The Buffalo Sabres missed the playoffs again this season and the fan base was in an uproar. But were they just victims of their own unrealistic expectations??
On Sunday afternoon, January 20th, the Sabres opened the season at First Niagara Center with a 5-2 victory over the Philadelphia Flyers. The NHL lockout was over, hockey was back, and the city of Buffalo was abuzz in excitement.
Three months later, on April 19th, the club hosted the New York Rangers in a game that was a must-win to keep Buffalo's slim playoff hopes alive. But the result was a disastrous 8-4 defeat. In the midst of this debacle, the fans mock-cheered long-time franchise goalie Ryan Miller. Miller replied with a mock-salute back to the fans and afterwards made thinly veiled comments to the media that the time had come for him to leave.
What happened in just three months??
Had Buffalo Sabres fans somehow been robbed of a legitimate shot at the Stanley Cup??
In the previous season, 2011-12, the Sabres started off terribly, made a late run for the playoffs, but ended up falling short. GM Darcy Regier's biggest off-season move involved trading Derek Roy to Dallas for Steve Ott. The deal was intended to add some grit to the team at the cost of some goal scoring.
Besides that move the post-lockout 2013 Sabres were pretty much the same team. And the result? Perhaps this sounds familiar: The Sabres started off terribly, made a late run for the playoffs, but ended up falling short.
Sabre Fan, you were surprised because… why??
As we look ahead to the 2013-14 season, the same team that missed the playoffs the past two years has traded away its captain and two veteran defensemen for draft picks and prospects. The team's two best players, Miller and forward Thomas Vanek, are both in the final year of their contracts and may soon be dealt as well.
So what should we expect for next season?
Do the math:
Missed playoffs + Missed playoffs - 3, 4 or 5 top players = ??
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