If you are a Buffalo Sabres’ fan, then you have suffered long enough.
Your team has not made the playoffs since the 2009-10 season, have had many losing seasons, some high draft picks that have not panned out, and ultimately, not a lot to cheer for. You probably even started to wonder if your favorite hockey club was ever going to be good again.
Well Sabres’ fans, your prayers may have been answered. As of this writing, the team has won nine straight games and is currently first in the entire league.
Yes, this may not last long considering how tight the top five teams are in the league. With that said, Sabres’ fans can say that at one point in the season, they were the best team in the NHL with a 16-6-2 record.
There are many reasons why this team is thriving right now. It starts with the play of both team captain Jack Eichel and newcomer Jeff Skinner.
Eichel is doing everything he possibly can to get this team back into the playoffs. As of this writing, he leads the team with 28 points and 99 shots on goal.
While he may not have a lot of goals (five goals as of November 25), he does have 23 assists and is finding a lot of ways to set up his teammates. This has especially been the case on the power play as he has six assists with the man advantage.
Skinner, on the other hand, is absolutely lighting the lamp. He leads his club with 18 goals and is second on the team with 26 points.
People knew that when he was acquired from the Carolina Hurricanes this summer that Skinner was going to bring a new element to this hockey club. Skinner is one of the league’s top skaters, has a ton of speed, knows how to get into open areas on the ice, and also knows how to carry the puck into the offensive zone.
Other players that are contributing to the hockey club are guys like Jason Pominville (18 points), Sam Reinhart (16 points), Kyle Okposo (14 points), and Conor Sheary (12 points) have all played well to start the season. In all, the team already has nine players with at least 10 points.
Defensively, the Sabres are actually one of the better teams in the league up to this point. As of November 25, the team is tenth in the league in goals allowed as they have given up 66 goals in 24 games.
Their defensive game starts with the play of rookie Rasmus Dahlin. In the early going, Dahlin has shown that he is a smooth skater, can move the puck with confidence, is responsible in his own zone as he is a +5, and can also contribute offensively as he currently has 13 points (As of November 25).
The club is also one of the best teams in keeping the puck out of their net because of the goaltending they have gotten from both Carter Hutton and Linus Ullmark. They may not be elite goaltenders, but they have each provided very consistent goaltending to start the season.
In his first season as a starter, Hutton has shown that he has earned this kind of opportunity. He is currently 11-6-1 with a 2.53 goals against average and a .919 save percentage. These numbers certainly aren’t bad for someone who was a career backup prior to this season.
Ullmark, 25, is showing the Sabres that he should be their future between the pipes. He is currently 5-0-1 with a 2.52 goals against average, a .926 save percentage and one shutout.
This team’s fans should be excited what they are witnessing right now. This team is young, hard-working, and fun to watch.
Not only are they those three things mentioned above, but they are also winning a lot of hockey games, which in the end, is really all that matters. It will be interesting to see how the rest of the season unfolds, but if they continue to play this way, April could end up being a very exciting time in Buffalo.
Photo: Sporting News