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Season prediction: Reasons to be optimistic; reasons to be pessimistic about our Sabres


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I am optimistic about our Defense group and our top 6 forwards.  These are the best 2 forward lines we have fielded in decades and could be two of the best in the NHL.  I love the idea of Hall and Eichel together and think Staal will thrive playing with VO and Reinhart.  I'm thrilled that RK is playing Montour at RD and that alone will make a major positive impact on the D group.  I also think Dahlin is going to become one of the elite all around D in the NHL.

I's pessimistic about our bottom 6 and PK.  RK's forward line combinations, when not obvious, are appalling. I also worry the Hutton will not be improved and that the PK will still be at the bottom of the league because we didn't upgrade the goaltending.

Prediction:  I think the Sabres surprise but still fall short because Ullmark and Hutton aren't good enough.  They get off to a slow start but rally at the season progresses to finish 5th to the East, ahead of NJ, Pit and the NYI. 

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11 minutes ago, GASabresIUFAN said:

I am optimistic about our Defense group and our top 6 forwards.  These are the best 2 forward lines we have fielded in decades and could be two of the best in the NHL.  I love the idea of Hall and Eichel together and think Staal will thrive playing with VO and Reinhart.  I'm thrilled that RK is playing Montour at RD and that alone will make a major positive impact on the D group.  I also think Dahlin is going to become one of the elite all around D in the NHL.

I's pessimistic about our bottom 6 and PK.  RK's forward line combinations, when not obvious, are appalling. I also worry the Hutton will not be improved and that the PK will still be at the bottom of the league because we didn't upgrade the goaltending.

Prediction:  I think the Sabres surprise but still fall short because Ullmark and Hutton aren't good enough.  They get off to a slow start but rally at the season progresses to finish 5th to the East, ahead of NJ, Pit and the NYI. 

Since 2007 maybe. Been a while. 

But of course, that's only on paper. But I'm quite hopeful in that regard. 

Edited by Thorny
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The Good:

Top 2 lines will hopefully carry this team.

The D will be improved from last year.

The PP's will be deadly.

 

The "bad"

The bottom 6 aren't the train wreck they're made out to be and with Skinner & at least 1 & by mid-February 2 of the kids will be adequate at worst.

The ugly:

Hutton's play in that scrimmage was scary.  It wasn't so bad that it'll get them to say "no way" but it will likely be just bad enough to steal games away from the win column.  So, in a way that might be worse than tire fire bad, because they won't be forced to act NOW to fix this issue.

 

The unknown:

We know the players (w/ 1 possible exception) are bought in.  The motivation is covered w/ this coaching staff; will the X's & O's also be good enough?

Ullmark is a starting quality goalie (aka top 30).  Can he be top 10? And, can he handle 80% of the workload rather than 60% like he should only have to be tasked with in an ideal world?

Will the PK come around w/ the same D from last year and primarily new F's and (deep, nervous breath) the same goalies? 

Answer all 4 of these in the affirmative & the team glides into the playoffs.  3 and they likely get in or end up JUST on the outside.  Only 1 or 2 and they likely don't.  And if all 3 are a negative, can Adams talk Hall into sticking around until after the draft lottery?

Before that scrimmage thought Hutton would be just good enough for them to pull it off.  Now, expect them to fall just short as he's going to likely force too much load on Linus' shoulders.  Really hoping Carter is better than he was Saturday.

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Just now, Thorny said:

Though, @Taro T, they should already feel forced re: Hutton, imo

To large degree, we're in agreement. 

And, to an extent, they do.  We've been told they had deals on the table that they simply couldn't consumate.  While they were negotiating those, they had an ace as a hole card in that at a minimum AZ would have to try to slide a goalie through waivers & they could pounce on him.  But the rules changed mid-game and AZ didn't have to waive any of the 3.

We don't know what was necessary to push that deal over the finish line.  If it was an upgrade from Mittelstadt to Reinhart, that's a really tough pill to swallow as that still likely isn't getting the Sabres from the other team's 2nd goalie to their top 1.

Yes, not having a 2nd capable goalie could be crippling.  But by the time the new rules got put in place, the cost of getting the goalie might have become crippling in itself.

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There is part of me that believes Ullmark can give us 40 top-15 games and Hutton 20 top-40 games.

There is another part that says Ulmmark can give us 35 top-25 games and Hutton 25 top-60.

That said I really have a good feeling about Linus this year. He, Montour, and Rieder are the three players I think who might give more than people are expecting.

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9 minutes ago, Taro T said:

To large degree, we're in agreement. 

And, to an extent, they do.  We've been told they had deals on the table that they simply couldn't consumate.  While they were negotiating those, they had an ace as a hole card in that at a minimum AZ would have to try to slide a goalie through waivers & they could pounce on him.  But the rules changed mid-game and AZ didn't have to waive any of the 3.

We don't know what was necessary to push that deal over the finish line.  If it was an upgrade from Mittelstadt to Reinhart, that's a really tough pill to swallow as that still likely isn't getting the Sabres from the other team's 2nd goalie to their top 1.

Yes, not having a 2nd capable goalie could be crippling.  But by the time the new rules got put in place, the cost of getting the goalie might have become crippling in itself.

I'm not really a fan of any line of thinking that builds in an excuse for the management team. I'll argue against that by choice every time. It's too dangerous. If a necessary component to a winning hockey team is unattainable because your roster is too weak to withstand the price necessary, then the failing is still self-inflicted. 

There aren't any excuses anymore. That's not my opinion because I just want to believe it, imo it's mathematical. 

There isn't one way to mold this team into a playoff team. There are a multitude. The odds that there weren't any available avenues to accomplishing that feat seems exceptionally statistically unlikely. Those in charge are being paid to get a result - if you can't achieve the result, it's a self-inflicted failing. 

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4 minutes ago, erickompositör72 said:

Wasn't everyone pessimistic about Girgensons, Larsson, and Okposo, in general, last year? Yet Krueger found them to have magic together?

 

Krueger will get the lines right, and we will have a great team.

I actually think Housley put Z,KO and Larsson together.

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6 minutes ago, Thorny said:

I'm not really a fan of any line of thinking that builds in an excuse for the management team. I'll argue against that by choice every time. It's too dangerous. If a necessary component to a winning hockey team is unattainable because your roster is too weak to withstand the price necessary, then the failing is still self-inflicted. 

There aren't any excuses anymore. That's not my opinion because I just want to believe it, imo it's mathematical. 

There isn't one way to mold this team into a playoff team. There are a multitude. The odds that there weren't any available avenues to accomplishing that feat seems exceptionally statistically unlikely. Those in charge are being paid to get a result - if you can't achieve the result, it's a self-inflicted failing. 

And, agree that if they miss the playoffs it is on Adams as this is his roster.  

But, reality is, the ground rules changed midgame.  And, though we fear that lack of a move dooms their bid for a playoff spot, that is only our speculation at present.

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3 minutes ago, Taro T said:

And, agree that if they miss the playoffs it is on Adams as this is his roster.  

But, reality is, the ground rules changed midgame.  And, though we fear that lack of a move dooms their bid for a playoff spot, that is only our speculation at present.

Agree, and the fact the the ground rules changing midgame even specifically affected them, is also speculation. 

3 minutes ago, erickompositör72 said:

Ah, OK. But they took off under Krueger!

 

right?

Larsson's big change was 2 seasons ago. 

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12 minutes ago, Thorny said:

Agree, and the fact the the ground rules changing midgame even specifically affected them, is also speculation

Larsson's big change was 2 seasons ago. 

Umm, it may be speculation, but it isn't speculation that AZ kept 3 goalies on the 23 man roster.  TO kept 3 as well on only a 21 man roster.

That affects the Sabres who had an open roster spot on the taxi squad that easily could have gone to Sheahan or Quinn if they needed to have a spot available for a 3rd goalie.  And, w/out keeping 3 goalies, they could easily have sent Hutton to Ra-cha-cha had Hill or Dell been available.

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39 minutes ago, Thorny said:

Agree, and the fact the the ground rules changing midgame even specifically affected them, is also speculation. 

Larsson's big change was 2 seasons ago. 

That said, the summer before Krueger, Larsson was still largely a whipping boy who many wanted gone. Pretty sure you spent a lot of time correctly defending him. It’s hard for most to get their heads around a 14-point scorer as a key piece.

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2 hours ago, Taro T said:

Umm, it may be speculation, but it isn't speculation that AZ kept 3 goalies on the 23 man roster.  TO kept 3 as well on only a 21 man roster.

That affects the Sabres who had an open roster spot on the taxi squad that easily could have gone to Sheahan or Quinn if they needed to have a spot available for a 3rd goalie.  And, w/out keeping 3 goalies, they could easily have sent Hutton to Ra-cha-cha had Hill or Dell been available.

It's speculation that it has any relevance to the Sabres, yes. We have no idea if that's actually an avenue they were pursuing, and who else may have also been, if so. 

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2 hours ago, dudacek said:

That said, the summer before Krueger, Larsson was still largely a whipping boy who many wanted gone. Pretty sure you spent a lot of time correctly defending him. It’s hard for most to get their heads around a 14-point scorer as a key piece.

Not by those who use believe in analytics.

The LOG Lines Offensive Zone Starts dramatically increased under Krueger and their offensive metrics improved as a result.

The concern is that Ralph mentioned the Sabres successfully re signed all the UFAs they wanted too. 

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1 minute ago, GASabresIUFAN said:

Are we speculating that some teams kept a 3rd goalie on the active roster because they feared that the 3rd goalie wouldn't have cleared waivers?  I can see that with with both AZ and Tor.    

Yes and apparently the Canes are taking Trade Offers on Forsberg who they just claimed on waivers. 

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17 minutes ago, GASabresIUFAN said:

Are we speculating that some teams kept a 3rd goalie on the active roster because they feared that the 3rd goalie wouldn't have cleared waivers?  I can see that with with both AZ and Tor.    

That is the speculation and the specific teams to which the speculation is about.

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Optimism:
New line pairings have a chance to work well.  Coaches might change the failing special team systems.  New room may be renewed, buying Hall for 9$MM does change the room, and Staal, etc. do too.  Young guns have size and maturity now

Pessimism:
We lack a bonafide match-up line for other top lines, which means we will need to outscore to win games.  Once other teams figure them out, our coaches won't change until the season's lost.  Hutton is a tire-fire and will lose us enough games to barely miss the playoffs just like last year.

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Pessimism:  our goalies are among the worst in the NFL at making saves on the penalty kill, even when adjusting for all other factors.

Optimism: Cozens, Staal and Hall add some much needed scoring punch and depth to the offense.

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Every dog has its day.

Eichel and Hall will have huge seasons, Reino and Staal will anchor a strong #2 line and TT and VO will hold up their ends and blast awesome slappers past shellshocked goalies.

Ullmark is going to justify @MODO Hockey's love.

Skinner will come around through a combination of peer pressure from team leaders and RK's motivational mumbo jumbo.  He, Eakin and Cozens will provide much better down-lineup scoring than we had last year.

Speaking of Cozens, he will start more slowly than we'd like, and some here will panic, but by midseason he will be a force and in the Calder conversation.

Risto is going to continue to improve the structural soundness of his D-zone coverage and continue to knock heads.  Montour will have a big year as he approaches UFA.  Joker and Miller will be a very good 3rd pair.

Oh, and Dahlin?  Lookout, mama, there's a white boat coming up the river.

We are going to make the playoffs.

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1 minute ago, miles said:

do the sabres have any "tough guy" players for when tampa comes in and steam rolls over them?

Does Tampa? McDonagh I guess?

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