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What's Wrong with the Buffalo Sabres?

Will Anything Ever Go Right for the Young Team?

Yahoo Contributor Network

COMMENTARY | It's not news that the Buffalo Sabres are bad, everyone knew they were going to be after general manager Darcy Regier's now famous "suffering" comments in the offseason. But this team isn't just bad, it's flat out terrible, like, worst-in-the-league terrible. Five games into the 2013 season, the Sabres have seen one thing after another go wrong as a domino of the worst variety is unfolding in front of fans' eyes.

From injuries to fluke bounces to failed scoring opportunities, Buffalo just can't seem to have anything go its way. It was never more apparent than the team's 4-1 loss against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Oct. 10.

No matter what the Sabres tried to do against the Jackets, no form of success was to be had.

Whether it was a blocked shot by defenseman Mike Weber that conveniently found the stick of Brandon Dubinsky who buried it for the goal or a pass to a wide open Cody Hodgson where his shot then goes right into the glove of Sergei Bobrovsky, the Sabres just have enough bad things happen to them on such a consistent basis that the only conclusion one could come to is that they are currently locked into a never ending cycle of Murphy's Law.

Though it's still early in the season, even some of the players are starting to feel like everything that can go wrong for them, is. That feeling has led the team to become, according to the players, too hesitant to make decisions on the ice.

"As a group, I think, we need to just start playing," said defenseman Tyler Myers. "It looks like we're scared to make plays."

Defenseman Mike Weber, who was a minus-4 against Columbus, said that it seems to come from fear of making that next big mistake that could cost the team.

"We're squeezing our sticks," he said. "We've got to get the hesitation out of our game and just play hockey; bear down; battle; compete."

He added: "We're nervous to make mistakes."

It's not like the team hasn't been in most of its games this season. Three of the first five have been one goal games in which Buffalo either had a chance to take the lead or tie the game late. Each time, however, the team would come up just short.

As Ryan Miller said after the loss to the Blue Jackets, "You can't just work hard, get a puck and not do anything with it."


The team actually has to score. Against Columbus, while trailing by three goals, players on the Sabres, namely Thomas Vanek and Drew Stafford, tried to get fancy with the puck and shoot the puck between their legs for goals. It worked on Vanek's goal earlier in the game, but to repeatedly try it when you're on a team that can't even put the puck in the net with a regular shot? Come on now.

It may be, and likely is, reading too much into it, but one has to wonder if it's a sign of a team that doesn't seem to care anymore. Miller is adamant that that's not the case.

"There are expectations in here," he said. "This is about a chance to play for the playoffs."

If this team really has aspirations of making a run to the postseason this year, then the winning - obviously - has to start now. But just how can a team that seems so snake bitten get over the hump and finally get on the positive side of the scoreboard.

Forward Marcus Foligno said it's about taking over the game, not waiting for something to happen to finally see success.

"We just have to do it," he said. "It's as simple as that. Just go and make a play."

The players are saying all the right things, but can they act on what they preach. That, and only that, will determine if the ship will get righted soon, or if it will sink quicker than expected.

Michael Straw has covered the Buffalo Sabres for the past three seasons, and his work has been featured on WGR550-Buffalo and PuckDaddy. For Sabres and more NHL news, following Michael on Twitter@TheMikeStraw.

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