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How good or bad is this team really?


Who are the real Sabres?  

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  1. 1. Who are the real Sabres?

    • A bad team that needs core players moved and significant additions in order to compete for the playoffs next year
    • An emerging team that can compete for the playoffs next year with good goaltending, tweaks and the right coach


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Always felt goaltending and the coach was the only issue entering the season.  

We might have solved both.

Couple that with the development and play of kids I thought wouldn't make it, I'll just say I feel much better about the team. 

Plus Adams adding to his staff and I get the sense Pegula is finally figured out he needs to gtfo of the way.  

 

Jack Eichel is now the biggest question going forward.  

Is he the Captain of this team in more then just title?

More importantly, are we concerned about this injury?  

Oh yea and that MNC that kicks in.    

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5 minutes ago, Second Line Center said:

Always felt goaltending and the coach was the only issue entering the season.  

We might have solved both.

Couple that with the development and play of kids I thought wouldn't make it, I'll just say I feel much better about the team. 

Plus Adams adding to his staff and I get the sense Pegula is finally figured out he needs to gtfo of the way.  

 

Jack Eichel is now the biggest question going forward.  

Is he the Captain of this team in more then just title?

More importantly, are we concerned about this injury?  

Oh yea and that MNC that kicks in.    

Coaching MAY have been solved.  There are ~14 games left to give us a better idea about that.  

But goaltending hasn't been remotely solved.  Tokarski has more confidence than he's had in years, but his play is almost definitely unsustainable.  Re-sign Ullmark & bring in another guy to split time with him.  Tokarski will start as the 3rd guy & hopefully Luukkonnen supplant him quickly.

Would love to see Tokarski stay on the hot streak.  Wouldn't it be something if he played so well down the stretch that Francis decides he'd be more valuable than Borgen?

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I think the middle six suddenly hit its stride this season.  They're fine going forward.  Assuming Jack comes back healed and ready in the fall, the first line will sort itself out.  I'm not terribly worried about the fourth line but I think we've got enough talent there.

On D, Joki/Dahlin look like a great puck moving/point scoring tandem.  Risto and anyone is a good shut down pair.  With McCabe back there is no doubt at all there.  Then we have Bryson, Borgen and Samuelsson.  When it comes to D, the future's so bright, I have to wear shades.

Goaltending is a big question mark.  Ullmark, when healthy, is all that.  The when healthy part is a concern.  I think we need to sign the best 1B we can get.  I like the thought of putting Tokarski away in the AHL for a rainy day.  He's not great but he's shown he's a gamer.

Under Krueger this team was a huge, flabby, disorganized disappointment.  Under Granato they're in better condition, put in better effort, and seem to be playing a system that plays to their strengths.  I'm optimistic that we will have coaching at least as good as Granato next season (as in Granato himself or someone better).  I think with the pieces we've got under a coach who pays attention to conditioning, who prepares the team for the game at hand, who deploys a system to maximize the talent he has, this team can be very good next year.

The influx of youth to the point that (at least in my mind) Jack is expendable for the right return is really pretty exciting.  I still think of Jack as a key piece of a Cup winner here in Buffalo, but for the first time I get the sense that the supporting case is here and it's ready. 

Shoot, we went 2-for-3 against the best two teams in our division, with Dustin Freakin Tokarski in goal.  If this was the team and the coach we began the season with, I think it's very likely we'd be in a playoff spot right now.

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10 hours ago, Second Line Center said:

Always felt goaltending and the coach was the only issue entering the season.  

We might have solved both.

Couple that with the development and play of kids I thought wouldn't make it, I'll just say I feel much better about the team. 

Plus Adams adding to his staff and I get the sense Pegula is finally figured out he needs to gtfo of the way.  

 

Jack Eichel is now the biggest question going forward.  

Is he the Captain of this team in more then just title?

More importantly, are we concerned about this injury?  

Oh yea and that MNC that kicks in.    

Coach, good chance. 

Goalie..entering into the season with Ullmark and Tokarski would be unforgivable 

10 hours ago, Taro T said:

Coaching MAY have been solved.  There are ~14 games left to give us a better idea about that.  

But goaltending hasn't been remotely solved.  Tokarski has more confidence than he's had in years, but his play is almost definitely unsustainable.  Re-sign Ullmark & bring in another guy to split time with him.  Tokarski will start as the 3rd guy & hopefully Luukkonnen supplant him quickly.

Would love to see Tokarski stay on the hot streak.  Wouldn't it be something if he played so well down the stretch that Francis decides he'd be more valuable than Borgen?

Well stated

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Wouldn't if be the ***** if Tokarski plays the rest of the season rock solid and we end up with a late bloomer guy that can actually win games for us? Although even if that happened, the Minder situation needs to be fixed for next season. Going into next season with Ullmark and Tokarski would be a fail in my book. Ullmark is becoming  "Glass Joe" and we need someone that can be counted on.

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On 4/19/2021 at 6:33 AM, nucci said:

wasn't your point that players did better once they left Buffalo?

It was. Didn't O'Reilly win the Cup and wasn't he playoff MVP? I would say that proves my point.

 

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On 4/18/2021 at 7:24 PM, bob_sauve28 said:

What would you offer Linus as a contract right now? I was all set to throw money at him for more than a few years, but not now. His injury history worries me. 

Any opinion on this  Jesper Wallstedt who is going to be drafted this year? 

 

Also depends which #1 goaltender is available out there and, would they sign to play for the Sabres? 

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On 4/19/2021 at 8:27 AM, NJhopelessSabresfan66 said:

Wouldn't if be the ***** if Tokarski plays the rest of the season rock solid and we end up with a late bloomer guy that can actually win games for us? Although even if that happened, the Minder situation needs to be fixed for next season. Going into next season with Ullmark and Tokarski would be a fail in my book. Ullmark is becoming  "Glass Joe" and we need someone that can be counted on.

He ain’t no Tim Thomas. It’s nice to dream though. 

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9 hours ago, Andrew Amerk said:

He ain’t no Tim Thomas. It’s nice to dream though. 

And the dream is spoiled... love his compete but Sabres need better goaltending... at least two of the goals last night were on him... Sabres cannot afford goalie hiccups.  They need to learn to win one goal games plus they were outskated last night.  Had to watch a video of Marchand getting cheap shotted last night to recover.

Marchand second player.

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4 hours ago, Let's Go B-Lo said:

They're still bad.  They are better than they were and are at least showing a little interest in playing but they still are a long way from consistently competing with good teams.

Bad? Record says they are. Improving? Eye test says they are. Long way from competing with good teams? Not sure they are.

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They looked fantastic until Boston decided they needed to get moving and exposed this team one again.  Fortunately they did so about 10 minutes too late.

Boston took us lightly and paid for it.  We're good enough to beat good teams that take us too lightly, and probably good enough to beat mediocre teams with respectable frequency, but not consistently.  They have a long way to go yet.

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Them playing better for a few games didn't move the needle much for me.  But they have been playing better now for a few weeks, so I'm starting to believe a bit more that they aren't truly, totally awful.  Honestly, in the entire bottom half of the league (all teams not making the playoffs), they might be playing as well as anyone over the last few weeks besides Ottawa.

So how good are they now beyond what their record tells us?  I'd say in that 20th to  26th place in the league. 

 

 

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I’d like to think the core is in place here now. They have multiple scoring lines, a young mobile defense and more talent in the pipeline. Need goaltending and Jack back and this should be a playoff team next year 

 

 

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1 minute ago, bob_sauve28 said:

I’d like to think the core is in place here now. They have multiple scoring lines, a young mobile defense and more talent in the pipeline. Need goaltending and Jack back and this should be a playoff team next year 

 

 

I’m not sold on your last sentence.  They appear a kind of a one trick pony in terms of how they need to play to be successful.  I don’t see this squad as one that can adapt different styles/gameplans and succeed.  Decent teams will adjust and if this squad can’t adapt it will look ugly.

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10 minutes ago, Weave said:

I’m not sold on your last sentence.  They appear a kind of a one trick pony in terms of how they need to play to be successful.  I don’t see this squad as one that can adapt different styles/gameplans and succeed.  Decent teams will adjust and if this squad can’t adapt it will look ugly.

I do think they adjust, it’s just that they are young with a new coach. They caught up to Boston here. They beat Washington after losing. They play good teams, learn and get better. They are playing well against good teams in spite of below average goaltending 

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8 minutes ago, Weave said:

I’m not sold on your last sentence.  They appear a kind of a one trick pony in terms of how they need to play to be successful.  I don’t see this squad as one that can adapt different styles/gameplans and succeed.  Decent teams will adjust and if this squad can’t adapt it will look ugly.

 

You have an interim coach and a roster of, up till now, underachievers and AHL players. With barely time to get a practice in between games, beating playoffs teams and teams fighting to get in. And you're judging him on his many styles they can play??

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22 minutes ago, PromoTheRobot said:

 

You have an interim coach and a roster of, up till now, underachievers and AHL players. With barely time to get a practice in between games, beating playoffs teams and teams fighting to get in. And you're judging him on his many styles they can play??

No, I am judging the roster content and their expected ability to be able to adapt.  They pretty much have 1 style of forward, 4th line aside.  The lack of diversity of skill sets and styles of the top 3 lines is going to be limiting once teams have a normal season to scout and adjust.

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11 minutes ago, Weave said:

No, I am judging the roster content and their expected ability to be able to adapt.  They pretty much have 1 style of forward, 4th line aside.  The lack of diversity of skill sets and styles of the top 3 lines is going to be limiting once teams have a normal season to scout and adjust.

This is fair, but some of it can come from within - I’m specifically thinking of what prime Dylan Cozens will look like.

Asplund, Bjork and Girgensons all have the relentless element and Samuelsson and Borgen will elevate the testosterone on the blueline, but we definitely need a Marcus Foligno or a Mike Grier.

Or better yet a Mike Foligno.

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Most of our players are on the upslope of their learning curves. Assuming we resign our FA's, here's where our core guys for next year are...

Cozens, Samuelson, and Dahlin are very low on their respective learning curves for their ages at their positions. They have a LOT of room to get better.

Mittelstadt, Thompson, Aspland, Ruots, Bjork, Borgen, Bryson, and Joki are all on thr upward slope.

Reinhart, Eichel, Risto, McCabe, and Skinner, Girgs are all at their peak ages.

The only player at thr drop off is Okposo.

With goaltending we could be good.

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1 hour ago, dudacek said:

This is fair, but some of it can come from within - I’m specifically thinking of what prime Dylan Cozens will look like.

Asplund, Bjork and Girgensons all have the relentless element and Samuelsson and Borgen will elevate the testosterone on the blueline, but we definitely need a Marcus Foligno or a Mike Grier.

Or better yet a Mike Foligno.

Don't sleep on Cozens becoming a physical force. He's shown pretty clearly that he doesn't shy away from contact and he's very aggressive in the dirty areas. If the kid from the Yukon continues to fill out physically you might be looking at the total package, a player nearly as talented as Eichel but full to the brim with grit. 

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5 hours ago, Radar said:

Bad? Record says they are. Improving? Eye test says they are. Long way from competing with good teams? Not sure they are.

Let's also understand that I don't think we are even PLAYING the true good teams in the NHL right now.  

In the last 30 days they are 3-8 against teams in playoff position.  They've been outscored 37-27 in those games.

Are they playing better? Yes, that's an incredibly low bar to clear where they were coming from.  Are they now suddenly good? No.  Are they able to skate with Colorado, Tampa, Carolina or teams of that ilk? No.  They'd get hammered by each of those teams, several times.

 

 

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23 minutes ago, Let's Go B-Lo said:

Let's also understand that I don't think we are even PLAYING the true good teams in the NHL right now.  

In the last 30 days they are 3-8 against teams in playoff position.  They've been outscored 37-27 in those games.

Are they playing better? Yes, that's an incredibly low bar to clear where they were coming from.  Are they now suddenly good? No.  Are they able to skate with Colorado, Tampa, Carolina or teams of that ilk? No.  They'd get hammered by each of those teams, several times.

 

 

This is interesting, and IMO completely impossible to effectively argue one way or another.

The consensus was the east was the strongest of the 4 divisions

Are the Rangers and the Flyers bad, or good teams being pushed down in a strong division? How good are Toronto and Florida really? How do the Sabres rate against the Sharks and the Ducks and the Canucks and the Coyotes?

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24 minutes ago, Let's Go B-Lo said:

Let's also understand that I don't think we are even PLAYING the true good teams in the NHL right now.  

In the last 30 days they are 3-8 against teams in playoff position.  They've been outscored 37-27 in those games.

Are they playing better? Yes, that's an incredibly low bar to clear where they were coming from.  Are they now suddenly good? No.  Are they able to skate with Colorado, Tampa, Carolina or teams of that ilk? No.  They'd get hammered by each of those teams, several times.

 

 

I have a different perspective on this team than you do. It's very unlikely that bottom feeding teams make great leaps forward to move into the ranks of the top tier. That's not how it is done. The fairer way to assess a rebuilding team is to determine if the team is moving from the early stage of a rebuild that starts you off at the bottom of the rankings to the next stage of a rebuild that moves you up the ranks closer to the middle. I don't want to be cavalier and overstate our progress but I do believe that right now with better handling we should be in the middle of the pack with the Flyers and Rangers. What is encouraging is that (it appears to me) that the Sabres have a larger core of emerging young players than most teams, including a number of the top tier teams that you mentioned. It's a process with little steps moving forward one step at a time. 

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