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Can the Sabres make the Playoffs In this new division?


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Divisional wingers depth chart according to Capfriendly

Buffalo

L - Hall, Skinner, Girgensons, Lazar

R - Reinhart, Olofsson, Thompson, Okposo

Washingon

L - Ovie, Vrana, Hagelin, Panik

R - Wilson, Oshie, Sprong, Hathaway

Philly

L - Giroux, Farabee, JVR, Lindholm

R - Voracek, Konecny, Aube-Kubel, Raffl

NYI

L - Lee, Beauvillier, Dal Colle, Johnston

R - Eberle, Bailey, Komarov, Clutterbuck

Pitt

L - Guentzel, Zucker, McCann, Tanev

R - Kapanen, Rust, E Rod (that’s right), Sceviour

NYR

L - Kreider, Panarin, Lafreniere, Lemieux

R - Buchnevich, Kakko, Gauthier, Rooney

Boston

L - Marchand (IR til mid Jan), DeBrusk, Ritchie, Bjork

R - Pastrnak (IR til mid Feb), C Smith, Kase, Kuhlman

NJ

L - Johnsson, Wood, Zacha, Seney

R - Palmieri, Gusev, Boqvist, Merkley

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Sabres have a lot of firepower on offense...I think it will come down to our goalies and special teams. Special teams, especially PK has been brutal and a large part is due to our goalies being among the worst in the NHL at stopping pucks on the PK. Far below average even factoring in the higher percentage of High Danger Opportunities they have faced.

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18 hours ago, GASabresIUFAN said:

Divisional wingers depth chart according to Capfriendly

Buffalo

L - Hall, Skinner, Girgensons, Lazar

R - Reinhart, Olofsson, Thompson, Okposo

Washingon

L - Ovie, Vrana, Hagelin, Panik

R - Wilson, Oshie, Sprong, Hathaway

Philly

L - Giroux, Farabee, JVR, Lindholm

R - Voracek, Konecny, Aube-Kubel, Raffl

NYI

L - Lee, Beauvillier, Dal Colle, Johnston

R - Eberle, Bailey, Komarov, Clutterbuck

Pitt

L - Guentzel, Zucker, McCann, Tanev

R - Kapanen, Rust, E Rod (that’s right), Sceviour

NYR

L - Kreider, Panarin, Lafreniere, Lemieux

R - Buchnevich, Kakko, Gauthier, Rooney

Boston

L - Marchand (IR til mid Jan), DeBrusk, Ritchie, Bjork

R - Pastrnak (IR til mid Feb), C Smith, Kase, Kuhlman

NJ

L - Johnsson, Wood, Zacha, Seney

R - Palmieri, Gusev, Boqvist, Merkley

It's going to be tough for Marchand and Pastrnak to come back from their surgeries and play a season with a compressed schedule. 

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12 minutes ago, JohnC said:

It's going to be tough for Marchand and Pastrnak to come back from their surgeries and play a season with a compressed schedule. 

I saw on the tv scroll Marchand is going to be on time for camp 

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3 minutes ago, bob_sauve28 said:

I saw on the tv scroll Marchand is going to be on time for camp 

That's impressive. But even if he is healed entering training camp playing a compressed schedule makes it difficult to have adequate recovery time during the season.  It's going to be challenging for the players. If a player has an abdominal strain (a common hockey injury) during the season getting enough rest to properly heal means missing a lot more games.  

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Posted (edited)

https://buffalonews.com/sports/sabres/mike-harrington-when-times-get-tough-sabres-want-eric-staal-to-show-the-way/article_f48451e0-4d10-11eb-b9cb-2f1209c2d554.html

Quote

 

But coach Ralph Krueger has another theory as well.

Krueger has mentioned several times how the club's pair of six-game losing streaks derailed the season, and how he's often pondered what he could have done differently during them. Cut one of those skids in half and the Sabres are in the Toronto bubble in August.

The Sabres were 0-10-2 during their two droughts – there's that word again – and had no time left to overcome the second one. It was a season-killing run of six straight regulation losses immediately after acquiring Dominik Kahun and Wayne Simmonds at the trade deadline. They scored just 10 goals.

 

The gist of the article is that Staal adds leadership that will help prevent 6 game losing streaks.  Nice thought but goaltending and not enough offense would have avoided the two bad streaks mentioned (Oct 28-Nov 14 & Feb 26-Mar 7, but also the 3 other streaks of bad play when the team went 1-4-1 (Nov 17-Nov 27), 1-6-1 (Dec 14-Dec 31) and 1-4-1 (Jan 18-Feb 2).  The Sabres went 3-24-5 during these five droughts and the droughts included 9 blowouts (losses of 3 or more goals).  Theses streaks included 3 losses to Ott and Det (including a 5-2 loss to Ott).  Both goaltenders had their moments Hutton and Ullmark each accounted for 13 losses of the 29 (JJ got the other 3) although Hutton took 8 of the losses during the 2 streaks RK mentioned.  There were also 11 one goal games.  

The Sabres finished 30-31-8.  24 of the regulation losses occurred in the 5 droughts.  The same can't be said on the positive side.  They started the season 9-2-1 and that was the high point.  Only other measurable good streak was a 5-1 run in February.  Both of the these positive streaks were followed by the two 6 game losing streaks.  

Adding Staal's leadership is great, but getting Staal's and Hall's offense is better.  Replacing Hutton should have been on KA's priority list but somehow wasn't.  Frankly RK needs to do a better job avoiding streaks on bad play.  

 

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8 hours ago, GASabresIUFAN said:

https://buffalonews.com/sports/sabres/mike-harrington-when-times-get-tough-sabres-want-eric-staal-to-show-the-way/article_f48451e0-4d10-11eb-b9cb-2f1209c2d554.html

The gist of the article is that Staal adds leadership that will help prevent 6 game losing streaks.  Nice thought but goaltending and not enough offense would have avoided the two bad streaks mentioned (Oct 28-Nov 14 & Feb 26-Mar 7, but also the 3 other streaks of bad play when the team went 1-4-1 (Nov 17-Nov 27), 1-6-1 (Dec 14-Dec 31) and 1-4-1 (Jan 18-Feb 2).  The Sabres went 3-24-5 during these five droughts and the droughts included 9 blowouts (losses of 3 or more goals).  Theses streaks included 3 losses to Ott and Det (including a 5-2 loss to Ott).  Both goaltenders had their moments Hutton and Ullmark each accounted for 13 losses of the 29 (JJ got the other 3) although Hutton took 8 of the losses during the 2 streaks RK mentioned.  There were also 11 one goal games.  

The Sabres finished 30-31-8.  24 of the regulation losses occurred in the 5 droughts.  The same can't be said on the positive side.  They started the season 9-2-1 and that was the high point.  Only other measurable good streak was a 5-1 run in February.  Both of the these positive streaks were followed by the two 6 game losing streaks.  

Adding Staal's leadership is great, but getting Staal's and Hall's offense is better.  Replacing Hutton should have been on KA's priority list but somehow wasn't.  Frankly RK needs to do a better job avoiding streaks on bad play.  

 

Bingo. You hit the core problem of not enough scoring being one of the primary causes for the team's struggles. If the addition of Staal and the possible inclusion of Reinhart to second line result in Skinner returning to scoring form then the Staal addition positively reverberates beyond the addition of the second line center. 

It's stating the obvious that the Sabres lacked talent. But it was its lack of depth that sunk this team once it hit the inevitable injuries and struggles of players. An inability to fill the gaps when they arose made its early season success unsustainable. There is no question that this team has more depth and will be better able to handle players being sidelined. 

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8 hours ago, GASabresIUFAN said:

https://buffalonews.com/sports/sabres/mike-harrington-when-times-get-tough-sabres-want-eric-staal-to-show-the-way/article_f48451e0-4d10-11eb-b9cb-2f1209c2d554.html

The gist of the article is that Staal adds leadership that will help prevent 6 game losing streaks.  Nice thought but goaltending and not enough offense would have avoided the two bad streaks mentioned (Oct 28-Nov 14 & Feb 26-Mar 7, but also the 3 other streaks of bad play when the team went 1-4-1 (Nov 17-Nov 27), 1-6-1 (Dec 14-Dec 31) and 1-4-1 (Jan 18-Feb 2).  The Sabres went 3-24-5 during these five droughts and the droughts included 9 blowouts (losses of 3 or more goals).  Theses streaks included 3 losses to Ott and Det (including a 5-2 loss to Ott).  Both goaltenders had their moments Hutton and Ullmark each accounted for 13 losses of the 29 (JJ got the other 3) although Hutton took 8 of the losses during the 2 streaks RK mentioned.  There were also 11 one goal games.  

The Sabres finished 30-31-8.  24 of the regulation losses occurred in the 5 droughts.  The same can't be said on the positive side.  They started the season 9-2-1 and that was the high point.  Only other measurable good streak was a 5-1 run in February.  Both of the these positive streaks were followed by the two 6 game losing streaks.  

Adding Staal's leadership is great, but getting Staal's and Hall's offense is better.  Replacing Hutton should have been on KA's priority list but somehow wasn't.  Frankly RK needs to do a better job avoiding streaks on bad play.  

 

They bought goals this off-season and it was the right thing to do. I think Ullmark can be a starter and be fine in a 40ish start season. 

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8 hours ago, GASabresIUFAN said:

https://buffalonews.com/sports/sabres/mike-harrington-when-times-get-tough-sabres-want-eric-staal-to-show-the-way/article_f48451e0-4d10-11eb-b9cb-2f1209c2d554.html

The gist of the article is that Staal adds leadership that will help prevent 6 game losing streaks.  Nice thought but goaltending and not enough offense would have avoided the two bad streaks mentioned (Oct 28-Nov 14 & Feb 26-Mar 7, but also the 3 other streaks of bad play when the team went 1-4-1 (Nov 17-Nov 27), 1-6-1 (Dec 14-Dec 31) and 1-4-1 (Jan 18-Feb 2).  The Sabres went 3-24-5 during these five droughts and the droughts included 9 blowouts (losses of 3 or more goals).  Theses streaks included 3 losses to Ott and Det (including a 5-2 loss to Ott).  Both goaltenders had their moments Hutton and Ullmark each accounted for 13 losses of the 29 (JJ got the other 3) although Hutton took 8 of the losses during the 2 streaks RK mentioned.  There were also 11 one goal games.  

The Sabres finished 30-31-8.  24 of the regulation losses occurred in the 5 droughts.  The same can't be said on the positive side.  They started the season 9-2-1 and that was the high point.  Only other measurable good streak was a 5-1 run in February.  Both of the these positive streaks were followed by the two 6 game losing streaks.  

Adding Staal's leadership is great, but getting Staal's and Hall's offense is better.  Replacing Hutton should have been on KA's priority list but somehow wasn't.  Frankly RK needs to do a better job avoiding streaks on bad play.  

 

 

41 minutes ago, JohnC said:

Bingo. You hit the core problem of not enough scoring being one of the primary causes for the team's struggles. If the addition of Staal and the possible inclusion of Reinhart to second line result in Skinner returning to scoring form then the Staal addition positively reverberates beyond the addition of the second line center. 

It's stating the obvious that the Sabres lacked talent. But it was its lack of depth that sunk this team once it hit the inevitable injuries and struggles of players. An inability to fill the gaps when they arose made its early season success unsustainable. There is no question that this team has more depth and will be better able to handle players being sidelined. 

Yes, not enough scoring depth was definitely a primary issue, but Jack said himself (and so did Ralph) at the end of last season that the team needed veteran leadership and grit.  He said they needed to be older and tougher next season.  As much as the moves made in the offseason addressed goals, it also addressed a lack of experience handling the big moments and issues that arise during the course of a season that can waylay an inexperienced team.  Don't discount that there is likely equal benefit from bringing in a few gristled vets who can show a young team how to get out of a funk as there is in bringing in a second set of goal scorers.

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11 minutes ago, Weave said:

 

Yes, not enough scoring depth was definitely a primary issue, but Jack said himself (and so did Ralph) at the end of last season that the team needed veteran leadership and grit.  He said they needed to be older and tougher next season.  As much as the moves made in the offseason addressed goals, it also addressed a lack of experience handling the big moments and issues that arise during the course of a season that can waylay an inexperienced team.  Don't discount that there is likely equal benefit from bringing in a few gristled vets who can show a young team how to get out of a funk as there is in bringing in a second set of goal scorers.

I agree with your perceptive comments about the importance of adding veteran leadership to the group. However, I have a slight variation with your view on leadership. I believe what makes the Staal attribute of leadership more influential is that as a 2C rather than a lower line and fringe player he commands more influence because he will be more of an instrumental player. Okposo is an acknowledged leader in the room. Without question he is a character guy who is listened to. If he were more of a top tier player on this team I think his status as a voice in the room would even be more potent. 

Don't misinterpret what I'm saying. In general we are in accord. But my sense is that in most cases (not always) the higher contributor is in a better position to have his voiced heard. If even at his age Staal can maintain the level of play that he had at Minnesota this would be a tremendous addition. 

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37 minutes ago, Weave said:

 

Yes, not enough scoring depth was definitely a primary issue, but Jack said himself (and so did Ralph) at the end of last season that the team needed veteran leadership and grit.  He said they needed to be older and tougher next season.  As much as the moves made in the offseason addressed goals, it also addressed a lack of experience handling the big moments and issues that arise during the course of a season that can waylay an inexperienced team.  Don't discount that there is likely equal benefit from bringing in a few gristled vets who can show a young team how to get out of a funk as there is in bringing in a second set of goal scorers.

I agree whole heartedly.  It’s two years running now that this team has put themselves in a reasonable position to challenge for the playoffs only to be undone by losing streaks and slumps in the 2nd half.

In addition to more talent, then needed some players with experience and resolve, to help them weather the ups and downs of the season without collapsing completely.  I hope that they have done that.

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37 minutes ago, Curt said:

I agree whole heartedly.  It’s two years running now that this team has put themselves in a reasonable position to challenge for the playoffs only to be undone by losing streaks and slumps in the 2nd half.

In addition to more talent, then needed some players with experience and resolve, to help them weather the ups and downs of the season without collapsing completely.  I hope that they have done that.

Yes, that was an issue the past 2 years.  But much like the Loafs who had that issue for seemingly a decade managed to find the winning formula to overcome choking after game 50 back ~2012, the Sabres are poised to get it to work for them as well.  Rather than play 32 dreadful games post game 50, they've guaranteed they can only have 6 of those.  Worked for the Loafs.  'Course, they did blow a 3 game lead to the B's in the playoffs that year, but importantly, they made the playoffs.  😉

Sabres should be a lock.  😉

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Just read the Athletic Sabres preview and like nearly everyone else they have us 7th in the division with a similar record to last year.

The funny thing, as I read the article, it occurred to me that we really don’t have many candidates for a serious regression this season outside injuries.  Besides RK sentencing Skinner to 4th line purgatory, the majority of our forwards should be as good if not better then last season.  

Rieder, Eakin, Sheahan, Lazar, and Okposo produced next to nothing last season.  Eakin is destined for more PT here then LV so hopefully he rebounds.  Okposo should be at least as good as last season and if he and Eakin can find some offensive chemistry maybe he be more productive then his 19 pts last season.  I don’t expect anything from Lazar, Sheahan or Rieder.  

The more important players are the six forwards in our top 6.  Hall has been down the last two years, however he is playing for a big payday and is paired with one of the most dynamic centers in the NHL.  If the pairing works, then both players will explode and this will add wins the columnists aren’t expecting.  The Athletic did note that Jack’s chances actually fell last year, but that looks like an anomaly.  Tage gets the first opportunity to ride the Hall/Eichel coat tails.  If he carries his good play from camp into the regular season, he will more then earn the contract KA gave him.

I expect Staal to continue to defy father time.  He is going to have two solid line mates in Reinhart and VO.  Reinhart has been pretty consistent offensively over the last few years.  This will be his first year away from Jack and is somewhat a candidate for regression. However he’ll still be on the top power play and VO’s presence on the line should help him keep his assists up.  I suspect VO will be perform very similarly to how he performed last year.  

On defense, I expect bigger numbers from Dahlin and Jokiharju.  Dahlin especially seems poised for a break out.  If this team clicks, I can see him actually scoring at nearly a point a game as the QB one the number 1 PP.  Joker had 15 pts last season, I think this is a reasonable goal even in this shortened schedule.  McCabe’s production remains steady between 12-15 pts.  No reason to suspect he’ll slide.  Risto had his worst O season last year dropping from 43 to 33 points as Dahlin took over the 1st PP but his best year defensively.  Hopefully the D trend continues, but he is a candidate for further regression.  Montour had his worst O year last season as he was moved to the left side.  He is a huge rebound candidate.  Miller also had his worst statistical season last year.  However he now has a fixed role on the team in the top 6 but on the left side.  Hopefully he’ll adjust well and being back some of the O he showed in LV.  

Basically, only Reinhart and Ristolainen seem like candidates for regression, but there are arguments that both should be just fine.  If guys like Eakin, Hall, Montour, and Miller rebound and Thompson, Dahlin and Jokiharju continue to develop we could easily outperform expectations.

My biggest concern is how many past and present Sabres has their worst statistical seasons under RK.  Current Sabres Skinner, Miller, Okposo, Montour and Ristolainen had their worst O seasons last year, plus ex-Sabres, Sheary, Vesey and ERod.  While not all of their diminished offense can be laid at RK’s feet, he certainly bares some responsibility.  Hopefully both he and the players learned from their mistakes last season.

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7 hours ago, GASabresIUFAN said:

My biggest concern is how many past and present Sabres has their worst statistical seasons under RK.  Current Sabres Skinner, Miller, Okposo, Montour and Ristolainen had their worst O seasons last year, plus ex-Sabres, Sheary, Vesey and ERod.  While not all of their diminished offense can be laid at RK’s feet, he certainly bares some responsibility.  Hopefully both he and the players learned from their mistakes last season.

I’m going to push back a little against some of this.

Okposo was better last season than in 2018-19.  He looked better and he produced better at ES.  If you look at his ES production it actually was his best season as a Sabre.

Ristolainen produced at a career high rate at ES.  Overall his points were down a little because Dahlin took a lot of his PP time.  Similar to Okposo, Risto was as productive as ever at ES last season.

Those two guys actually had really good seasons under Krueger.  I don’t know how you can say that they got worse.

Also, just as a note.  Skinner had an extremely similar season in 2014-15 (in fact even worse at ES) and returned to being very productive immediately after.

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31 minutes ago, Curt said:

I’m going to push back a little against some of this.

Okposo was better last season than in 2018-19.  He looked better and he produced better at ES.

Ristolainen produced at a career high rate at ES.  Overall his points were down a little because Dahlin took a lot of his PP time.

Those two guys actually had IMPROVED seasons under Krueger.  I don’t know how you can say that they got worse.

Also, just as a note.  Skinner had an extremely similar season in 2014-15 and returned to being very productive immediately after.

I wrote that Risto’s production fell because Dahlin took over the no1 PP, but his ES was only marginally better year over year; 4g 22a to 4g, 19a in the shorter season.  That’s not real improvement. I also wrote that Risto’s D improved.  

KO’s even strength goals have been flat for 3 years at 9,7,8.  That isn’t improvement, but his overall production has gone from 44, to 29 to 19 as he has morphed into a 4th line checking forward.  

So while, Risto improved on D, RK wreaked Montour and Miller.  In addition no one, including Jack, truly flourished offensively under RK.  Jack did score more goals but assists fell at ES, Reinhart at ES fell 12 pts. Skinner tanked.  Some of this is from the shorter season but not all. 

Honestly other then Risto’s D, I can’t find anyone who truly improved last season under RK.  

PS.  I was trying to generate some hope for coming season.  You made me look even deeper at the numbers especially as ES and now depressed me further about the team under RK.  Thanks.  

 

 

 

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I don't think it's remotely disputable that Eichel had his best season last year.  He was a monster.

I agree that RK should have gotten more out of Skinner last year and that he needs to do so this year.

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20 minutes ago, nfreeman said:

I don't think it's remotely disputable that Eichel had his best season last year.  He was a monster.

I agree that RK should have gotten more out of Skinner last year and that he needs to do so this year.

Jack was great last year.  He was a complete player for the 1st time and he focused more on scoring goals which we needed.  Admittedly it’s in less games but his ES scoring was relatively flat on a gross number. He had 62 ES points (.80 ES pts per game) 2 years ago and only 60 last year (.88 ES pts per game). Better certainly but not “monster” better.  

The biggest change was his shooting % which went from 9.2% to 15.9%, thus allowing him to score more goals despite actually having less scoring chances year over year.  His career best prior to last season was 10.2%.  Lets hope that the more accurate shooting Jack is here permanently.   

Please don’t read this as a criticism of Jack. It isn’t.  He is our most dynamic player and now one of the best and most complete centers in the NHL. He deserves a winning cast around him.  I just don’t think creating two checking lines is a smart approach for a team desperate for offense, especially when we have the talent in the organization to create a 3rd scoring line and one excellent shutdown line. 
 

 

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2 hours ago, GASabresIUFAN said:

I wrote that Risto’s production fell because Dahlin took over the no1 PP, but his ES was only marginally better year over year; 4g 22a to 4g, 19a in the shorter season.  That’s not real improvement. I also wrote that Risto’s D improved.  

KO’s even strength goals have been flat for 3 years at 9,7,8.  That isn’t improvement, but his overall production has gone from 44, to 29 to 19 as he has morphed into a 4th line checking forward.  

So while, Risto improved on D, RK wreaked Montour and Miller.  In addition no one, including Jack, truly flourished offensively under RK.  Jack did score more goals but assists fell at ES, Reinhart at ES fell 12 pts. Skinner tanked.  Some of this is from the shorter season but not all. 

Honestly other then Risto’s D, I can’t find anyone who truly improved last season under RK.  

PS.  I was trying to generate some hope for coming season.  You made me look even deeper at the numbers especially as ES and now depressed me further about the team under RK.  Thanks.  

Man, you really pick and choose numbers that fit your argument.  Switching intermittently between ES points, ES goals, total points, total goals, with basically no regard for number of games played.

If you are going to say that Jack didn’t just have his best season, then I don’t have anything else to say.

How about this measure for offensive improvement?  The Sabres scored more goals and more ES goals last season then they have since 2012-13.

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10 minutes ago, Curt said:

Man, you really pick and choose numbers that fit your argument.  Switching intermittently between ES points, ES goals, total points, total goals, with basically no regard for number of games played.

If you are going to say that Jack didn’t just have his best season, then I don’t have anything else to say.

How about this measure for offensive improvement?  The Sabres scored more goals and more ES goals last season then they have since 2012-13.

And ruined everyone in the process.  Amazing feat, really.  

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