Put up or shut up.
It’s such a beautifully succinct phrase, those five words you see above. Plenty of people, athletes included, have a lot to say when it comes to their own abilities, their own expectations, and their predictions for the not-so-distant future. Of course, the question always becomes, you can talk the talk, but can you walk the walk?
The Sabres were in a fighting mood last night, and from the sounds of their post-game comments, they have not walked away from this season just yet. Listen to some of their “talk:”
“That’s going to have to be the attitude we take for the rest of the season here: we can’t quit on it, and we gotta keep working.” – Ryan Miller
“Credit to us for sticking with our game plan. We know that we have a bit of a hill to climb, but why can’t we be the team? We’re coming together here and playing as a team and I think we’re reaping the benefits of it.” – Patrick Kaleta
Good. Now go out and prove it.
Back on Wednesday I wrote about how the shortened season was going to turn the rest of this season into a bloodbath, with every game feeling like the playoffs and with teams moving up and down in the standings on a nightly basis. This week, Buffalo has done what it needs to do, and now that the Sabres find themselves in 11th place and only four points behind the Carolina Hurricanes for a spot in the playoffs, it’s safe to say that the next three games they play will be the ultimate litmus test for this team. Those next three games on Buffalo Sabres look like this: at Montreal tomorrow, at Tampa Bay on Tuesday, and at Florida on Thursday. If the Sabres can find a way to win two or three of those games (with Tuesday’s game against the Lightning being absolutely pivotal) they could theoretically move into 10th, 9th, or (miracle of miracles) 8th place in the Eastern Conference, thereby backing up last night’s confident talk and proving they are not ready for the firesale yet.
Flame out on this road trip, and it’s back to the cellar, and the chopping block, for the Sabres.
If you look around the NHL, the Sabres are going to be getting help from other teams. Tonight, the red-hot Pittsburgh Penguins take on the New York Islanders, who are only one point better than the Sabres in the standings. Also tonight, the Winnipeg Jets play the Washington Capitals, while Saturday will find the Ottawa Senators playing the Tampa Bay Lightning. Wins by Pittsburgh, Winnipeg and Ottawa could keep Buffalo’s adversaries at their current point totals, allowing the Sabres to pass by the Islanders and put some distance between themselves and both Tampa Bay and Washington.
Yes, making the playoffs is going to require that Buffalo gets lucky and benefits from some unintended assistance by other Eastern Conference rivals. More than anything, though, the Buffalo Sabres are in the position of actually controlling their own destiny. They are talking the talk lately; now we get to see how they walk the walk.
I would love to know your opinions and predictions on how well the Sabres will do on their upcoming three-game road trip! Leave your comments below, or send me your Tweets @theamazingMrS!