Things aren’t going great right now with the Buffalo Sabres franchise as a whole, but even in the worst of times, there will always be something to be grateful for, some positive you can look at as a beacon of hope. It’s about finding positives in the tough times, even if they’re buried a bit and you have to dig through a pile of trash to reach them.
Today, many of us will celebrate American Thanksgiving. For each of us, it means something different. Time well-spent with family and friends. An excess of food. Overall: a time to be grateful for the good things in our lives. While the Sabres may or may not be one of those good things (let’s be real - it probably depends on the day), there are things to be thankful for!
As I sat down to reflect on my first few months at the helm here at Die By the Blade, I dug underneath the trash and found some of the positives that Sabres fans can be thankful for this holiday season.
Tage Thompson has undoubtedly been one of the Sabres’ best players this season, and one of the bright spots in an otherwise tumultuous time. (He might just be the best player.) Entering Wednesday’s game, Thompson had six points in his last five games. Through 19 games now, he leads the team with 13 points. A few days ago, he shot a 100 mph bullet that turned into a power-play goal, and he’s already tied his season-high for goals in his career. In other words, he’s developing quite nicely.
A Healthy Team, Maybe?
All indications point to the Sabres’ return to a healthy, full team. Victor Olofsson recently returned to the lineup after missing eight games with an undisclosed injury. On the blue line, Henri Jokiharju came back after missing 15 games with a lower-body injury which kept him out the majority of the season thus far. Finally, Casey Mittelstadt isn’t quite back yet, but has made his return to practices (non-contact) and seems to be on his way.
Alex Tuch is still out recovering from his shoulder surgery, and Craig Anderson is still out with an upper-body injury, but getting Olofsson and Jokiharju back is a good start. Once Mittlestadt returns, it’ll be even better.
This trio has been an absolute dream for the AHL’s Rochester Americans. I know it’s cliched to say “the future” is something to be positive about, but Jack Quinn, JJ Peterka and Peyton Krebs have been sharp; it’s impossible to watch them and not be intrigued. Entering Wednesday, Quinn was third in the AHL in scoring with 19 points, with Peterka not far behind (15). Krebs has fit in nicely so far, with three points in five games as an Amerk. On the surface, they’re three talented individuals. On a line together? Oh man.
That the Eichel drama is over.
It’s a stupid, small thing, but something I’m personally thankful for. It felt like a big weight on the team, like a dark cloud hanging over everything, and the skies are finally clearing.
Things aren’t perfect under head coach Donny Meatballs (thanks, Anthony), but they’re worlds better than what it was under Ralph Krueger. Granato is a steady, levelheaded presence behind the bench. He keeps himself - and the team - in line and sees the game from a very poised perspective, and he doesn’t mince words. When things are good, they’re good. When things are bad, they’re bad.
Now — for a little fun on this day off from watching hockey — what’s the best Thanksgiving side dish, Sabres fans? (It’s mashed potatoes all the way for me.)
P.S. Go Bills.