The start of the Sabres season reminds us to provide you with a Buffalo Sabres preview. So, here we go! While the Buffalo Bills continue into their regular-season, the Buffalo Sabres are finally prepared to begin their regular season docket. This year marks the 50th year of the Sabres organization. The city was granted an NHL expansion franchise on December 2nd, 1969. Fifty Years of the Sabres means games at Key Bank Center will involve special celebrations honoring the organization and notable names. The current team wearing those colors has a fair share of their notable names as well. Even though the Sabres reside in a competitive Atlantic Division, we’re looking at another season they stand prepared to be sneaky good!
On Thursday the October 3rd, the Buffalo Sabres will open their season on the road against the Penguins. They then come home on Saturday to launch a home calendar with no shortage of highlights. Taylor Hall, Jack Hughes, and the New Jersey Devils will be the Home Opener opponents. The Sabres will honor past and present Captains for the first such celebration of the anniversary season. No matter what your age you will probably find an alumnus skating onto the ice that night. These nostalgia-prone games are littered across the Sabres season including a 1990s themed night January 4th against the Panthers that will likely feature the beloved “Goathead” jersey. The Maple Leafs make their first appearance in Buffalo the day after Thanksgiving. This is currently the most expensive ticket on the secondary market this year!
State of the Club
So how about we now preview the current Buffalo Sabres? Jack Eichel wrapped up his fourth season on the team last year, his first as Captain, with a bitter taste. After re-awakening Buffalo’s love of hockey on a franchise-record tying ten-game winning streak in November, the new year was very difficult. The team had an 83% chance of making the playoffs on Thanksgiving but the train went off the tracks. By April, Buffalo finished a solid twenty points outside of the postseason. The back-half collapse cost Phil Housley his job and sent General Manager Jason Botterill looking for answers. With training camp wrapped up and a relatively productive offseason behind them, we will now see how good the answers are.
Resigning Jeff Skinner, the man who some wanted to appoint King of Buffalo last November, was the big winner of the offseason. He’ll likely find himself back on Eichel’s wing in a return of the dynamic duo. The forward corps should see some experimentation even after the regular season commences. When game four rolls around at home against the hated divisional rival Montreal Canadiens we could be seeing a fan favorite Sabre lining up against the Blue and Gold. Jason Pominville is still without any NHL contract as he approaches his 37th birthday. He may decide to go play for his childhood team the Habs.
Sabres Young Bloods
What is for sure is that an exciting young forwards group will see a lot more time on the ice. Sam Reinhart will be in a contract year looking to impress. Victor Olofsson will be in his first full season on the big club and is likely to see powerplay time. Evan Rodrigues will likely be given responsibility for his own line while newcomers like Jimmy Vesey and Marcus Johansson will ply their trade. Minnesota standout Casey Mittelstadt has everything to play for after a relatively underwhelming rookie season. Journeyman Curtis Lazar hopes to breathe a second life into his still-young career after falling off in Ottawa. Tage Thompson, the most promising returning piece from the Ryan O’Reilly trade will attempt to prove he’s not to be ignored.
Buffalo Sabres Season Prediction
There is a bit of predictions crunch going on with the Buffalo Sabres. And, it was quite difficult to write a Buffalo Sabres preview. On one hand, the change that has occurred since last season’s disappointing conclusion doesn’t guarantee a meteoric rise above the playoff line. On the other hand, at least one significant roster move is still likely to happen depending on who you ask. Either way, I am calling this upstart, New Look Sabres team to surprise some fools again. They burned awfully hot early on last season and fizzled out. Perhaps they’ve discovered the way to burn hot enough consistently to make the postseason this go-round for the first time in nine years. I’m predicting a saucy 94 points for the Sabres. This will lead to a very close race for the last playoff spot that will come down to secondary and tertiary tie-breakers.
What do you think about the upcoming Buffalo Sabres season? Feel free to leave a comment below!
My name is Andrew Uttaro. If you just can’t get enough of my Sabres takes you can find me on twitter @UttaroSports. I do a Sabres blog after every regular season and *looks around avoiding hecklers* playoff games. You’ll see me some more of me on here too, the Southtowns Tickets blog, as the season goes on. Be sure to follow Southtowns Tickets on twitter @SouthtownsTicks for more Sabres and Bills coverage.