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2020/21 preview and expectations thread


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I'm sick of it being the offseason and fully expect Sabres to be on the ice for training camp in three or four weeks.

We need a place to talk about what's been done, what needs to be done, what's going to happen in training camp and how all that is shaping our expectations for the coming season.

 

NHL.com has its Sabres previews up and that's as good as any a place to start:

*Inside look at Buffalo Sabres: Hope additions of Hall, Staal will help end playoff drought at nine seasons

https://www.nhl.com/news/2020-21-buffalo-sabres-season-preview/c-319630064?tid=290471364

* Three questions facing Buffalo Sabres: Reaching playoffs with Hall joining Eichel, rebound by Skinner among concerns

https://www.nhl.com/news/2020-21-sabres-breakdown-key-factors/c-319630066?tid=290471364

* Buffalo Sabres key statistics: Ullmark among best goalies at even strength; Eakin should help penalty kill

https://www.nhl.com/news/2020-21-sabres-numbers-stats-analysis/c-319629642?tid=290471364

* Top prospects for Buffalo Sabres: Cozens expected in lineup this season, other young talent on cusp

https://www.nhl.com/news/buffalo-sabres-prospect-watch/c-319629630?tid=290471364

* Buffalo Sabres fantasy preview for 2020-21: Eichel has potential to score 100 points; Olofsson upside appealing

https://www.nhl.com/news/2020-21-sabres-fantasy-hockey-preview/c-319629640?tid=290471364

 

Or there is this response from veteran Athletic columnist Eric Duhatschek when asked which team will be the biggest surprise in terms of success?

"If you’re looking for a team in the bottom third that could take a quantum leap forward, I will opt for Buffalo, assuming the goaltending holds up. They’re a year older, they’ve gotten to know coach Ralph Krueger and they’ve got a motivated Taylor Hall signed to a one-year deal, coming in with something to prove. That’s a pretty solid defence corps too; it surprises me how little attention Rasmus Dahlin gets these days compared to some of the other exceptional young defencemen in the game (Cale Makar, Quinn Hughes, Miro Heiskanen). But I see Dahlin moving up the defensive ranks significantly in the next 12 months and I see Buffalo making a playoff push as a result."

 

What do people think? Are we finally going to be relevant again? Why or why not?

Edited by dudacek
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I think the Sabres have a good chance of making the playoffs if one of our goalie pickups pan out. Who knows? Maybe now that Carter Hutton got his eyes checked. I know when I played goal in  beer league I didn't realize my vision was getting bad. Once I started wearing contacts I wasn't as much of a sieve.

Edited by PromoTheRobot
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3 minutes ago, PromoTheRobot said:

I think the Sabres have a good change of making the playoffs if one of our goalie pickups pan out. Who knows? Maybe now that Carter Hutton got his eyes checked. I know when I played goal in  beer league I didn't realize my vision was getting bad. Once I started wearing contacts I wasn't as much of a sieve.

It certainly would be a change for us to make the playoffs.😀

Edited by SwampD
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1 hour ago, dudacek said:

I'm sick of it being the offseason and fully expect Sabres to be on the ice for training camp in three or four weeks.

We need a place to talk about what's been done, what needs to be done, what's going to happen in training camp and how all that is shaping our expectations for the coming season.

 

NHL.com has its Sabres previews up and that's as good as any a place to start:

*Inside look at Buffalo Sabres: Hope additions of Hall, Staal will help end playoff drought at nine seasons

https://www.nhl.com/news/2020-21-buffalo-sabres-season-preview/c-319630064?tid=290471364

* Three questions facing Buffalo Sabres: Reaching playoffs with Hall joining Eichel, rebound by Skinner among concerns

https://www.nhl.com/news/2020-21-sabres-breakdown-key-factors/c-319630066?tid=290471364

* Buffalo Sabres key statistics: Ullmark among best goalies at even strength; Eakin should help penalty kill

https://www.nhl.com/news/2020-21-sabres-numbers-stats-analysis/c-319629642?tid=290471364

* Top prospects for Buffalo Sabres: Cozens expected in lineup this season, other young talent on cusp

https://www.nhl.com/news/buffalo-sabres-prospect-watch/c-319629630?tid=290471364

* Buffalo Sabres fantasy preview for 2020-21: Eichel has potential to score 100 points; Olofsson upside appealing

https://www.nhl.com/news/2020-21-sabres-fantasy-hockey-preview/c-319629640?tid=290471364

 

Or there is this response from veteran Athletic columnist Eric Duhatschek when asked which team will be the biggest surprise in terms of success?

"If you’re looking for a team in the bottom third that could take a quantum leap forward, I will opt for Buffalo, assuming the goaltending holds up. They’re a year older, they’ve gotten to know coach Ralph Krueger and they’ve got a motivated Taylor Hall signed to a one-year deal, coming in with something to prove. That’s a pretty solid defence corps too; it surprises me how little attention Rasmus Dahlin gets these days compared to some of the other exceptional young defencemen in the game (Cale Makar, Quinn Hughes, Miro Heiskanen). But I see Dahlin moving up the defensive ranks significantly in the next 12 months and I see Buffalo making a playoff push as a result."

 

What do people think? Are we finally going to be relevant again? Why or why not?

The stat that lends me to be optimistic about the upcoming season, whatever format it will be, is the goaltending stat on five on five. That is an indication that if Ullmark continues with his upward trajectory the goaltending could/should ?? be at a level that allows us to stay into contention. Added to that if the PK can be improved with a change in philosophy (more pressure) and simply more basic/intelligent play there are points in the standings that were gratuitously lost year that now should be retrieved. 

What made the goaltending issue stick out last year was that there simply wasn't enough goal scoring to cushion the goaltending and defensive lapses. If Skinner and Hall can get back to their standard scoring form that in itself will provide enough of a margin to take some pressure off of our goaltending. 

The addition of Hall and Staal will also reverberate throughout the lines by pushing some of the scorers down to those secondary lines and providing a wider spread of goals. The bottom line is that with internal improvement of the younger players and some key additions this team should be better.

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Unless the Sabres plan is to try and win every game 6-5, I don’t see how they make the playoffs.  The goaltending and defense(as it stands today) is the same as last year, and those groups were average on their best nights last season. 
 

Also, call me skeptical, but I don’t think Hutton’s problems last year were his eyesight.  I think they fell more in line with...he sucks if you need him for more than a few games. 

Edited by LabattBlue
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Simply put,, I expect the team as a whole to have an uptick in goals scored. A downtick in goals against. I expect the goalies to “look better” but only because the team in front of them is better, not because they magically became better. I still feel that is the Sabres weakest position. 

Once the roster is pretty solidified after camp, or by the time any preseason games are played, maybe doing a points prediction thread is in order.

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13 minutes ago, LabattBlue said:

Unless the Sabres plan is to try and win every game 6-5, I don’t see how they make the playoffs.  The goaltending and defense(as it stands today) is the same as last year, and those groups were average on their best nights last season.

I think the Sabres defence corps is better than it gets credit for — the top six is skilled, mobile, balanced and deep compared to many NHL teams.

Where it's lacking is in poise and I think that could come from from Dahlin and Jokiharju growing and taking more responsibility.

As a team, we were in or flirting with the top half of the league in limiting chances and high danger chances. Improved forwards spending more time in the offensive zone should only improve that number.

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Without a doubt they should be better and more entertaining than in the recent past. Having said that if what is projected to be the division they play in, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, NY Islanders, NY Rangers, Boston, Washington and NJ, dang who are they going to leapfrog. NJ is the only weak link there and they should be improved. I think it will come down to Dahlin taking the next step and the combination of Tage T and Cozens being ready to step in and contribute. What worries me the most is with that competition in the division, they will have to gel fast because with so many new players on the team they won't have time to flounder and find chemistry as the season goes on. The GKs still scare me, hopefully at least 1 of them will stand out.

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I might be taking the easy road on this but I agree with goaltending being the biggest question. I expect GF will increase and it will help the Sabres to win a few games that in the past may have been one or two goal losses.

The PP I think improves. Looking at the lineup there is more PP combination options this year which in my head means we can make it harder for other teams to adjust their PK. 

I’m on the fence with where to put Skinner. He played with Staal in Carolina but has had recent success with Eichel. Putting Hall with Eichel may have off ice benefits. If that scenario results in higher personal stats perhaps it entices him to resign. Then again it probably makes him more marketable in the offseason. Double edge sword or I’m overthinking it.

I think we make the playoffs due to winning more games through offense. It’s a first round elimination and next offseason KA makes goaltending a priority. 

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3 hours ago, dudacek said:

I'm sick of it being the offseason and fully expect Sabres to be on the ice for training camp in three or four weeks.

We need a place to talk about what's been done, what needs to be done, what's going to happen in training camp and how all that is shaping our expectations for the coming season.

 

NHL.com has its Sabres previews up and that's as good as any a place to start:

*Inside look at Buffalo Sabres: Hope additions of Hall, Staal will help end playoff drought at nine seasons

https://www.nhl.com/news/2020-21-buffalo-sabres-season-preview/c-319630064?tid=290471364

* Three questions facing Buffalo Sabres: Reaching playoffs with Hall joining Eichel, rebound by Skinner among concerns

https://www.nhl.com/news/2020-21-sabres-breakdown-key-factors/c-319630066?tid=290471364

* Buffalo Sabres key statistics: Ullmark among best goalies at even strength; Eakin should help penalty kill

https://www.nhl.com/news/2020-21-sabres-numbers-stats-analysis/c-319629642?tid=290471364

* Top prospects for Buffalo Sabres: Cozens expected in lineup this season, other young talent on cusp

https://www.nhl.com/news/buffalo-sabres-prospect-watch/c-319629630?tid=290471364

* Buffalo Sabres fantasy preview for 2020-21: Eichel has potential to score 100 points; Olofsson upside appealing

https://www.nhl.com/news/2020-21-sabres-fantasy-hockey-preview/c-319629640?tid=290471364

 

Or there is this response from veteran Athletic columnist Eric Duhatschek when asked which team will be the biggest surprise in terms of success?

"If you’re looking for a team in the bottom third that could take a quantum leap forward, I will opt for Buffalo, assuming the goaltending holds up. They’re a year older, they’ve gotten to know coach Ralph Krueger and they’ve got a motivated Taylor Hall signed to a one-year deal, coming in with something to prove. That’s a pretty solid defence corps too; it surprises me how little attention Rasmus Dahlin gets these days compared to some of the other exceptional young defencemen in the game (Cale Makar, Quinn Hughes, Miro Heiskanen). But I see Dahlin moving up the defensive ranks significantly in the next 12 months and I see Buffalo making a playoff push as a result."

 

What do people think? Are we finally going to be relevant again? Why or why not?

It really comes down to goaltending. We should be strong enough in other areas with just normal, expected performances.

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I think it's too early yet to make this decision. Yes, we are desperate for some real hockey and have seen signs that give us hope for playoff hockey.

I'm gonna say that there is at least one more move coming before training camp starts. The LH/RH defensemen still need to be balanced and improved. I also don't see Hutton being the backup. Once one or both of these issues is addressed, then we will have a better idea of how this plays out and can give a more accurate determination of what our expectations may be. 

 

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1 hour ago, jsb said:

Without a doubt they should be better and more entertaining than in the recent past. Having said that if what is projected to be the division they play in, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, NY Islanders, NY Rangers, Boston, Washington and NJ, dang who are they going to leapfrog. NJ is the only weak link there and they should be improved. I think it will come down to Dahlin taking the next step and the combination of Tage T and Cozens being ready to step in and contribute. What worries me the most is with that competition in the division, they will have to gel fast because with so many new players on the team they won't have time to flounder and find chemistry as the season goes on. The GKs still scare me, hopefully at least 1 of them will stand out.

If they get average NHL caliber goaltending from both goalies, they should be better than Joisey, the Rags, & the Pens.  Have Linus (or other goalie) show he can be a top 12 goalie & the backup can be at least top 40 & there isn't a team in that group they can't hang with though Baahstan will likely give them fits.

They'll have 2 legit scoring lines & a reasonable at worst shutdown line.  The 4th line will have some kids that could really grow & a guy that should help improve the PK (whether it's Eakin or Reider on that line).  They have enough talent to have a deadly 1st PP line & a 2nd unit that could be top 20 on its own.  IF PP stinks again this year, it will be on coaching or injuries and if the former at least 1 head will need to roll.

The D will be solid & Montour &/or Miller being in their 2nd year on the team should play more like they did prior to coming to Buffalo as they settle into their roles.  But they will need Dahlin &/or Jokiharju to step up to have the D actually become a strength.

Still want a Hutton upgrade as the season will be compact & having 3 NHLers really won't be a luxury but rather a necessity & Hutton almost definitely will clear waivers after his falloff both years in Buffalo.  Wouldn't be at all opposed to seeing them grab somebody else's 3rd goalie (such as Arizona's) when rosters are set & the Sabres are 7th in waiver pecking order should Adams be unable to make a trade in December/ early January.  For most of the others ahead of them either a goalie won't make a difference or they've already made moves in net, so they should be able to pull something off.

Hopefully better goaltending & new bodies up front on the PK get it at least average.  If the team falters, that will likely be the Achilles heel.  (And GT & coaching will have a lot to do w/ thatshould it come to pass.)

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Looking forward to seeing this current team in action.  Much improved at forward.  Dahlin’s development itself could elevate the defense.  Would love to see a move for a legit goalie first.  
 

Prediction coming after they settle on what division we are in.  

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3 hours ago, Taro T said:

PA off pulling his Grandpa Simpson act again.

Apparently.

He’s right, though. Our problem is and has been goal scoring.

Not the defense. Not Liger’s unhealthy hatred of Risto. Not goaltending.

Scoring goals. We have sucked at it.

That has been addressed.

We will make the playoffs,... assuming there, um, is playoffs.

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38 minutes ago, SwampD said:

He’s right, though. Our problem is and has been goal scoring.

Not the defense. Not Liger’s unhealthy hatred of Risto. Not goaltending.

Scoring goals. We have sucked at it.

That has been addressed.

We will make the playoffs,... assuming there, um, is playoffs.

He's right about WHAT in this thread?

There are several people besides you saying they expect the Sabres to make the playoffs & almost every poster has said the O is improved.

Which of HIS observations here are correct?  He has ONE post in this thread and that is complaining about the discussion.  What ELSE are people supposed to do on the internet on a forum dedicated to Sabres hockey?  Post #### pics?

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6 minutes ago, Taro T said:

He's right about WHAT in this thread?

There are several people besides you saying they expect the Sabres to make the playoffs & almost every poster has said the O is improved.

Which of HIS observations here are correct?  He has ONE post in this thread and that is complaining about the discussion.  What ELSE are people supposed to do on the internet on a forum dedicated to Sabres hockey?  Post #### pics?

Pics or it won’t happen?

Wait,... that doesn’t seem right.

 

I have to admit to not reading much of this thread. The little I did was all about the D, which hasn’t been an issue for us for some time.

PA is right about gum flapping, though. Until they do anything in the regular season, WGAF? We have won plenty of off seasons only to suck during the real season.

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27 minutes ago, SwampD said:

Pics or it won’t happen?

Wait,... that doesn’t seem right.

 

I have to admit to not reading much of this thread. The little I did was all about the D, which hasn’t been an issue for us for some time.

PA is right about gum flapping, though. Until they do anything in the regular season, WGAF? We have won plenty of off seasons only to suck during the real season.

If you are opposed to "gum flapping" why even be here?

Especially in the off-season when everything is pretty much in a holding pattern, what else is there to do on a message board?

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9 minutes ago, Taro T said:

If you are opposed to "gum flapping" why even be here?

Especially in the off-season when everything is pretty much in a holding pattern, what else is there to do on a message board?

These are both very good questions. If I had the answers, I'd,… well,… I'd probably be here, anyway, since it appears that I am.

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16 minutes ago, SwampD said:

These are both very good questions. If I had the answers, I'd,… well,… I'd probably be here, anyway, since it appears that I am.

And it's good that you're here.  This place would be even duller right now.  Heck, poor 11 might be reduced to asking people what's the worst / most overrated bread.  😉

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13 minutes ago, Taro T said:

And it's good that you're here.  This place would be even duller right now.  Heck, poor 11 might be reduced to asking people what's the worst / most overrated bread.  😉

It's rye. Don't get me wrong, I like it. But get over yourself, rye.

Edited by SwampD
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17 minutes ago, SwampD said:

It's rye. Don't get me wrong, I like it. But get over yourself, rye.

 

Worst would have to be "multigrain."  It's basically the plywood, literally, of the bread world.

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