Toughness

With the deadline tomorrow, and the deals already made, I’ve been talking to my friends about the Sabres more – who should go, who should stay to build around, that sort of thing.  One thing that keeps coming up for a few of them is how Buffalo is not hard enough to play against – they need to be the Flyers or the Bruins! – but it rings hollow to me.

A year or two ago, the goal was ‘Team Toughness™’ and it involved moving out guys like Derek Roy and Chris Butler, and bringing in Steve Ott and Robyn Regehr.  It sounded great to use, and let’s face it, we love tough, physical hockey in these parts.  Does that actually mean tough to play against, though?  Looking at the Cup winners since the deadline, who is ‘tough’ to you?

  1. Kings
  2. Bruins
  3. Blackhawks
  4. Penguins
  5. Red Wings
  6. Ducks
  7. Hurricanes

How many of those were physically brutal teams to play?  Two?  If you expand the list to the losing teams, you really only add Philly to the list.  The thing is, you can be tough to play against without being punishing.  I’d much rather model the Sabres on Detroit (before this year) or Chicago.  When the Red Wings were playing the Penguins for the Cup, they weren’t bashing everybody through the end boards, they were outscoring them (1st in Goals for in 08-09, 3rd in 07-08).  “Get me Eric Lindros in his prime!” he says, well I counter with Patrick Kane in his prime.  Or Teemu.  Get me someone who will make a difference, and might avoid the worst of the physical damage.  Get me someone who can possess the puck and put it on net.  Those guys come in all shapes and sizes.

Doesn’t anyone remember how fun 05-07 was?