This season was supposed to be different. This season was supposed to have hope. We knew the “Next Chapter” wouldn’t mean Playoffs in 2015-2016, but as a fan, I at least hoped the team would show a little more life.
This time last year, through 22 games, the Sabres had a record of 6 wins,14 losses,1 overtime loss, and 1 shootout loss. The “Next Chapter” has 2 more wins than last year, and shows the faintest of signs of a heartbeat. Yes, Jack makes about one or two plays a night that make you go back and rewatch, but the team is still lacking depth. They have seen an increase in goals by 9 with 37 at this time last year, 46 through 22 games this season. The team has much more talent, that easy to see, but it doesn’t make watching this team easier. The Sabres are 3 points ahead of Edmonton in the League Standings, even though they are only 4 games under .500. Things could get ugly fast for this young team.
The 6 game losing streak shows, this young team will have its ups but most likely will be dominated by rough stretches. The longest winning streak on the season is a pitiful 3 game stretch.
The difference between this year and last, is that they are actually generating shots on net, which surprisingly will help the goal category. Adding Jack, ROR, and Kane will help produce more offensive opportunities, but lacking a solid goaltender, and quality defensemen isn’t going to allow this team to stay near .500. As the season progresses, we will see a few games where Jack wins them himself, but this team isn’t going anywhere.
Last season was definitely the hardest season to watch, but this season isn’t a guarantee to be much better. The team should be able to win more games than last year, but not by many. The goal should be one more year of suffering. The league altered the Lottery System to steer teams away from tanking, but grabbing Auston Matthews would give the Sabres another top American Born prospect to develop. You could argue it doesn’t mean the team will be destined for greatness, Edmonton has loads of number 1 picks playing on their team, but that’s an anomaly. It’s Edmonton, they are cursed with top draft picks.
Root for the tank one last time. It’s no lock we will win the lottery, but Auston Matthews would push the Sabres over the top for young talent. Buffalo would be well on their way to building a dynasty like Chicago has.
We can only hope the team trends in that direction.
The future is definitely bright for the Sabres, but the immediate future (2015-2016 season) will have more rough patches than bright spots, and you can expect a bottom 5 finish.
Our Tank Factor will be up and running soon, which will spotlight the bottom 5 teams, and an OPINION of their projected finish to the season.