The Sabres are off to an 0-3 start. One was a widely entertaining 1-0 loss in the home opener to Ottawa. Sandwiching that game are two roadies in which the Sabres really didn't look like they belonged on the ice with their opponent. Maybe you could take some solace in the fact that despite being outplayed by a wide margin in Detroit, the Sabres were still very much in the game on the scoreboard. Saturday in Pittsburgh was a different story where a 4-1 loss was a truer indication of the separation between the Penguins and Sabres.
Here's what I'm looking at. Three games in and the Sabres have played what I believe will turn out to be three of the top teams in the Eastern Conference. Tough task to be sure. Of course you can point out that you should be able to compete with the best if you want to be the best blah blah blah, but c'mon, right?
We all know the Sabres are very much in a starting over mode. A team with three teenagers in the lineup probably should be overmatched against the top teams. This weeks home games against Tampa Bay and Columbus may offer an opportunity to make a more reasonable assessment of what the early part of the season may hold for the Sabres. Neither the Lightning nor the Blue Jackets are particularly strong teams. Losing and looking bad doing it in these games could tell you an awful lot about what kind of suffering Sabres fans will be doing this year. A couple of wins and at least we'll have something in our pockets prior to being fed to the wood chipper in Chicago Saturday.
Beyond that, who knows? One of the toughest things to gauge is which way young players will go as they feel their way through the infancy of NHL careers. Will they get better as they get more comfortable? You certainly hope so. They could just be overwhelmed and go the other way though, getting their confidence worn down.
Despite the struggles to score goals and, you know, win games, there are a few things to be encouraged about. Zemgus Girgensons looks like a keeper, strong on his skates and appearing confident, it's not hard to see why the Sabres wanted to start him on the wing. He's been a bull down low and working with Brian Flynn and Kevin Porter has been a part of the Sabres best line.
It hasn't been perfect by any means, but I still think Tyler Myers is still trending up. To me, it's all in how confidently he's moving around the ice. When he has struggled, especially last year, you see a player who either looks clumsy or stops trying to move in ways that will result in same. His skating, particularly when being pursued with the puck, looks better than ever. I'm quite confident that the rest of his game will fall in line.
Ryan Miller has been excellent so far. Watching him Friday night against Ottawa was a blast. Here's hoping whatever kept him from dressing in Pittsburgh really is minor.
Mark Pysyk looks smooth and Rasmus Ristoleinen shows some promise too. How much they grow and how fast will determine just how stable the back end of this team will be.
The concerns are many. 2 goals in 3 games is not good. Veterans like Erhoff, Stafford and Vanek will have to be better than they've been so far. Young veterans like Hodgson and Ennis have had no impact. Leino and Tallinder are already hurt.