Time for the Puck Drop: A Wrap-Up of the Sabres’ Pre-season

Not only was the Ralph buzzing this year during the pre-season, but so is First Niagara Center as yesterday the Buffalo Sabres finished up their 8th and final game before opening day versus the Senators next Thursday.

Unfortunately they didn’t end on a positive note with a 6-4 loss versus the Blue Jackets, however; they did finish strong scoring 4 goals in the last period.  With this loss the Sabres ended with a 4-4 record, and multiple highlight reel moments to mention, as well as an optimistic attitude looking forward from finishing dead last the past few seasons.

One of the greatest moments was notched by not only Jack Eichel (cue nostalgic Tim Murray draft pick voice), when he scored a beautiful short-handed against the Leafs to start out what would be a 4-0 shutout.

Another key power boost for the Sabres came in a hat trick by Ennis the Menace versus Ottawa last week. The high scoring game (6-4 final) gave Sabres fan something we haven’t had in a while: passion.

This pre-season, and all of the hype surrounding it, allowed us to stop thinking of a “re-build” and start believing in a winning team again. The heat surrounding the Sabres gave our chilled—yet always reliable—fan base a new fire in the form of hope. Even with a loss we still didn’t appear as if we were the despairing team we’ve dreaded watching for the past two seasons.  Our additions to the team in the off-season have boosted both team moral and leadership, but also the average age.

Veteran Brain Gionta, a Rochester native, was joined by offensive leaders Ryan O’Reilly and Evander Kane, with Josh Gorges and Carlo Colaiacovo at defense. We also picked up Dan Bylsma who had just packed his bags from a five season (including a Stanley Cup) playoff streak with the Pittsburgh Penguins. It seemed at least that with all of these notable additions the Sabres had a bit more ammo in their arsenal. That is, until the pre-season started, when we saw first-hand what we can really do.

Yes, it may just be pre-season. And yes, you can never really judge a team based on 8 games and hope for the best, however; I have to say one thing. Damn we looked good.

This Sabres team has depth, and like previously said, a better attitude. Losses always come around, but this time they sting a little less like people expect us to lose anyway. That feeling doesn’t haunt this Sabres team.

These Sabres have grit. These Sabres have a team toughness, and to compliment that, this team has speed. Ennis, Kane and Eichel to name a few all have enough tenacity as we’ve seen to drive to the net and score before RJ can even call it in the booth.

I’m excited for this team to start winning and at least make a name for themselves besides ‘last place’. Are you, Buffalo?



(Photo credit: NHL.com)