You remember Mike Grier? Good dude. Played hard every night. Very easy to figure out what he brought to the table; Leadership, grit and checking. He had a identity because he played hard every night and it was easy to figure out what he was doing right. I have no clue what the Sabres identity is today because I don't see them playing hard enough. Frankly, I don't even think they know who they are.
In watching the last couple of games with the Rochester kids, you have to come away with being impressed with the way these guys know how to hit. Tropp, Kassian, McNabb and Chewey seem to be gritty guys that your typical Buffalo fan would love. However, when you look at the parent club, they are totally different. They are a finesse group with a couple of grinders (Who can't stay healthy) and that's about it. It's just odd that we have two different squads with two different styles. It's Slapshot vs. Mighty Ducks.
Allow me to try and not go through a post by saying "It's only November" for a change. I get it. It's a rally cry that fans want to use when not falling into the trap of panicking. Hey, I do the same. However, I'd like to remind people when the Sabres were hot at the start of the 09/10 and 06/07 season, I don't think anyone yelled it's only November!! Instead, they were planning the parade route and figuring out which car in the neighborhood they would set on fire in June. I know, we are 3 points out of first place, but we are also 2 points out of 10th. It's not black and white is what I'm saying. If you actually don't look at the standings for a change, are you really that impressed? I'm not. I like #29 and #26...after them? Eh.
Yes, the Sabres have injuries, but the core of this team is still healthy for the most part. Come on, you gonna tell me there's a huge drop off between Miller and Enroth? Did you watch Miller last year and the first month of the year? Is Mike Weber that valuable? Patrick Kaleta and Cody McCormick? Really? REALLY? Are those three that vital and not replaceable? I'll give you Myers, but up until his last game, he wasn't doing much this year.
I don't know, I'm just conflicted a bit. On one hand, I want to kill the team, but on the other hand, it's only November 30th (Dammit! I mentioned the month). Maybe I'm just a complete grouch (Bingo), but I'm seeing red flags with some of these guys. Just too many guys taking nights off. One night, the team is hitting everything in sight (See: Boston rematch) and then the next game, the only evidence of hitting is that they probably hit the bars too much the night before (See: Columbus game). There are just nights that I watch this team and wonder if they are pouring their heart and soul onto the ice. I mention Mike Grier in my opening because he knew what his role was and gave his all on a nightly basis.
I know these guys aren't machines, but when you have losses against the Islanders and Blue Jackets to go along with just beating the crappy Jets, I'm left to wonder what is going on? How many times over the years have we said that the Sabres didn't show up, only to then show up the next game? It has happen too often. Maybe it happens in other Hockey heavens, but this is a trend that has happened over the years. It would be stupid to start doing measuring stick games in December, but they have Philly and Detroit coming up. I'd like a really good effort because I haven't seen one that doesn't involve the hockey world calling them pu#$ies for a week straight. I don't wanna hear about the Caps or the crappy Sens. You wanna be a Stanley Cup contending team? You gotta beat them.
I'm not a hockey expert, but if there is one thing I can tell you, it's that hockey is an effort sport. You hear the word passion constantly mentioned. At times, I don't see it enough on the ice with this team. I also see some guys NOT doing the things they are suppose to be doing. Showing that identity.
I know Robyn Regehr has played alright, but I want a bone crunching hit every night. Why? Because that's his identity. I know people are saying that Christian Ehrhoff is a beast because he's playing a lot of minutes. Well, that's good, but his identity is scoring and he's on par for 8 goals this season. Goose has a hit once every two games it seems like. Not enough. #26 and #29 have an identity, they score and have been doing it this year.
Until the Sabres wake up and learn what they do best, they are going to be a 7th or 8th seed and will lose in the first round of the playoffs. They have the talent, but that is only half the battle. Find your identity, because if you don't, maybe another coach or new players will.
---Stop telling me that the reason Sabres fans are acting like a$$holes are because of hire expectations?! Fans almost burned the city down when they bought out Tim Kennedy for God sakes. We have always been a passionate, crazy bunch. We would have killed the Sabres if Lucic ran over Miller under Golisano's leadership. We would have taken to the message boards about Enroth/Miller and Myers' play. We have always been insane. Joe Finley is trending on Twitter right now! Nothing to do with expectations being high. If anything, having Pegula here is like having a guardian angel or a safety net. I have confidence that he will eventually get it right within the next couple of years. No way in hell I would say that about Golisano. If he was still in charge, I'd go to the Sabres press box just to tell him that he sucks ass! (Not really, but you get the point)
---I know I've been harsh on Ryan Miller, but I don't get why the media had such an uproar about these comments:
"You guys aren't in the locker room. You guys don't know what's going on. We allow you in here for these interviews. We don't conduct ourselves the same way as we do with each other. We're speaking to the fans, we're speaking to you guys, we're speaking because there has to be a voice around the team and there has to be an excitement and a buzz about our team and people love to talk hockey. Those kind of issues, we don't deal with that. And we certainly don't deal with it in the media."
I know it seemed harsh by him because #30 can be contentious, but I think what he was trying to say is that we talk to each other more often than we talk to you. Half the time, the players talk like robots and don't let their true emotions come out when they talk to the press. They are boring. Anyways, that's what I made of it. I think people are making the "We let you in" into a bigger deal than it is...but that's what happens when both parties hate each other.
---I know I've had some issues over the years with Darcy's system. Yes, a lot of it had to do with me not giving a crap about prospects and I just don't have the patience for it, but he's a lot better at drafting guys than trading/signing new guys. Could Tropp or Kassian do what Leino is doing right now? I think so. Anyways, this isn't a knock against DR, but with guys like Gerbe, Ennis and Luke Adam to go along with the grit pack, you can't help but feel excited.
---I'm coming home to Buffalo on the 19th of December and I'm still not sure if I'm going to apply for a press pass. Frankly, I hate doing game recaps and that's really what attending games are all about. Could I try and make it into a column where I ask Lindy for a quote and make it into a story? Sure. But, that's not me. Of course, I could change my mind. Also, I like when Shelby and Brandon go because they want to be professional writers and you can't get better experience than that. Alas, my time has passed.