Every fall, the devoted Buffalo sports world looks forward to their two teams starting up. The Bills take the field and the Sabres take the ice with a fresh slate. Two huge pieces of the city bring people together once again as the sports-centric atmosphere shifts from summer to football and hockey season.
The Buffalo Bills’ quick 0-2 start to the season has been giving fans more of a reason to turn their attention to the Buffalo Sabres. Hockey is less than four weeks away and while every season opener creates excitement, there are larger expectations this year.
There’s no question that the Sabres are a team on the rise as they have completed most, if not all, of the rebuilding. Now, a young team with rising stars will try to do something that Buffalo hasn’t seen in six years – make the playoffs.
The Sabres missed the playoffs last year by 12 points (or six victories). If they are able to improve by six wins or more this season, they can very well find their way into the postseason.
With the likes of Jack Eichel, Sam Reinhart, Ryan O’Reilly and newly-acquired Kyle Okposo, the Sabres’ offense is expected to have improved.
Many have forgotten about Tyler Ennis, who is expected to return in full. After dealing with concussions issues and taking months to recover, Ennis could play a big role if he is able to return to form.
Given another chance at the No. 1 position in goal, Robin Lehner showed signs of exactly what he can do. In 21 games, he posted a 2.47 goals against and a .924 save percentage. At only 25 years old, Lehner still has plenty to prove and has his best years ahead of him.
The Sabres were a franchise-worst 2-7 in shootouts last season. It marked only the third time in 11 years in which Buffalo had a losing record in shootouts. They’ll need to improve on those numbers and Okposo may be a key part of that. Over the last three seasons, Okposo has 12 shootout goals on 23 attempts. Expect him to be out there almost every time.
Training camp opens on Thursday and the preseason is just days away. It’s far too early to deem the Bills out, but the talk around the Sabres is buzzing. Expectations are much higher than the past few years and have fans gearing up for an exciting season.
To help kick things off, we’ll be having a viewing party on October 25 at Pearl Street Grill & Brewery to watch the Sabres take on the Flyers. Fans will have the opportunity to win a Kyle Okposo jersey and will receive door prizes! All fans are welcome to attend the event. Come spend a night out and watch the game on several huge HD screens.