Sunday, October 22, 2017

On to Boston with a bitter taste still lingering

Published by, 10-21-2017

It's about as crappy a start to a new season and a new regime as it can get. The Sabres head to Boston tonight with a 1-5-2 record, a boatload of injuries and on-ice play reminiscent of the tank years. And after last night's stinker against the Vancouver Canucks, hands are being thrown into the air across Sabreland as fans and media disgust with this product are popping in forums and social media.

Before we get to that, however, the NHL screwed the pooch last night by not disallowing a goal when there was clearly an offsides. It was a call that was almost as bad as Brett Hull's skate in the crease.

Here's the explanation: 

"After reviewing all available replays and consulting with the Linesman, NHL Hockey Operations staff confirmed that Vancouver's Jake Virtanen had possession and control of the puck as he entered the attacking zone prior to the goal. According to Rule 83.1, 'a player actually controlling the puck who shall cross the line ahead of the puck shall not be considered off-side provided he had possession and control of the puck prior to his skates crossing the blueline.'"

Yup, "control of the puck" means a air borne puck that's at least a foot from Virtanen. We're left to wonder if the staff in Toronto was actually reviewing the play or looking up this obscure rule to make the goal stand. A rule, by the way, that still doesn't justify the ruling on the ice.

Here's what Sabres coach Phil Housley had to say about the play when talking to the gathered media postgame: 

"I disagree with the call - totally," Housley said after the game, per John Vogl of the Buffalo News. "(Virtanen) knocks the puck out of the air. He never has possession. If you call that possession, then as long as I've been in the league it's a different answer or explanation than they gave.

"I'd call that 10 out of 10 times offside, and I'd continue to challenge that again."

Simply put, the Sabres got screwed on that play. Which is nothing new.

However, that being said, what the NHL didn't do to screw over Buffalo, the Sabres did to themselves. What on earth are you thinking, Rasmus Ristolainen? That turnover was pathetic (and lead to that controversial goal.) Jiminy Christmas, Housley, why on earth do you continue to play Nathan Beaulieu and Matt Tennyson on the powerplay? Tennyson adds little if anything and Beaulieu is a turnover machine and it happened again last night which lead to another shorthanded goal against, their league-leading sixth of the season. That's the fourth shorthanded goal that Beaulieu has been on the ice for.

On twitter, the despair in Sabreland is being tossed around like the like chum in the water. How long before Housley gets axed? Okposo's contract is an albatross. The tank didn't work. Everyone sux and we're all going straight to hell. Jesus, Could we be Toronto?

What a wonderful day.

On this warm October Saturday some fresh air would do everyone in Sabreland some good. Disconnect, step away and venture outside for a second. Go skip stones in the water or just lie down in the grass an look to the sky. Get away from the media and social media for a moment and give your brain a rest.

There's a game tonight. This may or may not be the low point of the Sabres season thus far but life still goes on and we're still only eight games into it. Sure, former coach Dan Bylsma is chuckling, but it's only worse because this first-time head coach is actually worse. At least for now. Sure, it's a tire fire in Buffalo but as we look at the standings, believe it or not, there are worse teams. The Sabres have a better record than the Montreal Canadiens and the Arizona Coyotes, the latter of whom has yet to win a game. Buffalo is also are tied with the Jimmy Vesey and the NY Rangers om the standings.

Small consolation, I know, but it could be worse.

Tonight the Sabres take on the Boston Bruins, a team they were swept by last season. In fact Buffalo is 2-5-3 over their last 10 vs. the B's but 4-4-2 on the road.

Buffalo heads to Beantown and the injuries continue to mount. The aforementioned Beaulieu is out and Buffalo called up Zach Redmond from Rochester. Whether he or yesterday's call up Taylor Fedun gets the nod is still up in the air but regardless, who'd have thought we'd be pining for Josh Gorges, Zach Bogosian and Justin Falk, all of whom are injured?

Housley benched $11 million worth of salary last night in the second and third periods as Kyle Okposo and Matt Moulson rode the pine because of ineffective play. Perhaps the Sabres are taking a page out of the Buffalo Bills playbook as they had their highest priced player, Marcel Dareus, playing minimal snaps and last week they had Cordy Glenn and his $14.2 million cap-hit this season were on the bench as well.

It's a tire-fire right now with the Sabres and the prospects of winning tonight against Boston aren't the greatest. The start to this hockey season has left a bitter taste in the mouths of the Sabres faithful and the only thing that can get it out is a win, plain and simple.

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