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Sabres Central

Sabres rediscover offense against Flyers and Canes

For two periods against the Carolina Hurricanes, it appeared as if the Buffalo Sabres were once again reverting back to their sluggish ways. If it weren’t for Ryan Miller’s heroics in the nets, the Canes would have been on their way to a blowout. However, Miller allowed only one puck to get past him and the Sabres were still in the game, even though they had been vastly outplayed.

Miller had given the Sabres a chance to rediscover their scoring touch and in the third period, the Sabres finally found the back of the net...five times! Miller obviously was the savior on this night, as if it weren’t for him, the Sabres would have suffered an embarrassing loss to the Canes who were looking for their first road victory of the season. As it was, the Sabres came back from their 1-0 deficit to win going away, 5-1.

One of the trademarks of the Sabres under Lindy Ruff is their inconsistency. This has been the team's bane since Ruff took over for Ted Nolan in the last century. The Sabres can string a batch of great games together, and then fall apart, playing the opposite resulting in a long losing streak.

This season is another prime example of the Sabres consistency for being inconsistent. They roared out of the gates, posting the best record in the Eastern Conference, only to succumb to lethargy and mistakes. The Sabres got out of a losing streak by taking on two of the toughest teams in the NHL, the Flames and Flyers, and beating them with their own game. The Sabres showed that they can go hit-for-hit, punch for punch against the bigger Flyers and Flames. Then after patting themselves on the backs for their accomplishments, they proceeded to lose 4 straight.

Friday afternoon’s game proved to be the tonic to correct the Sabres ills as they beat the Flyers in Philly. The Sabres last win was in Philly, so it was cure to the Sabres losing streak to have to play the Bullies once more. Buffalo braved the Orange Crush and pulled out their first win in 5 games as they beat the Flyers, who had swept the series against the Sabres last season. For some reason, the Sabres have found a way to raise their level of play, and aggressiveness, against the bigger and meaner teams like the Flyers and Flames.

However, the Sabres were back to their lifeless ways for the first two periods against the ‘Canes Saturday night and it appeared as if they were going to get shutout for the second time this week. Something happened in the locker room before the third period and the Sabres came out for the final stanza with fire in their eyes and determination to jumpstart their offense.

Sabres inconsistent ways under Ruff

While I have been a Lindy Ruff supporter all these years, it is curious how his teams have never been consistent. Possibly the only exception came during the season they won the Presidents Cup. The Sabres have shown that they can play with the best, delivery explosive hits, hit the back of the net with consistency, but then they stop all the things that make them successful and become lethargic. The Sabres could be called the Schizophrenics because of the two opposite ways they play throughout most season.

The blame for this inconsistency has to go to the coaching. Sure, the players are supposed to be professionals and should share the blame, in the end, it is always the head coach that feels the heat for not getting his troops ready for each and every game. While Lindy is one of the most successful coaches in the NHL and has the longest tenure, he has to find a way to eliminate the emergence of the Sabre Slugs. The two wins against the Flyers and one against the Flames proves that the Sabres can play the style of hockey needed to be a Stanley Cup contender. The challenge for Ruff is to get them to do it on a consistent basis.



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