Sabres March to the “Playoffs”

The Sabres are undefeated.

Forget the first 20 games. Forget the win loss record from that wretched stint of Sabres history. Forget the inability to score in those old first periods. Forget the fenwick, the corsi. Forget the goal differential. Forget the slumps, the bumps, the lumps, and the chumps we all were. Oh, and forget the actual playoffs, too.

Instead, start charting stats from tonite on. It’s time to set a new playoff marker – a number that won’t get the Sabres in, but one that the Sabres can achieve in these remaining games, in order to be considered as a team that suddenly “looks to be pretty scary next year.”

The Sabres entered their newly reset season under Ted Nolan with a clean slate. Tonight against the Leafs, they took advantage of it, playing hard in all three zones, scoring dramatically, and bringing the crowd at the FNC to its feet (and the sending throngs of blue and white jersey clad fans shuffling their feet back outta’ Buffalo).

And yes, as Jeremy White was brave enough to point out to the Twitter tonite, the Sabres were playing against one of the worst puck possession teams in the entirety of the NHL. Still, this wasn’t about how the Leafs play. It was more about how the Sabres used to play, and how that all changed tonight. It was a powerful message from the players to their new coach, to their new President of Hockey Ops, to the fans, and to the NHL. Watch your backs, playoff bubble teams – Buffalo won’t be getting in, but this could be that team this year that spoils a lot of playoff dreams.

So let’s set it all aside. Let’s start clean. Here are your Sabres stats for the game one of the new 2013-14 regular season. These are the only stats we need concern ourselves with now. All previous markers were set under Regier’s gutting, demoralizing “suffering” battle cry that told the fans, and ultimately the players, that we were going to lose a LOT of games this season.

Pegula slew the suffering beast, and then Nolan and his team stepped up tonight and twisted the knife, and wiped the blade clean.

Clean slate.

ted nolan Sabres March to the Playoffs

“No system. Just play your game, and play it hard.” Hells yes, Ted. Hells yes.

Of course, we’re still in rebuild mode. We’re still going to lose games, everyone. But it’s a reborn rebuild – and I have a strong feeling after watching the legs under this reborn team that we might be losing a lot less than before.

20 games is for chumps.

The Sabres are playing for something new now. Let Nolan give them a number, a goal to reach with what games they have left. And then let’s go get it.

We’re 1-0-0 so far, and it feels pretty damn good.

Go Sabres.

UPDATE (11:40 pm): Post games quotes (via Sabres.com)

Steve Ott:

It’s the simple fact that the room has been wiped clean. When they came in here, they told every guy to a man in their personal meetings that everything has been wiped clean. I don’t care if you haven’t had a point or you’re minus-15, everything is out the window from the last 20 games. We’re starting fresh, and we’re starting to build from this day on. I really like that a lot of guys played with light shoulders rather than heavy backs.

You mean you previously felt gutted, maybe a bit demoralized?

Tyler Myers:

It was definitely a lighter feeling. When a big change like that is made, it’s normal for guys to come out like we did tonight. The most important thing moving forward is not losing that feeling, or losing that compete level. It’s a consistency that we have to stick with.

Lose that feeling at your own peril, Tyler. Ted Nolan is watching you.

Marcus Foligno:

There’s no disrespect to what happened early in the season, but it’s a clean slate. This is what we’re here to do, and this is what we want to do. We want to be a winning team, and we need everyone on board. Tonight was the loudest that our bench has been in a while, not to mention the fans.

Clean slate. I guess you might say I’d agree with that.

 

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