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Are we there yet? Are the Sabres Legit?


GASabresIUFAN
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A somewhat cryptic thread title I know.  We are ten games in and sit 7-3-0 with 14 pts only behind the 9-1 Bruins.  We have beaten contenders like Pitt, Edm and Calg and other than the awful Sea game, the Sabres were in the other losses.  

The kids are starting to play well, even Krebs.  They lead the NHL with 20 3rd period goals, they are +15 and in 3rd period differential.  They have a couple of comeback wins, but have also been able to hold all their leads after 2 periods.  

The offense is clicking and as balanced as we hoped.  Tage, who I admitted being worried about before the season, is even better.  Dahlin is playing like a Norris contender.  We have 4 guys with 6+ goals and 3 with 7+ to lead the NHL. No one else has more than 2.  Our 43 gf is second to Bos’ 45.

There is some bad news.  The GA is improved but is 11th in the league.  As pointed out in the broadcast we give up way to many odd man rushes.  Last night all 3 Pitt goals came on either 2 on 1 or a breakaway.  This has to stop for this team to succeed long term.  The injuries on D are obviously a factor.

The schedule also gets harder from here with 4 more contenders in the next 5 games including the red hot Eichel lead Knights and Bruins at home and roadies at TB and Carolina.  

Dare I ask; Are we there yet?

 

Edited by GASabresIUFAN
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Just now, GASabresIUFAN said:

A somewhat cryptic thread title I know.  We are ten games in and sit 7-3-0 with 14 pts only behind the 9-1 Bruins.  We have beaten contenders like Pitt, Edm and Calg and other than the awful Sea game, the Sabres were in the other losses.  

The kids are starting to play well, even Krebs.  They lead the NHL with 20 3rd period goals, they are +15 and in 3rd period differential.  They have a couple of comeback wins, but have also been able to hold all their leads after 2 periods.  

The offense is clicking and as balanced as we hoped.  Tage, who I admitted being worried about before the season, is even better.  Dahlin is playing like a Norris contender.  We have 4 guys with 6+ goals and 3 with 7+ to lead the NHL. No one else has more than 2.  Our 43 gf is second to Bos’ 45.




Been here before with hot starts. I need to see us play well through the Holidays. Historically over the last decade November though January is usually where our season tanks to the point of no chance for the playoffs.

Defense is giving up to many odd man rushes and hopefully they will be able to fix that part of their game. But I feel this year they are poised to do better though that stretch... 

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No.  After the collapse of Housley' second year because Botterill could not be bothered with replacing Patrick Berglund with another NHL-quality centee, I plan on waiting the whole year.

I am encouraged, though.

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We know all too well about fast & good looking starts to the season around here.

With our history in mind i'd say it'll take a larger sample size of games to accurately assess who this team is & where they can go.

We've been fooled before so ask next month haha. But its been some great hockey to watch & I'm liking what i see in the compete department. Players are standing up for each other as well which is nice to see. And our speed has been a problem for opposing teams. Time will tell who this team really is, for now they are growing 😛

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In past years it seemed the fancy stats didn’t necessarily back the hot starts. 

This year? 10th in xG% (52.81%) and 11th in Expected Goal Differential/60 (0.3). That can certainly change, but at least it supports the idea that the Sabres are actually winning by playing productive hockey rather than by fluke comebacks and puck luck - so far. 

It’s hard to buy in this early, we’ve been burned so frequently over the past few years. 

My (completely arbitrary) mark for November to continue in that direction would be 17 points in the 14 games, and that does seem entirely possible. (0-1-1 @ TB, @ CAR | 2-1-1 vs ARI, vs VGK, vs BOS, vs VAN | 2-1 @ OTT, @ TOR, @ MTL | 2-1-1 vs STL, vs NJ, vs TB, @ DET — seems achievable, no?) 

And even if they were able to string Novemver together like that, I’ll be trying not to get my own hopes up until the New Year. Even the 10 game win streak year went well past a third of the season with the Sabres 1st in the NHL.

The groups incredibly young, a tough losing streak has to be lingering here somewhere. I’ll start to truly buy in and move the line of expectations after we see what they look like after half of the season has passed. 

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I’m worried about the next 5 games.  If we go through that gauntlet 3-2, I think that will answer most of my questions.  Successfully playing those tough teams with our patch work D group will tell me we can compete with the best even without our best possible lineup. 

That said, I disagree that these ten games are “a small sample” when viewed with how this nearly the same lineup played down the stretch last season.  Now we are looking at 40+ game run of success with good results against top teams.  

I’ve mentioned 05/06 comparison previously, but that team actually turned the corner late in 2003/04 season and then the kids, Roy, Pommers, Vanek and Miller got an extra development year together in the A during the strike.  

To me this strong start is just a continuation of the momentum created last year. The funny thing is that this D group is most of the group we finished last year with Fitz, Bryson, Power and Dahlin.  

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To answer the question, probably.

The start is comparable to last year, but w/ 2 big differences.

1.  The goaltending seems sustainable.  We knew (or strongly suspected) Anderson & Tokarski wouldn't be able to keep it up all year.

2.  It's been infrequent for them to be flat out dominated for 50 or so minutes.  Yes, they gave up a ton of shots to a few teams, but the majority of those shots weren't really high danger and they gave up very few rebound chances.

They need to clean up the odd man rushes & should to a degree when the 3 return.  But, though breakaways should be significantly reduced getting Samuelsson & Lyubushkin back, doubt they'll do much more than cut the 2-on-1's & 3-on-1's down 30-40% (significant but nowhere close to eliminated) as when they are always attacking, an oops (which is inevitable) necessarily can't be fully covered.

As others have said, this is the point in the year the the wheels have fallen off for lesser Sabres teams.  (They sometimes get through November, but they always fail in December post-"suffering.")  If they're still on a playoff pace when the calendar flips, will believe.  They were ahead of it through October (as is typical), they seem different this year, and they just might be able to keep it going.  Not to be too greedy, but really hope to see 7 points through this next 5 game stretch.  It would go a long way towards maintaining the momentum of October & would contine building to stay ahead of a playoff pace.

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I think they *will* win against the top teams in their immediate future.  Not all of them, but probably two of the four.  Their point pace going back into last season is at a strong playoff pace.  The concerns coming into this season were rekindling the "magic" of last season's late run, stabilizing the goaltending, and more recently getting through the injuries to the Dmen.  I would say we're there on the first one, the second one is looking good, and they've managed to do quite well even with the injuries.  So all they have to do is maintain their current level and get a little better on D, particularly with the odd man rushes, and they should continue to put up standings points.

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The funny thing about the Sabres is, for most teams the "backup goalie" is not as good as the starter.  In our case, at least so far, a well-rested Anderson is actually better than the workhorse Comrie.  I think this might actually be a sustainable tandem without a weak spot.  And if one does falter or get injured, UPL is waiting in the wings for his opportunity.

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1 hour ago, GASabresIUFAN said:

A somewhat cryptic thread title I know.  We are ten games in and sit 7-3-0 with 14 pts only behind the 9-1 Bruins.  We have beaten contenders like Pitt, Edm and Calg and other than the awful Sea game, the Sabres were in the other losses.  

The kids are starting to play well, even Krebs.  They lead the NHL with 20 3rd period goals, they are +15 and in 3rd period differential.  They have a couple of comeback wins, but have also been able to hold all their leads after 2 periods.  

The offense is clicking and as balanced as we hoped.  Tage, who I admitted being worried about before the season, is even better.  Dahlin is playing like a Norris contender.  We have 4 guys with 6+ goals and 3 with 7+ to lead the NHL. No one else has more than 2.  Our 43 gf is second to Bos’ 45.

There is some bad news.  The GA is improved but is 11th in the league.  As pointed out in the broadcast we give up way to many odd man rushes.  Last night all 3 Pitt goals came on either 2 on 1 or a breakaway.  This has to stop for this team to succeed long term.  The injuries on D are obviously a factor.

The schedule also gets harder from here with 4 more contenders in the next 5 games including the red hot Eichel lead Knights and Bruins at home and roadies at TB and Carolina.  

Dare I ask; Are we there yet?

 

I don't know if we are there yet, but they have been playing at the same pace now for almost half a season going back to March of last year, which is a 109 point pace through 37 games.  Some will say you can't carry over from one year to the next but I think there was a very sharp demarcation in terms of this team finding their groove together once Tuch and Krebs got here and once Middlestadt and Samuelsson got healthy again.  

All I know is this team scores like crazy, they are fast, talented and exciting and can skate other teams into submission at times. The best part is they are the youngest team in the NHL and should only get better throughout the season.  There will obviously be some ups and downs like there are with any team, and especially a very young team, but I am not sure how you watch the same thing for almost a half season now and still not at least think that something special could be happening right before our eyes even if it could be unexpected by many.

 

Edited by matter2003
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Are we where yet?  Where is there?

Are the Sabres better than the team that started last season?  Without a doubt.

Are the Sabres good enough to make the playoffs?  Maybe.

Are the Sabres good enough to contend for a Stanley Cup?  Almost definitely not, and because of that I think the overall answer to your question has to be no.

They are not “there”.  They have not arrived at a destination.  They are still in the early stages of a long journey that they are traveling together.

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4 minutes ago, Doohickie said:

The funny thing about the Sabres is, for most teams the "backup goalie" is not as good as the starter.  In our case, at least so far, a well-rested Anderson is actually better than the workhorse Comrie.  I think this might actually be a sustainable tandem without a weak spot.  And if one does falter or get injured, UPL is waiting in the wings for his opportunity.

The Comrie Anderson stats are kind of an updated version of Edwards Sauve.  Sauve's stats were better on the surface, but he got the Detroits & Rockies/ Devils while Edwards got Moe-ray-all & the B's.

Sauve wasn't better than Donnie.  Anderson hasn't been better than Comrie.  Anderson wouldn't have given them as many w's in the other games had the usage been adjusted.  MHO.  YMMV.

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I'm not there yet. Hopeful, but not there yet.  I still can't get there because of their past history. About 4 years ago (give or take a year) weren't they first in the entire league around January 1?  And for most of the last 3-4 years, they had similar starts.

Are things different now? probably.  Is Dahlin a legit superstar on the back end that they did not have before? Yes.  But in those previous years, many people (including myself) tried to belelive that it was 'different' that time and it wasn't. 

Besides, I'll enjoy not being 100% on board yet..because each win that isn't expected is more enjoyable.  Once I beleive this time 'its real', expectations are higher and each loss then hurts more.

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5 minutes ago, bob_sauve28 said:

No. Hard not to think they will be MUCH better. Quinn, Power, Krebs and others are really not even adults yet. 

 

The best is yet to come

We're also a year or 2 away from seeing guys that could be in the NHL cooking down in the AHL an extra year or 3 because they can't beat out the guys that are ahead of them.  We might actually be on the verge of having the Ra-cha-cha Marlies in our back yard.  Which will be fun as well.

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Just now, Taro T said:

We're also a year or 2 away from seeing guys that could be in the NHL cooking down in the AHL an extra year or 3 because they can't beat out the guys that are ahead of them.  We might actually be on the verge of having the Ra-cha-cha Marlies in our back yard.  Which will be fun as well.

Yes! I enjoyed the Prospects tournament so much I was afraid we would have a let down watching the real team. But no worries! 

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25 minutes ago, Taro T said:

The Comrie Anderson stats are kind of an updated version of Edwards Sauve.  Sauve's stats were better on the surface, but he got the Detroits & Rockies/ Devils while Edwards got Moe-ray-all & the B's.

Sauve wasn't better than Donnie.  Anderson hasn't been better than Comrie.  Anderson wouldn't have given them as many w's in the other games had the usage been adjusted.  MHO.  YMMV.

Edwards was one of my all-time favorite Sabres.  I was pretty unhappy when they let him go and went with Sauve as the #1, although to be fair, Sauve was really good too and did well as the #1 IIRC.  (SabreSpacers of a certain age will remember that Sauve’s brother, JF Sauve, played a bit for the Sabres as a nifty but undersized PP specialist.). Certainly they were a great tandem and I’m sure the internal competition was good for both of them.  

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49 minutes ago, GASabresIUFAN said:

I’m worried about the next 5 games.  If we go through that gauntlet 3-2, I think that will answer most of my questions.  Successfully playing those tough teams with our patch work D group will tell me we can compete with the best even without our best possible lineup. 

That said, I disagree that these ten games are “a small sample” when viewed with how this nearly the same lineup played down the stretch last season.  Now we are looking at 40+ game run of success with good results against top teams.  

I’ve mentioned 05/06 comparison previously, but that team actually turned the corner late in 2003/04 season and then the kids, Roy, Pommers, Vanek and Miller got an extra development year together in the A during the strike.  

To me this strong start is just a continuation of the momentum created last year. The funny thing is that this D group is most of the group we finished last year with Fitz, Bryson, Power and Dahlin.  

Out of the top 7 teams in the NHL so far in terms of points per game, we have played the toughest schedule so far according to the Bucholtz ranking(measures strength of past opponents).  That has to count for something.

Edited by matter2003
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