I expected the comments on our Sabres-Thrashers live blog to be pretty rip-roaring and I'll give it up to you folks because you didn't disappoint. Lots of insight, lots of raw venom, lots of quick quips too. Some excellent Sunday reading.
Maybe I'm egging on all of your ire but I wonder how many of you read Bucky Gleason's Inside The NHL column in Sunday's paper. In it, Bucky learns exclusively from minority owner Larry Quinn that the Sabres are expected to keep Lindy Ruff and Darcy Regier next season even if they miss the playoffs for the second year in a row and for the fifth time in seven years.
Would love to know, however, what Quinn thought about Ruff after Saturday night's debacle. We've all seen coaches get fired in this league for far less than blowing a two-goal lead at home to the Thrashers in the final six minutes with the tying goal scored in the last four seconds. Maybe Quinn & Co. can say that's a fluke that never happens happens much. Oh, wait a minute, it happened to the Sabres Dec. 27 against the Islanders too. Also at home. Thrashers and Islanders. Not like letting the Bruins and Caps come back on you now, is it?
I wanted to see some real anger from Ruff after last night's game. But he seemed as defeated as his team. He tried to say the Thrashers didn't have any real good chances in the last minute, which was true. There were no shots on goal until Ron Hainsey's point drive. But the Sabres never got the puck out of the zone for the entire final minute either. It looked like that 76-second shift in Philly last month. How many weak clearing passes will this team make? When is sombody going to demand the puck in the final seconds and get it out of the zone?
Here's a novel thought: When is this team going to take advantage of somebody's empty net?
Why do we keep seeing soft plays from the likes of Jason Pominville, Henrik Tallinder and Toni Lydman late in games? How about Craig Rivet or Paul Gaustad on the ice in the late going instead? Dominic Moore? Bad clearing attempt and then got run over in the corner. No help.
Who puts guys on the ice in the late going? Ruff. You can crab about Regier not doing much at the deadline (cue up the "they sure missed Kotalik in the shootout" cracks) but this one was on Ruff. What should never happen has happened twice in the same season against lousy teams.
Yes, the Thrashers are lousy. Don't tell me about their winning streak. They're 13th in the East, they were 48 hours removed from a game in Edmonton and their best player was home hurt. Ruff tried to say the Sabres played a strong game offensively. What was he watching for the first 34 minutes? I say they did nothing until Derek Roy woke them up.
Yes, the Sabres got a point. Yes, they lost ground to no one in the East Saturday. But Ruff certainly didn't distinguish himself at the end of this one. Or after it. He should be happy the owners and the GM -- and, frankly, many of the fans -- have his back. Because lots of coaches are sent packing for a lot less than what we're seeing.
(Photo: James P. McCoy/Buffalo News)