Save the “The season is only three games old” argument – the Buffalo Sabres need wins, and they need them now.
The Buffalo Sabres opened their season with an entertaining, fast-paced game against the Montreal Canadiens that needed a shootout to produce a winner. Since then? Two games that were anything but entertaining and fast-paced, at least as far as the Sabres are considered.
As a result, fan are already hearing coaches and players saying things such as “our effort was unacceptable,” “We’re just not doing enough,” “We have to be able to look into a mirror,” “These people definitely deserve better” – you know, the sort of things Sabres players have been saying during locker cleanup at the end of the previous six seasons.
Based on the amount of booing that rained down on the Sabres during Monday’s embarrassing 6-2 loss to the New Jersey Devils, it is clear that the fanbase is getting tired of having their hopes raised during the offseason, just to watch yet another iteration of the Sabres act as if they would rather be anywhere else except on the ice. This season is about to get ugly, fast, if the Buffalo Sabres do not start giving their fans a reason to keep their tickets instead of selling them on Stub Hub.
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It is not only the fans that the team should be worried about: there is also this sticky little problem of other teams having actually improved during the offseason. The Sabres watched the Toronto Maple Leafs blow by them last season, and are now seeing fellow lottery teams such as New Jersey (3-0-0) and Detroit (2-1-0) letting the Eastern Conference know that they want to be fighting for a playoff spot, too. The regular season cannot be won in the first weeks of the season, but this Sabres team does not appear to be mentally tough right now. A few more losses could bury this team before the end of October.
Wrap it all up and put a little bow on it, and what do you have? A Buffalo Sabres team that absolutely needs to go at least .500 on this current four-game Western Conference road trip. Earning two wins in the next four games is certainly doable: the Sharks, Kings, Ducks and Golden Knights are a combined 7-3-2, with almost half of those wins belonging to Las Vegas. If there is any pride and fight in the Buffalo Sabres players, they have to band together on this road trip and start making good things happen on the ice.
Here are three players who need to flip the switch on this road trip:
The “Reinhart as center” experiment has come to an end – for now. Maybe moving him back to the right wing will encourage him to show up: Samson has one whole shot on goal this season, and is -6. A random person off the street could generate those numbers!
You want to try and find the positives in someone’s game, but holy hell, it is impossible to do that with Beaulieu so far. He’s had some absolutely terrible giveaways in the defensive zone, and he is about to make Sabres fans long for the return of Josh Gorges. (OK – that almost certainly is not true, but still!) It would be nice to see him have a good game, or two.
Kyle Okposo or Ryan O’Reilly
Technically, both of these dudes need to start doing SOMETHING – the Sabres will pay them a combined $13.5 million this season, after all – but let’s take baby steps here. If just one of these guys can play a full game, we’ll start talking about getting them both on track. Until then, it would be nice just to see one of them pop off.
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