Buffalo Sabres hockey is back! Unfortunately, it appears that the mediocrity that mired the Sabres last season is also back.
As a long-standing optimist when it comes to the opening of most Sabres seasons, this writer is a pure pessimist when it comes to the 2013-14 season. The lack of off-season moves by GM Darcy Regier, mixed with the rise of ticket prices and bumping me out of the Mini-Pack holder rotation, and the lack of a resolution regarding the futures of Thomas Vanek and Ryan Miller, has made me negative. Oh yeah, and the introduction of the new Sabres third jerseys…
Anyways. The Sabres ventured to Detroit to face the perennial playoff contending Red Wings tonight in the Sabres season opener. Detroit, featuring elders such as Daniel Alfredsson, Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg, and Johan Franzen, are fielding the 2nd-oldest team in the NHL this year. Buffalo, meanwhile, bolsters a lineup featuring some names that are relatively unknown to the common hockey fan, such as Brian Flynn, Kevin Porter, Mark Pysyk, and Zemgus Girgenssons.
Overall, the Sabres play was putrid, particularly on the power play. Buffalo went something like 0 for 20 on the man-advantage – if you want the real stat, look it up somewhere. It was awful. The Sabres had two 5 on 3 advantages, which they could not capitalize upon, including one for 90 seconds. The team does not appear primed to improve upon their place of 29th in the league on the power play last season.
Detroit got all that they needed in the first period, with 2 goals just 30 seconds apart. From there on, it was up to Ryan Miller to keep the Sabres in the game, which he did. For most of the game, the Sabres showed little gusto, no chemistry, and they were devoid of any passion.
Yes, it was only the first game of the season, but this team was awful. Yes, they are the youngest team in the league, but one would expect Buffalo to use their youth as a strength in regards to speed and hunger. The entire team was flat. Drew Stafford and Ville Leino were ghosts. Thomas Vanek and Cody Hodgson, looked upon to be the scoring leaders, made no impact. Steve Ott, expected to be the motivator, did little to inspire the team.
Detroit, for the record, did not play exceptional hockey tonight. The Sabres were just worse.
Girgenssons was able to notch his first career NHL goal late in the third period, which temporarily provided a spark to the Sabres, but the Red Wings only had to glide the rest of the way for the win. Thereafter, the NBC broadcast team mightily struggled to pronounced Zemgus’ last name.
Those watching the game were treated to the Red Wings fans singing, as they usually do, a Journey song about someone wanting to badly leave Detroit, wanting to take a “midnight train going anywhere” away from their hometown. If most Sabres games turn out like this, players such as Vanek, Miller, and Ott will be looking to take a train going anywhere away from Buffalo very soon.