Nik Antropov had no words.
Chris Mason measured his.
Craig Ramsay didn’t mince his at all, saying his team “collapsed” and “panicked.”
The Thrashers’ 8-2 loss in Buffalo on Saturday was costly and it is sure to fester until the team returns to the ice Thursday on Long Island.
“I think we collapsed,” the coach said after the game. “We had two breakaways and a penalty shot in the first period and their goalie made saves. We scored a big goal off a draw to get it to 1-1 and give ourselves a chance.
“Then we took some stupid penalties. I was very disappointed in our forwards, for sure, and their complete unwillingness to try to block a shot. I thought our defense let two goals come out the short side, which we’ve talked about all year long – never allow them out the short side. Twenty four seconds into the game they go out the short side for a goal to get us off to a start like that. It was really disappointing.
“We didn’t really compete. It shows up when players are trying to get out of the way of a shot rather than into the way a shot. That kind of says it all. It was extremely disappointing to watch that. We had a whole bunch of guys feeling sorry for themselves and looking around trying to find someone else to blame instead of looking at themselves and taking charge.”
As the Thrashers return to practice on Monday, they are seven points behind the Sabres for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference with 10 games remaining. They are looking up at the Hurricanes, Maple Leafs and Devils.
“This is a bad time for this game because now we sit for five days,” Ron Hainsey said. “For a number of reasons it couldn’t have come at a worse time.”
The Thrashers fell behind 24 seconds into the key game against the Sabres Saturday, when a victory would have pulled them within two points. They managed to tie the game in the first period, but Ramsay said after missing two breakaways and a penalty shot his team began to feel sorry for themselves. He also questioned the team’s commitment to do what is necessary to win games – especially a crucial game such as Saturday.
“I think we’ve made some wonderful strides with our team and I now watch players getting out of the way so they don’t get hit with pucks and not winning battles in the offensive zone, I’d say I would be quite distraught with the competitive level of our team in a game of this importance,” Ramsay said. “… In a pressure-filled a game we reacted poorly. We were panicking with the puck instead of having composure and wanting the puck to make a difference. Once we missed our chances we started feeling sorry for ourselves.”