While the rest of the teams around them in the standings took care of business tonight, Buffalo once again fell victim to the Ottawa Senators. I'm at a loss to understand why it is the Sabres cannot handle an Ottawa team that has already packed it in for the season.
It's hard to fathom how a group of players that have nothing to play for can handle a team that is fighting for their playoff lives so easily.
Even as the Sabres beganÂ finding the back of the netÂ and beating up on teams this week, there was a recurring theme in that success.Â Buffalo are not scoring enough 5-on-5 goals.Â I mentioned it after last night's game, and although I stand by the notion that special teams are vitally important in making the playoffs and advancing therein, there has to be some semblance of an offensive attack when at even strength.Â Tonight, the Sabres did not score a single goal without the man advantage, and there inability to do so cost them not only 2-points, but perhaps there season.
The story of the night was Buffalo's inability to thwart the initial Senator attack following their own tying goals.Â Twice this evening the Sabres lost any momentum they'd gathered by allowing Ottawa to re-take their lead less than 90-seconds after they'd lost it.Â It's an old adage, but the first shift after a goal is quite possibly the most important.Â This of course echoed mercilessly in the ears of all Buffalo skaters this evening – not to mention their fans.
The secondary story of the night, one that doesn't directly relate to the outcome of the game, is that there's a reason why the Sabres haveÂ possibly sniffed the top 8 for the last time.Â Carolina destroyed the hapless Lightning, a team Buffalo has lost to twice.Â Florida took care of St. Louis, Pittsburgh have been throttling the bottom feeders, and even the Rangers have found ways to collect points against the pathetic Islanders (another team the Sabres have lost 4-points to).Â The current situation befalling the blue and gold, plain and simple, is the result of not taking care of business when they should have – and that includes this evening.Â It's why games in November are important.Â It's why losing games to bad hockey teams will always come back and bite you.
I'm not going to lie to you, I'm devastated at this recent turn of events.Â It wasn't that long ago that our hockey clubÂ had a 5-point lead on the 9th place team, with games at hand to boot.Â Now, I honestly can't see them making the playoffs.Â I'm exhausted tonight, and the roller coaster ride that wasÂ this evening'sÂ game did not help my cause.Â Â A game that was a microcosm for the entire 2008-'09 campaign, ended in a similar manner that I reluctantly believe the season will.
No three stars tonight, no game notes, and perhaps a blatant short changing of a post game report, but as I've already mentioned, I'm as tired as I've been in months, and I simply can't think of any further ways to sugar coat a season that has simply imploded on the Sabres in less than 2-weeks time.Â
So while the contenders continue to rip off 3, 4 and 5 game winning streaks, the Sabres continue toÂ stay afloat with a win here, a loss there, a couple of wins here, a couple of losses there, at a time when the former is necessary to play hockey beyond the 2nd week in April.
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Written by Tim Anderson