A great deal of this you can already find posted on my twitter (@matthew1stewart), but I figured I'd pop in here and repeat myself with a quick hit. Ok. So: Everybody knows it's been bad for the Sabres lately. But how bad? I mean, we aren't talking "worst in the league, competing for a top lottery pick bad", right? I mean, we're not the Oilers or Islanders, right? Haha. Ha. Ha. Yeah, no, we totally are.
This is not just one of the worst teams in the NHL this season, this may be, in fact, the worst Buffalo Sabres team we've seen in a very long time. Maybe even ever.
Now put away your blamey stick, conceal again your pitchforks and flame. There's no one thing to pinpoint, exactly, in explaining exactly how bad this team has been. No sir and ma'am. To be historically bad, as it goes, it's usually a group effort.
The players have stunk. The coach has stunk. The guy who put it all together has stunk. The guys who have paid for it all have stunk. Everybody is just one big, smelly mess.
- Since Christmas, the Sabres have lost nine games in regulation. They have lost all nine by more than one goal.
- Five games into the present road trip, the Sabres have allowed 23 goals, or 4.6 per game.
- The Sabres have carried (and then held) only one lead from the first period since December 26th.
- The Sabres are tied for the 29th worst goal differential in hockey, and they are on pace for their lowest total ever.
- Buffalo is the 24th worst 5-on-5 team in hockey, allowing the 5th most shots, and the 4th worst goals against average.
- When trailing after 1 period, they have come back to win a horrifyingly low 24% of the time.
The Guy Who Put it All Together
- It has not worked for Darcy Regier's big fancy free agent signings. Ville Leino, who was signed to a 6 year, $4.5 million per year contract is on pace for less than 10 goals and less than 15 assists this season. He has -0.2 offensive point shares, which is less than Paul Szcechura, who has played in 27 less games, and less than T.J. Brennan, who is a defenseman with one point on the year.
- Christian Ehrhoff, who was signed this off-season to a 10 year contract with a $4.0 million dollar cap hit is on pace for four year lows in goals, assists, +/-, shots, powerplay goals and shooting percentage.
- The Sabres have 8 players with negative offensive point shares, 7 of whom have played more than 20 games.
- Paul Gaustad, who is at the end of an expiring contract with a $2.3 million dollar cap hit, is on pace for five year lows in goals, assists, goals created and shots.
- Drew Stafford, who was re-signed this past off-season to a 4 year extension with a $4.0 million dollar cap hit, is on pace to have a season just slightly better or equal to his rookie season. In his rookie season, he played 41 games. In 2011-12, he has already played 46.
The Guy Who Coaches Them
- Mike Weber's Time On Ice clocks in at 19:40 per game, more than Robyn Regehr, who was informed he would be a critical component of the defensive scheme this off-season. He is averaging only 19:07.
- Derek Roy's Time On Ice is at 18:41, a player whom the Sabres have unsuccessfully tried to trade because he is perceived as "too soft"* and does not play within the confines of the system. Thomas Vanek, considered by many to be one of perhaps only two or three legitimately good players on the team, comes in over a minute less at 17:22.
(* Do we remember when we thought having Derek Roy back for game 7 against the Flyers was going to be a big help? Yeah.)
- Ville Leino, considered by most everyone who follows the team as one of the worst free agent signings, maybe ever, has had 15:41 of ice time. Nathan Gerbe, who is routinely lauded for his hard work, hustle, and ability to play both ways, has clocked only on average 13:58.
- Patrick Kaleta, whose career high in points is 15, is on pace for a fourth season (in a career of five) in which he will not eclipse the 10 point mark as an NHL player. His reward? A 3 minute boost per game in his time on the ice.
- Robyn Regehr, who is considered by many to be the best of the three major acquistions this season by the Sabres, has seen his ice-time reduced by almost 3 minutes, the fewest minutes he has played since 2000. He is on pace for his first +/- season in the negative since 2001 and the lowest point shares total in his career.
There is no quick fix for this. There is no recipe or magic potion that can undue the avalanche of wrongs that is crippling this team on the ice, behind the bench and in the front office. To try to decide exactly who is at fault is essentially an impossible task, because each facet of this organization has played a part in it's utter incompetence up to this point.
Does that mean that the Sabres should completely clean house, from the general manager to the coach to the entire roster? You be the judge. Fixing one thing might help to fix the others. It also might have no impact at all. Just know that if you are a Sabres fan, you have been watching, over the last five weeks, one of the worst Sabres teams there has ever been.
Someone or some group of ones will, undoubtedly, receive their comeuppance.
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