The Sabres lost 3-2 to The Minnesota WILD tonight.  Patrick Lalime allowed 2 questionable goals early in the 1st period and it proved to be too large a hill to climb.  After a 3rd period timeout, the Blue & Gold came out firing.  A goal early in the final stanza by Austrian, Thomas Vanek, cut the Wild’s lead to 3-1.  Buffalo poured on the pressure, but couldn’t capitalize as reserve goalie, Josh Harding, stood tall for Minnesota.  Minnesota Golden Gopher, Thomas Vanek scored his 22nd goal of the year to give the Sabres a chance.  A chance they failed at, losing 3-2 at HSBC Arena.

For the first 45 minutes the team lacked intensity.  This is nothing new.   In an 82 game season, you’re not going to get 82 insanely violent, intense games.  However, I don’t think we should have to settle for what we saw in Periods 1 and 2.  I know that Lalime is unsatisfactory.  We need a different backup.  That being said, the team in front of him showed they can crank it up another notch when needed.  But why not crank it up before you’re down 3 – 0?  This is a question that GM & Coach will have to ponder at season’s end.  In my opinion, it’s a player issue.  I think back to the recent glory days (’05-’07); the games were incredibly exciting.  Winning sure helps, but there’s other ways to be exciting.  Ted Nolan’s teams were physical while the ’05-’07 teams were flashy and just darn good.  I’d rather win the cup than lead the league in fighting majors, but I think the lack of intensity we’re seeing, directly leads to losses like tonight.

This game made me want to reminisce one last time to the USA v Canada Gold Medal match 2 weeks ago.  That was a game too good to forget. 

What will be remembered is the outcome.  Forgotten in all the Canadian glory is what a violently intense game it was for the first 2 periods.  In the Gold Medal game there were no “off-limits” players.  Every hit was a brutal knock out attempt.  Team Canada, was full of super-stars, all acting like Patrick Kaleta.  The US team stood no chance battling the Red Maple Leaf in a fair fight.  Team USA applied a hateful brand of guerilla warfare to the Great White North.  Jack Johnson of the US stood out for me.  He made it his goal to apply pain at every opportunity.(including an after whistle hit on Corey Perry, that should have been a penalty).      

I , personally, love a good fight, but would much rather see 60 minutes of savage brutality(USA v Canada) than tonight’s game (a snooze-fest, with a wrestling match[Montador v Owen Nolan] ).

The Gold Medal game was a back-alley knife fight.  Tonight’s game was an elementary school playground slap-fight.

The 82 game season is a marathon.  As a player and a team you must minimize wear & tear.  Lindy Ruff has a system, and it’s worked in getting a sub-par roster into playoff position.  I just think there’s room for this group of players to win more.  Even with a poor goaltender, there’s no excuse for the lack of intensity we saw tonight.  I’m glad I didn’t pay for a ticket to the game.  Good thing Buffalo fans can head to Chippewa and drink until 4 am.  It might take that long to make yourself forget the wretchedly boring pickup game you paid $75 to see.