BUFFALO (LGS) — They've paid all the bills, and they've given some key personnel hefty raises, but at the one-quarter mark of 2008-2009, it's not paying dividends for the Buffalo Sabres.
It has to be highly disconcerting for Tom Golisano, Darcy Regier, and Co. to witness this promising young core underperform. They have to be scratching their heads, and as the Sabres' losing streak has now reached five games, they have to be growing in concern about the future.
Many had hoped last year was just a speed bump, a pothole in the road, and that it would be paved and smoothed over by this season. That was the implication; always has been.
Ryan Miller, Jason Pominville, and the rest of the gang has been signed, sealed, delivered. They're here to stay.
So now that the distractions were out the window, this team was supposed to surge. Thomas Vanek in particular was supposed to grow into the player the Sabres' hoped he would be once and for all. At least that has happened.
They played well the first six or seven games. Since, not so much. The team's play, including Ryan Miller, has been less than expected — "not good enough" as Teppo Numminen so politely told the Buffalo News on Sunday night.
It's a team in disarray.
Sitting personnel hasn't flicked the switch back to normal either. The Sabres we began the season with, and thought we'd see more of, have disappeared. It's like a different team. One with no heart.
They've been hitting more than Sabres teams of the past. But don't expect to see guys like Kaleta to hit the back of the net. That's for Pommer to do. Or Roy. Or Gaustad. Or, heck—Mancari, who has come out of nowhere and impressed in his first two games.
The defense has been disappointing. Regular Tallinder has not been up to snuff and he's been a healthy scratch the last two games. Rivet hasn't been the savior so many had hoped he would be when Lindy slapped the C on in his chest, but how can you expect any one guy to do that?
Numminen's been reliable at times, but even he's struggled at times. The whole back-end has looked a bit lost for too much of the season.
What's a team to do? Well, they've already handed the money out. The big bucks lie on Miller, Vanek, Pominville, Roy, et al. It's up to those guys to bail them out.
You can talk trade all you want, but the core of this team has already been built. For better or for worse, these are your Buffalo Sabres. Don't expect Max or anybody else to fetch you an impact player back; this is our team.
It's up to the big guys to sort it out. They can start, well, now, considering Boston rolls into Buffalo on Wednesday. No time to waste.