This year’s losing streak of questionable significance is Buffalo’s five-gamee, four of which came consecutively at home. I had to go back to the 2000-01 Colorado Avalanche — on an admittedly cursory look — to find a Cup team that even lost three consecutive all at home.
(At some point, I should issue the disclaimer that I’ve watched most of these games knowing the final score. It might make some difference to my mindset).
Is it panic time? No. It’s very early in the season for massive anxiety, but this is certainly a significant stretch and one worth attempting to decode. It’s been almost seven years since a Sabres team lost four-straight home contests (Dec. 4-12, 2003 vs. Phoenix, Tampa Bay, Detroit and the Rangers).
Additionally, Lindy Ruff’s charges are getting their “one out-of-the-way” in a sense. Buffalo has only suffered losing streaks of five-or-more twice since the lockout: a six-gamer last season and a five-game skid in 2008-09.
So we’ve established to some extent that this is significant. Again, it’s not panic time, but there’s a glass half-full argument I’d like to kick in the spine real quick.
“Six games in the NHL is arguably one game in the NFL in terms of sample size. If a team lost one NFL game, you wouldn’t overreact.”
The “sample size” argument kills me every time. That is, quite bluntly, a lame argument. If a football team has a rough 60 minutes, they have a 15-minute halftime period to adjust it. If an NHL team loses five of six, it’s quite obviously different. The only way the sample size works is in terms of what it actually means in the standings. Yes, the Sabres played a tough stretch, but this is a team that was talking Cup before the year, whether fans bought it or not.
So, no, this isn’t time to panic, but being a cheerleader right now is a pretty annoying listen. Unfortunately, the team doesn’t play again until Wednesday, leaving us two more agonizing days. Luckily, it also gives Lindy Ruff a day to skate the heck out of the boys before a mild Tuesday practice.