Stay behind the Sabres

Hnnnnnnngahhhh…….

That’s the only text that could come close to describing my feelings about the Sabres in round 3. Down 3 games to none with nary a chance of coming back.

How did this happen? Is it the Sabres not showing up or is Ottawa that great? What the hell is happening to our world?

Well it’s a little of everything. First of all, the Sabres were never world beaters – they are a very good team with excellent speed. They happened to win the President’s Trophy; a curse if you ask me, one that had fans and media putting them as the favorites to win the cup. The Sabres themselves knew it meant nothing (just ask last years Detroit Red Wings who won the President’s Trophy only to be ousted in the first round by Edmonton) and yet they couldn’t help but be affected by the entire hockey world foisting their “oh you’re so great” attitudes upon them.

Ottawa has been a good team for years, and this year have stepped up to a whole new level. Their defense is playing even better despite losing Chara in the offseason, they have a great coach and some truly scary forwards. Most thought that goalie Ray Emery was a weak link in the Senator’s armor (including myself), but he’s come a long way since last year’s playoffs.

In short, everyone in Buffalo underestimated the Sens.

Everyone.

Including the coaches and players.

Especially the fans and the media.

I did too, so I’m not laying blame here, it’s just how things shook out. However, I do have to question the fans at HSBC who started razzing Ray Emery 5 minutes into game 1. How about a little humility? Don’t expect your team to come out and dominate and win 5-1. That sort of attitude permated HSBC and is at least part of the reason the Sabres are almost ready to schedule tee times.

And what about the fans actually booing during the Sabres power plays? Sure, Ottawa had us all out of sorts and we were woefully inept, but come on, how much cred do the Sabres have to build up? How much have they given the fans? The Sabres were slumping, and the booing didn’t help, in fact it could have made them play tighter.

Ottawa is a step ahead of Buffalo in every facet of the game and I don’t see how a comeback is possible. We could get a game or two, but Ruff is getting outcoached, and I don’t think I’ve ever said that.

All we can do is stay behind our team. They deserve that with the year they’ve given us.

What the Sabres need to correct

Well, the Ottawa Senators have taken the first two games from the Sabres on their own ice. It’s a feat that’s pretty unthinkable to many Sabres fans. But in reality it’s something that shouldn’t be so unexpected.

The Sabres are, after all, a team that likes to create a challenge or itself. Sometimes they’re so seemingly good (or scary good as Rick Jeanerett would say) that they have a hard time getting up for games, or getting going in them. How many times have we seen them take the entire first period or two of a game off only to storm back in the third for a barrage of goals? It’s even happened this series against the Sens – except Ottawa is way too good of a team to spot any points.

The good thing is that Lindy Ruff doesn’t have to say anything to get his team up for the remaining games; the Sabres’ backs are against the wall and it’s do or die. But should he switch things up at all?

At the Buffalo News, Bucky Gleason gives a list of 6 things the Sabres need to correct:

  1. Check players for ID (who are these guys?)
  2. Pepper Ray Emery (more shots)
  3. Bench Jaroslav Spacek or Dmitri Kalinin (in favor of Nathan Paetsch)
  4. Play smarter (no more dumb penalties)
  5. Fix the special teams (Oy vey, with a power play like this, can we decline any Ottawa penalties?)
  6. Dust off Adam Mair

I would add to this, find a way to get Drew Stafford into the lineup. He could add a spark that the Sabres desperately need.

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On another note, the boo-birds came out on several of Buffalo’s power play attempts Saturday night. Yes, the power plays were sad to watch, but are the fans right to boo? Aren’t fans supposed to back the team? Sure, booing is a way to let the team know you’re dissatisfied with the play, and it’s understandable when your team sucks or the coaching is pitiful – but aren’t the Sabres the President’s cup winners? Have they not earned our respect and a spot in our hearts?

There is definitely something wrong with the power play, but how much of that is Ottawa just playing great defense? I think sometimes as fans, we’re quick to think that if things aren’t going well, it’s because our team is doing something wrong; when in many cases it can be the other team stepping up.

Besides, the team can hear the crowd and it definitely can’t help to be booed when facing a great team like Ottawa in the Eastern Conference Finals. I say we get behind the team no matter what.