Reprinted with permission from hockeybuzz.com
but luckily tonight they play another pointless team in the Carolina Hurricanes.
The Buffalo Sabres have never started out a season 0-4, and only twice in franchise history have they started 0-3. That would be last year and this year. Those are the positives for the club heading into tonight's game in Raleigh, NC.
But, on the flipside, they went 1-8-4 in the second game of back-to-backs last season, and according to head coach Ted Nolan, it may seem as if the team will be playing 3-on-20 when they hit the ice in
After yesterday's home debacle against the Anaheim Ducks, Nolan was asked how frustrating it was having only two players score goals in the three games played thus far (Zemgus Girgensons, 2 and Tyler Ennis, 2.) "Those are the probably the only two guys that worked," said Nolan. "It's pretty hard to have two forwards and maybe one defenseman that's doing it [on a nightly basis.]"
The defenseman Nolan might have been alluding to is Tyler Myers. He leads the team in average TOI/game at 25:24 and is sporting an even plus/minus rating so far. And that's with Buffalo's league-worst 4.67 gaa/game.
Interesting to note that both Girgensons and Ennis are also at an even rating.
Minus those three and maybe a couple of others, there's no sense of desperation on the team. It's to the point that some, like Andrej Meszaros, play as if they've checked out already. A mere three games into the season.
Changes are coming with the defense pairings. Meszaros and Andre Benoit have had their fair share of ice time and have been pretty atrocious. Meszaros has one assist and is a minus-6 while Beniot has zero points and is a minus-4. Nolan has been very patient to this point, "But," he said, "don't confuse my patience with avoidance. Never do that."
Tyson Strachan, who was rumored to be hitting the ice yesterday looks as if he'll get his shot today as Meszaros rides the pine in the pressbox.
And more line juggling looks to be on the horizon as Hodgson moved from wing to center dropping to the third line while rookie Sam Reinhart could be centering the fourth line.
Although neither goalie is innocent in this trainwreck, even while facing over 40 shots per game, they havent' been up to snuff either as the holes in their games have been exploited and they stand accused of mental lapses leading to a couple of softies.
Michal Neuvirth was in net last night and faced 44 shots from the Ducks, whom Nolan called the "NHL team" while the Sabres team that skated in front of him, one that Nolan referred to as a "Pee Wee team" mustered a grand total of 12 shots on goal. "You could shoot the puck down the length of the ice 15 times and probably hit the net on 10 of them," said Nolan last night.
The Sabres have been outshot 131-57 in the opening three games which can be attributed to a huge discrepancy in both talent and will. Lack of the latter has never been a problem with a Ted Nolan coached team, and once he gets things settled a bit, they should play much better.
Tonight they go against a Carolina team that has yet to register a point in it's two games. Early projections had these two teams battling it out for the bottom of the conference and league and it looks as if those are bang-on to this point.
Losing is never easy, even if a fan base like Buffalo's is prepared for it.
All that's asked of the players is that an honest effort be put forth. Nolan expects it and the fans would like to see it.
We'll see how long it takes for the players to get that message.