PITTSBURGH – When the dressing room door opened following Buffalo Sabres’ dispirited 5-0 loss to the Penguins on Saturday, three players – captain Brian Gionta, forward Cody McCormick and goalie Jhonas Enroth – were still at their stalls.
Nineteen players participated in the Sabres’ 10th loss in 12 games.
Given the Sabres’ actions on the bench, coach Ted Nolan’s not surprised players bolted from the room. He said they must be accountable.
“It’s like on the bench when it’s 1-0, everybody puts their head down and looks for something else to do,” Nolan said inside the Consol Energy Center. “To be accountable, you have to stand up. If we win a game, we all want to talk. But if we lose, we all want to hide. No one’s going to come in here and help us. The only way to get through in tough times is going to be tough.”
The hapless Sabres lost their third straight contest. Incredibly, an opponent shut them out for the fifth time in eight games! They have 12 goals in 12 games. Opponents have 41. The Penguins’ league-leading power play scored three times.
The Sabres might be worse than last season, when they finished dead last.
“Whether it’s been on the road or at home, we got to somehow find an identity to get mean, get nasty, get angry,” Sabres defenseman Mike Weber said passionately. “There’s not enough anger. There’s not enough intensity throughout the game. We’re not a team that should be dumping the puck in and swinging by guys. …
“Every man’s got to pick it up intensity-wise and be nasty. We need to be a team, if we go down, we’re going to go down swinging. We haven’t been that team yet. That’s the most frustrating part.”
Weber said the Sabres showcase little consistency.
“We show up one game, we don’t show up the next,” he said. “We show up in shifts, we show up for a period here and there. It’s a continued frustration from years previous for whatever reason we can’t get out of our game.”
He added: “Mentally, I don’t know where we are.”
What about the shutouts? How can a team score so little? The Sabres are on an 82-goal pace. Remember, it’s November.
“When you don’t work and you don’t compete and you don’t battle, that’s what’s going to happen,” Nolan said. “This is the National Hockey League. It’s the best players in the world. Usually (players) battle like a son-of-a-gun in order to keep that position this league.”
Gionta added: “You got to look at the way we’re playing the game, and right now we’re having a hard time coming out of our own end. We spend too much time in our D-zone. You’re not going to score goals in this league from there.”
The Sabres actually stayed in Saturday’s contest a bit. But two second-period goals put the Penguins up 3-0.
“That confidence factor right now, if we get down 2-0, it doesn’t seem like we have the will to battle back,” Nolan said.