The Buffalo Sabres are happy to be getting away from home for a few games as home has not been very kind to the Sabres as of late. Despite scoring at least three goals in their last three consecutive home games, the Sabres went 0-2-1 in those games. The Sabres have actually lost the last five games in a row, and the team has scored three goals in all five games. Four of those last five games have been at home.
The Sabres gear up for a game against the Columbus Blue Jackets tonight that starts a stretch where Buffalo will play four out its next five games on the road. The Sabres and Blue Jackets tangled in Buffalo on Jan. 18, and Buffalo lost 4-3 in a shootout.
For many fans, it looks like the Sabres’ players are feeling the pressure of losing at home. The team sees the empty seats in the First Niagara Center and knows that the fanbase is getting restless. The weather in Western New York could have something to do with the low attendance, but Sabres fans are a hearty bunch. The fans have proven that if the team is worth seeing the arena will be filled. The team has just not been worth seeing lately, so there are a lot of empty seats.
Despite the blocks of empty seats that can be seen on television broadcasts for each game, the Sabres continue to claim that each game is either a sellout or close to being a sellout. For the fans attending these games, the reality lies in stark contrast to what the team is saying.
The wrath of the Buffalo fanbase can be quick to turn on a team, even a team with a coach as popular with the fans as Ted Nolan. The boos are not as evident as they were when Ron Rolston or Lindy Ruff was coaching the team, but the momentum of disgruntled fans is growing as boos can start to be heard raining down from the seats.
One of the most difficult things a sports team can do is honestly ask its fanbase to be patient as changes are being made. At this point, only the good karma delivered to the team by Pat LaFontaine and Ted Nolan is preventing the fans from a full-out boo assault at each home game.
The problem for the Sabres is that five of the last six games before the Olympic break are at home. If the losing streak continues then the fans may decide to send their team out on a bad note. It would be a note that rings loudly in the offices of general manager Tim Murray, special adviser Craig Patrick and president of hockey operations Pat LaFontaine.