Vulgar Opinions: Sabres 2013-2014 Season Preview
Vanek – Hodgson – Stafford
Ott – Ennis – Leino
Girgensons – Grigorenko – Flynn
Porter – McCormick – Kaleta
Ehrhoff – Pysyk
Tallinder – Myers
Weber – Ristolainen
I’ll be honest, I don’t think these are very interesting, but I didn’t do a preseason power rankings and don’t intend to so we’re left with this. The above is a lineup, which is good. Um…there are players on it, which are maybe good.
I feel like given the youth of the team mixed with the individual players’ high potential, this is going to be a team that is remarkably exciting at times and unimaginably awful at others. We’re left with more questions now than we have been heading into any season in recent memory:
- Will Hodgson continue to develop into a consistent top line force?
- Will his defensive positioning get better?
- Will Drew Stafford play like a top line forward?
- Will the second line and third lines prevent the team from becoming top-heavy?
- Can Ville Leino earn his money?
- Is Tyler Ennis a center or not?
- Will the G-unit third line sink or swim?
- Can the fourth line be a threat to score every once in a while?
- Is this defense, comprised of many new faces, going to be any different than the defenses of the past few years?
- How will the Miller – Enroth – Hackett logjam shake out?
- Will Tyler Myers get better?
If you can get positive answers to maybe half those questions, I think the Sabres have an okay shot at the playoffs.
Okay, I’m not going to do this because it’s stupid and I’ll be wrong, but here’s my gut feeling:
The Contender – Boston
No surprises, the Bruins are good and I think they’ll walk to an Atlantic Division title with surprisingly little competition.
The Good Teams – Montreal, Detroit, and Ottawa.
Montreal and Ottawa are weird in that they never seem to have many good players but they end up being good teams. I don’t trust either team to be a lock for the playoffs this year. More of the same from Detroit, another year older for all the most important players.
The Maybes – Buffalo, Toronto, and Tampa Bay
Most everyone seems to agree that Toronto is going to take a step back. Tampa Bay always has a ton of good players but seems to have difficulty being a good team. Buffalo, with their youth, is a total wild card.
The Other Team in the Division – Florida
They’ll probably be better than last year just because injuries should be less of a factor, but that playoff year seems like it was a long time ago.