Hello everyone, we are inching closer to the return of hockey, with the Phase 3 vote with a new CBA, possibly NHL returning to the Olympics, things are looking up! Unfortunately for our next Game Over Team, things are not, they are your 1999 Eastern Conference Champions, the founders of hockey tank bowl, founded in 1970, ladies and gentlemen: THE BUFFALO SABRES!
I went to watch this team before the world stopped back in March vs the Pittsburgh Penguins, up in Buffalo and I realized something watching them, they are Jack Eichel and a bunch of parts. Don't get me wrong, Jack Eichel is an amazing player, smoother skater and a great shooter, and back in October, the Sabres were doing great, shifting gears and kicking rears. At the end of October, they were 9-2-2, near the top of the Atlantic, then the free fall began... 6 game losing Streak, uneven gameplay (lose 3 Win 2, Lose 4 win 2, split a home and home series. Bad Goaltending: The Sabres shut out Detroit on October 25th, they never had another for the rest of the season. The Sabres fell below .500 on November 17th and never recovered. The Sabres may be a young team, but this was rough, this team could score Jack Eichel (36G, 42A) WOW! Sam Reinhart (22G 28A) Solid 20-20 Dahlin (4G 36A) and he is 19 Rasmus Ristolainen ( 6G 27A) Not bad numbers for a D Then there is Jeff Skinner, last season had a blistering (40G and 23A) in a contract year, he seemed to be the #2 that Buffalo needed to be a piece for Eichel. If he repeats that, you got Eichel, Skinner, and rotate Dahlin or Victor Olafsson (20G 22A, another 20/20 guy) and there is your Big 3 you need to get ahead in the league. So what are his numbers at shutdown 14 GOALS!!! AND NINE ASSISTS!! Ok, ok maybe he was injured...nope played 59 games, massive underachievement.
As easy as it is to pin this on Jeff Skinner and with his contract it's a big bullseye, you can also look to the constant flipping of wrong players. The trades that didn't work out, Marco Scandella was flipped to Montreal, Sheary was sent back to Pittsburgh, Wayne Simmonds was brought in from Jersey, yes that was a thing that happened. In addition, the Goaltending was meh on a good day, to downright horrible. Linus Ullmark was good 17-14-3 with a .914 save Then you got Carter Hutton 12-14--4 .898, that's won't pay the bills and on an off night they needed JJ to come into the net, 1-3-1 .894, not much better there Bob! My thought son Buffalo is that they have a solid #1 in Jack Eichel, and Jeff Skinner has the potential to be their #2 and there should be a #3 in that lineup somewhere. But this organization seems lost in the woods and it starts with the Pegulas, Jack Eichel has been through Multiple HC since he was drafted (4, I think) how can you learn a system if it keeps changing. Heck, during the shutdown the Sabres fired there HC and all of his staff PLUS the staff in Rochester (AHL) a total house cleaning, what does that say about your club?! Also, they are in a REALLY tough division in the Atlantic Tampa, Boston, and Toronto are your top 3, so there are your playoff teams and they aren't showing signs of slowing down, maybe tmapa..maybe. At best they can do is a Wild Card, BUT that isn't easy with Florida getting younger, Montreal can have a decent year when Carey Price goes God Mode, then look in the Metro where you have 5 or 6 teams as playoff contenders. Unless BOS, TBL, or TOR has an off-year, you are in an uphill battle before the puck has dropped on the season. This fanbase deserves so much better than what is given to them, while the Bills Mafia may run that town, the Sabres can't keep their winning way past thanksgiving, so when the Bills are done, the Sabres are already out of it. It's a long road ahead and to them we say GAME OVER Well, that does it for me, I will try to get some podcasts of other teams up Sharks, Kings, Senators, and Red Wings. Keep an eye for the HockeyHack Podcast Follow me on Twitter at @RBloss64 and remember in the words of Red Green: Keep your stick on the Ice! That's My Opinion