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It’s about to get ugly

Frustrations may worsen if team can’t avoid another free fall




If you thought the rebuild was over, you were wrong. In fact, they may be starting a whole new rebuild soon enough!

Yesterday, I wrote about how important this 10-game stretch was and how it could’ve been a potential turning point for Buffalo. Jeff Skinner’s return and nine of 10 on home ice was a good reason to believe that maybe they can start making some actual progress. 

Instead, they were EMBARRASSED by the Ottawa Senators, a team that hadn’t won a road game since December 4th (nearly two months!). Oh, and they also played on Monday night as well, making the game against Buffalo a back-to-back contest. 


WHEN IS/WAS ROCK BOTTOM?

At this point last season, the Sabres had 56 points (five more than they have right now). But we all know what happened. In about two weeks from this time in 2019, the Sabres would go on a historically awful 3-18-3 skid before ending their season with two consecutive regulation victories.

There is an eerily similar feel to this season. I think things are about to go very south for this organization.

Remember when you thought this team was hitting rock bottom? That time may be different for every one of us. 

Maybe it was when they went 21-51-10 in the 2013-14 season.

Maybe it was watching Ryan O’Reilly get traded for pieces of garbage, and then watching his love for the game return as St.Louis wins the Stanley Cup.

Maybe it was hearing players like ROR, Robin Lehner, Evander Kane, Zach Bogosian, Evan Rodrigues, etc. all want out.

Maybe it was when they failed to make the playoffs after beginning last season with a 17-6-2 record.

Or maybe it was something else. I could go on. 

The rock bottom I’ve been talking about may have not even happened yet. The absolute worst case in my mind is Jack Eichel requesting a trade due to his frustration of playing on these awful teams for so long. He’s in his 5th year and the team has topped out at 81 points in that span with no signs of improvement. 


PLAYOFF-CALIBER HOCKEY

After Tuesday’s loss to Ottawa, some of the players mentioned the playoffs and how the team has to move on and start playing playoff-caliber hockey. There seems to be a sense that the players still believe in this team:

I guess it’s good that they’re saying that, but I’ve watched a majority of the games this season, and I definitely do not believe in this team. I don’t understand how Jason Botterill can speak on WGR 550 and say he’s waiting to make a move. His job is on the line and he needs to help at least provide hope for next season and beyond. If that means selling, then do it, because the team this organization is putting on the ice every night is extremely troubling. The fact that they can’t see that or haven’t acted to make that better tells me that changes are needed. 

It’s not a good look to continuously fire coaches and general managers every couple of years. Patience is part of it, but there’s nothing about this team that has me excited for the future other than Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen, who is still 2-3 years away. 

THE PLAYERS

Last season, I remember watching Sam Reinhart being interviewed after a game. One of the media members had asked Reinhart what he thought since the Sabres were basically out of playoff contention. Reinhart looked stunned by the question as if he hadn’t realized what kind of record the team would need from that point on. 

I’m wondering if the players currently fail to realize that this season, too. I’m sure they know they have a lot of work to do and all that but do they realize they need AT LEAST 20 wins out of the remaining 32 games?


SO WHAT NOW?

There’s still time to put together a run, yes. But even if this team pulled off a miraculous run, do you really see them winning a seven-game series against any playoff team?

This will be the 9th straight year of missing the playoffs. 

Tear it down. What the team has is not working and has not worked. 

Eichel and Dahlin should be the foundation of this team and every single other player should be on the trade block. 

I’m tired of hearing about the depth and success in Rochester. Victor Olofsson has been great, but we’ve also sent Tage Thompson and Casey Mittelstadt back down, two players who should have been key parts of the Sabres lineup if they were handled correctly.

The Pegulas need to step back and bring in someone else to handle the organization. The Sabres have been a joke for a decade 50 years and everyone they’ve brought in has failed to turn it around.

I think we’re going to see the team start struggling again in February and March, and it’s going to make an already frustrated fan base so much more livid. 


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NHL Standings

TEAMGPRECPTS
Atlantic Division Leaders:
6037-11-1284
5939-15-583
6031-21-870
Metropolitan Division Leaders:
5837-16-579
5736-15-678
5733-18-672
Wild Card leaders:
6030-18-1272
5932-20-771
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5833-21-470
5830-22-666
5830-24-464
5927-24-862
6127-26-862
5822-26-1054
5920-28-1149
6114-43-432
TEAMGPRECPTS
Central Division Leaders:
5932-17-1074
5934-19-674
5733-18-672
Pacific Division Leaders:
5932-21-670
5932-22-569
6030-22-868
Wild Card leaders:
6030-24-666
6129-24-866
-----------------------------------------
5829-22-765
6030-25-565
5827-24-761
5926-25-860
5826-28-456
5824-27-755
5921-33-547