Although NHL hockey will be returning next weekend, I still have not shaken the rust off of my anger over the lockout. What transpired between the NHL, owners, and players, is incomprehensible. The ones who paid the ultimate price were the fans, the same ones who pay the prices for tickets.
When I purchased Sabres mini-pack tickets, I also requested vacation days for the games that I selected. Having to go through the purchasing process again does not make me happy, and having to apply for more vacation days beyond the ones that were wasted, is not easy. I have not even decided if I will, in fact, attend any games this season.
At any rate, I still love my Sabres, and will support them from my couch, at the very least. I still hope they have a great season. Here are some of those hopes:
Sabres finish 30-18 and qualify for playoffs
There is nothing like that playoff atmosphere in Buffalo. The Sabres fared well following the last lockout, and hopefully, it can be repeated again. The Sabres have a fairly young team that could potentially perform well in this shortened season. With the Rangers potentially being a powerhouse, I am not delusional about Buffalo taking home the Stanley Cup, but getting into the playoffs and winning a couple rounds would be nice.
Cody Hodgson emerges
I am hoping for a breakout season from Hodgson. The potential is there, and he will have opportunities on the first line. Can he become a star this season?
Mikhail Grigorenko stays
No better place to learn the ropes of the NHL, than in the NHL. With his talents, Grigorenko will not learn much from the bench or being on a grinding line, so this is contingent on Mikhail actually getting playing time with skilled line-mates.
Ryan Miller dominates
Has Ruff overworked Miller in the past? In a 48 game season, it should be easy to keep Miller fresh. Hopefully, John Scott can prevent any future cheap-shots to our former Vezina winner. Now that he has settled into his celebrity marriage, no one can blame that as a distraction.
Thomas Vanek is consistent
It seems like Vanek performs well in stretches, and vanishes for others. I am hoping Vanek shoots out of the box well and maintains it for the entire short season, and forms great chemistry with Hodgson. No more worrying about the clashing styles of Derek Roy and Vanek on the ice together.
This was one of the most dominant lines in the entire NHL at the conclusion of the regular season last year. Let us hope that the magic returns, and continues!
Solid Sabres Defense
The Sabres have the luxury of a logjam at defense right now. Anyone who remembers the fate of the 2006 Sabres, when they lost almost all of their starting defensemen in the playoffs, would agree that our current “problem” is not too bad. If the Sabres can move Sekera for a “missing piece,” by all means, do it!
Your thoughts, comments, and opinions are much appreciated…