Aug 28, 2014, 3:35 PM EDT
The Buffalo Sabres are frankly expected to be one of the worst teams in the league in 2014-15. It’s easy to see why: They’re a rebuilding club coming off of a season where they posted a 21-51-10 record. They could have added six wins last season and still finished in last place. For that matter, they could have scored 37 more goals and still ranked 30th offensively.
The short-term situation is so bleak that there are Sabres fans rooting against their team as they’ve already abandoned hope of them being competitive next season and just want them to be able to draft a potential superstar in Connor McDavid or Jack Eichel.
“Look at the Colorado Avalanche two years ago,” Stewart recently said. “They were a last-place team, and they were arguably one of the best teams in the league last year. So the past is the past. You look at our team now and there are 13 or 14 new faces. So we come in and think of last year as an anomaly.”
Of course you’d be hard pressed to find a player that wants to lose or, for that matter, one that is going to paint anything other than an optimistic picture going into the season, but does Stewart have a point? Does Buffalo have a chance to follow in Colorado’s footsteps?
Let’s move past the obvious answer, which is: Of course. Anything can happen, so obviously there’s a chance that Buffalo will make the playoffs. But is it a big enough one to give Stewart’s argument validity?
Well, first off, he is correct that the team will look very different than the one that opened the 2013-14 season, which right off the bat actually makes this story a lot different than the one in Colorado. The Avalanche team that surprised the hockey world in 2013-14 wasn’t substantially altered from the one finished with a 16-25-7 record in the lockout shortened 2013 campaign.
Additionally, different isn’t automatically better. The Sabres have lost Ryan Miller and Thomas Vanek for example and you can make an argument that no one on their current roster is better than those two players — at least not yet as some of their youngsters have high ceilings.
A few things did change in Colorado though. Patrick Roy took over as the team’s head coach and, in addition to giving them new hope, he joined goalie coach Francois Allaire in helping Semyon Varlamov take a huge step forward. Varlamov was at the center of the Avalanche’s success as they were bombarded with shots all season and relied on him to stand tall.
Meanwhile, Buffalo struggled largely in spite of Miller’s goaltending last season so while the new combination of Michal Neuvirth and Jhonas Enroth might prove to be solid, the single biggest change that bolstered the Avalanche wouldn’t have quite the same effect on the Sabres.
What Buffalo needs is for its defense to improve, but more than that, they need someone to find the back of the net. Colorado saw its offense improve in part thanks to a strong rookie season from Nathan MacKinnon and while the Sabres have some promising young forwards that might step up, they have a far bigger gap to overcome.
The Avalanche’s offense wasn’t great in the lockout shortened campaign, but Buffalo’s offense last season was statistically the worst of the 21st century.
It’s that gap that will be difficult for the Sabres to overcome in a single campaign. They do have some noteworthy scoring threats such as Matt Moulson, Cody Hodgson, and Tyler Ennis, but their top two lines don’t look overly promising on paper.
So maybe Colorado isn’t an ideal example for Buffalo, but the thing about a young team is that you never know quite what will happen. It seems realistic to assume that this will be a season of growing pains for the Sabres, but if they find their groove early in the season, then they might surprise people.
Sep 20, 2014, 2:13 PM EDT
Expected to miss a couple days according to Randy Carlyle.
Sep 20, 2014, 1:39 PM EDT
Discussions regarding deal are on-going.
Sep 20, 2014, 12:31 PM EDT
Experimentation process has begun as team looks for secondary scoring.
Sep 20, 2014, 11:47 AM EDT
Stars searching for a suitable No. 2 behind Kari Lehtonen.
Sep 20, 2014, 10:51 AM EDT
After playing in just 16 games in 2013-14, he’s looking to be a contributor this season.
Sep 20, 2014, 9:46 AM EDT
Undrafted defenseman looking to make an impression at camp.
Sep 19, 2014, 11:01 PM EDT
The Winnipeg Jets would settle for far less after he scored just 19 last season.
Sep 19, 2014, 10:03 PM EDT
The last thing he wants is to suffer a setback by rushing his recovery.
Sep 19, 2014, 9:37 PM EDT
That’s not the only summer statement he took exception to.
Sep 19, 2014, 9:04 PM EDT
Bob Suter was a defenseman on the “Miracle on Ice” team.
Sep 19, 2014, 8:02 PM EDT
That usually doesn’t end well, but this might be an exception.
Sep 19, 2014, 6:59 PM EDT
He suffered three concussions in under a year.
Sep 19, 2014, 6:00 PM EDT
It’s part of the reason why the defenseman is playing for Washington.
Sep 19, 2014, 4:58 PM EDT
He suffered a concussion last season.
Sep 19, 2014, 4:17 PM EDT
Greg Sherman stayed on as his assistant.
Sep 19, 2014, 3:33 PM EDT
He’s not the only member of the Ducks that’s hurting.
Sep 19, 2014, 3:00 PM EDT
Held out of Kings’ on-ice activities on Friday.
Sep 19, 2014, 2:06 PM EDT
“We’re a cap team now, despite us being in the bottom five of the league in ticket revenue.”
Sep 19, 2014, 2:00 PM EDT
Flyers captain currently being evaluated.
Sep 19, 2014, 1:21 PM EDT
“We have two NHL centermen right now,” said Dallas Eakins.
- Report: NHL officials to participate in preseason without new CBA 0
- Evander Kane: I know I can score 50 goals 10
- ‘C’-less Thornton comes out swing against Wilson’s ‘tomorrow team’ talk 16
- Joe Sakic’s now general manager in name too 5
- Update: Giroux out two weeks with lower-body injury 25
- Update: Crosby on ice with Penguins teammates Friday, leaves early 5
- Ouch: Wild reportedly suspend Harding for ‘non-hockey injury’ 28
- Keeping Kuemper: Wild sign goalie to two-year deal reportedly worth $2.5M 15
- Selanne regrets harsh words toward Boudreau 10
- Flyers’ Timonen admits chances of playing are ‘really slim’ 8
- Heeeeeere’s Johnny! Davidson shreds Johansen’s agent for ‘baffling, nonsensical’ contract demands (65)
- Chiarelli: At some point, I’m going to have to trade a defenseman (56)
- Jackets reveal Johansen offers — including an eight year, $46M deal (55)
- Will the NHL publicize divers? (48)
- No icing on the PK? The USHL will see how that looks (43)