It has been a disappointing week for the Buffalo Sabres – that much is certain. The loss to Florida was to be expected – one of the hottest teams in the league facing the Sabres, who hadn’t been able to shoot a puck through a wet paper bag, much less an NHL goaltender. But, Buffalo did manage to score four goals in the loss, and Reinhart looked good.
Then came the game last night in Philadelphia. Wowzers. That was…not good. Lehner looked bad – like, really, REALLY bad – and the team did very little to help him out as they struggled through yet another game without a power play goal. They face a streaking Montreal team tonight, and if social media is to be believed, we’re talking ‘T’ here.
What if I told you, this is all a part of the process? What if I said we should have been expecting this all along? Phooey, you’d say. Pshaw. We got Eichel and got rid of any hockey player over the age of 25, so we should be the best team in the universe. THE BEST, I SAY!
Whoa, Buffalo. Slow your roll. Does anyone remember last year? How record-settingly terrible we were? You don’t just snap out of that. Becoming a champion takes time. Think about American Pharaoh. Yes, the race horse. The TRIPLE CROWN WINNING race horse – the first to do it since 1978. The last Triple Crown happened before Brian Gionta was born. That’s a long time ago.
American Pharaoh didn’t drop out of Littleprincessemma fully grown and ready to thunderously pound the quarter-mile track to historical glory. In his first year, thoroughbred championships weren’t even on his mind – he was learning the basics, like, y’know…how to walk. Sound familiar? It is. It is very familiar. After this team gestated for the entirety of last season, this team is like a newborn colt. This team is very young, and it is just learning to walk. It is just learning to get all four of its legs working together at the same time. It’s not ready to decimate opponents or set history – it’s not even really ready to run yet.
When can we expect the Sabres to be race-ready? That’s hard to say. American Pharaoh’s first races were incredibly disappointing, and he ran them when he was two years old. By the end of his run as a two-year old, though, American Pharaoh was named American Champion Two-Year-Old Male Horse. Not in his first year, or even his second really – heading into in his third year on this planet, he was growing into the champion that everyone knew he could be.
We have to stop expecting this newborn Buffalo team to be a thoroughbred racehorse. It is not natural – it makes no sense. We have to allow this team to grow into its strengths, but more importantly, develop a system to handle their weaknesses. Only one other team has had more man-games missed to injury this season, and that’s not helping any sort of development. Until the team can all play together, learn to work as an entire unit, they will not be great. More than anything, and like a newborn racehorse, the team needs time to become a champion. Sure it’s hard to be patient, but the wise person sees the potential above the blemishes, and has the patience to allow the horse to grow. Let’s put away the riding crop and let this very young Sabres team grow into its greatness.