Kukla's Korner

The Sabres Observer

Sabres Could Be Peaking Too Soon

This wasn't expected at all.

After defeating the team with the most points in the NHL last night, the Sabres have incredibly won 6 of their last 7 games.  The day their head coach had to apologize for comparing their level of play to that of a peewee team is a distant memory.

Granted, the Lightning were a bit tired on the end of a back-to-back, but that's a moot point in this developing conflict in Buffalo between fans who want to see their team win the most possible games now, and those who have visions of wunderkinds dancing in their heads.

 

The main characters in those daydreams are Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel, whom anyone and everyone in the hockey business are calling generational players.

That's a big deal in Buffalo, because we rarely get that quality of player here.  More specifically, a bona fide superstar forward to ignite the offense and turn the on-ice fortunes of this franchise around is highly desired.  With all due respect to Danny Briere and a few others, Pat LaFontaine is the closest thing to that type of scorer the Sabres have had in the past 25 years. 

Given that fact, plus the realization that teams with offensive firepower win Stanley Cups in this day and age, it should be easy to understand why many fans would rather have their team finish 30th in the league than 20th.

But there is a faction of diehards in Buffalo who don't want to hear any of it.  They see a lot of signs that what's already here -- a red hot goaltender in Jhonas Enroth, a beloved current All-Star leading vote-getter and possible future captain in Zemgus Girgensons, and a promising young defense led by Rasmus Ristolainen and Nikita Zadorov, could help this team begin a promising upward trend very soon.

The problem is when you ask these folks what the benefit is to being a losing team and failing to add a guaranteed superstar like McDavid or Eichel to the mix, they don't have a good answer.  All they do is play the morality card.

That in itself is the root of the debate, the heart of the conflict.  I think it's because the diehards don't understand what they're going to be missing.

I don't know who the 10th or 11th-best available player in the 2015 draft will be, but I do know that scouts haven't predicted he'll average 120 points per season in the NHL.

On behalf of all Sabres fans who fully understand the benefit of acquiring that type of player by any means necessary, I'm here to quell the notion that we aren't real fans.  We may not be as proud as you, but we're as real as fans can get.

As a matter of fact, we would love it if you had a better reason, for wanting the Sabres to finish better than last place, than pride and morals.  It's not like we enjoy watching our favorite team lose.  It isn't fun at all, actually.

What is your pride going to do for you when Carolina, Columbus or Edmonton has a better team than yours every year because they got the next Crosby or Toews and you didn't?

How are you going to feel when the Sabres are frustratingly right where they've been time and time again during their history -- being competitive with a winning record but always getting knocked out of the playoffs too early because the most talented player in the series not wearing goalie pads is always on the other team?

Another myth from the diehards is that fans wanting the best position in the draft lottery are foolishly hoping for or expecting the players to lose intentionally.

Smart people are well aware of the fact that athletes at the highest level of professional sports don't have it in them to behave that way.  Thanks anyway, but we don't need a lecture on this by media and fans who insist on catering to the 10 percent of folks who believe otherwise.

For fans wanting a guaranteed shot at McDavid or Eichel, there's hope that some wheeling and dealing for the future by Tim Murray will get it done.  The problem is that most pending UFA's like Chris Stewart and Drew Stafford haven't been major contributors to the winning streak.  Enroth has been the big story, but he's been so good that the Sabres would likely prefer to sign him to a new contract.

Aside from goaltending, though, the play of the youngsters has really been something to watch.  Seeing them coming together and finding ways to win isn't a bad thing.  It's what we Sabres fans all want.

It would just be much better if it happened ten months from now.

dd@kuklaskorner.com

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About The Sabres Observer

Dave Davis has covered the Buffalo Sabres for various NHL accredited websites and newspapers since 2003.  He was the senior writer and Sabres correspondent for The Fourth Period, covered hockey for Western New York Sports and Leisure Magazine, and has had articles featured on NHL.com, FOX Sports, Yahoo Sports and in New York Sportscene.  Sabres news and notes can be found on his Twitter page.

2014-15 NHL Reverse Standings

 

Email: dd@kuklaskorner.com Twitter: [@DaveDavisHockey]