So why is Lindy Ruff still the coach of the team? I mean, the team has missed the playoffs thrice since the lockout and a few times before that. He hasn’t won the Stanley Cup and has only developed several players that other teams totally discarded (Daniel Briere and Jason Pominville among them. BUMS).
Well the reason is, Cups aside (and I acknowledge this is a major point of emphasis), he’s good. He’s consistent. And while Sabres fans who like Ruff are “settling for mediocrity,” let’s hit some numbers up:
I’d like to get point on Ruff without getting into all the specifics of which teams suffered major injuries or other anomalies, because let’s face it: all teams including the Sabres have dealt with issues. In terms of “consistency” (Column: TOTAL), the Sabres are the fifth best team since the lockout. They fall behind New Jersey, the Rangers, Pittsburgh and Washington. It kinda shocked me to realize the Penguins have only been to two conference finals like Buffalo. The two teams share the lead in Eastern Conference Finals appearances with Philadelphia and Carolina. While no team has made the playoffs in all seven seasons since the lockout, Buffalo does fall behind a resounding 8 teams who have made the playoffs in more seasons than Buffalo.
What’s the major difference? Well, we’ve been through this before… A BUNCH. Buffalo hasn’t bottomed out. Every team ahead of them had the opportunity to select an absolute top-notch prospect (like Buffalo’s Thomas Vanek) since the lockout. Philadelphia and their Rathje Monoliths bottomed out. Pittsburgh did it for several years and even got the benefit of the NHL rigging the lottery because Mario Lemieux’s a crybaby.
So that’s why you won’t find me calling for Lindy Ruff’s head any time before the end of the season. If he misses the playoffs for a second consecutive year again, let’s roll with the new. But the fact of the matter is that Buffalo’s 2-3 five games through a 48-game season, tied with 100,000 other teams for the Nos. 6-13 seed and when they beat the Leafs in a couple days… well, they’ll be rolling into Boston and we’ll be talking about their chances at a division title. Bummer, right?