Get ready: the 2014-15 regular season is about to begin.
For the Sabres, the players have been selected, the captains have finally been named, and the playoffs are the goal. The Sabres’ playoff odds as seen from the rest of the hockey world? Well, c’mon.
We’re going to lose a lot of games.
Here’s the problem: while we will be joyous for the draft odds, at the same time, we will be miserable. We will want a losing team to secure one of McDavid or Eichel in the upcoming draft, but we’re going to want to have fun, to be loud, to get wins, at least at home. We’re going to want to be entertained.
And what is home these days, exactly? The Pegulas bought this team with a singular goal to win the Cup(s). A locker room was built. A Cup-board was built. Hope was established, and for the first time in perhaps the history of the franchise, it was real. HARBORCENTER began construction. Meanwhile, the team on ice failed, and it was painfully, piece by piece, dealt away. Doubt took its familiar root in our souls, and the FNC turned solemn and quiet.
Because losing sucks.
We’ve been focusing on that initial instant-Cup-delivery failure (if it’s truly fair to call it a failure, which it’s not), and then putting so much more focus on hope for yet another even more horrendous season in order to draft a generational savior. With all that on our minds, we may forget that it’s OK to root for the guys on the ice this year.
Don’t root against them. Don’t get ahead of yourselves, Buffalo. Don’t boo. Don’t stay quiet.
We’re going to lose – a lot – but it doesn’t have to suck. It’s time to get up and herald what we have, and what is coming.
Cheering is awesome.
Cheer for the guys who came here to help lead our youth. Cheer for those kids, trying not to make a mistake in front of you. Trying to win a game. Cheer for that win. You can chose instead to sit, cross-armed and silent, maybe a little belligerent about how former and/or current ownership put a stink in your arena beer. That’s a stubborn choice, but I get where you’re coming from, if you choose to stick with it. We’ve been stuck for a while. Blame the GM, the Rigases, the city, the Ruff Era, Danny and Chris, the “enigmas,” or even blame the fax machine. But after all that blaming, we’re still stuck in this together.
Eventually it’s going to be up to each and every one of you to unstick yourself from your seat, and give a cheer. Make as much noise as you dang well please. It won’t make a difference, really, in the final score. We’re going to lose – a lot – but it doesn’t have to suck. It’s time to get up and herald what we have, and what is coming.
The Cup-board is empty, but the incoming prospects can very well change that. Let’s help give them a rousing start this season, through all the peaks (and mostly) valleys.
Let’s have some fun. Let’s get unstuck.
And, of course, a big ol’ get well soon to our beloved Buffalo legend, Rick Jeanneret – the man who always can find a way to make everything feel fantastic. As he has said many times: “PLENTY MORE COMIN’ UP IN A MOMENT!” Perfect advice, really, for fans of a young team just about ready to explode.
Without wasting your time on a wordy lede, here’s 3 ways the Sabres can make a big step forward in their quest for a Stanley Cup today.
This has been my dream scenario for the draft.
Reinhart has the highest IQ of this draft, along with arguably the best passing abilities (as Kevin Devine said, plausibly the best passer to come into the draft in the last 10-15 years). Add a complimentary player in Nikolaj Ehlers, widely considered as one of the top finishers in the CHL, and you’ve got a recipe for lots of goals.
Of course we need goals, but it goes deeper than that.
For CHL players, Reinhart is at the top of his prospect pool for time on ice while playing shorthanded (66.6%). He’s fourth in power play time (77.3%).
Meanwhile, Ehlers has been knocked around in articles and posts stating that his stats may be inflated playing alongside Jonathan Drouin – but a great majority of Ehlers’ even strength numbers (about 70%) came with Drouin on the bench. His goals for % at even strength tops the CHL class (76.7%), and he is ranked quite high in plenty of other offensive categories (hit the link and do some sorting by category, you might be surprised).
Finding a way to get back into the top 10 (or maybe even a bit higher than that) would be very hard – but not impossible. A Reinhart-Ehlers combination could be the best 1-2 value in this year’s draft.
2. Give me a Sam (or Leon), and Barbashev
It takes a number of years for prospects to make it to the NHL. With all the accumulating youth, getting more than one first rounder this year makes an awful lot of sense in making the team better sooner.
I’d be satisfied with either Sam at #2 (or Leon Draisaitl – I trust Murray in his talent evaluation), but I’d be happy if they found a way back in to get that extra guy.
For me, Barbashev is that guy. His motor is relentless (not so much as Girgensons, but about as close as you get in this draft class), he’s an all-zones and all-situations guy, and he can score. Again, I trust Murray to make the right pick, so take my preference as simply that. There are plenty of names that should be available in the mid-first (McCann, Fiala, Fabbri, Larkin, Tuch – and more) that we’d all be pretty thrilled with coming out of today.
Get me two guys. Make me happy.
Once touted as a talent on par with Connor McDavid, Ho-Sang has seen his stock fall almost as dramatically as he plays the game. His crimes? Speaking his mind. Being too honest. Oversharing his opinions.
I’d like to extend a hearty “thanks” to Joshua for compiling this criminal record, because it might help him slide to the Sabres in the second round (or of course, they could trade up for him if they are that interested). Plausibly the most talented player in this draft – an absolute wizard with the puck – Ho-Sang is a player that could be the steal of the draft, and would make for some ridiculously entertaining articles from the local rag and for some really spicy hot sports takes on the local radio waves.
Again, we need goals – but we also need to find the edge of our seats again at the FNC. This guy could challenge for the headline marquee for both in Buffalo.
Tonite is going to be a blast. A rebuild is a tough thing to endure, but this is one of the best parts. It’s time to start dreaming.
It’s Thanksgiving tomorrow, so I thought today would be a good time to remind everyone that there’s still a chance.
Here’s the deal: if the Sabres go a herculean 32-16-9, they have a 0.1% chance of making the playoffs. And oh hey – if they go 57-0-0. they even have a shot at the President’s Trophy. Dream big in that food coma, people.
These stats, of course, come from SportsClubStats.com – a site that we all used to enjoy hopping on in the days before the Sabres became possibly the worst team ever to lace up the skates that didn’t include a skating monkey.
Also, it’s nice to see our effort to get the most lottery balls possible visualized:
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).
There was a Major Announcement today. I’m sure you’ve heard about it.
So long Darcy, goodbye Rolston. Thanks for your hard work. Welcome back Pat. Welcome back Ted. And welcome back to $100 Sabres tickets on Stubhub.
Who saw this coming? No one, really. Not even us, though we did just post a nicely timed #FireDarcy post. Yesterday, we touched on 3 reasons why Darcy Regier should be fired, now.
There’s much to be made of this day, lots of feelings and analysis and other #hottakes to delve into. But for now, one thing stands out. More on that later. First, let’s return to the common sense that was yesterday’s post. Call it prognostication, call it serendipity if you want. But it was just common sense. A quick Sparknotes review (you can skip ahead if you read the post):