Young, Injured Buffalo Sabres Are Not Ready to Be Winners Yet

By Nick Villano
Jack Eichel
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The Buffalo Sabres were a dark horse for a lot of people to make the playoffs. With a new leader in net, and a flurry of moves over the offseason, the team was ready to go from bottom feeders to contenders. It seems, however, that they aren’t as ready as once thought.

The Sabres are currently in last place in the Atlantic Division, with only two wins on eight tries. They’ve had a pretty hard schedule, but it is still a disappointing start. They figured this team would come together right at the beginning, but it isn’t working out that way.

Perhaps the biggest reason for the setback is the major injury to Robin Lehner. He was brought in to provide consistency as a netminder, but he is going to be out for months with an injury. Chad Johnson is a top-flight backup, but he is not the guy you want to run the ship in net.

New head coach Dan Bylsma has not figured out how to fix this team. They are dead last in penalty kill. They are third from the bottom in both goals for and goals against. This could be the case of a coach trying to juggle too much change. Not only are there a ton of changes on the roster, but Bylsma wants to bring his system in there at the same time.

One big name struggling to be a two-way player is rookie Jack Eichel. The No. 2 overall pick has scored three goals, which isn’t bad, but he is a -7 in only eight games, which is bad. He has been given the reigns already, playing over 19 minutes a game. He needs to prove that he deserves that type of in-ring time.

There is some hope, though, as their captain Brian Gionta is back. The team can potentially get a winning mentality with him back on the ice. Despite that, the news that Evander Kane is going to miss four to six weeks with an MCL injury makes it look like things could get worse before they get better in Buffalo. The only player really contributing on the offensive side is Ryan O’Reilly, and he has been just as bad on the defensive side.

It is time for this team to turn it around if they want this season to be saved. As they say, you can’t win a season in October, but you sure can lose it.

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