Are The Buffalo Sabres Actually Good?
Before the start of the 2021-2022 season, most assumed that the Buffalo Sabres would finish last or near last of the standings. It's understandable; the Sabres haven't made the playoffs in a decade, they've finished last multiple times since then (including last season), and lost Sam Reinhart, Jake McCabe, and Linus Ullmark. Jack Eichel is out with an injury and waiting an anticipated trade.
Apparently, nobody told the Sabres that they should be bad.
Buffalo beat the defending Stanley Cup champs last night, the Tampa Bay Lightning, by a score of 5-1. The Sabres are now 4-1-1 to start the regular season, which is only behind the Florida Panthers for the best record in the Atlantic Division.
The Sabres have been getting tremendous play from all facets of the game. The offense is producing and even when they haven't finished their chances (like the Boston game this past Friday), they're still playing better than their opponent. The defense has stepped up -- Robert Hagg has played very well and Rasmus Dahlin is playing like a number-one overall draft pick. Plus, the goaltending from 40-year-old Craig Anderson has been terrific.
It's truly amazing what is going on. Sure, the Sabres have had great starts to the season in recent years and fell apart (2018-2019 comes to mind), but this is different. Everyone was sure the Sabres would not only miss the playoffs, but be BAD. Maybe, all-time bad.
Head coach Don Granato seems to have been the right hire. He was the interim coach last season after former coach Ralph Krueger was fired.
The Sabres have been looking for the right head coach for years. Ever since Lindy Ruff was let go back in 2013. Whatever Granato is doing behind closed doors, is clearly working.
The Sabres now face their toughest test -- a west coach road trip. They play in Anaheim on Thursday night at 10 pm, which begins a stretch of four games on the west coast, which ends against the expansion Seattle Kraken on Thursday, November 4th.