trade deadline.  They traded underachieving Alex Kotalik for a draft pick.  Kotalik only seemed to show up to play during the shoot out.  They acquired Dominic Moore from Toronto and he has done well on the penalty kill, but has accomplished very little beyond that.

While other teams built for a long playoff run or built for the future, Buffalo did very little this year and that message has shown in the players desire to play 60 minutes of hockey. 

A coaching change would be perfect with 14 games left and the Sabres only 3 points out of contention.  Michel Therrien would be perfect for the job.  Therrien has been to the Cup finals with a good Penguins team, but the Penguins were short on depth.  A little motivation is all the Sabres need. They have enough players on the roster that know once in the playoffs it is not the team with the most talent, but the team that works the hardest that in most cases moves on past the first round.

A man most people had never heard of two years ago is now the leader of the greatest country on earth because he spoke of change.

"Change, change will do you good" - Sheryl Crow

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