I’m not going to sugarcoat it: it’s bleak watching the Buffalo Sabres these days; sometimes, it’s downright painful. We all know the downs, the bad; the injuries, the losing streak, all of it. Even though there are a lot of negatives to focus on, there might be a few small - very small - positives that are starting to reveal themselves.
Take Saturday’s 3-2 loss to the Boston Bruins. The Sabres showed some signs of promise. They scored first, on Sam Reinhart’s power-play tally early in the game. And they actually managed to hold onto the lead for the rest of the first period, and more than half of the second period. Even after Boston tied the game, they scored next to regain the lead. Yes, things fell apart eventually. Yes, it was yet another loss. But there were a few moments where they actually looked.... okay?
Fast forward to Monday’s game against the Philadelphia Flyers. Yes, again, the end result was a loss; this time was even more heartbreaking, perhaps, because the Sabres were so close to a victory and blew it. There’s nothing fun about blowing a 3-0 lead to lose in overtime; but there were some signs of hope.
Different players actually scored: Henri Jokiharju, and Cody Eakin, and Brandon Montour. This team needs other players to step up and produce, especially when guys like Jeff Skinner are struggling as they are. It was refreshing to see those first two periods of Sabres hockey on Monday night, and actually somewhat enjoyable - until the third period.
The other sign of hope as of late is the return of goaltender Linus Ullmark to the net. Let’s face it: the Sabres are critically worse without Ullmark, so to see him return from injury and roll right into form is a breath of fresh air. With him in net, the Sabres at least seem to have a chance at winning, compared to when someone else is in.
I’m not an eternal optimist; I know how bad things are. I have no idea when the Sabres are going to win again. Maybe it’s Wednesday against the Flyers, or Thursday against the Rangers, or May 1st or May 8th. I know that there’s no way the Sabres are going to make the playoffs or any semblance of decency out of this season.
But I also see some glimmers of hope recently, some bits of positivity that we can cling to. Maybe you can, too. Maybe you’re still watching the Sabres because you just can’t help yourself. Or maybe you had to stop watching because you just couldn’t take it anymore. That’s okay, too. We’ll just take it one day at a time and see what happens.