Another crushing weekend that has put yet another nail in the coffin has me less distressed than I've been in quite some time. Why?
Perhaps it's because I've been to hell and back over the past 72-hours, suffering from a seemingly new strand of flu that has not only taken the life out of me (which I thought had already been accomplished courtesy the 2008-09 Buffalo sport's scene) but rendered my usual blogging energy tank dry as a bone, but I'm in a far better mood as it pertains to the Buffalo Sabres this evening. As I've been ”chicken noodle soup-ing” and “gatorade-ing” myself back to health, I have a strange sense of fulfillment in my body, brought forth not by the ungodly level of over-the-counter meds flowing through my veins, but by the suddenly inspired play of our boys in the blue and gold. It's just too bad that it came so late.
Again, I apologize for missing last night's post-game wrap up, but I feel as though the two contests somewhat intertwine with the point I'm about to make. For the first time in weeks, I saw the only thing that I've been begging for – life! The Sabres still care! Since their atrocious pair of outings last week, and despite the fact that they've done nothing but drop lower in the standings, I can at least take solace in the fact that going into next season, there just may be enough desire to make a run at a playoff spot in 2010.
The defensive zone breakdowns have not been remedied, the poor face-off percentages continue to derail momentum and kill power plays, and the players I've faulted for missing opportunities to score have stayed relatively cold in that department, but that I can handle. I don't care for it, but I can deal with it. What I can't tolerate is the apathetic fashion in which they've gone into many of their recent contests. But, for now at least, that seems to have changed.
Over the last 24-hours, I've watched the team I call my own play with reckless abandon, heart, integrity, and the type of desire that is what can make a blue collar town like Buffalo proud that they play for them. And regardless of how bleak the standings look, and for as far back as they are now as compared to last week, I at least have greater hopes of watching some exciting hockey in the final 3-weeks of the season.
That said, we all know that consistency has been Buffalo's biggest roadblock to success over the past 2-seasons.
For those of you who want to talk hockey, then take your first opportunity to feast on the injury card, because for the first time since Lalime's first start in Miller's stead (Anaheim), I can honestly say that with #30 between the pipes, the Sabres would have taken home 4-points in the last 2-days. Lalime has done his job since Miller has been injured, but the simple fact of the matter is that the Sabres were beaten between the pipes in each of the last 2-games, and had Lalime been stronger, we may be talking about being only 2-points out of a potential playoff spot.
Having said that, and keeping in mind the rhetoric I've spewed over the last 2-weeks, the excuses in that department are unfounded in my opinion, and the sad truth again, is that had the Sabres beaten the teams they should have, and had they chosen to come out with the type of intensity we've seen since the puck dropped last night, we'd still be talking about a very tight playoff race. Instead, as it stands now, they're hanging by a fingernail, trailing Florida by 6, and the Habs by 4.
For the optimists however, the Sabres still play each of those teams one more time, and Ryan Miller is taking shots. And for those of you are thinking in these terms, you are absolutely a glass half full individual.
If Buffalo plays their final 10 as they did in each of their last 2 though, even I'll refuse to call it completely empty until the mathematical numbers officially put us out on the golf course.
About the Author
Written by Tim Anderson