Though things have been far less ugly for the Buffalo Sabres, the road ahead is going to be full of road blocks and tough sledding.
Today, they decided to shake things up again by sending down Luke Adam, Brayden McNabb and Mark Pysyk while bringing up Chad Ruhwedel and Kevin Porter. The team is heavily laden with AHLers while the prospects in their system get a little seasoning in Rochester or elsewhere.
The Sabres are still dead lat in the NHL with 17 points through 33 games, lagging their way to a 2-6-2 record over their last ten. But this is the path we all knew we’d have to take and the lumps would come fast and furious.
But the sucktitude isn’t all bad: the Islanders suck, too! And we have their first round pick! But it’s not all great as the Isles can defer the first rounder the Sabres get to next year if this one ends up being a top-five selection. Still, it’s worth watching what happens on Long Island this year. We’ll keep you up to date with Islander Watch as the year goes on.
Here’s the week ahead.
12/17 vs Winnipeg Jets
The good news for the Sabres: the Jets aren’t very good, either. They are dead last in the Central Division (arguably the league’s toughest) and are one of the few teams in the leagues that give up shots with the regularity that the Sabres do.
The biggest issue is the growing cavern of talent that is the Sabres lineup. All of the kids, save Zemgus Girgensons, have been sent to Rochester or Junior in hopes of developing them further. The lineup is chock full of AHL castoffs and underperforming NHLers (hi, Drew Stafford!).
Still, a high-effort night with plenty of shots can get the job done against a team like the Jets, who will no doubt give up 30+ when the Sabres play them.
12/19 vs Boston
It seems like games with the Bruins are what the former management team had been preparing for over the last few years. The Bruins are right back near the top of the heap again, leading the Atlantic Division with 46 points and only trailing the Pittsburgh Penguins for King of the Mountain status in the Eastern Conference.
They are the same team they’ve been for awhile now: very good at both ends of the ice, physical and getting great goaltending. For whatever reason, the Sabres look like an entirely different team when they play the Bruins.
I’m sure it’ll be exciting and physical in Buffalo because only one side of this rivalry actually thinks this is still a rivalry.
12/21 @ Boston
The Sabres will finish up the week with a trip to Beantown on Saturday to complete the second half of a home-and-home. Looking at the scoring leaders for both teams, you can see a huge difference between the two: Boston has scoring depth for daaaaaays. Patrice Bergeron, who would be just one point behind Cody Hodgson for the Sabres’ point lead (unless you count Matt Moulson’s points from his time with the Isles), is just sixth on the B’s in scoring. A defenseman, Torey Krug, would be tied for the Sabres lead in goals.
Milan Lucic, who everyone in Buffalo (and Vancouver, apparently) hates, leads the team with 11 goals and is playing very good, very physical hockey right now. If the Sabres can steal a point from either of these two meetings, they should consider it a victory and move along.
Prediction for the week: 1-1-1
Ryan is a lead writer for The Hockey Writers as well as editor for Mile High Sticking and co-owner of The Farm Club. Follow him on Twitter to discuss all things puck, Bills football, or his hatred of all things Philly.