I was listening to the WGR postgame about six seconds ago and Paul Hamilton brought up an interesting point. The panic that we've seen creep into the Sabres in big moments in the past, like say when Vanek went down in game two last year, seems to be gone. Putting aside the thoughts of "aww the Sabres have grown up," I started thinking about what might be behind that culture change. What is the catalyst for players wanting to step up and be the guy in pressure situations instead of trying to hide like they used to?
Honestly, there probably isn't any one player or reason behind that. There are a lot of things that have happened this season that speak to the Sabres growing maturity Vanek stepping up into a leadership role for example, and the team just simply getting more games under their belt, but I want to take a look at Nathan Gerbe.
Too small? Nathan Gerbe doesn't care. Getting the crap knocked out of you every single shift? Nathan Gerbe doesn't care. Spending more time on your ass than on your skates some shifts? Nathan Gerbe doesn't care. I think Nathan Gerbe knows a thing or two about adversity. He's been facing it for most of his life due to his size, and he faces it on pretty much every shift because he is basically the smallest player on the ice at any given time. And you know what Nathan Gerbe thinks of adversity? He doesn't care. He just tries harder.
That mentality more than anything seems to have seeped into the Sabres in the second half of the season. Last place in the conference? Fuck it. Vezina trophy winning goaltender hurt? Whatever. Leading scorer done for the year...well we'll just have to try and extend the year so that isn't true anymore, won't we?
After listening to Gerbe in interviews, it's pretty clear that he is one of the more well spoken players in the locker room, is one of the more mature personalities, and is probably othe most self-aware and confident players on the team. Like I said, I doubt it's any one thing that has spurred the Sabres, Nathan Gerbe or otherwise, but his attitude has to be contagious.