SEASON PREVIEW: The 1st 10 Games Might be Kinda Huuu-jah
Free Fuccillo plug in the title?
I’m going to Hell.
Also, healthy changes something. I won’t tell you what. Don’t want to spoil it.
I wonder what other hockey commercials we’ll see during game one that we will then see 3 times a game, every game, until the end of the season. That’s one of the best/most underrated parts of game one – all the fresh ads haven’t driven you to drink (more) during hockey games yet. Beer times three is good for me. Amirite?
Sorry for all the above. Moving onto actual analysis now.
1. The 1st 10 Games will be Kinda Huge
Don’t take this lightly, folks. We’re in a 48 game season here. Teams that stumble out of the gate have a scant 38 game window to catch up, having to pin their hopes that the one or more teams ahead of them in their Conference’s top eight will stumble. Teams will be treating these games like playoff games, for the most part, so stumbling will be a rare thing to see from good teams. Yes, the Sabres have gone 300-2-1-1 in the second halves of the last 3 seasons or whatever, but seriously – the horses that stumble out of the gate mine as well be euthanized right there on the spot.
Here’s some terrible math to back up this terrible analysis:
So, the Sabres win just 3 out of 10, and everyone is over the moon they bought all those tickets so early. If a team needs to finish with 46 points (last year’s Senators were the worst in the league to make the playoffs with 92 points in the 82 game swing), the Sabres would need to earn 40 points in the final 38 games. Advanced math tells us they would need to win 20 of those 38 games to get in.
So yea, the 1st 10 games will be kinda huge.
2. Injuries will Destroy Dreams Early On
The Twitter tells us that JVR just limped off the ice at training camp. Bearing in mind how important those 1st 10 games are, this is very, very bad news for the Maple Leafs (assuming he misses regular season time).
The Sabres had a scare in their scrimmage last night, when Vanek struggled to get to the bench after blocking a shot. Well, not all fans were scared.
Overheard at Sabres game: fan complains Vanek is out of shape. Then shouts at him for going to bench slowly. (After he was hit w/a slapshot)— Jeremy White (@JeremyWGR) January 14, 2013
The Sabres cannot afford an early injury bug, or any injury bug for that matter. Injuries will happen, but if a group of core guys goes down at once, don’t expect a core of AHL call-ups to carry this team on its back to the Big Dance.
And a special memo to Jochen Hecht: this don’t get injured thing applies to especially you. Every time you get hit, I am probably going to pee a little. Please protect the lid.
3. Stay Calm and Engage Hockey Cliches
“We just need to stay focused/stick with our system/get pucks on the net/keep our legs moving/kill Lucic.”
In other words, as losses and injuries mount, the teams with the best mental focus and veteran leadership will be the ones to stay the course, and be able to continue to win games. The Sabres fit this mold, from the rookies to the vets, Darcy has built a team of leadership.
Still, we all know what a “Ryan Miller shutout” is.
Don’t choke, guys.
4. The Trade
The Sabres roster is still not set. Adding Hecht was a nice way to immediately improve the 3rd/4th line and PK units (protect the lid-!!), but with 9 defensemen, something’s gotta give.
If a move doesn’t happen soon to bolster the roster, expect Regier to cash in for some serious returns at the trade deadline instead. Remember, this club is framing its transactions around short and long term improvement, so nothing rash is going to happen.
We’re not even into the first game of the season and we’re already looking at Lindy Ruff expecting to “ride Miller” for 30+ games. (Enroth is expected to “net” around ten.)
A healthy defense corps in front of a guy returning to Vezina form could bring this team very, very far this season.
Unless, of course, #MillerForKane.
We’re all on pins and needles waiting for the next Rick Jeanneret call. And boy oh boy, I can’t wait to hear him coin Grigorenko’s first NHL goal. Enjoy everything from the Poet of the Pressbox. Win or lose, he makes this team so much better.
So there ya have it: our season preview, aimed to inform/entertain/torment you with probable terrible math. In a nutshell, this team has the pieces to make a nice run at a banner or three this season. Hey – anything is possible before game one, amirite?
Hockey is back. Enjoy.
next post: SEASON PREVIEW, PART 2: The Smart Tweets, and a Prediction