Nearly seven months after Buffalo Sabres players arrived in the Queen City for training camp, the NHL season - at least in Buffalo - is finally winding down. It’s crazy to think how much has happened since that day in late September, and how different this team is from that one.
The biggest change on the roster is, of course, the addition of Alex Tuch & Peyton Krebs, with the corresponding subtraction of Jack Eichel. They’ve clearly been welcome additions on both the ice and in the locker room. Tuch, as a native of nearby Baldwinsville, instantly stole the hearts of many Sabres fans when he began talking about his love of the team growing up. Then, he stole the rest of our hearts with his play on the ice.
Eichel’s departure sent a ripple effect throughout the organization, and it’s only been a positive one. The Sabres have been through a lot this season, but their progress - particularly over the last few weeks - has been huge.
Tage Thompson’s surge into an offensive powerhouse has been incredibly entertaining. Watching Jeff Skinner return to his former glory is fun. Victor Olofsson has made a home for himself in his spot on the ice, and Rasmus Dahlin recently became the first Sabres defenseman to score 50 points in over 25 years.
This is the kind of team that leaves you wanting more. Not in a “they didn’t give enough, didn’t try enough” kind of way; in a “I wish we could see them play more games” kind of way. Can you imagine what this team could do with 10 more games? 15? Or heck, even one playoff round?
It’s unfortunate that there are only four games remaining in the Sabres regular season schedule, because it truly feels like something special has been building here. Yes, I realize that’s an incredibly common cliché, but in this case, it rings true.
For now... a girl can dream - of a packed KeyBank Center on their feet to watch a Sabres playoff game. Of the team naming a new captain, or maybe two. Of getting to see Rasmus Dahlin push his game even further, and seeing Tage Thompson surpass his career highs again. And maybe, just maybe, of seeing Jeff Skinner’s smile break out when Buffalo wins its first playoff series since 2007.