Ottawa - March 9, 2015 - Following every Sabres game, we’ll be taking a little look at the previous night’s action with a little segment called “good, bad and ugly”. Expect a loooooooot of ugly.
This is the weekend edition, covering back-to-back losses to the Ottawa Senators and Washington Capitals. Let’s get into the gory details, shall we?
This team likes to get out of the gates strong, so hopefully they can build on that going forward when they have a team with actual NHLers. Friday night in Ottawa, they got off to a two-goal first period lead and opened the scoring Saturday night in Washington as well. When a team is as bad as this one, you take the small victories. Fast starts are a nice, small victory.
This next statement really only covers Friday, but stick with me: it is weird having to be in a position where you root for your favorite team to lose. I sincerely can’t wait for June to come and go so I can go back to hoping they win. Having said that, it’s nice when they actually compete yet still drop games in regulation. Friday night, it was still a game even into the waning moments and goaltender Andrew Hammond had to be pretty good for the Senators to steal the win. Saturday was the opposite side of that coin. The Sabres put together an awful team in hopes of landing one of those top two picks and this is generally the outcome of trading any of the warm bodies.
Man, this team hates leads.
It took them until the third period Friday night to blow their two-goal advantage, but they wasted just 2:40 on Saturday before surrendering the lead to Washington. I know that this is a talent issue and they reasonably can’t hope to even compete let alone actually hold leads and win games, but it remains a somewhat aggravating thing to see them start so strong and then fall off a cliff.
Speaking of falling off a cliff, the penalty kill continues to be a huge issue. They managed to not surrender a goal on Friday, killing off all three changes, then turned right around and surrendered a pair of power play goals in three opportunities to the Capitals. I know, way different teams when on the man-advantage, but the Sabres have been last in the league in penalty killing for a while now and it’s not hard to figure out why. The good news to all of this is that we’ve identified two huge reasons why they’re sporting the NHL’s worst record. Now they just have to, you know, fix it.
I cannot stress at this point how hard it is to watch this team and care right now. That’s not to say I’m souring on the franchise – I fully signed up for the tank and should the team land one of the top two picks, it will have been worth it – but it is incredibly difficult to watch this team and not have three other things going on.
My wife and I saw them live in Columbus a couple of weeks ago thanks to a Christmas gift from my folks. We ate dinner and showed up by the end of the first period. Normally, I’d be furious with that. I hate missing even a second of the game or being late for the opening faceoff. But in that situation? Hey, let’s go hit up the team shop, too. Not like we’re missing anything.
I miss this this being competitive and as much as June represents for the future of the franchise, it also represents a beginning to being competitive once again. And competitive hockey has been sorely lacking in Buffalo for a long time now.
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