It’s been a terrible 2012-2013 season, Buffalo Sabres fans, but at least there’s next year! Check back in with us as we cover the off-season, the NHL draft, and . . .
. . . wait – the season isn’t over yet? Are you serious? Hmmm. Let me check the calendar – yep, February 6th. Well I’ll be damned – the season is still going! In fact, we’ve only played ten games, not even 25%!
I guess I’m just confused, then, because everywhere I turn this morning, I’m bombarded with negativity and end-of-the-world doom and gloom pertaining to the Buffalo Sabres. Over at Die By The Blade, for example, there’s not much joy to be found. Some fans are already envisioning the demolition of the team; others are calling for Lindy Ruff, Darcy Regier, or both to be relieved of their responsibilities; some are even counting down the days to MLB’s spring training camps, which is weird since, you know, there’s no MLB team in Buffalo. Many fans are complaining about the goaltending; others, the defense; some, the offense; some fans, all three.
And we’ve played ten games so far.
Look: I get it. Fans are passionate. Fans pay an awful lot of money for their season tickets, concession stand goodies, NHL Center Ice or Gamecenter packages, the jerseys they wear to the games, the glasses they drink out of at home – got it! As fans, we invest a lot of time and emotion into cheering for a team of athletes we all wish we were like, wanting them to win so badly we often let losing ruin our day, for reasons even we cannot understand. Being a fan is a lot of lows mixed in with some amazing highs, and none of us like to see a team lose, and lose often, so I completely understand why Buffalo Sabres fans are agitated today.
I’m guilty of dwelling on the negative sometimes, as well. I’ve called for Tyler Myers and Jordan Leopold to be benched. I’ve wrung my hands over which players (other than Thomas Vanek, Jason Pominville, and Cody Hodgson) are going to start earning their paychecks and score some goals. I’ve argued why this Sabres team is never going to win without a true playmaking center, and I’ve lobbied hard for upper management to consider going after someone like Ryan O’Reilly who is currently stuck in the KHL, a victim of the Colorado Avalanche’s stingy ways. The Sabres have not given me an awful lot of positives to write about, and I have been pretty tough when it comes to describing what I see happening on the ice.
But please – let’s have some perspective.
As I wrote prior to the beginning of this shortened season, the ’94 New Jersey Devils won a Stanley Cup despite the fact that they didn’t have a .500 record until they had played a full month – 15 games . I may be in favor of going out and trading for an elite-caliber player at the center position, but I’m not calling for a complete overhauling of the current roster. I haven’t loved what Tyler Myers has given the team so far (last night being a nice change of pace), but I’m only asking that he be benched, not traded. And I have never asked that Lindy Ruff be fired, although I imagine the Sabres organization is watching this season unfold and will consider making some pretty big changes if the team cannot salvage the season.In short, I’m fully aware that the Sabres are struggling, but I’m able to wait a bit longer than ten games to throw in the towel and declare the season a bust.
Even after last night’s loss, there are some reasons to think the Sabres are close to figuring this lockout-shortened season out. The line of Vanek-Pominville-Hodgson did produce one goal, but for most of the night the offense was coming from other lines, which is what we have been expecting. Defensemen Leopold and Myers both had their best games of the season – they may yet remember how to play this game! And the goaltending . . . uh . . . well, at least Jhonas Enroth didn’t give up five goals! Yeah, I’m disappointed with this area, too.
It’s hard to find the positives in a three-game losing streak; it’s hard to see anything good in a team that has lost seven out of its last eight games. We’re all praying for a miracle but dreading more of the same, but the season is young, and anything can happen. Let’s hold off on the “The sky is falling!” chatter until the season is half-way done.
If things aren’t better by then, I call dibs on the panic button.