By Alex Bock
BUFFALO, N.Y. – While Buffalo sports fans are used to seeing inconsistent play from game to game with the Bills, they’re seeing just as much these days from their beloved Sabres.
The Sabres are currently 4-4 on the season, and are 6th in the Atlantic Division. After two satisfying wins against the New York Rangers (3-1) and the Las Vegas Golden Knights (4-2), two games in which goaltender Carter Hutton made a combined 78 saves, they’ve dropped three of the last five.
With the amount of goals that have been given up, it’s easy for fans to discredit Hutton. In the 6 games he’s played his goals against average is 3.27, with only a .906 save percentage. However, he has faced the most shots of any goaltender in the league so far this year. Hence the defense in front of Hutton should be the area of the Sabres team that is under scrutiny.
The defense is very young, spearheaded by Rasmus Dahlin, the Sabres’ very talented first overall pick, who has showcased his immense potential early on. Rasmus Ristolainen and Jake McCabe are still very young, and should continue to develop as time goes on.
The same can be said for the Sabres’ forwards, where Jack Eichel is looked as the leader of the team after being named captain for the start of the season. He currently leads the Sabres in scoring in points (9) and assists (5). Kyle Okposo adds veteran experience to the Sabres’ offense, while Mittelstadt is also just getting started, but should continue to progress as the season goes on.
With Eichel as the captain in just his fourth year in the league and multiple rookies on the team, it’s clear just how young and inexperienced this team is. Like any young team, they lack one area of the game that is crucial to team success: chemistry.
This will change however; as long as the players continue to figure out their roles and learn how to play together. However it won’t get any easier for the Sabres anytime soon, as they continue their west coast road trip with a meeting with the Anaheim Ducks tonight at 8:00 p.m.