Heather B. : I know we're all angry about the lockout - GRRR! ARGH! - but I'm secretly excited about a half season. 82 games is too many. 48 games has the potential to be really fun. The timeline is just compressed enough that it's kind of hard to predict what's going to happen. A goalie getting hot for 15 games could carry a team to a pretty high seed. A scorer going cold for 10 games could leave a team scrambling. A vital player making a 3 week visit to IR could be the death knell for the season. Throw in the fact that so much about the Sabres is unknown - Will Grigorenko shine in the bigs? WIll Hodgson develop some chemistry with his wingers? - and I think it's crazy to make any real predictions. I'll play along though. I think the Sabres finish 5th in the East and win the first round of the playoffs.
Frank: I'm predicting that the 2013* Sabres make me a first line alcoholic as my beloved Amerks drop to the bottom of the conference. Solid chance that the only big boy games I'm going to this year are in Nassau and Philly, so it's not even like I'm a real fan. Just put in Enroth, let's go Blue Light.
Brandon: 6th seed- You look through the roster and there are a ton of “ifs”. You’ll get more of my thoughts on the Sabres in tomorrow’s season preview, but let’s not forget that everyone’s preseason rankings last season had this team winning the Northeast. They certainly won’t do that. But, with some new faces and a clean bill of health, I don’t think teams will be lining up to play this team come playoff time.
Chris: Perhaps the lengthy wait for hockey built additional apathy about the makeup of the Sabres roster and chances for this season. Maybe I'm alone in that opinion, but there is likely a segment of the fanbase which is also hoping to see continued change with the organization in hopes of seeing the team ascend back into the level of a yearly contender. While I don't mind the signing of Jochen Hecht, I do see it as something that some fans will bemoan as the same-old-same-old. My lethargic feeling is more about the game and league as a whole, not just with the Sabres. It would certainly appear that Mikhail Girgorenko will see at least a few games with the big club before his fate is determined and I think the addition of Steve Ott will work out better than some expect. However, I don't know if this is a playoff team. The Sabres' fate rests with their centers. If Cody Hodgson can continue to evolve I think they will have a fairly formidable top-six. However, if center becomes more of a weakness for the team this could be a long season. Best case scenario is probably a finish between five and seven in the East, but I would not be surprised in the least if the Sabres were to miss the playoffs again this year.
Sabres stats: My Sabres Prediction - 2nd place in the division, 6th in the conference, 55-60 points. In the last 5 years it has taken an average of 92.0 points to make the playoffs in the Eastern conference. The 48 game season equivalent of that would be 53.85 points. I think the Sabres have the right combination of skill, grit, and experience to reach that mark, but I'm not so sure they are contenders just yet. Don't get me wrong, I like what Darcy has done with this team. They clearly lacked "jam" and had become an easy team to play against. By adding Steve Ott and John Scott to the mix, it changes the way teams will approach a game against the Sabres. No longer will they think they can truck our goalie and get away with it. I'm looking at you, Lucic! Nevertheless, with their top 3 centers' (assuming Grigo stays up) average age being 21 years and 235 days old on opening day, they might be a year or two away from challenging the big bad Bruins for the division. In order for the Sabres to hit the fast forward button and get to that level this year, they would need guys like Vanek and Ehrhoff to return to their all star form, Miller to be consistently good from the start, and a re-emergence of the Tyler Myers that got us all so excited three years ago. Could that all happen? Maybe, but personally I think it's too tall of an order to expect all of those things to happen all at once.
Mike Tracz: To me, there are four key factors that will define the success or failure of this season: Cody Hogdson developing into a true first-line center; the continued chemistry of Tyler Ennis, Marcus Foligno, and Drew Stafford; the removal of Derek Roy proving to be addition by subtraction; and the potential impact of Mikhail Grigorenko. Without tangible positive impacts in these four areas, though, what's different from last year? The coach is the same, the GM is the same, and with the exception of Grigorenko, if you swap out Derek Roy and Brad Boyes for Steve Ott and John Scott the roster is the same. Last year's team was an inconsistent, streaky mess that was middle-of-the-road in goals for and goals against and finished 9th in the East; how am I to be convinced this year won't be more of the same? (And to think, I'm usually rather optimistic. I'm just not feeling it from this bunch.)
Jason: Predict the season, eh? Let's get the easy stuff out of the way first. Miller will make great saves...and give up plenty of goals high, glove side. There will be the regular **********& moaning about the usual suspects: Stafford, Vanek, Leino. And at whatever point the season ends, injuries will be cited as a reason why. That out of the way, remember a year with this much unknown about the Sabres' top 3 centers?? If these guys come through, this could be a real interesting year. Also, Tyler Myers playing up to his talents for the length of the chedule would be a big plus, too. I don't know, I can see this team finishing anywhere from 1st in the division to 10th in the East. Let's look at it as a glass half full, and call it for a 2nd place finish in the Northeast, and 6th in the conference. There's enough talent here for them to win a playoff round. Falling short of that for a 6th straight year should bring big changes. Should. But we'll see.
Michael Necci: I could care less about The Buffalo Sabres. Mediocrity reigns supreme in Buffalo sports and starts with the Sabres. As long as Darcy and Lindy have jobs here, I won't pay them any attention. If I had to predict, I'm going to predict that with a month to go in the season, they'll be in 10th place in the conference and with about 2 weeks left in the season, they'll make their annual push for the 8th only to finish 4-6 points out. Then Pegula will declare Darcy and Lindy safe for the following season and around and around we go. The NHL's fall from the Top 4 in American Sports is a fall that I've really enjoyed. Terrible leadership, terrible owners, outrageous player contracts, terrible awful TV deal, and the ratings are lower than Nick At Nite re-runs of "Friends" . (Editor's Note: Well then. I can assume Michael won't be blogging about the Sabres anytime soon. )
Joe: This will sound like a broken Jerry Sullivan record, but the goal isn't to just make the playoffs, right? Pegula stated repeatedly that the goal is to win the Cup for the rest of the team's eternity. Also, making the playoffs shouldn't be greeted with a giant "YAAAAAY!" That said, that's where I see the Sabres going. An 8th seed. I think either the Sens, Panthers, or Caps will probably drop out of the top 8. I'm just not blown away by the bottom half of the East. The top teams like NYR, Pitt, Philly, NJ (maybe), and Boston will run the conference, but the rest of the teams are just a pile of "meh".