I refuse to be negative about the Sabres.
Yes, it’s been a weird year and they haven’t lived up to the hype and expectations. But those expectations were put on them by an external source.
I’m not saying Terry Pegula was wrong to boldly declare we’d be going where no major Buffalo sports franchise has gone before and actually win a championship, but there was going to be some fallout from it and it wasn’t going to happen right away.
Especially after the miracle of last year’s run to the playoffs, then the offseason acquisitions and everyone pegging the Sabres as being a beast of the East and one of the top teams – on paper.
As Ryan Miller said in a recent interview, the Sabres were never that team. They were a young team with talent and tons of upside, but they’d have to gel into Cup contender.
Then they were smacked with the plague of injuries.
To come back from the unfortunate first half of the year like they did is nothing short of astonishing, and all the gems we’ve found along the way (like Marcus Foligno, Cody Hodgson, Ennis really coming into his own, etc.) has added to the run.
Maybe they’ll get lucky and make the playoffs yet, or maybe maybe not. Of course, I’d love to get to watch some bonus hockey and see how they do, but I’m not going to let it get me down about the future of this team.
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The Sabres were not going for broke and selling out just to win this year. Over the course of the next 5 years, the Sabres are going to be stacked and could easily dominate their division during that time. This isn’t 2005-2007 where we’re good for a couple of years and then lose our two best guys in Drury and Briere.
The problem is the public perception of the masses. Of course I’m not talking about our educated BSN readership or other hardcore Sabres fans, but the general sporting world is pretty binary: you’re either great or you suck.
The Sabres recently lost 2 close games, one to a stellar Penguins team and the other to an admittedly crappy Leafs squad. But the Sabres were on a tear before that, having won 5 in a row – you can’t win ’em all. And one could argue that the Leafs will play the Sabres tough whenever, plus they were in their home building.
They’re the same team as they were before they lost those 2 games. Quite frankly, I was surprised they hung in there with the Pens as well as they did.
The Sabres can easily turn this right back around and win their last three games. Maybe two will be all they need, or two and an OT point.
For this season at least, the Sabres have burned their boats behind them and there is no retreat. They can go forward and play their best hockey with their backs to the wall.
There are 3 games left and Washington has left the door open a crack by losing last night. The Sabres play hard and get in, or they don’t. I’m hoping they make it of course, but if they don’t I’m not going to let it affect the positive outlook of where this team is headed. We’ve got at least one more week of Sabres hockey left and I’m going to savor it.