I have not been writing a whole lot about the Sabres since I started writing about this team. No real reasoning behind my lack of recaps other than this team has become very disinteresting in a frustrating way. Ever since the ten game win streak was snapped they fell to Earth and have become a middle of the road team. Keeping in mind that this team is a relatively young group all around the roster, that is an absolutely great spot to be in and it gives hope for the future of the franchise.
Some games the Sabres have lost have been really close, back and forth battles with teams. Other times they have lost to what seems like a 100 goals and it does not make sense against certain lower tier teams. The top line of Jack Eichel, Jeff Skinner and Sam Reinhart has been the powerhouse of this team producing 61 goals, 89 assists with 150 points between the three of them. This has been the mainstay throughout the majority of the hockey season and a big reason for the success of this team.
Last night was different, Coach Phil Housley decided to put this top line and spread them around three other lines. And you know what, it worked. We won a nail biter of a game at home against the Minnesota Wild in a 5-4 shootout. If Housley keeps the Three Musketeers of Eichel, Skinner and Reinhart separated across different lines for the rest of the season I would be absolutely fine with that. The more balance this team has throughout its shifts the better.
Two glaring issues need to be addressed by the end of this month. One is the goalie situation. Carter Hutton and Linus Ullmark have played admirably all season long. However, they have been regressing ever since the streak ended and I just don’t trust either of them to make the necessary saves when it is needed most. Granted, half of the time it is because of the lack of experience in the back end but that is where I feel a veteran goaltender comes in. If the Sabres can get a Carey Price or a Marc Andre Fleury type of goalie, I think the Sabres have a better shot at the title.
With that said, that type of goaltending is not readily available and if it is, it will come at a hefty price.
Speaking of a hefty price, Jeff Skinner. I think the Sabres should trade him if and only if they are over ten points out of the wild card spot. They can certainly break the bank on him in the offseason if the Sabres are so inclined. If they are truly building for the future, they should focus more on the draft and work on the back end of the lines rather than the front lines.
I am starting to lose my train of thought on this so I will end with this. Whatever this team does at the trade deadline and however this team performs the rest of the season, I will 100% support. This franchise is trending upward, building through the draft, developing players and making offseason moves that only helps this team. If this team gambles on this season and tries to make a run for the Cup, it needs to be worth it for the long run.