For a team who hasn’t had a winning season since 2011-12, the Buffalo Sabres are doing all they can to get out in front of that this season. After Tuesday’s win, which got them their 10th straight victory (a franchise record), it’s hard to fathom how this is happening after a 21-win season from last year. They already have 17 wins and we’re just about to enter December.
I’ll also say– yes, there have been teams who won 10-straight that went on to lose 10-straight…hi Flyers…and who’s to say it won’t happen to this rag-tag bunch of kids??
That aside, the Sabres are just another team– akin to the Hurricanes and last year’s Golden Knights– who are just fun to watch because there was little to no expectation of them at the start of the season. Quietly, Jack Eichel is having a solid year with 23 assists and 28 points, Jeff Skinner is tied for the league lead in goals, while Carter Hutton has seemingly shed his back-up role and become a serviceable starter for this team. This is not to mention the Rasmuses (Rasmuii??)– Ristolainen and Dahlin– have been fantastic from the blueline, though the former may want to play a little better in his own end. Kyle Okposo, Jason Pominville, Sam Reinhart– all key cogs on this roster getting it down.
If you’re into the numbers side of things, Travis Yost has something at the Buffalo News that would give you more insight into that.
While this is a shift in some power, perhaps, in the Atlantic– that’s always good to keep things balanced. I hate to use “parity,” as it seems like a simple excuse to give, but it’ll keep team in check when it comes to who they sign and for how long/much they sign them for. The biggest thing going forward is Jeff Skinner’s extension– which could be very hefty if his pace continues. The biggest thing that the Sabres do hold is three first-round picks in the 2019 Draft. That’s something they could use in order to help unload some money…like a sweetener to maybe take Okposo’s contract.
Regardless of that, whatever Phil Housley has done has worked wonders in year two of his tenure. He’s found out how to coach the team that Jason Botterill has given him, and maybe the move to get Skinner is the last piece they really needed. The key is to not disrupt things by making an ill-advised move and ruining the dynamic in the locker room. While big name free-agents could be out there and may want to come to Buffalo with their resurgence– but having the chemistry they’re having now is pretty solid and something you wouldn’t want to mess up or else they’ll be back to where they were before this season.