Thursday night’s 5-1 beat down by the Montreal Canadiens was arguably the lowest point in the Buffalo Sabres season. The Sabres were out-worked, out-hustled, out-played and even out-classed, in a game they didn’t bother to show up for.
The buzz around the Sabres after the game was negative. The players did their post game interviews with their heads hung low and each player sounded lost and defeated. Head coach Ron Rolston even held a closed door meeting after the game. The direction of the meeting was about how the Sabres plan to finish off their last 7 games.
When I woke up I decided to re-watch the post-game interview’s from Thursday night’s game to see if I could find any answer. While watching the interviews from Ryan Miller, Tyler Myers, Steve Ott and Ron Rolston, I noticed a common theme. They all talked about the Sabres having “too many passengers.”
Passengers- people that are just along for the ride and don’t do much, if anything, to contribute to the success of the mission. The mission is the Buffalo Sabres and the passengers are the players who aren’t producing or contributing to the success of the Sabres.
When you think about it, the Sabres season has been all about passengers. In order for a team to be successful they need to get contribution from every line. Not just their best players. You look at a team like the Pittsburgh Penguins they get scoring from all four lines and that’s why they’re in the position their in.
Going back to the beginning of the season there were three players that carried the load. The top line of Cody Hodgson, Thomas Vanek and Jason Pominville were skating circles around the opposition and carrying the Sabres. While the top line and Ryan Miller were driving the Sabres bus, the rest of the team was just hitching a ride.
Fast forward to now and the top line that was carrying the team has taken a seat. Pominville left town at the trade deadline, Vanek has battled injuries and Hodgson has been jumping up and down the lineup. When the drivers stop driving the passengers need to step up. The only problem is none of the Sabres passengers have stepped up.
Players go through different slumps throughout the season, but the Sabres have had too many players stray passengers all season. Drew Stafford has been the biggest disappointment this season, scoring just 5 goals. Stafford has been flat out invisible at times this season and he shies away from the rough stuff. If you’re not scoring goals at least lay a hit.
Marcus Foligno who had potential to challenge for the Calder Trophy has also been a major bust netting just 5 goals. Mikhail Grigorenko who also was expected to challenge for the Calder and make a big splash, is back in the QMJHL right now.
Tyler Myers, who has just broken his leg, has also been a big disappointment. Myers was coming off a disappointing season that saw him put up just 23 points and battle injuries. He came into the season over weight and just hasn’t been able to find his game all season. He’s looked lost on the ice and other teams have made him look like a pylon time after time.
Then you get down to your 3rd and 4th line players like Nathan Gerbe, Patrick Kaleta and John Scott who have done next to nothing. Those three together have a combined 10 points, Brian Flynn has 9 points alone!
The Sabres have been carried all season by Thomas Vanek, Cody Hodgson, Steve Ott and Ryan Miller. Only problem is they’re not producing right now and haven’t gotten any help.
Steve Ott and Ron Rolston are right, there are far too many passengers on the Buffalo Sabres. There are too many players who sit back and let other players carry the team instead of putting their full effort forward. These passengers need to get off the Sabres this offseason in order for the Sabres to go anywhere.