The Power of Pegula

Nine games into the Terry Pegula era and the Buffalo Sabres boast a 6-1-2 record under new ownership. Coincidence? I think not.

Ever since Pegula officially took over the ownership of the Sabres, they have been a different team. If you remember correctly, one of Pegula’s first quotes as the owner was, “Winning is not a goal. It is a belief.”

The Buffalo Sabres have taken that belief and seemingly ran with it. The Sabres have collected 14 points in their last nine games. This impressive run has taken the Sabres from ninth place in the Eastern Conference to seventh place with the playoffs rapidly approaching.

“We are a better team right now because Terry Pegula is our owner now. We have a lot to thank Tom Golisano, Larry Quinn and Dan DiPofi for keeping the team in Buffalo and selling it to a guy who will keep it in Buffalo. There is a renewed energy with the team,” said Sabres defenseman Steve Montador.

Now to look at the other side of the argument, it is time to focus on who has been the most effective players in the “Pegula Era.”

In the last nine games, goaltender Ryan Miller is 5-1-2, forward Thomas Vanek has posted two goals and five assists, forward Tyler Ennis has three goals, four assists and posted a plus six. Defenseman Andrej Sekera has two goals along with eight assists (in seven games). Two other top performers have been defenseman Steve Montador (with a goal, six assists and a plus 12) and forward Drew Stafford (with two goals, four assists and a plus eight).

I will shy away from the statistics before I lose you. Long story short, Terry Pegula became the new Sabres owner at the perfect time. Why you ask?

The Buffalo Sabres had been on-and-off playing wise when Tom Golisano still owned the team. Pegula essentially became the owner during the stretch run before the playoffs.

Not only has the Pegula ownership move sparked the Sabres but the one deadline acquisition, that Sabres General Manager Darcy Regier made, has also greatly sparked the offense.

As you can recall, the Sabres acquired forward Brad Boyes from the St. Louis Blues. That move is already panning out, even though Boyes has only played in five games with Buffalo. Boyes scored the game-winning goal against the Boston Bruins on Thursday night, helping Buffalo earn two huge points and moving them into seventh place in the Eastern Conference.

This ragtag group of Sabres have already exceeded expectations and they do not look like they are going to be slowing down anytime soon.

With their franchise-record road trip coming to a close this Saturday night in Toronto, the Sabres need to focus on winning important games at the HSBC Arena.

Through 32 games at home, the Sabres are 14-15-3. For those of you counting at home, that would be 31 out of 64 possible points that could have been earned. That is a very eye-opening statistic.

In the next month, the Sabres will host six prospective playoff teams. The Carolina Hurricanes, Atlanta Thrashers, Nashville Predators, New York Rangers, Tampa Bay Lightning and Philadelphia Flyers will all come to the HSBC Arena searching for very important points.

With nine regular season home games left, including the aforementioned six, the Sabres need to get back to the basics. The team needs to bring their road game mentality to the HSBC Arena. Although Buffalo is currently in seventh place, with 72 points, a bad stretch of games could easily derail any sort of playoff aspirations for this team.

I will promise you this. If the Buffalo Sabres keep playing at a high level of hockey, they could be a very dangerous team when the playoffs roll around. Just look at what the Philadelphia Flyers did last postseason.

Whatever the result of this season may be, one thing is already know. Fans of the Buffalo Sabres have learned a lot about their team and the Buffalo Sabres have learned a lot about themselves.

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Ryan Wolfehttp://www.sabreshockeycentral.com
Administrator/Writer at Sabres Hockey Central.

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