It might be hasty to wonder if the Buffalo Sabres are a playoff contender, but it’s almost beyond debate that they’re significantly better than the “historically inept” 2014-15 edition.
Jack Eichel is the sparkly, exciting new addition who will own highlight reels.
Ryan O'Reilly is one of those two-way players who get hardcore fans excited, a meat-and-potatoes player whose beard* screams … well, “meat-and-potatoes.”
The back-to-back stretch they just waded through provides great evidence of a) how far the Sabres have come and b) how much of a hot streak O’Reilly is on.
Yes, the Sabres lost to the Pittsburgh Penguins on Thursday, but Buffalo put together a resounding effort. Twenty-four shots on goal was an acceptable full-game effort for this team last season, yet the Sabres managed that many in one period and 53 overall.
MORE on Sabres’ shooting ways here
While they narrowly lost that Penguins game, Buffalo beat the Philadelphia Flyers 3-1, and O’Reilly factored into both great efforts.
He’s now on a five-game point streak in which he’s scored 10 points, with five coming in this two-day span.
Check out his face-off efficiency in this game log, too:
That’s the kind of work that endears a player to fans both casual and passionate.
It’s also the sort of production that makes you wonder how long Buffalo will be a waiting pattern as far as contending goes.
* – OK, it might not be at its lushest right now, but we’ve already seen it in that way in Buffalo …