Once again, we were lured into a place for hope. The performance against the Kings was enticing after mundane failure versus the Stars and St. Louis. We fortunately were spirited after having the blues, but a superior team like Florida took another important two points from an undetermined effort in front of the home fans. Did we get more shots? Yes. Did we force our will? No. We, as a Sabres nation, deserve more at this stage in the game after the rhetoric that has been forced upon us. If you want to play with your friends and keep them around, then you better be willing to take an elbow driving to the net. One day it is perfection, the next it is dejection. After the LA miracle on Tuesday, Granato was asked how the task was accomplished. What he said was compelling. The word was “urgency”. Unfortunately, desperation was clamored for in October when management decided to go into a fugue. Now, this was the proclamation for the loyal fans that are trying to survive February with something to throw a rope around, after our football team hit the skids? Determination and the ability to succeed, especially in your home building after a long break, should be expected with a horrible start to the season. Foil up, go ballistic, sacrifice your body to try and get back into this thing. What we received was over coaching and perimeter solutions to the problem. What is the issue? Heart. I hope everybody in the locker room gave each other valentines with inspirational messages. I care so much that the core, who didn’t even grow up here, need to be reassured. What about us? What about one of the better hockey markets in the United States? What about our feelings? If you are hurt and can’t perform than understand that our pride is worth more. If you are tired and can’t take the rigors of the grind that the NHL is, then do us a favor and quit the sport. Enough is enough. At this point the components that have gotten us here are interchangeable. Mediocrity is easily accomplished with guys who are not willing to pay the price. It is the nature of the beast. You chose this profession, and you are not willing to elevate your game. Faith and fact are starting to come to the surface. We are enduring another unacceptable season, there is something wrong for sure. Are we supposed to accept some more Darcy “suffering”? If so, then let us know. We can go back to covid cardboard cutouts in the stands. Save us the anguish until you figure it out.
I would have gladly posted a feel-good moment after scoring seven goals the other night, but what was the point after two loses, and a strong opponent coming in, probably going to have their way with you. It is not about the shots, or how UPL has had a tremendous run, it is about knowing how to win. Whether we play a decent game or not, other organizations find our vulnerabilities and take advantage of them. We simply are not tough enough mentally, or in front of the net. If it is injuries that are not being shared with us, then get some fresh bodies in there who are willing to skate through the fire. Physical will is a reality in this league, and we either aren’t teaching it, or don’t have it.
Coaching and management. Urgency is something that should not be preached when everything is all but lost. It is a value that is installed before the first game of the season. You are grooming guys who have not been through such an arduous schedule, you are letting them know that every moment counts, and that earning points early give you flexibility in the end when times might get tough. When the majority of your roster is young and brought up through a system that has had a hard time winning, this lesson must be prominent. If you can’t relay the message, then you better have a few battle tested veterans who can. See what I am saying?
I actually am not out for Granato’s head, I have been calling out the assistants all year long. They need to go. If our powerplay was middle of the pack we would be much closer to a playoff spot, yet we carry on. It is all perplexing at best. The roster is not the most important part. I have recently seen guys who have put on our jersey in Kulikov and Scandella, to name a few, who come into our building and beat us. Aggravating.
You just need to get the boys to up the tempo. It is a message of intensity. The famous song rawhide has been recorded in many different forms. You can corral an opponent if you have a certain vigor. Everything just needs to be turned up to eleven. It is not just the smelling salts on the bench.
Buffalo Sabres, 23-26-4, vs. Minnesota Wild, 25-23-5
Saturday, February 17th at 5:00 pm
Xcel Energy Center, Saint Paul, Minnesota
Once again, wash, rinse, repeat. Who is going to show up for this one before a Presidents Day Matinee against the Ducks in front of the kids. Who knows? We can’t get goaltending and we are at the top of the league in scoring, or our crease is solid and we can’t put the puck in the net.
Notes from just start walking on the logo in the locker room. You have to earn it to fear it..
Calling Tage Thompson and Jeff Skinner. Do you know it is 2024? I know it gets a little cold this time of year but you are trapped in the ice. There is a lot of blame to go around but any production would have us in a better place. Do we even have a first line at this juncture? I am going to chalk it up to a bad stint, but it is getting serious.
To Owen Power. I know you log a lot of minutes and are an important part to our future, but hopefully stepping back can help you realize your potential. You are too big and skilled not to dominate. You should be more than hard to play against.
Congratulations to UPL for earning playing time and being dedicated. A glimmer of hope in a quagmire of despair.
Lastly, on a serious note. It would be a dishonor if I did not bring up the passing of one of Buffalo’s bar league legends. This past week, Kenny Dewey unfortunately left us too early. For the many of us who got to play with him and knew him, it is a tremendous loss. My prayers go out to his wife and kids, and family. Ken lit up a room and always brought happiness to who he encountered. He was kind hearted, passionate, intelligent, and successful. He was also one heck of an athlete, and hockey player. If you were down and needed a laugh, he was there. When you looked around the locker room and had only seven guys, five minutes before game time, he would show up. In the last few years, I had not seen him as much as I would have liked to, but I knew his friend group only got bigger. It was impossible not to want to hang around with Dewey. He was animated and gregarious, and genuinely a caring person. It was just the kind of guy he was. As a joke sometime he would make a funny face and say, “I’m special”. Well, indeed there is no doubt that you were. Everyone will miss you. You were one of the good ones. Hopefully, there are no offsides in heaven. RIP brother. For those of us who were able to call you a friend, we are fortunate. I am trying to do this justice, but words are not enough. So proud to have been one of your teammates.