What to know about each of the Buffalo Sabres rivals: Part I

Nov 22, 2022; Montreal, Quebec, CAN; Buffalo Sabres players gather around Buffalo Sabres goalie Craig Anderson (41) to celebrate the win against the Montreal Canadiens during the third period at Bell Centre. Mandatory Credit: David Kirouac-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 22, 2022; Montreal, Quebec, CAN; Buffalo Sabres players gather around Buffalo Sabres goalie Craig Anderson (41) to celebrate the win against the Montreal Canadiens during the third period at Bell Centre. Mandatory Credit: David Kirouac-USA TODAY Sports /
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The Buffalo Sabres could be more competitive in the Atlantic Division in 2023-24, but every one of their rivals will make the division tougher.

The Buffalo Sabres look like a better hockey team on paper heading into the 2023-24 season, but so do several of their division rivals. So today, we’re taking a quick snapshot at three of the teams in the Atlantic Division, going over what you need to watch for regarding each, and whether they too are or should be a legitimate threat to make the playoffs this year.

I’ll be previewing each team regarding when they play the Sabres in the regular season, with the Tampa Bay Lightning on board first. Then, we’ll cover the Montreal Canadiens, before we finally talk about the Ottawa Senators. Tomorrow, it will be onto the other four – Toronto, Boston, Detroit, and Florida.

So, what do the Sabres first three opponents from the Atlantic Division bring to the table this season? Keep reading for a rundown.

Lightning vs. Buffalo Sabres
Nov 28, 2022; Buffalo, New York, USA; The Tampa Bay Lightning celebrate a win over the Buffalo Sabres at KeyBank Center. Mandatory Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports /

What to know about the Buffalo Sabres rivals: Part I

Tampa Bay Lightning

The biggest question involving the Tampa Bay Lightning is how the loss of Andrei Vasilevskiy will affect this team in the early going. Luckily for the Lightning, they are still a talent-laden group led by Victor Hedman and Nikita Kucherov. However, Hedman’s also no youngster these days, so the blueliner must find a way to preserve his body throughout the season.

Kucherov, however, should continue to play a sound game, and he will once again force opponents to key on him. They can also ride Tanner Jeannot and Brandon Hagel, but the duo would need to overachieve to further compensate for the team to look their best early.

Overall, the Lightning could make another run to the playoffs, but they must figure out a way to keep the team afloat until Andrei Vasilevskiy returns along with the age creeping up on their star players. At this point, I’m still saying Tampa makes one more solid run at the playoffs, but we’ll see how they fare soon enough.