The Sabres have the same conversations as the fans. How can they look good sometimes and be so atrociously awful the rest of the time?
OK, they're obviously not as critical of their game as the fans are, but they do ask themselves similar questions when they're unlacing their skates or hanging out in the players' lounge.
"We talk about it in the room," right wing Jason Pominville said after Saturday's 4-2 loss to Los Angeles. "We talk about it all the time. I wish I could give you an answer, but it's extremely frustrating.
"A lot of things are said in the room, but until you go out there and do it, it's not going to change."
It's not changing. There are few signs it will. Sure, there's the blip like sweeping western Canada and winning three of four before Saturday's pounding. But for the first 40 minutes against the Kings, the players may as well have taken in brunch or a movie rather than skate listlessly around KeyBank Center and fall into a 4-0 hole.
"We weren't ready to play," Buffalo defenseman Marco Scandella said.
No, they weren't. It's not the first time. Or the second. Or the third. Or the 20th.
Do they even care?
"I don't want to say care. I hope everyone cares," Pominville said. "You go out there, you play, you work hard, you compete, you battle. Sometimes we don’t, and I don't get it. I don't understand.
"If you want to play in this league and play for a while, that's where it starts. Sometimes we're not doing it, and it's led to us being where we are in the standings."
They are 30th in the 31-team NHL after winning only 17 of the opening 59 games. Last-place Arizona is right on their tail. A few more "efforts" like Saturday and they'll be back at rock bottom.
"It's a decision you make when you go out there whether you're on board or you're not," Pominville said. "For us to have success, we need everyone to be on board."
The Kings pounced on the Sabres with 19 shots in the opening period, scoring once. It was a bad-angle shot that slipped between the pads of under-siege goaltender Robin Lehner.
"I wish I had the answer why I stopped 18 shots and let in a brutal one," Lehner said. "I wish I knew. I'm not doing it on purpose."
The Kings scored on three straight shots during the second period, and fans started grabbing their coats and heading for the exits.
"Third period, it's over from that point," said Sabres coach Phil Housley, who saw his team score twice in the final 20 minutes to make the result seem close. "I don't think our guys were ready to play."
Housley repeatedly told them to be ready. He expressed his disappointment about Thursday's 3-2 overtime loss in Ottawa. He explained that Los Angeles had lost three straight on its seven-game road trip and would be eager to turn things around. He told them …
It clearly didn't matter what he told them.
"We prepare the same way we do every game," Housley said. "It's up to individuals to take the information that's given to them."
It's a lather-rinse-repeat cycle of in one ear, out the other. It resulted in their ears being filled with boos at the end of the second period.
"We deserve that," left wing Zemgus Girgensons said.
More often than not, the Sabres get what they deserve on the scoreboard.
"It's unacceptable," Scandella said. "There's no reason for it. We should be ready every night, especially in our building.
"We definitely weren't engaged enough. They were playing playoff-type hockey, and we're going to have to step up next game and figure out what we need to do in this dressing room."
They need to show they care. They need to play for an entire game. It certainly won't get easier with Alex Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals coming to town Monday afternoon.
At this point, the odds are against a solid effort and good start.
"I really don't get it," Pominville said. "I don't understand it."