Why The Sabres Have The Opportunity To Run Buffalo.
11.2.2018 by Greg Molfese
This couldn’t have come at a better time. The Sabres ascension into relevancy juxtaposed against the Bills descension into the worst offense the planet has potentially ever seen. Prior to this season, the Sabres haven’t been above .500 since January of 2013. Jack Eichel was a Junior in High School, ffs.
“Pump the brakes, they’re only 6-5-2. They’re still the same old Sabres” ….Sens and Habs Fans, probably
Well here’s why they aren’t the same old Sabres. As we all know, the Sabres had a wild offseason. Winning the draft lottery and picking the potential generational defensemen they so desperately needed. Trading ROR at a relatively smart time – value was still high despite coming off a pretty public announcement of thoughts on the disappointing season. Acquiring NHL level depth the Sabres haven’t seen in years. And years. And a couple more years.
Depth is what wins you hockey games. Sure, you need the elite level talent to put you over the top, of course. I’d consider Eichel in the upper echelon in the NHL given his ability to dominate puck possession, certainly an elite talent. But it’s the depth that will win you hockey games late. It’s the depth that helps boost you to get 6 out of a possible 10 points on a tough West Coast trip early in the season that looked like a make or break trip with the way they stumbled out of the gate. Risto & Eichel are the only workhorses on the team right now – Risto averaging just over 25 mins/game and Jack averaging just over 20 mins/ game. This is exactly what depth looks like - 8 Forwards averaging over 14 mins / night. Wins in Anaheim & LA are especially impressive when you see a good ole fashioned coming out party. That’s right…
…Skins. The most underrated move the Sabres made all season. Jeff fucking Skinner. Sure, the ROR deal was flashy. But this deal has the potential to be the most influential offseason move the Sabres made, especially in the Short Term (Dahlin will eventually surpass). Acquiring Skinner in a contract year from the Canes, getting a healthy Bogosian back, finding a 32-year old gem in career backup Hutton, and mixing in some young studs in Mittelstadt & Dahlin, it feels like these pieces are actually coming together. If the roster is a physical puzzle bought from K-Mart (are they still making K-Marts?), at least the Sabres have figured how to open the damn box.
The Bills made it to the playoffs last year, ending the 17-year drought. Is it the Sabres turn to end their playoff drought? The city is certainly ready for it. After last night’s comeback win in Montreal, it was refreshing to see actual optimism on twitter in regards to the Sabres. If you can navigate out of the literal depths of hell of twitter comment sections, you’d find the fanbase actually… pleased with the Sabres? Granted, most Buffalo fans live and die by each game so this is bound to change immediately, but I’ll be damned if they aren’t worth the attention this time around.