The time for retribution has passed. As sad as it is to say, the Sabres opportunity to truly get payback for the hit Milan Lucic put on Ryan Miller was two Saturdays ago. Unfortunately the Sabres cowered at the thought of putting up a fight. They turtled and are now a laughing-stock for their soft play.
Many Sabres fans are expecting a bloodbath tomorrow night. Fans have been calling to Joe Finley to be called up from Rochester in order to fight the big bad Bruins. I wouldn’t be surprised if some were expecting Dr. Hook McCracken, Screaming Buffalo Swamptown and Ogie Olglethorpe to take the morning skate. However, I doubt there will be anything close to a bloodbath tomorrow night.
Yes, the Sabres truly dropped the ball when Miller was run over. There needed to be some sort of toll for Lucic to pay after taking a run at Miller. Sadly, nothing was done. While it will be too late to truly may Lucic answer for his actions, a fight probably won’t be out of the question tomorrow. However, it is doubtful that multiple scraps will be in the cards. That doesn’t mean the Sabres are still a bunch of pansies. If they come out and play a physical game, they will prove there is more to this bunch than the soft shoves Lucic was handed last time around.
The one thing I have taken away from this situation is the overall resolve of this group of players. Sure, they can’t seem to figure out how to win at home and they often have slow starts which doom the outcome of some games. Still, Miller has let his voice be heard. As have Paul Gaustad and Robyn Regehr.
It seems as if the resounding message is, “we want to win and we want to win often.”
As I mentioned yesterday, these guys probably don’t really care what the opinion of the media or fans may be. Sure they appreciate the fans and what they do, but when some guy who has never played goalie tells Ryan Miller he is terrible, the words are nothing but hollow sounds from a guy Miller could care less about. Sure Miller hears those Bronx Cheers, they probably incense him when he is struggling. That is because Miller (and the rest of these guys) understand and know more about hockey than myself, the guy sharpening your skates or anyone in section 313.
Despite many of the Sabres’ comments rubbing people the wrong way, I have accepted them as part of a steely resolve the team has developed since their limp wristed response to the Bruins. Clearly Gaustad is focusing on winning the game and winning it in convincing fashion, he isn’t going to cowtow to the wishes of the guys lining the bar at Pearl Street. The same goes for Miller, he was pissed that the league didn’t suspend Lucic and he made it clear that the real team chemistry isn’t shown in interviews or in front of the fans, it is shown when the doors are closed. Neither quote was made while looking down their nose nor should they have been interpreted that way.
The team is well aware of the error they made in Boston, surely it won’t happen again. The question is; does this team have what it takes to offer a proper response? Unfortunately I lean towards no in that regard. The same stale core of players remains here each season. Derek Roy, Jochen Hecht, Drew Stafford, the list goes on. While Darcy Regier made some changes, this squad pretty much remained the same team as last season.
After Cody McCormick (who won’t play), Gaustad, Pat Kaleta and Regehr, there aren’t many players who get their nose dirty on a regular occasion. Matt Ellis, Nathan Gerbe and Corey Tropp (who has fought many times in the AHL) have some grit, but that is where the list ends. There are a few players who can play the aggressive physical style necessary to beat a team like the Bruins. But the issue may be that the Sabres don’t have enough of those players, not yet.