It’s only been three games so far but the consensus seems to be that the Sabres are trending upwards. Even though their record currently sits below .500, there is a clear difference in talent between the team that finished at the bottom of the standings last year and this year’s team. Now that the talent is here, the next step in the process is to build team chemistry.
With all the new faces on the team, head coach Dan Bylsma is faced with the task of teaching a talented young team his systematic approach to the game. Last year’s coach Ted Nolan was not known for being an ‘X’s and O’s’ style coach so learning a complex system could be challenging for some of the younger players.
This is where the knowledge and leadership of players such as Captain Brian Gionta becomes a very valuable asset to this team. He knows what it takes to win a Stanley Cup and went through the rebuilding process a few years back with Montreal. The coaches will be counting on him, as well as the other veterans in the room to steer this team in the right direction.
Another factor in building team chemistry is time spent together. The Sabres are heading to Florida for their first road trip of the season where they will try and build off their recent win against Columbus. Dan Bylsma has preached to his players that communication is very important and the players are buying into it.
When players communicate with each other, they build relationships. These relationships are very important to have when heading into hostile environments. Games will not always go the way they are planned and the players will need to work with each to overcome obstacles.
Although the Florida games will not be the most hostile of environments, it will be a good test to see how the team is progressing.
As the season goes on, it will be interesting to see the Sabres build an identity for themselves.
There is no doubt that this team wants to win now and is proving to be much more competitive despite a couple of early losses. However, the team is aware that their record is what reflects in the standings and is ultimately what matters most.
Buffalo’s first road challenge is scheduled for Thursday at 7:30 p.m. when they take on the Florida Panthers.