The Buffalo Sabres are fortunate to have a former Stanley Cup Champion on the roster, so when he speaks, it’d be in their best interest to listen.
Kyle Okposo may be the Buffalo Sabres captain, but Erik Johnson should be treated with the same amount of respect, especially since he’s done something Okposo never has: He has Stanley Cup Champion listed on his resume. Therefore, he knows a thing or two about what it takes to build a consistent winner in the NHL, and the Sabres have shown early on that they lack consistency.
Now, the good news is that it’s only been four games, and just 4.8 percent of the season has been played. And better yet, it’s not like the Blue and Gold haven’t bounced back from worse over the previous 12 months, as they sat at four games under 0.500 after 18 contests in November of last season.
So there’s no need to push the panic button and say, “Kevyn Adams should’ve done this,” or, “Why didn’t Adams just trade for or sign Players X, Y, and Z?” But there is a need to point the arrow north again, and fortunately for the Blue and Gold, Erik Johnson has already laid out a blueprint.
Erik Johnson has some straightforward, but wise words for the Buffalo Sabres
"“I think for us, as a team, to take that next step you make the play that’s there and when the simple play is there you make it. Sometimes we try and overcomplicate it and we have a lot of skill in this room and that will take over when the opportunity is there. … We have to commit to defense and when you do that, you will get offense and you will win.” via Buffalo News"
Source: Observations: ‘Frustrating’ loss for Sabres shows need for better team defense by Lance Lysowski
Listen, Johnson is right – the Sabres haven’t scored over three goals in a single game this season, mainly because they’re trying to do too much with the puck instead of taking what’s given to them. Across four games offensively, Buffalo has looked in many ways like they did last year, but for the wrong reasons in going for highlight-reel plays instead of opting for a simpler game.
Johnson is also right in telling us that Blue and Gold need to commit to a better defensive game. Great defense will always, always, always lead to more opportunities on offense. But until that fact gets through to the other 22 players on the Buffalo Sabres active roster, they can forget about winning consistently in the foreseeable future.