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Sabres Central

Leafs stick a fork in Sabres playoff hopes

By Rick Anderson
March 22, 2008

This season has been a bipolar roller coaster ride for the Sabres fans. One day they are down in the dumps, thinking that any playoff hopes are lost, and then they win 3 straight, averaging almost 7 goals a game. The emotional ride has hit bottom again after a horrid performance against Toronto Friday night.

For the second straight game, the Sabres came out with an uninspiring effort and fell behind quickly. This time, however, they didn't have any comeback spark and lost to the Maple Leafs 4-1.

"It is disappointing," admitted captain-of-the month Jason Pominville. "This is a game we feel we should have won. This is a team we feel we should beat. We didn't get off to a good start, we missed quite a few opportunities, and on a couple of their goals we should have made better plays, and it ended up costing us."

While the Sabres were losing, both the Capitals and Flyers won, so the Sabres dropped into 10th place and the Flyers moved 3 points ahead of them. This certainly was a night the Sabres had to win. Instead, they turtled and quickly dropping out of playoff contention.

These Sabres are pretenders and not contenders anyway. After this inconsistent season, does anyone seriously think this team could even advance if they happen to find momentum and make the playoffs?

Could this be the final nail in the coffin for the Sabres? Though they are still mathematically in the playoff race, this 4-1 loss to the Leafs most likely has killed any momentum that they gained in their 3-game winning streak where they scored 20 goals.

On Friday night before a split house in HSBC Arena in Buffalo, the Sabres couldnít buy a goal. They had two continuous 2-man advantages and couldnít come close to putting the puck in the net. In fact, they hardly got any pucks through on Leafs goalie Vesa Toskala as the Leafs were blocking almost every shot.

On the other end, Sabres goalie Ryan Miller continues to battle the puck and canít seem to stop shots from afar. One has to wonder if heís having problems with his vision, as there have been way too many goals scored on him from the top of the faceoff circles to the blue line. For someone who will be in his final year of his contract next season, Miller is not doing anything to increase his worth. In fact, the Sabres might be smart to shop around for at least a competent backup goalie.

Do you believe??

Just when the Sabres got their fans thinking that they actually had a chance to make the playoffs again, they go out and lay another rotten egg on the ice. Maybe itís appropriate then that itís Easter weekend.

What's maddening about the Sabres is their extreme inconsistency. They can score 6 goals in one period against the Tampa Bay Lightning, and then have trouble getting even one goal the next game. That's the way it has been all season for this young club.

Maybe the truth is finally being acknowledged in hockey circles that this team isn't good enough to even make the playoffs, just one year after they had the best record in the entire NHL. The fact that the Sabres management bungled the contract negotiations of Chris Drury, Daniel Bri3iere and this year Brian Campbell is a testament that they are not committed to winning. Instead, their commitment is to the bottom line and keeping their payroll as low as possible.

Losing all three of those leaders, along with the injuries they suffered this year all adds up to an early start on the golf course. That is, unless they stage another miracle comeback. Nah, why get your hopes up again just to be crestfallen again?

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