Monday afternoon as we were in line to enter Lot 7 at HighMark Stadium, the topic of the start of the Buffalo Sabres’ season came up. Expectations for the season were varied, but we all agreed we expect the team to be improved.
The Sabres can feel forgotten in an era when the Buffalo Bills dominate local and National conversation. But as we sat in anticipation of Monday Night Football, my friends and I began to talk about splitting up season tickets for the Sabres’ season. As I excitedly passed a $20 bill out the window to some kids selling Bills Mafia can koozies out of the back of their parents pickup truck, I said flatly, “I really think the Sabres will be in the playoff hunt in March and April.”
This luke warm statement stirred something from the shotgun seat. “If I had an extra $500 I’d bet it on the Sabres making the playoffs.”
Wow. So maybe it was the pent up energy or the pre-game beers, but that was a hell of a take. $500 on DraftKings would fetch $3500 at the current +600 odds for Sabres to make the playoffs. That is the same odds as the Blue Jackets, behind the Ducks, Kraken and Senators and ahead of the Flyers.
“Yeah I don’t think I’d put $500 on them to make it, but I definitely think they can be in the mix.” My point seconded from across the back seat. “They should be better but they are still young. Maybe it depends on goaltending.”
The driver chimes in, “They’ll be in the hunt but will miss. As long as they are close and consistent, I’m okay with that.”
Is it a small sample size? Yes. Is it potentially emotionally skewed? Yes. Is it also pretty much the tenor of the area? Yes.
Social media posts on various platforms play out in similar ways. Most fans want to see the Sabres team we saw after Tuch and Krebs became regulars in the lineup. The team was fun, gritty, and scored goals. Buffalo went 22-22-6 after Tuch returned from injury. 50 points in 50 games makes the full season projection easy math. 82 points. Last season’s Eastern Conference Wild Card had 100 points and cleared 9th place by 16.
So barring a substantial improvement, that $500 is as good as gone. Meaningful games in March may be a stretch too. But Sabres fans with tempered and reasonable expectations should enjoy the season and see consistent growth, development and competitive attitude.