Sabres hockey is fun again

November 19, 2018 - 11:54 am

Thank you Sabres. That's right. I'm pulling out a chant from more than 40 years ago to show how happy I am with the first 20 games of the season from the Buffalo Sabres.  

Improved team speed, better five on five scoring, defensemen who are producing offense, goalies making key saves, come from behind wins and shootout wins have all been part of the best 20 game start by a Sabres team since the 2009-2010 season.

Its actually fun to watch the Sabres play again.  For the first time in many years(not including the tank year) I'm emotionally invested in this team.  During the shootout in Winnipeg on Friday night I was on the edge of my seat on every shot attempt and reacting as if I was at the game.  When Connor Sheary ripped a wrister for the winning goal I shouted out "(expletive) yeah" a few times.

One of the many positives through the first quarter of the season is the Sabres ability to win games on nights when they don't play their best game or just get off to a bad start.  Look at the last three games.  Tampa was clearly the better team but thanks to Carter Hutton serving as a brick wall, the Sabres skated away with two points. 

Winnipeg looked like they were going to blow the Sabres out in the first period but Hutton kept it scoreless.  The Sabres game improved over the next two periods and they had the better chances in overtime before prevailing in the shootout.

When Minnesota jumped out to a 2-0 first period lead I figured the win streak was coming to an end but Linus Ullmark kept the Wild at 2 goals and gave the Sabres a chance to come back.

That's another area of significant improvement for the Sabres, coming back.  Phil Housley's crew has already won four games where they trailed after two periods.  Last season they accomplished that feat a TOTAL of five times, going 5-36-4 when they were down with 20 minutes left.

I think its time to pull out the word plucky to describe these guys.

Then there's the Dahlin factor. Watching Rasmus Dahlin develop and become more comfortable with his role has been fun too.  Dahlin had a rough night in Winnipeg but he bounced right back and played his best game so far in the win at Minnesota.  He made a fantastic move to get in space in the Wild zone before dishing off a perfect pass to Jake McCabe for their 1st goal of the game.  He made two other tremendous passes that led to scoring chances for Johan Larsson and Sheary.  Dahlin also went to the net and was in the right spot at the right time for the game tying goal.

Remember last season when the Sabres didn't get a goal from any of their defensemen until December? In 20 games, the seven players who have dressed so far this season on the blue line have combined for 10 goals and 41 points.

Here's a stat for the road.  The Sabres have reached 26 points in the first 20 games of a season for just the 8th time in franchise history.  In the previous seven instances they ended up making the playoffs.  

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