The Buffalo Bandits have been setting records for a number of years since 2000. This year is no different, however the record is not one to remember.
Buffalo set a franchise mark with their fifth-straight loss on Saturday, falling to 2-5 on the season. There seems to be a systematic failure at nearly every level on the team at this point in the season. Their 2-0 start seems light years away after Saturday’ 16-13 loss.
Anthony Cosmo was given his first start as a Bandit, but he didn’t last the full 60 minutes. Mike Thompson replaced the trade acquisition after Cosmo allowed 15 goals. Darris Kilgour was quick to direct the blame to his defense, perhaps the weakest unit for this struggling team.
Buffalo received big games from Mark Steenhuis (1+6), John Tavares (1+4) and Luke Wiles (4+1). However, the defense let the team down again. John Grant Jr. rolled up nine points (4+5) – which included his 500th career goal – while Gavin Prout and Adam Jones each had seven points of their own.
By identifying his defense as the main cause for the season’s struggles, Kilgour shows that the inability to get the necessary stops in tight games has not been a passing fad. It is my contention that a number of goals surrendered by Mike Thompson were soft, but there have been a number of open looks given up by Buffalo’s typically strong defense.
Amazingly, the Bandits are still within a sniff of a playoff spot. The incredible parity in the league is keeping the logjam in the East nice and close. Buffalo’s hopes remain due to this development. It will take a lengthy winning streak, but there is still plenty of time to get into the playoffs.
- Anthony Cosmo may need some more time to shake off the rust. What is disturbing is the fact that two draft picks were given up to acquire him, only for Kilgour to say that the team’s struggles have little to do with goaltending. If that was the case, why sacrifice so much for a goalie?
- Kilgour also called out a questionable choice by John Tavares late in the game to try a diving attempt from behind the net. I’m ok with that choice. Tavares is a game changing player and the offense has been stagnant at times this season. When the offensive motion is obviously broken, there is no problem with your stars making individual plays.
- Offensively, the Bandits are very much Jekyll and Hyde. A strong second and third quarter put the team in a good position to win, but a nearly silent fourth doomed them yet again. Kilgour mentioned that players are trying to do things on their own. This is correct. I still contend that the offensive system has been flawed this season. I wouldn’t dare to try to speculate whether the issue is in the execution or with coaching.
- Billy Dee Smith’s suspension was likely well deserved. I’m certain that Kilgour had a good reason to suspend his All Star defenseman for a game. Smith is a key member of a defensive unit that has struggled all year. Losing him made things that much harder on the team.
- Tom Montour sat once again on Saturday. I want to know why. Is it that important to dress Brandon Francis and Jay Thorimbert? I don’t see a need for two (three counting Jeremy Thompson) face off specialists. Montour contributes well at both ends of the court, let him get the floor time he deserves.