Jack Eichel is in his 5th NHL season and has yet to make his playoffs debut. When he was drafted, you would have hoped by now that the Sabres rebuild would officially be deemed complete. At the very least, maybe a playoff appearance or two would have happened.
Not the case, and this year doesn’t look like it will happen either.
But there’s still half of a season remaining and the Sabres are right there. There have been two kinds of Sabres hockey this season – absolutely horrible and playoff-caliber. We’ve seen Buffalo be inconsistent and frustrating. They’ll put together a nice run only to go on a losing streak to cancel it all out.
We saw on Saturday how much the city of Buffalo and Western New York rallied for the whole week leading up to the Buffalo Bills playoff game. Not that Eichel really needs any more motivation, but I have to think that he wants the Sabres to get that same kind of attention. And it’d be for at least 4 playoff games, instead of just one.
“I want to bring a Stanley Cup to Buffalo. I dream about it very often.” – Eichel
That’s a great sentiment at all, but Eichel is easily having the best season of his career and the Sabres aren’t in contention right now. It’d be great if he could carry the team, but General Manager Jason Botterill has to step in and help.
The addition of Michael Frolik adds a little bit of forward depth which should help. Frolik is expected to make his Buffalo debut on Thursday against the St. Louis Blues. The odds page at Sports Betting Dime has the Sabres as a road underdog Thursday night, despite the Blues having lost three out of their last four.
Without Jeff Skinner and Victor Olofsson out for a while, the Sabres are not only going to have to fight through their absences, but they’re just going to have to survive. The Trade Deadline is still many weeks away, but it’s frustrating to watch Botterill not get more forward help sooner. Calling players up from Rochester isn’t the answer.
The team is exactly where I expected them to be this season. They’re a fringe playoff team that should be able to finish around the 8th, 9th, or 10th spot in the Eastern Conference. They’re on pace for 86 points this season, which would be their most since the 2011-12 season when they had 89 and made the playoffs.
86 points probably won’t be enough this year but this team desperately needs to end their playoff drought. They’ve rattled off two straight wins and are on a 4-day break before they host the Blues on Thursday. It won’t be an easy game (none of them are), but Buffalo has to figure out a way to string together victories.