Interim coach Ron Rolston said after Saturday's slopfest against the Islanders he was suprised at how fragile the Sabres looked when things went bad. He reiterated those feelings today after practice prior to the team's charter flight to Tampa.

"You go into a hockey game and some teams in this league hope they're gonna win and some teams know they're gonna win that night," Rolston said. "The better teams are the 'know-win' teams and we're right now the 'hope' team. To get from hope to know is a process. To get there, you've got to do a lot of things well and you have to do it for 60 minutes. We're still hoping and our job is to get to the point we're knowing."

Maybe a two-game roadie to Tampa and Florida -- away from the Buffalo media and the rousing boos and catcalls of First Niagara Center -- will do this team good?

"To me, it's just believe, be positive," said Thomas Vanek. "There's no reason to talk anymore. We just need to do better. You get used to it [the fans' reaction]. If you can't handle it, you're in the wrong business anyway. I'd much rather stay here and get a win for the fans and get them something to cheer about. But maybe it's good sometimes for some guys to get away and get on the road."