Ten of the next twelve Sabres games will be played at First Niagara Center. This is a massive home stand that, when finished, will have wiped half of the home contests from the schedule.
The Sabres official home record is 5-6-0, however one win came in Europe so the record should stand 4-6-0. Buffalo’s road record is rather impressive, 7-2-0. Their road record is 8-2-0 if you count both European games as road contests.
While the current state of affairs down on Perry Street aren’t as dire as last season (0-6-1 before their first home victory), it is getting close. Buffalo are 3-2-0 in their last five home games but have dropped their last two despite outshooting both opponents.
Some losses are due to slow starts (ex. Philly loss) others are due to special teams maladies (ex. Carolina loss) and other times the team just doesn’t get the job done (ex. Wednesday and Saturday). Based on the upcoming schedule, this needs to stop.If the Sabres are to stumble through this stretch of games they will be back on the outside of the Eastern Conference playoff picture.
Unfortunately things don’t start off very easy. The NHL’s hottest team rolls into town two weeks removed from bullying the Sabres all over the ice. Boston has taken the Northeast Division lead on the heels of their ninth-straight win and will have a day of rest prior to facing the Sabres.
On a side note, far too much is being made of the Sabres expected response on Wednesday. Expect nothing. If something was going to be done it would have been taken care of when Lucic bowled over Miller. Since the team cowered at the thought of a fight, the Bruins took advantage and pounded them into submission. Paul Gaustad’s comments were overblown by Buffalo’s two loudest, most ignorant sports personalities (Sullivan and Schopp) during their weekly fellation on WGR. The day another sports station comes to Buffalo is the day I fix my presets.
The focus should not be on how the Sabres will act (or react) to the Bruins on Wednesday. The key will be pulling out two points and getting this homestand off on the right foot. The string of home dates is broken only by Friday’s meeting in Columbus (a quasi-home game) and next Saturday’s trip to Nashville. Otherwise the Sabres are home until the week prior to Christmas.
Now, the only solution to the home woes this team is facing seems to be putting forth a solid effort on the ice. Little, if any support comes from the 18,000+ people sitting on life support in the stands, nor should it. While these players relish playing in front of throngs of people, rarely are they truly affected by what is said or done by said fans. Do they care? Yes, just not as much as you may think. That is basically what Gaustad was saying on Monday and it is exactly what Miller was saying last week.
The responsibility of winning games and defending each other (as a team), the fans and media are just along for the ride. So, Paul Gaustad wasn’t talking down to the fans on Monday, Ryan Miller wasn’t acting superior to the media and just because the coaches and players are tossing out four-letter words doesn’t mean their common decency has gone out the window. It just means they care about winning and little more. Maybe if some of these guys paid less attention to their byline and more to the culture of the athlete, this would become clear.
When the puck drops Wednesday the only thing the Sabres should be worried about is establishing a physical presence from the first minute until the 60th minute. If they can reestablish a reputation for playing hard, they will send the same message as a full-out liney at the opening draw. Show the Bruins – and the rest of the league – why the Flyers had nothing left for their second-round series.
Prove you have a set, play with an edge and score some dirty goals. It certainly seems to work on the road. Why not try it on home ice?