It’s easy to look at the Sabres’ record of 1-4-0 and conclude that not much has really changed since last year, when they also started 1-4-0.
That would be wrong.
The revamped Sabres may not be Stanley Cup contenders yet, but they are significantly better than the dreadful version that went on to finish last overall in 2014-15.
Last season, Buffalo was outshot 191-109 in its first five games combined. The Sabres rarely controlled the puck. They were defending practically the entire time.
This season, it’s Buffalo that has the combined shots edge, 143-128. According to War On Ice, the Sabres have one of the best even-strength scoring-chance differentials in the entire NHL. Saturday in Tampa Bay, Buffalo lost 2-1 but forced goalie Ben Bishop to be “the best player on the ice,” according to Lightning coach Jon Cooper.
The Sabres probably deserved a better fate in that game, which is something people rarely said last year. Especially on the road against top teams like Tampa Bay.
“We did do a lot of good things but it’s frustrating,” new forward Ryan O’Reilly told the Sabres’ website. “I think we’re pissed off and a little embarrassed. We need to find a way to win that game. It’s not OK.”
Bit of a different attitude, no?
The Sabres are back in action Wednesday at home versus Toronto.