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MHH Previews the Lesser 29: Buffalo

Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

Their head coach: Dan Bylsma. He was the man in charge when the Penguins won their Stanley Cup previous to this past one in 2009. So not a bad man to have in charge. Especially considering he’s coached the US Olympic squad before, which was in 2014, and while not a medalist team, still an honor. He also has honors of being the winningest coach in Pittsburgh history, as well as being the fastest coach to reach 250 wins, which he did in 395 tries. So yeah, decent guy to have leading your rebuild!

Their captain: Brian Gionta. Frankly, I forgot he was still playing. I thought he retired, because I don’t remember hearing his name at all this last season. But hey, I’ve been wrong before! That only makes it two times in my lifetime. Whatever, we all make mistakes. Anyways, he’ll be coming up on his third year with the Sabres after hanging out with the Devils at the start and for a majority of his career. He then used his talents and abilities to the Canadiens’ benefit for five seasons before heading to the cold desolate wasteland that is western New York. Near identical seasons for him in his start as a Sabre. 13 goals and 22 assists in 69 games during 14-15, 12 goals and 21 assists in 79 games last season. He is nothing if not consistent.

Their 15-16 season: Bad, but less bad than their other recent seasons. Those swords on their Sabres’ logo might as well have been impaling that poor buffalo right in its heart from 2012 to 2015, because it was dreadful hockey. So like I said, last season was less bad than those years, thanks in large part to Jack Eichel, who has all sorts of disgustingly good talent that I’m sure the Sabres will thrive off of for a long time. Ryan O’Reilly and Sam Reinhart helped out a lot as well.

How did they play against the Avs? It was a split between the two teams, so on par I guess is how they did? Best term I’ve got for the circumstance. Francois Beauchemin scored a dope game-winner in the game in Denver in the last minute, while the game in Buffalo saw an absolutely awful 1st period from the Avalanche that sunk them into a really frustrating 4-1 loss. My most animated and thoughtful game recap from last season was that one, and you can read it here!

When do they play the Avs this season? At Buffalo on February 16th and in Denver on February 25th.

Will they be good? Not quite, but I think they’re one more season away before finishing the rebuild. Our old friend Ryan O’Reilly helped out quite a bit last year, as I said, and he figures to be even more useful this coming season since he hasn’t driven into any Tim Horton’s stores so far this offseason. Progress! Evander Kane might be an anchor, since I’m more accustomed to seeing him in mugshots and courtrooms now more than I am on a hockey rink, so that’s good. They got Kyle Okposo from the Islanders who will definitely be useful. Once again, they’re still a year away from being a playoff team in my eyes, but I’m buying into the hype this team will be what the Blackhawks have been the last several years come 2020. There’s so much young developing talent in the Sabres that it’s bound to come through in a major way soon unless something freaky happens. Let em finish 5th or 6th in the Atlantic again, but after that, I think they’ll be quite the team to watch.

3 questions with their SB Nation blog, Die By The Blade: Sorry, folks. Unfortunately, I was shunned for the third straight time. Don’t worry though! Ottawa is up next, and they did give me answers, so the streak will stop for the time being.