Tuesday, November 16, 2010
Good Things Come To Those Who Wait
A little under two weeks ago, it was a Friday Night in Western New York and the hated Montreal Canadiens rolled into town, riding high along with the strong play of goaltender Carey Price. And after it was all said and done, the Sabres fell short 3-2, as the immortal Patrick Lalime (in Darcy Regier's eyes anyway) lost to fall to 0-3 on the season and 9-24-5 during his illustrious tenure as the backup goalie for the Buffalo Sabres (and I do stress the word backup).
Ok everyone, it is time to be to stop with the sarcasm and get serious around here! After this latest defeat, the defending Northeast Division leading Sabres dropped to a miserable 3-9-2, Ryan Miller was still on the shelf, and the Sabres offense went out like the lights at the new and improved Meadowlands. So talk of the NHL Draft already, I mean seriously? First off the Buffalo Bills have us thinking about the #1 overall pick with their miserable play, and a lot of us Buffalo fans had to figure the Sabres can save the winter for us right?
It sure did not seem that way. Was it time to dismiss GM Darcy Regier? Is it time to fire Lindy Ruff, the Sabres coach since 1998 and a well respected coach around the NHL? Has his message fallen on deaf ears? Do the Sabres need a new voice? Or will the Sabres ever rid of the real problem in Larry Quinn (now THAT is dreaming, let's stay with reality, shall we?) Is Tyler Myers crashing down to reality, as his minus was getting as high as some of Tiger Woods's best scores of his career (and I mean golf, not OFF the golf course)
It is definitely possible that many Sabres fans and NHL fans alike were thinking some of the same thoughts, and I for one must admit the thinking that it is time to remove Ruff, right or wrong. But this is exactly why I am not a NHL GM, or a NHL Coach, or a NHL Executive (thankfully for the Sabres, otherwise I would have traded Miller years ago)
As the Sabres took their 3-9-2 record up the QEW to Toronto, it appeared to me initially that this game was the last stand: If they cannot beat the hapless Maple Leafs, that is it, season done, fire Regier and Ruff, and get ready for 2011-2012. But the Sabres had other plans, and won in Toronto. Then onto New Jersey for a shootout win either because of the jedi mind trick by Jhonas Enroth or the Ilya Kovalchuk epic fail: You decide. Then a OTL against the NY Rangers at MSG, which to me was a 'good point' earned if you will.
Then from this vantage point, the season started to show some real hope with a gutty 3-2 overtime win against the high powered Washington Capitals, as Tomas Vanek scored a dazzling game winner providing jubilation and frustration all at the same time because you know Vanek has all the tools to be an elite scorer in this league, but decides to display that every 10-14 days at best.
Then last night, another high scoring team came to town in the form of the Vancouver Canucks, and the Sabres were off to the right start with a 3-1 lead and one is thinking 'This team is back!" But of course, we know Buffalo teams never make anything easy, as a lackluster 3rd period ensued. The Canucks lit the lamp twice in the 3rd, and controlled the period to tie the game at 3-3 and then those happy thoughts once again turned to thoughts of misery.
But alas, Tyler Myers continued his strong play as of late with an OT winner and the Sabres prevailed 4-3.
So here we are: The Sabres sit at 7-9-3 with 17 points. This past week was a huge surge for this team, you never want to fall into the abyss so early in the season. Now the key is until we carve the turkeys on Thanksgiving is for the Sabres to stay consistent, rack up some points, and get to .500.
And you have to give credit here where credit is due: Avoiding any knee jerk reactions and removing Ruff could have proved disastrous for this season and beyond. When you think about Ruff and Regier, it is truly a glass half full or empty proposition: a few dazzling seasons with a Stanley Cup appearance with four trips to the Eastern Conference Finals, but also consider this team has missed the NHL Playoffs 5 times in 8 seasons.
What should the Sabres do with Ruff and Regier? Well as long as fans like me are not the GM, just wait and see.
While the Sabres can rest a little easier with the current surge, given the fact that the Washington Capitals, Los Angeles Kings, and the Tampa Bay Lightning are all on the schedule this week, Ruff and Co better not get too comfortable.
Why exactly was Jhonas Enroth sent back to Portland? Oh yeah that's right, 2-1-1 records as a backup goaltender cannot be tolerated around these parts.
Up to this point, Regier must be given credit for the signing of Jordon Leopold. While he is not spectacular, he has fit the Sabres well with 13 points in his first 19 games, and a solid +4. Let's just hope Leopold can avoid injuries that has plagued him at certain points in his career.