With another Buffalo Sabres season in the books, it’s time to look back at our pre-season predictions and see how accurately we predicted this season - or how far off the mark we were. In general, we were... pretty wrong, and didn’t foresee the Sabres being nearly as bad as they were.
Could any of us have predicted Buffalo finishing last in the league? (Probably).
Could we have predicted how badly things turned out with Ralph Krueger, or that the Sabres would end up having to utilize so many goaltenders over the course of the season? That Eichel would wind up injured with a herniated disc in his neck? That the Sabres would have COVID troubles, like many other teams in the league? That Taylor Hall would be traded and, naturally, find success elsewhere?
Man, it was a weird season.
In case you want to look back, here’s a link to the original post.
Everyone on staff voted for Jack Eichel, who would ended up missing more than half of the season but put up a nice 18 points in 21 games. Sam Reinhart seemingly ended the season as the team’s best player, hitting 40 points and 25 goals in just 54 games played.
This one was largely split between Eichel and Taylor Hall, with one outlying vote of Jeff Skinner. Turns out, we were all wrong! Sam Reinhart finishes the season as your leading goal-scorer with 25... and it wasn’t even close. Victor Olofsson was next with 13.
Our votes before the season began were all over the place, from Tage Thompson to Rasmus Asplund, Casey Mittelstadt to Curtis Lazar, Riley Sheahan to Carter Hutton. I’d argue that Michael Houser, who probably wasn’t even a thought in any of our minds, ended up being the surprise player. We didn’t expect him to ever play a game, let alone do as good as he managed to, especially after having not played in such a long time. Could argue the same about Dustin Tokarski, too.
We all voted for Rasmus Dahlin, and I think we hit the nail on the head here.
Total Team Points
Oh, we were all so young and naive. Our preseason predictions ranged from 55 points to 65 points. Sadly, the Sabres finished far below the mark and wound up with just 37 points and a .330 win percentage. Whomp whomp.
Will The Sabres Make the Playoffs?
We all voted no, and we were correct.
“Is there reason to believe the Sabres could make it? Of course. That being said, there are also conceivable scenarios where Buffalo finishes last. The East Division is widely considered the most talented in hockey, and features three teams that were on pace for 100+ point seasons before the 2019-20 campaign was cut short.”
In the end, there was a 40 point difference between the eighth-place Sabres and the first-place Penguins in the East Division.
These certainly were interesting. Let’s see.....
Anthony - Taylor Hall re-signs with Buffalo after an excellent season flanking Eichel. Not going to happen, sorry.
Austin - Arttu Ruotsalainen scores more goals than Cody Eakin. Correct! Ruotsalainen recorded five goals, while Eakin had three.
Calvin - The Sabres power-play finishes top-three in the NHL. Nope. With current standings, the Sabres power-play (21%) is 13th in the league.
Chad - Linus Ullmark finishes top-10 in GSAx rate. Nope.
Chris - Eric Staal scores more goals than Eichel. Correct! Staal had three goals during his time in Buffalo and has five on the season combined. Eichel recorded two goals in his injury-shortened season.
Jason - Dylan Cozens ends up on Eichel’s wing at some point. Yes, this happened!
Melissa - Casey Mittelstadt will spend more than half the season with the Rochester Amerks. Nope!
Ryan - Sabres miss the playoffs and Eichel demands a trade. Ooh man, this one hurts. We can’t confirm that Eichel has even asked for a trade, but given his comments at postseason media availability, this one hurts.
Steve - Thompson outscores Skinner at even-strength. Nope! Tage Thompson recorded 11 even-strength points this season, while Jeff Skinner narrowly edged him with 13 even-strength points.