A sports fan’s worst enemy is social media. It’s like some War of the Worlds/Chicken Little type fantasy land where everything is falling apart and we’re the worst ever and we’ve lost three games in a row so there is no hope. None. It’s a desolate wasteland of hockey nothingness that we’ll never recover from.
Put down the whiskey bottles – it’s 7am. No need to be jumping into the Falls or driving the wrong way down the 190. Here I am, your wonderful ray of sunshine to remind you that it’s not that bad. In fact, it’s pretty damned good. Here are a few reasons that we should be pleased with the product on the ice
Team Production: Last season, we were dead last in goals – by a lot. Right now, we’re sitting at 24th, which isn’t fantastic, but we’re ahead of TAMPA BAY AND PITTSBURGH! And perhaps more importantly, we’re ahead of the Leafs. Take that, Babcock, you shell-game playing son of a…AAAAAAAAAAAAAANYWAY, the boys aren’t necessarily lighting the lamp at a record pace, but they are doing it far more often than they had in the last two seasons. Sometimes, teams score more than we do, sometimes they don’t, but I’ll take a 5-4 game over a 5-1 game anyday.
Samson Freaking Reinhart: Just over one year ago, Reinhart took the NHL ice for the first time. On his first shift, he went into the corner after a puck and was thrown – literally, grabbed by the shoulder and thrown – off of the puck. Little Sammy doesn’t get played like that anymore. Reinhart was upset when he was sent down to the OHL last season, but Tim Murray gave him a mission – skate hard, wow crowds, but most importantly, get bigger. And Samson did get bigger. It isn’t enough to say that Reinhart doesn’t shy away from contact, he will go as far as to initiate contact. Beyond the physical growth in his game, that snipe. The kid has laser sighting on that stick, I swear. He currently leads the team in shot percentage, with 15.1%. As an added bonus, of all the top-line forwards, Reinhart is the only one above 0 in +/-.
Jamie Freaking McGinn: Remember when we made a trade in the moments surrounding the draft and everyone was all like, “RYAN O’REILLY?!?!?” and the Blur song played and there was great rejoice. Woefully overlooked in the trade was the acquisition of Jamie McGinn. The former Colorado left wing was a surprising standout in Colorado’s worst-to-first run in 2013-2014, and spent most of that year on a very successful line with O’Reilly and Matt Duchene. He has reprised that role in Buffalo, and is currently fourth on the team with 13 pts (5G, 8A.) It was reported yesterday that McGinn will see increased time on the top lines while Buffalo finishes out their Western Canada trip.
Bylsma: I don’t like everything he does – I wish he’d leave the lines alone for a few games, and please, for the love of god, send Weber down – but the Sabres finally look like a hockey team again. They have a system, which is more than can be said for the last couple of years. The system works, which is FAR more than can be said for the last couple of years. The team always looks prepared, and has played some of their best hockey of the season against some of the better teams in the league – teams like Dallas and Saint Louis. Even when they go down by a couple of goals, they never seem out of it, and that is a result of good leadership, but also good coaching. Were we hoping for Babcock? Sure, of course we were. Were we lucky to get Bylsma? It seems that we may have been.
Finally, Tim Murray: If he’s not the best GM in all of sports, he’s got to be Top 5 most interesting. His IDGAF stare could stop the beating heart of an otter, and onlookers would applaud his decisiveness. Best of all, he’s put together a hockey team that is good, young, and fun to watch. We haven’t all always believed in his vision, but the most important part, perhaps, is that he does, and it’s a beautiful dreamland full of Stanley Cups and never-ending pints of Big Ditch beer.
You see, Buffalo? Beneath the grayed skies of this balmy December day, there is a light, after all. Losing streaks happen – Montreal is on a three game slide, and still sitting high upon their throne atop the East. We’re dealing with some injuries right now, as many teams are, but that’s just the way the cookie crumbles. Better to catch those crumbs and enjoy them, than to let them fall to the floor for the bottom-feeders of the interwebz.