Sunday, November 17, 2013

The Sabres should continue doing what they've been doing the past two games...

worry about competing and playing hockey.

The Toronto Maple Leaves have their pugnacity and truculence, as well as a number of pugilists who will drop the gloves. They also have a pack mentality and won't hesitate to jump an opposing player as a third man in.
Buffalo Sabres enforcer John Scott gets jumped from behind
by Leaves tough-guy Frazer McLaren. Scott was assessed
14 mins in penalties and was cofused as to why.
(photo from Associated Press)

Good for them. As thug-like as they may be, they're a bit of old-school, and it serves them well. Last season
that identity lead them to the playoffs for the first time in nine years.

The Buffalo Sabres are struggling and in the midst of an ugly transition period. They lack the overall skill to compete with the better clubs, but they do have some overall grit and character to at least hold their own in an alley brawl.

In fact they stand up to Toronto pretty well and only get into trouble when two or more Leaves jump them (see video below, 4:35-mark,) which has happened in two of the last three meetings between the fierce rivals. (click here for access to the September line brawl.)

As much as the Sabres are fighting for respect, both literally and figuratively, having a "Gangs of New York" brawl doesn't do much for a struggling Buffalo team. And as much as this Sabres fan would love to see one-on-one fisticuffs between the teams' pugilists, the Sabres have other pressing problems right now.

New head coach Ted Nolan had a message for his troops when he took over as interim coach. He wants them to focus upon competing and playing hockey. That's what he directed enforcer John Scott to do. That's why Patrick Kaleta is still in Rochester.

And as for Toronto and Buffalo engaging in a line brawl over the weekend? Nolan instructed Scott to back off from any staged confrontation, especially with the Leaves heavyweights Colton Orr or Frazer McLaren (or even if the Leaves "Princess Phaneuf" [snicker, snicker] tries to ignite a brawl.)

There will come a time when the Sabres will engage in a street brawl with the Leaves, but not right now. An individual bout here and there like Sabres captain Steve Ott landing a couple of haymakers to the face of David Clarkson or John "Gulliver" Scott getting jumped by a group of Lilliputians in blue and white sweaters will have to do.

(video from Fred Murtz)

The Sabres came away with a split in the home-and-home vs. the Leaves this weekend, playing some pretty good hockey in the process.

Their 3-1 victory at home was an inspiring game in Nolan's return to the bench in Buffalo for the first time in 16 years. And it should have been.

Last night the team fell into their usual rut to start the game and found themselves in a 3-0 hole headed into the third period. A valiant effort brought them to within a goal but a late penalty and late powerplay goal by Toronto's Mason Raymond with just over a minute to play sealed their fate.

The Buffalo Sabres have proven that they're willing to stand up to anybody as evidenced by their leading the league in fights.

But their 5-16-1 record, 11 total pts. and last place standing in the league indicate that they have much more pressing problems than worrying about getting jumped by the Leaves.

They'll be able to take care of that later.

Thanks to Maple Leafs Online for the above video

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