The struggles continued tonight for the rebuilding Buffalo Sabres in Madison Square Garden. To accentuate the team’s struggle to find the back of the net, the visiting Sabres were held off the score sheet entirely and they were shut out by a score of 2-0.
All game long, Ryan Miller’s stellar performance kept the game in reach for Buffalo. Of the 46 shots the Rangers fired at Miller only two were able to get past him. The first of which came at the 8:23 mark of the opening period, when the Rangers were on the powerplay Derick Brassard snuck a wrist shot past the Buffalo goaltender. New York didn’t score again until the second period when Chris Kreider found twine with a snap shot at the 11:21 mark.
The Sabres were able to generate close to 30 shots but the quality of these were questionable. The team still struggles with maintaining pressure and keeping the puck, this was especially apparent tonight as the Ranger’s dominated the play.
After tonight’s loss the Sabres are the owners of a pitiful 2-12-1 record and they are already unbelievably far from a chance at a playoff spot. The reality of the rebuild is setting for the team with the loss of Thomas Vanek and for the fans who could not imagine their team in this rough of shape this early into the season.
However, the team struggles to find any sort of spark despite having a roster of young talent ready to prove themselves in the league. Blame is being leveled at Darcy Regier for putting together the team and for the spot they sit in now, but recently the blame is also being leveled at Ron Rolston.
His career in Buffalo began rather unexpectantly as he became the interim head coach after the removal of longtime coach Lindy Ruff. Most fans were pleased at the move but expected a new coach to be instated by the start of new season to shape the changing team. However, Rolston comes under heavy fire for the benching of young players, particularly Mikhail Grigorenko the potential franchise center for the Sabres, just four games into the season.
Through multiple benchings as well as incessant line juggling the Sabres do not appear to be a team growing together and developing but instead a group individualized talent struggling to find a rhythm. Buffalo also appears to be lacking a sense of player leadership, with Steve Ott having a hard time finding any traction to his game and Christian Ehrhoff have a good but quiet season.
These questions of leadership, coaching, and chemistry will be answered throughout the rest of the year. The Sabres turn their attention to the Anaheim Ducks who will be visiting Saturday night at 7 p.m.