It is very early in the season but its hard not to feel that we are singing the same refrain as years past.
“Oh don’t worry the effort has been great since the opener so things are looking up!”.
Listen, I get that the Sabres have looked better on the ice and Tuesday they outplayed the Flyers it just happened their goalie was on fire.
Advanced stats have shown this is a better team when they have the puck or are playing defense and their shooting percentage is so low it will go up.
In their division, the Sabres are actually middle of the road in goals scored although some of that is due to the 6-1 victory over Philadelphia. The flip side of the coin though is their goaltending is not rated highly in the advanced stats world, the offense again is struggling, and in a division as competitive as the East being two games under .500 can quickly become a much greater deficit if things don’t change.
Across the town, the Bills have been rolling for a few years now and the Sabres should take notice of why they are. Culture is paramount in sports great teams have fallen sooner then they should because of it and lesser teams have won titles because of a strong culture.
There has been a refrain in Sabre land lately of setting the right culture and hard work ethic. What I would like to see a heck of a lot more is the want to win. When the Bills started their reset in 2017 culture was big focus, but realistically it came down to results. Winning a lot and winning often.
The Bills are a well-respected franchise now because they have won and lately won a lot. What makes me nervous with the Sabres early on here is the constant refrain of work ethic and it being early in the season, but little urgency to win. We’ve been down this road where it’s just a few games and then they are too far out of it.
If the Sabres want to truly reset their course as a franchise leaders like Eichel and Staal who has a cup ring plus a lot of playoff experience should be ringing the bell that this isn’t close to acceptable and it’s time to rally now. The Sabres have 52 games left in 107 days, that is a lot of hockey to complete and not a lot of time to make mistakes. A 1-3 start is not insurmountable but this team really needs to focus on results and nothing else.
Management really needs to consider adding a goalie like Antti Raanta or Marc-Andre Fleury to stabilize the net. For as poorly as the Sabres played in the opener, they did close the gap to a goal only for another bad goal to be let end.
The general consensus in the off-season was the Sabres made good additions to the offense but the goaltending was a major question mark that could use help. To Carter Hutton’s credit, he was playing quite well against the Flyers until he got injured. But that exposed the lack of depth Buffalo has with Jonas Johansson coming in as Linus Ullmark was out with some not so good sounding personal matters.
Buffalo has been routinely blessed in its history with good to great goaltending so maybe the hockey gods are just having their say the last few years. But on a more real note the Sabres lack of having a solid plan in net has been hurting them for a while now and could slow any attempt the Sabres make at the playoffs.