Sabres need to “Sharpen their Swords” and show some fight

Buffalo Sabres goalie Chad Johnson (31) is scored on by New Jersey Devils forward Jesper Bratt (63) during the second period of an NHL hockey game, Monday Oct. 9, 2017, in Buffalo, N.Y. (AP Photo/Jeffrey T. Barnes)

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – Where do the Sabres go from here?

Last in the Atlantic Division standings (again) the only way to go is up…or something like that.

Poor turnovers.

Inexcusable shorthanded goals.

A power play unit that was tops a year ago, looks anything but.

It didn’t matter if you were in the arena or watching on TV (which I was) – the boos rained down loud and clear – and rightfully so – in the third game of the season, a 6-2 loss to the New Jersey Devils.

I tweeted “I don’t remember a loss like this during the tank years.” Don’t get me wrong, there were plenty of bad losses.

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Scott Bartels fired back, “They never were this bad back then because they worked hard without talent. Now talent with little effort.”

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Scott’s not wrong and the Sabres echoed those sentiments in the locker room after the game.

“I don’t blame them for the way we competed,” Ryan O’Reilly said of the “boos” fans showered players with.  “I don’t want to talk for other guys because I didn’t do enough but these fans and people deserve better that.  That wasn’t a good show or performance we put on. It’s disappointing.”

“The fans support us tremendously and it is too bad we didn’t come up with a better effort for them,” Head Coach Phil Housley added.  “They are great, they support this organization and they’re very proud. If I was in there shoes I might have had the same reaction.”

Evander Kane, who has been the best player on the ice in all three games this season, said the team lacked focused.  He had two more goals to push his point total for the season to total to four points.

Jack Eichel has three.

Ryan O‘Reilly has one.

I wrote about this in my season preview: Slow starts were the identity of the Sabres a year ago.  Many were quick to blame the head coach and the system.  It was a reoccurring issue in the preseason, one that Housley said needed to change.

Buffalo struggled early against Montreal, before finding its footing and then “let off the gas” in the third period of their shootout loss.

They trailed less than two minutes into their Saturday showdown with the Islanders and never recovered.  New Jersey jumped out early and just when the Sabres looked to seize momentum with Kane’s power play goal to pull within 2-1, they gave it right back to the Devils who answered with a short handed goal 21 seconds later.

Buffalo surrendered four short handed goals all of last season. They’ve given up four in three games.

This is on the players.

“In all three games, I think I’ve been invisible,” O’Reilly said after the loss.  “I haven’t been creating I haven’t been playing tough defensively.  I’m just out there skating around and it’s not good enough. I wish I had an answer on how I can get better. It’s something I have to dwell on and figure out.”

We heard plenty of that from O’Reilly last year, too.

“It’s a massive regroup for us now,” O’Reilly added.

The centerman isn’t wrong.

The Sabres need to do that now more then ever.  There’s blood in the water and the Sharks, who are also winless on the year, will have had five days to simmer after a 4-1 loss to the Kings on Saturday night.  Who will be more ready for Thursday’s game is a toss up at this point.

But, it’s time for the Sabres to live up to their motto – Sharpen their Sword – and fight back.

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