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Sabres Central

Sabres hit rock bottom in Toronto
By Rick Anderson
March 24, 2002

On the play that led up the the Leafs first goal, Sabres goalie Martin Biron gets his stick up high on Leafs' Shayne Corson during second period action. Corson proceeded to impede Biron's attempt to get back into the net by clearly holding the goalie's stick. Tie Domi then shot the puck into the empty net for the winning goal.
[AP Photo/Aaron Harris]

Have the Buffalo Sabres thrown in the towel? Comments from ESPN analysts after the Sabres lackluster performance against the Boston Bruins Thursday that they apparently have given up on the season held true to form Saturday night in Toronto. The Sabres looked like they were just going through the motions and not having any desire to even be on the ice as they were blanked by the Maple Leafs 2-0. This certainly was not a team playing desperation hockey to make the playoffs. In fact, the opposite was true.

Once again, the Sabres made a scrub goalie look like the second coming of Bernie Parent. Cory Schwab had his first shutout since he manned the pipes for the Lightning on Dec. 17, 1997. The Sabres made his job easy as they put 20 very soft shots on the goalie who is replacing the injured Curtis Joseph.

"This was probably our best defensive game since I've been playing," related Schwab. "When you play well defensively you have a better chance of getting a shutout."

Helped by the officials failure to call a holding the stick penalty on Shayne Corson, the Leafs opened the scoring when Tie Domi fired the puck into the empty net 17:19 into the second stanza. The two teams have battled a scoreless draw up to that point. Sabres goalie Martin Biron went back to retrieve the puck and was met at the boards by Corson. The two became intangled and Corson refused to let go of Bironís stick as the goalie desperately tried to get back into the crease when the puck went out to Domi. Domiís shot beat Biron and the Sabres goal turned around and smashed his stick on the cross bar in disgust. Then he went after the ref for not calling that penalty which not only would have nullified that goal but given the Sabres the powerplay. In front of a full hose in Toronto, the ref was not going to deny the crowd their happiness over Domiís goal.

To make matters worse and stick it in the Sabres faces, Tim Connolly was called for holding Karel Pilarís stick in the third period. That was the kind of game it was.

"He said my stick got wrapped around Corson's neck, and there's nothing he could have done," fumed Biron. "The way I saw it is that Corson grabbed the stick, hugged it and wanted to make it look like it didn't happen. He's been around the league, he knows how to dive, and do things like that and it paid off."

In the third period, former Sabre Alexander Mogilny broke in on Biron on a 2-on-1 with Tomas Kaberle and Kaberle threaded a pass through to Mogilny for his 18th of the season. That was it for the Sabres.

Sabres desperate to end season

The Sabres, who supposedly are desperate to make the playoffs, are playing as if they are desperate to end the season and start their vacations early. Other teams who are out of the race and have much less talent than the Sabres are picking up their play as spoilers. Atlanta beat Ottawa and Nashville beat Montreal Saturday. Meanwhile, the Sabres seem like they canít get this season over soon enough.

An example in point are the four powerplays the Sabres had. They didnít register one shot on goal! To make matters worse, they are a big goose egg for their last 16 powerplays. Not good enough for a squirt team, certainly not good enough for a team trying to grab that last playoff berth.

"It was awful. It was awful," fumed Sabres' coach Lindy Ruff about the effort. "Look at the passing. The passing was awful. You can't stand in one place and make soft passes. I thought we weren't very good at retrievals. I can go through the whole area. It was awful."

With the amount of effort put forth these last two crucial games by the Sabres, one has to ask what happened to the drive and desire they displayed in huge upsets over the Wings and Flyers recently? The think that has been killing the Sabres all year is their inconsistency, their lack of showing up for each and every game. Losses to teams like Atlanta, Columbus, Tampa Bay and Nashville have killed any chance they had of making the playoffs.

Season ticket holders who have to work hard for the big bucks they have to shell out each year may be questioning the teamís work ethnic. The blue collar worker (and the white collar workers) cannot take nights off like the Sabres players do and expect to keep their jobs. People of Buffalo love their sports and want their athletes to be as hard working as they are. This Sabres team is full of slackers who donít give an honest effort game in and game out. Sabres owner John Rigas, who has stood firm in not spending in replacing the stars he traded away last season, will be in for a shock next year when the season ticket base hits rock bottom.

On a personal note, I am questioning the work I put into this Sabres Central site. Up to last year, I was spending between 3-4 hours per article, trying my best to present a professional product for Sabres fans to reflect on. After the way the Sabres have refused to put forth any consistent effort this season, I am questioning why I should show up for each and every game. Recently, I have cut down the amount of time spent on producing these articles. I have it down to 45 minutes, but even that is way too much to spend on this indolent team. From this point on, these articles will reflect the kind of effort the Sabres put on the ice. Time to cut this article short! I have written way too much on that humbling loss last night. Why the Sabres didnít even put one quarter of the effort just put into this article.

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