“I just stuck around because I wanted to say what a piece of [feces] I think Lucic is. Fifty pounds on me, and he runs me like that? It’s unbelievable. Everyone in this city see him as a big, tough, solid player. I respected him for how hard he plays. That was gutless. Gutless. Piece of [feces].” -Ryan Miller
This was in response to the steamrolling Boston Bruins winger Milan Lucic gave Miller in the first period of the Buffalo Sabres embarrassing 6-2 loss to Boston Saturday evening.
You know what else was gutless, Ryan? The response your team gave after you got knocked into sillyland.
Milan Lucic should have been looking for his missing teeth after running into Miller, but instead had to laugh to himself at the mere annoyance of a few, half-assed Andrej Sekera pokes. And where was Paul Gaustad on the play?
“Well, he was on the ice.” -Sabres head coach Lindy Ruff
Apparently, he left his stones on the bench, isn’t that right, Lindy?
Good Lord, this game had 2010 playoffs written all over it by the middle of the first period, and that ain’t a good thing.
I thought we were past this. I thought the Sabres had grown to become a tougher team, that they weren’t going to be pushed around by the “big, bad” Bruins, or anyone for that matter, anymore. We were supposed to have learned from being embarrassed by a bigger, stronger, more determined team in 2010.
Well, statistically, we have gotten bigger and stronger since that playoff loss to Boston.
Since 2010, the team has added 6’3″, 215 lb. Cody McCormick full time, as an enforcer of sorts. He was plain invisible on Saturday night. 6’3″, 225 lb. Robyn Regehr was brought in this past June to give the defense some spine. He looked like he wanted no part of anyone wearing a spoked “B”, save for a few slashes or crosschecks he heartlessly doled out. And, yes Lindy, where was Paul Gaustad?
Patrick Kaleta and 5’5″ Nathan Gerbe were the only ones who showed up Saturday night.
Or how about Tyler Myers, our 6’8″, 230 lb. defenseman? Right. He was too busy giving the puck away, to worry about throwing his weight around in an increasingly SCRAPPY, EDGY, PHYSICAL GAME! It won’t happen, because I have yet to see him even really benched, but Mr. Myers needs a night or two in the press box. His play thus far this season, with all of the giveaways, fumbled pucks, terrible passes, bad reads and utter lack of physicality has been plain atrocious. The standard by which he has set, and by what we, as fans, expect, has instead been met with a 3rd-year player who looks, quite frankly, lost on the ice. Instead of playing on instinct, he seems to be over-thinking the game. Myers was at his best when he would use his ridiculous wingspan, fantastic wheels, and enormous shot and just GO. How many times last season did we see Myers streaking up the right wing like an oversized Guy Lafleur, and just let his cannon loose? My God, he has got to be a terrifying site for opposing defenders as he’s roaring up the ice towards them at top speed.
I’ve counted on one finger the amount of times I’ve seen him do that this year.
The coaching staff has got to get the defense straightened out, and fast. On any given night, there are at least two or three defensemen who look like they’re playing the position for the first time. We’ve dealt with Myers above. Christian Ehrhoff has been a disappointment thus far. He hasn’t been the power-play stud that was advertised the last three plus seasons, and he has his Richard Smehlik moments in his own end pretty much on a nightly basis. Jordan Leopold has given us timely flashes of offense, but he too can get running around his own zone. Andrej Sekera started the year as Buffalo’s most consistent rearguard, leading the team in plus/minus for much of the first month. Since he has been paired with Myers, these two guys might as well be Laverne and Shirley. Regehr has been the most physical, laying out the big hit night after night and, like the veteran he is, hasn’t made too many obvious mistakes. M-A Gragnani is still technically a rookie, so he earns a free pass here. He hasn’t done anything too glaring either, to earn my wrath just yet.
Regarding the defense, though, the question I ask is this: Has this defense, with all of it’s talent, done so much that Mike Weber can’t get a sniff of more than one measly game? They look confused, clumsy, soft (except Regehr), their subpar passing hinders their breakouts, and they give the puck away with obscene regularity. All of this, and more, happened in spades Saturday in Boston. Yet, Weber continues to hand out stat sheets in the press box.
What troubled me the most about Saturday night’s beatdown, however, was this. Milan Lucic was asked by a member of the Boston media how the Bruins might have reacted had the shoe been on the other foot, and Bruins goalie Tim Thomas had been run instead.
“We wouldn’t accept anything like that. We would have taken care of business. But we’re a different team than they are.”
Read the second part of that statement again. How does that make you feel about your hockey team? I know how it makes me feel, and it isn’t all sunshine and sugar cookies, I’ll tell you that.
Milan Lucic basically called out the Buffalo Sabres skaters for not coming to the aid of their injured (Miller has an upper body injury) and prone goaltender. This was a test, Blue and Gold, and you failed miserably. This was an early November playoff game, and Buffalo should expect to get swept in round one, by whomever, if this is the type of sloppy, heartless play they choose to display. Playing scared is something I haven’t seen this team do regularly this season until last night, but this cannot become a habit against a supposed bigger, stronger team. What they have given us consistently, though, is flat out poor play defensively, even in games they manage to win.
Unbelievably, the Sabres are 10-6 on the season, yet this hockey team has issues that do not seem to be going away. The defensive lapses have been going on all year, and now we have a lack of heart to deal with?!? I thought we sent that problem north to Toronto. Am I overreacting? Some of you may call me on that but, at this point, I couldn’t care less. This is what $64 million gets you? Yikes. Last night was a pinpoint execution in humiliation and shame, and the rest of the league has been put on notice (mine isn’t the only article written regarding that display we had to endure on Saturday) that there is one sure way to beat the Buffalo Sabres. There has got to be a gut check right now. Either that, or there has to be a few changes to this hockey club. We are almost a quarter of the way into the season, and the “but it’s still early” excuse is quickly heading out the door.
The Sabres need to go back to class, and all get on the same page before this spirals out of control. Because there are only so many bullets you can dodge before one finds it’s mark.
I hope last night wasn’t a kill shot.
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Tags: Andrej Sekera Boston Bruins Buffalo Sabres Christiian Ehrhoff Guy Lafleur Jordan Leopold Lindy Ruff Ma Gragnani Mike Weber Milan Lucic Nathan Gerbe Patrick Kaleta Paul Gaustad Robyn Regehr Ryan Miller Injury Tim Thomas Tyler Myers