The Sabres won on Saturday night, with Thomas Vanek scoring both goals to beat the best team in the Northeast. I’m honestly bummed I can’t deliver the Atlas narrative to you on this one. Vanek’s was the “spark” in his return to the lineup, yet somehow I don’t have the strength to give you the HE LIFTED THE TEAM ON HIS SHOULDERS routine you’ve come to expect from this blog.
The first goal was mostly Ehrhoff making the best point shot of his tenure in Buffalo. The second goal was awesome, but I’m not in the Atlas mood these days. Mostly, I’m struggling to understand what the Sabres are doing on a nightly basis. I know, I know. Join the club, right?
They won their third straight. Check the schedule, it’s totally true. They are three (ish) points out of a playoff spot, which is factually correct in that weird incomplete data thing that happens with a season in progress. Math is hard, but the Sabres are definitely not in the playoffs right now. They are, however, in the “playoffs conversation.” Weird.
Three straight games with full points and a road trip featuring bad hockey teams can get you thinking. What’s going on with this team? Are they turning a corner? Is the yogurt machine at Yogen Fruz clean?
My best guess is no. They’re the same Sabres team we’ve watched all season, but Miller is playing well and they are better off with a healthy Thomas Vanek and a guy like Ville Leino making things happen. They are not good, but they are better than terrible. Maybe that’s worth the last playoff spot, but what do I know? I’m not the doctor here.
From an emotional standpoint, they are certainly lacking the gusto necessary to make this little dance party memorable. This Sabres team is really, really tough to get truly excited about. They are that person you vaguely know at the bar you somehow have a 30-minute conversation with because all the cool kids are on the dance floor and you don’t know how to Charleston. That guy you almost recognize from high school you spot working the Sprint kiosk. You don’t need a cell phone but the Baby Pottery Barn is right there and oh, great, now we’re talking. The Buffalo Sabres are a team of interluders lurking in the night. Some team playing hockey and doing things and totally winning these days. But what does it mean?
I don’t know, man. I haven’t given up on this Sabres team in the sense that I’m still watching. I no longer expect anything good, but I want them to be fun to watch. I want to see them inexplicably climb the ladder in the conference and make something happen. Toss a handful of confetti out the window and watch the Penguins smoke them in four or five. It’s an unlikely wish, but it seems more fun than hoping for a bunch of losses and a high draft pick. A lottery pick would be nice, but if that doesn’t happen we’re just watching a bunch of hockey so we can argue about whether Leino’s any good. (He totally is, you guys.)
The Sabres have three games against Southeast division teams this week. Two are on the road in sunny Florida. I would say we will know more about this team after those games, but I’ve basically been wrong about that all year. The games are totally happening, though. So there’s that.