Be Mad, Be Hopeful

As you all know, the Sabres were eliminated from playoff contention yesterday with their loss to the Flyers and the Caps’ win over the Panthers. I didn’t think that there would be a need to write this, but after seeing and hearing some Sabres fans calling other fellow Sabres fans “fair-weather, bandwagoners, not true fans, etc.” for voicing their displeasure on how things turned out, I felt compelled to.

It’s ok to be mad at the team. Heck, I think it’s alright to be furious.  Don’t let people try and tell you that you’re not a true fan because of you’re upset about this outcome. “True fans” shouldn’t be content with mediocrity and that’s what we’ve watched for most of this season. The people who were talking that kind of smack to their fellow fans on Thursday are likely the same people who have lined Ralph Wilson’s pockets with cash year after year, even though there has been next to no reason to warrant such a commitment before this off-season when Ralph finally spent some money on top talent.

Considering that 16 out of the 30 teams in the league make the playoffs every season and that teams are rewarded a point for losing in overtime and the shootout, it’s downright pathetic that a team with this much talent didn’t at least get 8th place in its conference. I don’t want to hear about the injuries excuse. This team had lost twelve straight games on the road at one point (0-12-0). If they had just found a way to get 5 out of a possible 24 points during that stretch, we’d be talking about how the Sabres matched up with the Rangers in the Conference Quarterfinals. That’s not even mentioning the countless leads the team had blown over the course of the season.

 

With all of that being said, there were some positives from this season that should give fans a little for next season.

 

-Tyler Ennis has been a revelation at center. It’s shame that he wasn’t put there sooner, considering the lack of quality pivots on the team. He along with Stafford and Foligno have formed a line that is reminiscent of the old Hecht-Briere-Dumont line from back in the day.

-Marcus Foligno was a real surprise. When he was first called up, I was just looking for him to be aggressive and physical while not being a liability on the ice. He did all of that and he solidified what was one of the top lines in the entire league down the stretch.

-Drew Stafford apparently did not lose his goal-scoring touch and somehow managed to hit 20 goals. I don’t know why he waited until this last stretch of games to finally do what he was signed to do. If you play like you did at the end of the season for all of next year, the fans will love you and won’t want you sent to Bolivia in a box.

-These last couple of games not withstanding, Andrej Sekera has emerged as an excellent, mobile, shut-down defenseman.

-Tyler Myers has started to grow into his frame a bit more and become more of a physical presence. His game still needs work, but let’s bear in mind that he’s only 22 years old.

-Major props to Darcy for landing a young, offensively talented center in Cody Hodgson. It stinks that Zack Kassian had to go the other way since the Sabres are still lacking in forwards with size and skill, but getting a player of Hodgson’s calibur at center was much more important. In the games he’s played with the Sabres, he’s shown that he has all of the tools to be a #1 center. Also, he has a higher hockey IQ than anyone on the team in my opinion.

-Jason Pominville stepped up his game after being awarded the captaincy. He led the team in almost every meaningful offensive category and he’s played in every game this season. More importantly, the guy never took a day off on the ice. His work ethic and contributions were something to be revered and are the kinds of qualities that a captain should have.

-We should get a full-season of this kind of play from Ryan Miller next year, barring any significant injuries of course. It’s clear that the concussion had taken Miller off his game and it took him awhile to get it back.

-Christian Ehrhoff, who was not really known for his defensive work on the blueline was a very good two-way defenseman for Buffalo and ate a ton of minutes. Ehrhoff also exhibited some leadership qualities that should go a long way in the coming years.

-Thought of as a throwaway piece in the Hodgson trade, Alexander Sulzer has shown that at the very least, he can be relied upon to be a #6-#7 defenseman. Having that kind of guy as bridge for some of the younger defensemen so that they don’t need to be rushed in their development is great.

-This team will have a little more size and grit with Tropp, Foligno, and McNabb likely being with team for the whole season next year. Not sure if Luke Adam will be in the big club’s plans for next year, given how he’s handled his demotion to Rochester, but if he is on the time, that will be another big body for the Sabres up front.


Advertisements