It’s time for someone to punch their ticket to the Stanley Cup Finals.
And it’s time for fans to get their dabbers out, as Sabres BINGO! returns for Game Seven of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals. It sure sucks that the Sabres are out of it, but we can all at least have fun at Claude Julien’s chins’ expense.
Or is it “Claude Julien Chins’?” Nevermind.
As always, click on the pic for a full size picture. Oh, and keep an eye out for a special Scarface reference!
For an NHL organization to excel and win the Stanley Cup, it must start at the very top of the organization. In that, the Sabres have been pretty fortunate with ownership, aside of course from He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named. The Sabres rarely missed the playoffs under the ownership of Seymour Knox and say what you want about Golisano, but he single-handedly kept the Sabres in Buffalo. Plus, during Golisano’s stewardship, the Sabres made it to two consecutive conference finals just after a tumultuous lockout year.
And now, we have the Pegula era.
It’s been a heartwarming start to the new era, and I think most Sabres fans would lift their caps to Terry Pegula (I just had to work a bad hat company pun in there).
To see how well (or poorly) the Sabres may do, we should look to a team that has done something similar recently. The Tampa Bay Lightning were bought last year by Jeff Vinik, who has completely overhauled the franchise, bringing in new general manager Steve Yzerman and new coach Guy Boucher.
As should be the case for the Sabres, everyone in the Lightning organization has bought in to what they’re doing. From an article at NHL.com talks about the Lightning’s changes:
Any system, any role for a player starts with acceptance, and the guys in the Lightning dressing room almost sound like robots with the way they praise “Mr. Vinik” and “Mr. Yzerman” for how they laid the groundwork before the season even started.
When Boucher asks the players to tweak something or try something different, they do it. When Yzerman makes a personnel move, the players believe he has made the team better.
The Sabres seemed to buy in to Pegula right from the get-go. And the Sabres had the advantage of a smoother transition as they didn’t need to learn how to play a new system. Ruff and Regier stayed in place; probably a wise move by Pegula but time will tell.
Tampa Bay, unlike Buffalo, didn’t have a great goaltender. They picked up 41 year old Dwayne Roloson who is leading the playoffs in goals against at 2.17/game. The Sabres, of course have an all-star in Ryan Miller and a steady backup in young Jhonas Enroth.
The other thing Tampa Bay needed to complete their transformation? A veteran number 1 defenseman:
“We needed somebody that was going to be able to log a lot of minutes, have the speed to play against top lines that are fast, have the size to play against bigger lines, be able to play in the power play and the penalty kill and have leadership” Boucher said. “So if you put that down as a shopping list, that’s a pretty big shopping list.”
A big shopping list, indeed, and something the Sabres need as well. You can talk about how well the young defenseman are maturing, and they are, but it may not be happening fast enough. Will they be ready by playoff time next year? Maybe. Maybe not. Acquiring a big-time, hard-hitting, veteran blue liner is something the Sabres will no doubt look at this offseason.
Of course you can add any players you want and if they don’t gel, you have nothing. From Tampa Bay defenseman Mike Lundin:
“From what I’ve seen from the past few years, this year the biggest thing has been the structure of everything — the organization, the team and then the system on the ice. It has really come together this year, and all around everyone knows their role, how to act in every situation and how to play.”
Judging from the Sabres 2nd half finish, they came together as a team very well. The young core should mesh even further in the offseason. Hopefully Brad Boyes will feel more comfortable and find his role in the Sabres offense. The young guys have gotten a taste of the playoffs and by the time next spring rolls around should be prepared to do much better.
By all accounts, the Sabres seem to be pretty solid and Terry Pegula has the ship sailing in the right direction. Now it’s up to Regier to add a just a few more critical pieces.
Go Sabres. Nope can’t use that, it’s Scott’s signoff.
Let’s go Buffalo! Nah, too cheesy and doesn’t translate well to text.
Attaboy, Darcy! Umm… in a word, no.
It’s their rink, it’s their ice, and it’s their &%$in town. But tonight we got our fans with us! Too obscure?
All hail Pegula!
You know what, I’ll just quit typing and end the post like that.