Buffalo Sabres (0-0-0) vs.
Ottawa Senators (0-0-0)
It's been a long road for Buffalo Sabres fans, but tonight finally marks an important turning point on this great journey. When the Sabres hit the ice tonight, it will no longer be as a team focused on rebuilding. Gone will be the days of tanking, and trading away assets, and of apathy surrounding a team going nowhere fast.
In its place will be the beginning of a new chapter in the legacy of the Buffalo Sabres. A chapter fueled by a fire that's been building for years, both in terms of organizational talent and hunger the fanbase has to finally see a winning team. This year, while the Sabres might not be good enough to get back to the postseason, they'll almost certainly be good enough to get back to NHL relevance, and we're excpecting a few nights of absolute brilliance as this young, fast, talented team grows into a contender together.
Tonight marks the Sabres debut of what feels like half the team - Ryan O'Reilly, Evander Kane, Jamie McGinn, David Legwand, Cody Franson, Robin Lehner, head coach Dan Bylsma, and some rookie named Jack Eichel will be playing their first game for the blue and gold, not to mention the new-and-improved Sam Reinhart. That's a staggering amount of talent to add in one offseason, and instantly transforms the Sabres into not only a respectable NHL team, but hopefully one of the more entertaining teams in the league to watch on a nightly basis.
Will there be growing pains with this young squad? Absolutely. Will they still lose a bunch of games thanks to shaky goaltending or poor advanced metrics? Of course. Will they even win tonight? I hope so, but let's keep things in perspective here - tonight is the first step forward on a long journey that's been moving in the wrong direction for the better part of this decade.
No matter what happens tonight, Buffalo, enjoy the ride. The new age of Sabres hockey starts now.
Check out the three questions post from our SBN season preview to see the biggest things we're wondering about heading into this season.
Projected BUF lines
Donovan - McCabe