The Buffalo Sabres have started the year out an impressive 7-1-1. The main question everyone is asking now is can these guys keep winning, or are we due for another massive disappointment.
You know you’re a fan of Buffalo sports when success is met with skepticism. For good reason to, there were the 5-1 Buffalo Bills in 2008 that went 6-10, the first place Buffalo Sabres last season that finished the year with the 3rd worst record in the league and numerous other Buffalo teams that have let their fans down. So when you meet a Buffalonian who still isn’t sold on the Sabres or Bills this year, don’t judge them, understand it comes from years of hurt and disappointment.
Still, this Sabres team just feels different. This year truly feels like a new era for the Sabres. It’s not just that they’re winning hockey games, it’s the way they’re doing it. The Sabres are routinely beating inferior opponents handily, and now on an almost nightly basis, they’re going toe to toe with some of the best teams in the league.
The base for the new found success is Terry Pegula’s decision to hire Ralph Krueger as the Sabres new coach. Krueger has come on board and implemented an aggressive offense that keeps the puck away from their own zone. Better yet, Krueger’s intricate defensive system has greatly helped the Sabres goaltenders.
It’s not just the systems Krueger has implemented however. Most of Buffalo’s success is based off of the leader and motivator that Krueger is. Krueger has been praised throughout the entirety of his coaching career for how great of a leader he is. With a team as young and talented as the Sabres, they needed a strong, motivating voice at head coach to get everyone on the same page. That is something Phil Housley attempted to do but just wasn’t the right guy.
So to answer the question in the headline, no. No these Sabres aren’t the Sabres of last year, while many of the players have remained, the mentality has not. This team expects to win and trusts in one another, that is something that the Sabres couldn’t have said last season.