To the surprise of no one, the Sabres lost. They’ve done it in nine of their 10 games. They’ll do it a lot more.
But, once again, Buffalo managed to set the bar below what appeared to be rock bottom. It’s almost unfathomable how far and fast the organization has fallen.
The Sabres slept through another first period, watching as Colorado took the opening 12 shots on its way to a 4-2 victory that was easy until Buffalo woke up for the third. The Sabres fell to 1-8-1 overall and 0-5-1 in First Niagara Center.
“It’s getting to be pretty ridiculous the way we’re starting games,” defenseman Tyler Myers said. “It’s unacceptable. It’s embarrassing.”
The embarrassment is just getting started if things don’t change.
The Sabres have only three points through their opening 10 games, which puts them on pace for 25. The lowest total in NHL history is 21, set during a 70-game season by the 1974-75 Washington Capitals (8-67-5). The Ottawa Senators (10-70-4) and San Jose Sharks (11-71-2) recorded 24 points in 84 games in 1992-93.
The Capitals and Senators were expansion teams. The Sabres just resemble one.
Coach Ron Rolston, who has coached 41 games, remains stuck on eight regulation victories. He repeatedly said, “It’s a good question,” when asked how to get a better effort from his players.
“There’s no magic answer to tell them you’ve got to do this or that,” Rolston said. “If you don’t work, it doesn’t matter what you do.”
The coach derided the early showing by the team’s veterans.
“They’ve been in the league a long time, they should be able to make plays,” said Rolston, who contrasted them with defenseman Nikita Zadorov, the first-round pick who made his NHL debut. “You’ve got an 18-year-old kid out there who looked like he’s played 20 years in the league, then you’ve got other guys who looked like it was their first game. Figure it out.”
If the Sabres wanted to make changes to the roster, coaching staff or front office, this would be an ideal time to do it from a calendar standpoint. They have three days off before hosting Boston on Wednesday, which matches their longest break until a four-day hiatus in December.
“I’m not worried about that,” a testy Rolston said. “My job is to worry about tomorrow, then go to Monday, then go to Tuesday. That’s my job. That’s what I do.”
He said the players and coaching staff focused on having a good start. Vancouver blitzed the Sabres, 11-1, in the opening three minutes Thursday. Colorado took a more methodical approach, but the Avs did even better. They opened with the first 12 shots, which led to a 2-0 lead and an extremely restless crowd.
On the rare occasions when Buffalo had the puck, fans pleaded and begged for the players to shoot. When Drew Stafford finally put a harmless shot on Jean-Sebastien Giguere with 14:09 played, the crowd erupted.
Nowadays, that’s what serves as entertainment at the foot of Washington Street.
“We all knew we stunk that period,” said Marcus Foligno, who joined Cody Hodgson in bringing the Sabres’ goal total to 12 in 10 games. “It wasn’t good. It was terrible hockey.”
The Sabres finally earned genuine applause from the remnants of the announced crowd of 18,422 with an impressive third period. Fans clapped for a determined effort, which is really all they want and expect during this rebuilding season.
Instead, they got 3-0 and 3-1 deficits as the home team once again wandered aimlessly.
“These fans, they just want hard work,” Foligno said. “They want simple guys who care. That’s the way it’s always been.”