Remember how much excitement surrounded Buffalo over the summer and all the way up to September? Both the Buffalo Bills and the Sabres had reasons for fans to be flying high long before a football was kicked or a puck was dropped to start off the 2015-16 seasons.
Now here we are, approaching the end of October, and both teams are posting records under .500. That excitement we once had has quickly turned into the usual pessimistic attitudes. The Bills at 3-4 and the Sabres at 2-6. The Sabres are coming off a brutal set of games, one in which Montreal scored five straight times to rout Buffalo, 7-2.
After you spent your weekend watching the Sabres drop back-to-back games on home ice, the Bills were getting embarrassed by the Jacksonville Jaguars, a team that was 1-5 coming into the game. I’ll give them some credit for taking the lead, thanks to guys like Marcus Easley and Corey Graham. However, they got our hopes up and our defense, which was supposed to be a strong point, couldn’t stop Blake Bortles on the final drive.
Now, the Bills head into the by week a game under .500 and have some serious work to do if they have any hope of ending a ridiculous playoff drought. Buffalo is almost halfway through the season and they need to string together some wins. With a grueling schedule still to play, many are saying goodbye to the 2015 season after the loss to Jacksonville.
There are also people who are doing the same for the Sabres. A 2-6 start puts them in the basement of the league, but let’s give this team some time before we start writing them off.
I think it’s fair to say that the Sabres are a better team than they were last season. Clearly, this year’s team is a step or two ahead of last year’s tank job. I mean, we couldn’t really be much worse, right?
With just about 10 percent of the season in the books, the Sabres have shown signs of improvement and what the future holds.
We’ve already seen flashes of potential from this team and its’ players. Jack Eichel creates excitement every time he touches the puck. This team hasn’t clicked yet. With a new coach and a ton of new players, we can’t expect them to go from worst to first.
We’re going to have to deal with the rookie mistakes and the switching of lines for awhile, but I don’t want to hear about Auston Matthews because we shouldn’t be in a position to get him. We may end up with some small chance of winning the lottery, but let’s at least let this team grow and develop before we start discussing elite prospects.
If the same mistakes are still being made and the same problems are still there when we get to the second half of the season, then this team is in trouble.
Keep in mind that we’re without our starting goaltender. Whether you believe Robin Lehner is worthy of the job or good enough, Chad Johnson isn’t the answer. He’s held up well, with the exception of the Montreal game, but general manager Tim Murray hasn’t gone out and got anyone else.
He even passed on flames netminder Karri Ramo, who cleared waivers. That just shows the confidence that Murray has in the goalies. Once Lehner returns, hopefully he can show why Murray has so much confidence in him.
Auston Matthews is projected to be the top prospect in next year’s NHL Entry Draft, which will be held at the First Niagara Center. While it’d obviously be great to land the top pick, we shouldn’t be talking about Matthews at this point. We’re not even 10 games into the season.
When you watched the Sabres play last year, they were simply dominated on a nightly basis. They were massively outshot and they stood little chance at winning. Although the results haven’t been there, this year’s team has been in a majority of the games. They’re not getting crushed on the scoreboard, with the exception of the Canadiens game, and they’re actually outshooting opponents. Their power play is also in the top 10, which has been awful in recent years.
Give this team a chance. We have the opportunity to witness some great, young talent in the early stages. It’s going to take some time, but we’re past rock bottom. This team isn’t losing on purpose. Dan Bylsma will get a better grip on things as the season goes on and I think we will see the team start to gel more.
Some team will be lucky and fortunate to get Matthews next summer, but don’t plan on Buffalo getting him. Before you’re willing to throw this season away, let’s let things unwind. There will be a time when things “click,” but until then, shut up about Auston Matthews. If things are going poorly in a few months, then it’s a whole different story. For now, let the season unfold.
Let’s go Sabres!