You know what? Buffalo sucks. They just suck.

Varada

Buffalo is one point above Ottawa in the standings, despite spending $15M more than them in salary. And despite often taking the rebuilding Sens to task and just generally eking out some wins to stay in the playoff picture, they’re a team absolutely nobody in the Eastern Conference fears meeting in the playoffs. In 2010 they were talked about as if they were a powerhouse division champions (in a mediocre division), third in the conference, and Boston took care of them like they were bringing a suit to the dry cleaners. It was never in doubt. In 2011, Philadelphia beat them in seven in what seemed to me to be one of the most one-sided seven game series I’d ever watched. Two straight first round exits. Before that they missed completely.

Somehow this team gets talked about the way a child is encouraged by a room full of relatives to believe that he is truly unique, talented, and bound for success. But there’s never been a time watching them I’ve felt like, despite all of their depth, that they played with anything resembling passion, or even a system. They routinely attempt lazy breakouts; the forwards cycle around their own blue line and wait for the puck; their inability to stick up for their goaltender has been well documented. They’ll pull off one beautiful play a game (last night’s tic-tac-to second goal against Ottawa was amazing, I admit it) and the rest of the time it’s like they’re in a skills competition. It must drive Sabres fans crazy.

The blame for this has to be on Lindy Ruff, who’s coached them since 1745. In fact, if ever there was an example of institutional malaise in place, it’s the Ruff / Regier regime, whose idea of putting this team over the top is Ville Leino and Christian Ehrhoff. They’ve got six forwards making at least $4M, and a couple of guys on their third line making between $2.5M-$3.5M. We’ve already seen a half-dozen coaches fired, and if Bruce Freaking Boudreau can be fired by the Caps, then Ruff can be fired by Buffalo. They’re spending the money. And this is still the pillow-soft team we’ve seen year after year. They’ll get killed in the first round again this year. “Unless Miller can steal it for them!” goes the refrain, and I’m sure Miller must be getting tired of being thrown under the bus. A team spending $67M in salary should not hope that their goalie steals them a series.

James

“It’s funny how money change tha situation.” President Glenn Beck said that. In previous seasons when the Sabres were just that sort of middling bunch of hamburger clowns expectations seemed way different. Having a good shot at the playoffs was a great thing for them. Yes, they’ve always had some good players but they were always of that “Connolly, Vanek, Pomminville” variety, meaning: Good players but totally beatable. For a long time now, I wouldn’t go as far as to say that Buffalo has been an opponent I don’t respect but damned if I didn’t see them as the “get in Ryan Miller’s kitchen and there’s a 90% chance of victory” house of cards of a team. Even in the blurst of times its felt like the Sens had a real chance at 2 points against them. Now that Rich Uncle Pennybags has bought the Sabres and the 2011 UFA market with them…things are different for Buffalo. They have this team of high skill mercenaries that for the price tag you would almost HAVE to expect the world from. And we know, Ville Leino is going to be an awesome player when he’s a second line scorer on the Flyers but he aint gonna get you deep in the playoffs. Ditto Christian Ehrhoff. Great guy to have in your hockey pool but last night, Colin Greening, who played in the US College system a little over a year ago, got 6 shots past him. Greening putting up Ovechkin numbers of shots against an average Buffalo team? Rough night for the blue line but when they are against a guy who is making that “remember when Heatley was making 10M per year here and a 39 goal year was completely unacceptable” money? You’ve gotta be sweating watching that. Some of those paycheques they have going change everything. Now that we are in the rebuild I see more than ever that I’d rather have an underperforming Peter Regin than an underperforming Scott Gomez. Its hard to avoid of course as Gomez is a former 80+ point guy and a cup champ and Regin is from a country known more for the exports of Lego and pastries than hockey players but those kind of contracts have nearly set players up for failure. In a cap world…try to save that kind of money for generational talent if you can spot it.

To be honest, the Sabres now remind me of the Sens that recently had to be dismantled. Some dangerous players here and there … a little too much money distributed all around making it impossible for team to live up to expectation, too much reliance on one player and if they don’t measure up…they become the scapegoat (Spezza for us, Miller for them). There’s a fair amount of skill on the team but not the kind that has the opposition shaking in their shoes during warmup. Buffalo’s play last night reminded me a little of the “Let’s waste our power play cycling so we can see if Kovalev can fart something cool looking” stuff that had me ripping up my program in frustration watching at SBP. Management wise, Buffalo seems to share the Pre-rebuild Sens’ trademark combination of complacency AND tinkering that had us all calling for Murray’s head last year, though maybe Buffalo has a little more going in the way of young guns getting ice time than the Sens did a few years back.

Speaking of management, I don’t know what Lindy Ruff has pictures of D’Arcy Regier doing but it must be even HOTTER than whatever Bryan Murray has pictures of Melnyk doing! Same set of pictures maybe? But seriously ladies and germs, that guy has enjoyed a more secure tenure than Noam Chomsky at MIT!  *bows and falls on face, while curtain closes over my corpse to everyone’s delight* As Sens fans we know it’s a dangerous game when you have entrenched management, a lot of high priced players (more than a few of them very good) and a perennial “good shot at making the playoffs.” It can lead to some real dragon chasing that can leave you waking up from a few seasons’ too long bender wondering where your pizza line went and what the hell Kovalev’s clothes are doing all over your floor while he’s singing Maroon 5’s “Moves like Jagr” in the shower. As a fan of a divisional rival, I say, keep chasing that dragon Buffalo! Maybe we’ll see you in the upcoming McCain Delicio Rising Crust Pizza Presents New Mediterranean Style Vegetarian Presents Eastern Conference Sector B Playoffs! Don’t run Miller out of town in the meantime!

2 thoughts on “You know what? Buffalo sucks. They just suck.

  1. Seems like it has been a while since I have read this blog; but whenever I do it seems to be right on point. Almost died the week the Sens had like no games.

    Buffalo is terrible! Never had the pedigree of players to do anything woth while. Miller will be the unfortunate scape goat, if RUff doesn’t go first. Signing the likes of Airhoff (pounded last night) to ludicrous contracts and keeping the lacklustre Vanek, and Pominville around is killing the team. As stated these players are not best in the league guys, and are barely the calibre of players to be playing the kind of minutes they do.

    Buffalo will wake up eventually. It may be next to someone other than Big Daddy Ruff though; and the devil you know is better than the devil you don’t. A coaching change is the only thing that will wake this team up. If Daddy ain’t safe then no one is!

    As for the system they play it’s straight up BORING! Trying to generate offense strictly off of turnovers; its like playing the trap, but handicapped (like that sad kind of handicapped). Or if you prefer, its like watching your little brother play cup and ball. He will get it sometimes, but 90% of the time he looks retarded.

    Always a good read lads! BLOG ON!

  2. To be fair in the last couple of weeks half their team has been injured, but everything you write is true. In the past few years no matter how shitty the Sens have been and how good the Sabres have been I always felt confident against them. It just comes down to one of the unversal truths about winning and losing, the old “our best players are better than your best players”. Seriously? Does Darcy Regier sit down with the Sabres brain trust and go “ok guys, this is our core, uhhhh
    Vanek, Roy, Stafford? Great, Great. We can work with this, lets overpay for 3rd line forwards and sign soft defencemen that you cant win with to huge contracts.”

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