Welcome to another edition of Sabres Scoop, The Hockey Writers’ weekly column discussing all things Buffalo Sabres. This week, Sabres Scoop co-hosts Jordan Jacklin, and Brandon Seltenrich are joined by Montreal Canadiens contributor and host of Chicks & Sticks Melissa Boyd, and the trio sounds off on some of the biggest storylines, news, and rumors about the organization.
The NHL is officially back in action, with regular-season games having started this past week. The Sabres hosted the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday night at KeyBank Center, and nobody could have predicted the outcome of this matchup. The team looked excellent on the powerplay and dominated at even strength, securing a 5-1 win to open their season.
Part of the opening night rituals is the on-ice player introductions that happen after the pregame warmup. It’s usually the time where a player gets to be celebrated by the fanbase as the season gets set to begin. A particular player on the Sabres was not introduced during this ritual, so let’s discuss why.
Jack Eichel Not Introduced In Player Introductions
Heading into the first game of the season, the Jack Eichel saga has progressed from the past few months. Teams have been given access to Eichel’s medical information, and up to five teams are interested in the 24-year-old center. Emily Kaplan of ESPN reported on The Point that a trade nearly happened last week, so the discussions are ramping up. Eichel will never skate for the team again, so he was not announced during the player introductions. Both sides are doing whatever it takes to move on from one another.
Melissa: As an outsider, this situation is fascinating to watch as it continues to develop. The team has not suspended him, but they stripped the captaincy from him. He is injured but still a part of the roster, so he should be presented in the on-ice player introductions. I understand why he wasn’t, as it is a unique situation all-around.
Jordan: If the team is potentially days away from trading him, it makes sense not to announce him. Eichel has already been embarrassed enough by this organization, and he doesn’t need another slap to the face. It was best for both sides not to have him announced and continue working towards a resolution.
Brandon: I believe this is an essential piece of news, as most were keeping their eyes to see if he would be included in the on-ice player introductions. It is not surprising but relevant that he was left off, and it is unclear if he is even in Buffalo at the moment.
Craig Anderson Turning Back Time
Moving into a positive direction, it was an impressive debut for the 40-year-old goaltender in his Sabres debut, as he stopped 30 of 31 shots in the team’s opening night win. Anderson was brought into this organization to lead the younger players and set an example, which he has done so far. After nearly retiring in the offseason, it will be intriguing to see if he can keep up this level of play throughout the season.
Melissa: Similar to Kyle Okposo in this game, Anderson turned back time with his stellar performance. There are a lot of memories of watching him play against the Canadiens, and he was always an underrated goaltender during his days in Ottawa. He has been a perfect fit for this young team so far, which this organization desperately needed.
Jordan: He may be past the prime of his career, but he has been a perfect fit for the team. Anderson was a great goaltender with the Ottawa Senators and never got a fair chance with the Washington Capitals last season. Getting an opportunity to succeed in Buffalo, he has taken all of the chances that he has got and ran with them.
Brandon: I was disappointed by the lack of moves regarding the goaltending position in the offseason, losing Linus Ullmark and Carter Hutton in free agency. However, watching Anderson tonight made me forget about the previous offseason. He has been there and been through this situation before.
Jonathan Drouin’s Comeback Story
One of the best storylines in the NHL to start the season is Jonathan Drouin’s resurgence with the Canadiens. He opened up last month about his battle with anxiety and insomnia last season, which led to his personal leave from the team. It couldn’t have been easy to watch the team make it to the Stanley Cup Final without him, but he hasn’t let that get to his head. Scoring the game’s first goal against the Toronto Maple Leafs, he was so excited to finally be back into playing action. There is nothing to not like about this situation, and Drouin is an easy player to root for this season.
Melissa: It fitted that he scored the first goal of the season, and through two games, has been one of the only positive players on the team. It was evident by his celebration and facial reactions how much that goal meant to him. He is usually not very expressive on the ice, but he let it out after that moment. It is hard not to get emotional when thinking about his journey and how far he has come.
Jordan: It is never easy to admit when you need help, but Drouin showed a lot of courage and opened up a pathway of many opportunities for players coming into the league. Mental health should never be stigmatized, and it is a severe issue that can affect everybody in the world, some more than others. I hope he can continue on his current trajectory and have a productive season with the Canadiens.
Brandon: This is easily one of the best storylines in the NHL, and it is excellent to see Drouin make a comeback with the Canadiens. Playing in a market like Montreal is not an easy task, but Drouin took the time to work on himself and has come back as a new player. I hope that he can have a career season for the team.
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Jordan Jacklin is a freelance writer who covers the Buffalo Sabres here at The Hockey Writers. Jordan is a student at Ryerson’s Sport Media program and uses analytics and video scouting to evaluate your favourite players in the game.