Wednesday, April 16, 2014

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Reeling Sabres Search for Answers

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BUFFALO, N.Y. - You can look at it any way you want. There's multiple negative ways to say it. Losses in 6-of-7; 9-of-12; 13-of-17. A 6-12-1 record that ranks: dead last in the Eastern Conference. This for a high priced team.

Have the Sabres reached the point of no return for this season? Probably. Saturday night's performance was another that had fans questioning emotion, effort, the simple ability of this team as it is comprised. At least there was somewhat of an answer to the emotion question in the game's final 10 seconds. There was the altercation involving Marcus Foligno and Patrick Kaleta - even both benches and coaches. It led to Matt Martin bumping Ryan Miller; and the Sabres goaltender trying to fire punches in response. Can that, perhaps, spark this team?

"Obviously they thought that we did it and they tried to do it back," Foligno said. "We took care of it and we did a good job. That's what we need. We need emotion and we need to get mad. He's our leader on the team. He brings emotion every game. When that happens, you've got to jump in there for him."

"We're on the bottom. We're on the ground right now. We're kicked in," said forward Steve Ott. "But it's the guys who rise, the character that has to show. And that's when the team can start to get out of this hole."

This was a week detrimental to the season, discouraging to the fan base, and historical for the wrong reasons. After that lemon against the Jets, Sabres management felt firing Lindy Ruff was their only option. But there wasn't an ounce of spark from making the change to Ron Rolston. Thursday in Toronto, the team looked the same, falling 3-1. And Saturday night, a life-less Sabres team was shutout by the Islanders. Fans are questioning the team's effort - but Ott sees more than that.

"It has more to do with the stupidity of playing on the wrong side of the puck," Ott said. "For us, good hockey players making stupid decisions out there, that's where it hurts. It hits you in the back of the net and you lose 4-nothing to the Islanders for example. That's where we need to continue to put the extra effort into practice, put the extra effort into video, so we start turning the corner."

"Everyone just needs to go home and think about what they can do better," forward Thomas Vanek said. "Come back tomorrow, work hard, and just get a win."

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