We’re going to stick in the Eastern Conference with our next team preview, the Buffalo Sabres. The Sabres have been a team that despite some talented players passing through their ranks have had a hard time making a real dent in the playoffs. For myself, and likely many hockey fans, the most memorable Buffalo Sabres moment was the 1999 Stanley Cup Final “No Goal” game. It was a heart-wrenching moment, and I’m not even a Sabres fan. Just painful to watch the Stars win a Cup on a goal that should never have been… that said, is this the year they return to the Stanley Cup Finals and right the ultimate wrong?
The Sabres have arguably the best goaltender in the league in Ryan Miller, and a player who is likely to be one of the more dominant blueliners in the league shortly in Tyler Myers. With some skilled forwards, and playing in the Eastern Conference, just about anything could happen for the Sabres this year. It’s also worth mentioning that if the Sabres get into the playoffs, Miller could put his team on his back a la Halak last year, and make some real noise.
Ryan Miller, Tyler Myers, Thomas Vanek, Tim Connolly, Jason Pominville
The Buffalo Sabres has the 10th best offense last season, and all signs point to that actually improving. With Vanek getting another year of seasoning, as well as (more importantly) Drew Stafford, Tyler Myers and Tim Connolly looking for a big contract at the end of this season, they could be even better. I’m not sure they’ll be able to climb much higher than 6 or 7 in the offensive rankings, but frankly that’s nothing to scoff at. Vanek is one of the best scorers in the game when he’s on, but he hasn’t been lately. If he puts it together this year, it could be a big opportunity for the Sabres to take it to the next level.
With the exception of their goaltending, the defense is probably the weakest part of the team. Obviously Tyler Myers is a talent, and is likely to get better in his second year. Behind Myers however, there’s not a whole lot going on. Craig Rivet, Shaone Morrisonn, Steve Montador, and Jordan Leopold won’t set the world on fire. Leopold is probably the best addition to the defense, and was a wise addition this off-season, but they’re going to need Myers to maintain his stellar play if they want to make any real progress. If he succumbs to the awful “sophomore slump,” the Sabres could be in real trouble.
The Sabres probably won’t be able to repeat as division champs this season, and I see them falling behind Boston. I do think they’ll manage to top Montreal, Ottawa and Toronto, so I think they’ll safely make the playoffs. As we all know, once that happens, everything goes to hell, and just about the craziest things can happen. If Myers makes a step forward, Miller is on his game, and Vanek and the rest of the offense turns it on, they could be a dangerous team to run into in the playoffs.
Tags: Buffalo Sabres Craig Rivet Drew Stafford Jaroslav Halak Jason Pominville Jordan Leopold Montreal Canadiens Ottawa Senators Ryan Miller Shaone Morrisonn Steve Montador Thomas Vanek Tim Connolly Toronto Maple Leafs Tyler Myers