As the Buffalo Sabres continue to display an inability to perform consistently, Robin Lenher puts the blame squarely on the shoulders of the players.
The Sabres once again followed up an excellent display with a poor outing in the next game. In particular, it was the second period that proved to be their undoing, as they lost 4-2 to the Vancouver Canucks, just one night after an impressive 3-1 win in Toronto.
Lehner had no doubt who was to blame, as he told WGR550 and the rest of the media: “It’s not even disappointing anymore…(I’m) starting to get angry. This is all talk.
“We gotta look ourselves in the mirror here. I think it’s disrespectful when we have a gameplan and we’re going through things.”
More from Tip of the Tower
- Cam Phillips making his mark on Toronto Argonauts offence
- Toronto Argonauts: 4 storylines ahead of matchup against Redblacks
- Federico Bernardeschi ready for new challenge with Toronto FC
- Toronto Argonauts overcome Roughriders in entertaining Touchdown Atlantic
- Buffalo Bills: Von Miller drawing inspiration from Bruce Smith
Sunday night’s loss epitomized the issues the Sabres have had all season in the second period. They conceded two goals and scored none themselves, as they were outshot 12-5 by the Canucks.
For the 2016-17 campaign as a whole, Buffalo has a -22 goal difference in the second period. By comparison, they are +5 in the first and -1 in the third.
What makes this so frustrating for Lehner, is the fact coach Dan Bylsma has been concentrating recently on rectifying the struggles in the middle frame: “”Coach is drawing it up there, coming up with a good gameplan. We do the exact opposite, we don’t do what he said.”
“That gets me angry. I think it gets a lot of guys angry. It’s disrespectful, I think is the word.”
In fairness to the 25-year old, even though he was visibly frustrated, he sounded very calm when addressing the media. (This was in stark contrast to his verbal sparring match with Alexandre Burrows, after the forward scored what turned out to the game-winner.)
Often when things are going badly, the first thing you need to do is look in the mirror and assess your own performance. However, Lehner has arguably done his part.
Consider that the 2009 second round draft pick has a .923 save percentage and 2.57 goals against average on the season. Both are more than respectable figures, and better than his career averages (.918 and 2.74 respectively), while having already set a new personal-best for starts in a season.
Bylsma recently said Lehner has played extremely well this season, despite a lack of help at times from his teammates. The goaltender’s record of 14-16-6 seems to bare this out.
Another part of the issue for the Swedish native, is he believes the players get too carried away. More specifically, whenever they get a win against one of the better teams in the league.
Lehner said: “We haven’t done anything in this league. Gio’s won a Cup, with all respect to him, he’s done something in this league. The rest of us haven’t. End of story.
“We gotta stop thinking after we win a game we’re Chicago or Boston. Who we think we are, I don’t know.”
More from Buffalo Sabres
- Buffalo Sabres and Victor Olofsson making progress on contract extension
- Buffalo Sabres still need goaltender help despite re-signing Anderson
- Buffalo Sabres: Time to close book on the Jack Eichel chapter
- Buffalo Sabres receiving interest in members of defensive core
- Buffalo Sabres focused on youth during another disastrous season
At 23-23-10, with 56 points from 56 games, the Sabres are the very essence of an average team. They’re still only six points out of a playoff spot, but time is running out for them to start producing more positive results.
Lehner said: “It’s time to realize that we’re a grinding hockey team, gotta follow the structure and start listening to our coach and start respecting this team and respecting our coach.”
Whether the Sabres can sustain a consistent challenge is debatable at this point. But at least Bylsma can rely on one player to continue displaying the necessary effort and passion all the way to the bitter end.
As the Sabres continue to perform erratically, who do you blame? Are the players being disrespectful or is it Bylsma’s fault they’re so inconsistent? Or does everyone in the organization deserve the blame? Share your thoughts in the comments section.