Not having Captain Jack, while serving his suspension, is a big loss. By no means should it mean not scoring a goal as an entire team in 197:40.

I am certainly glad when I attended the Dallas game early in the week, that I was accompanied by a cohort.  The prattle was quite possibly the only distraction preventing me from going into a deep slumber as I did when dragged to see 27 dresses, Devil Wears Prada and of course the entire Twilight saga.

Ladies, please do not get all bent out of shape as if I were claiming all “chick flicks” are sleep worthy.  I will be the first one to say that “How to Lose a guy in 10 days” and “Hitch” are solid movies capable of sustaining consciousness for many guys. I am not close minded, as I do watch other movies in addition to Star Wars and Team America.

It has come down to discussing “chick flicks” doing the “shuffle step”, tap dancing around discussing the Sabres business results.  Not good.  Not good at all.  “Negative Stanley” purely discussed the Bills this week at the Chiropractors office. He would not go near our beloved NHL team. It is a sterling time to be a Rochester Americans fan hoping they go on a nice playoff run.

I know, I recently wrote an article on Housley being safe due to the improvement over last year.  After not winning back to back games since the winning streak, shut out for three straight games and counting, I declare that Housley’s job security really needs some robust first aid for the rest of the season.  Coaches do not stay coaches when the team quits on them which at times, it sure appears to be the case.

General Managers who accrue coaches that are given fresh players in back-to-back years and have finished in last place, do not remain as GM’s. Especially when you consider the team follows up those two years with this collapse of a season. If Housley does not get these players giving a 60-minute effort and start picking up some points, no option may exist other than terminating Housley’s employment.

The top tier players who were no-brainer draft selections such as Jack Eichel, Sam Reinhart, and Rasmus Dahlin have all had very nice seasons statistically. Skinner, a first-round pick for the Hurricanes, had already been a scorer prior to his arrival in Buffalo and is still not signed as his goal-scoring slump continues. The supporting staff that Bottrell has assembled in back-to-back years to support the “big guns”, really has not been a success. Goaltending was solid at the beginning of the year but has now become a liability some nights.  Bottrell may have no choice but to throw Housley under the bus to save his own “tough skin” dungaree covered rear end.

If the Sabres did not have that ten-game winning streak based on good efforts, great goaltending, luck, shootouts, and overtime, we could be in line with solid lottery odds. I would not complain if the Sabres landed Jack Hughes to add to the elite top-end talent at the end of the roster. That said, you still need reasonably priced players to surround the studs who are tough to play against and contribute nightly. Even if it’s not exclusively on the scoreboard. They need players that are good when they do not have the puck.

Utilizing my green inflatable ‘Coleman Hot Tub time machine’, we jump ahead to report that the Sabres really are attempting to steal the headlines.

Not only did they finally put the puck in the opposing teams net ending the shut-out streak, but Skinner broke out of his slump scoring. It was against his former team in the Carolina Hurricanes. Pump the brakes a bit before you start assuming everything is turning around for the Sabres. Yes, they scored. Yes, Skinner scored. However, they still lost the game. They still had some passengers in the lineup. They still had a goalie of the future let in three goals he would like back. If he does not want them back, tough…. everyone else who follows the team does.

If a goalie lets in that many goals that NHL goalies routinely stop, it sure deflates the rest of the team.  Let’s just say that if you are playing your tail off and a goalie lets one soft goal in and you have confidence that he will shut the door the rest of the game, chances are you will be giving every ounce of energy you have to come away with a win. That said, three soft goals really make players question if it’s worth it taking that extra hit, shot, stride, etc…to possibly score having no confidence the opponent will not go right down the other end and pop one in top shelf where mama hides the cookies.

Great dependable goaltending elevates players efforts and belief in obtaining victory. Great goaltending gets in the opponents head and effects their game.

Reference any game during Hasek’s many Vezina trophy and Hart trophy seasons in Buffalo. Peca and Satan were the big-name players outside of the world class goaltender who was the best to ever play.  Because of Hasek winning games 1-0 and 2-1, they went to the Semi finals in 1998 and advanced a step further to the Stanley Cup Finals in 1999.

The Sabres won a lot of games because Hasek stood on his head every single night.  Most goalies highlight film would be a collection from a full season or career. Hasek made a regular appearance on SportsCenter and sports news shows, with unexplainable saves on a nightly basis. I digress….

Things we know about the Buffalo Sabres this week:

  • Rasmus Ristolainen has 39 points so far this season.  The scary part about that is even with all of those points, he still manages to hold a -35 in the plus/minus statistic.  That is an abundance of goal lights shining red while he is on the ice.  He plays a lot of minutes against top teams talent. I am not making excuses.  I am suggesting that maybe he shouldn’t.
  • While we are analytically reviewing the players plus/minus statistic, it should be pointed out that Casey Nelson is the only member of the blue and gold to being the positive category with a plus three.  That deserves a solid “Attaboy!”.
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1 COMMENT

  1. Spot on with Risto. Should playing 4th or 5th D minutes, not 1st D. This misuse will likely cost him his spot on this team at draft time maybe(?). Hopefully he is utilized properly in his next chapter. I like Risto and the way he plays especially when he shows an aggressive edge. It’s a shame his talent isn’t utilized in an “as needed” manner rather than having him play 30-seconds of every minute.

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