The Buffalo Sabres beat Ottawa for the first game of the season, a positive sign for a team struggling to improve on a Northeast Division Championship, and a speedy exit from the playoffs at the hand of the Boston Bruins.
The win against Ottawa was a positive sign for the Buffalo Sabres, because it came against a team that they had failed to defeat during almost every meeting since the NHL resumed play after the lockout. Since that win, the Buffalo Sabres have only earned one point, thanks to the stellar play of Ryan Miller against the New Jersey Devils, shutting them out until Ilya Kovalchuck ended the game in overtime. That was a Devils team that was playing with a short bench due to injuries and the inability to call up replacement players because of salary cap issues.
The streak started against the New York Rangers, and it only went from bad, to worse, to ugly real quick. Saturday night against the Chicago Blackhawks was the first time the team actually looked like it wanted to play for a win since the first game of the season.
There is no room to panic just yet, every team slumps at least during one point of the season, and if the Sabres are going to get their slump out in October, then it means smooth sailing the rest of the way. Whats the major problem with a slump at the beginning of the season though? Several things.
1 – Nothing to compare it too. At this point in the season, there are no good stretches to compare it against. It looks as if the Sabres are going to be hopeless, and will end up looking more like the Florida Panthers or New York Islanders all season.
2. Belief in the “core”. So far the only thing that has been good about the core of the Buffalo Sabres has been Derek Roy – current lead league leader in goals (along with Clarke MacArthur). The rest of the team, except for small glimpses, has been relatively, well flat. It almost appears that most of the forwards have come down with a case of the Tim Connolly, and for that we all know there is no cure for.
Lets not slam the panic button down just yet, but if things can’t get figured out soon, you might want to keep it close.