The Buffalo Sabres have a bad reputation in the National Hockey League. They are soft. Teams have taken advantage of it in the past.
Last night, the Rangers used it in order to disable the Sabres backbone, and probably the one player they could have ridden into the playoffs.
There is no doubt in my mind that Scott Gomez was attempting to play the puck legitimately, and merely collided with Miller. Regardless though, not one Blue shirt was readily present to try and rough Gomez up. Not only that, but the Sabres showed little anger in the situation what so ever that their number one netminder was just sidelined with a major injury for a goaltender.
After the game, Ruff was visibly upset over the incident, even going as far as calling the hit deliberate in his mind; but was glad his team did not retaliate, going after either Gomez or even Lundqvist. Ruff considered the race for the playoffs more important than standing up for a teammate.
Jerry Sullivan of the Buffalo News disagreed with Ruff:
In hockey, some things are bigger than the score, or getting two points in a playoff race. Sometimes a team needs to stand up and tell the world that enough is enough, and that they will not allow anyone to take liberties with their goaltender.
This isn’t the first time that Chris Drury and the Rangers have tested the Sabres manhood, as Chris Drury called out the Sabres lack of physical courage after losing out in the playoffs before his departure.
The Sabres playoff hopes now rest with Patrick Lalime, another decent goaltender who has fallen to the curse of the Buffalo Backup. Mabe now with some guaranteed playing time, he may be able to get into shape to help the Sabres maintain some footing in the Eastern Conference.
If the Sabres want to succeed though, they need to show anger in their game, and not just the kind of anger that embarassment brings (after the Washington loss) but the kind of anger that is inspired when someone injures your star player.