Surrounded by criticism, Sabres ascend to first in Division

With all the complaining, anger and profanity that came from Saturday’s debacle in Boston, everyone forgot one very important fact; the Sabres were still one point away from leading the Northeast Division.

Sure, the Sabres showed they lack the testicular fortitude to truly stand up for themselves after Milan Lucic freight trained Ryan Miller. The Sabres also turned in a pathetic effort in the game which opened the door for every doubtful fan to pile on the team’s weaknesses. Still, there has been much more to the season than one effort here in November.

It is important to point out the lack of response from the Sabres. It was pathetic and showed the team may have little heart. In addition, the game showed the defensive shortcomings the team has at this point. Mike Weber offered a breath of fresh air yesterday in Montreal; I would be surprised to see him back in the press box for the remainder of the season.

However, the Sabres showed resiliency against the Canadiens. They got a great performance from their goaltender and rallied to steal a pair of points on the road. Those two points vaulted Buffalo past Toronto for the division lead and into second place in the Eastern Conference. The run atop the division may be short lived considering the Leafs play on opposite days of the Sabres over the next few weeks.

Regardless of their current shortcomings, Buffalo has proven they are worthy of running among the Eastern Conference’s elite. Though they sit 0-2-0 against two teams that serve as an annual barometer for success, Buffalo looks to have the chops to remain near the top of the East for the foreseeable future.

Just a few numbers on the Sabres as of late:

  • They have won five of their last six and only two of seven (nine if you count Europe) on the road
  • Buffalo has lost two of eight games grouped within back-to-back sets. One of those games opened the set, so it barely counts
  • The Sabres have won four of five against the Northeast Division and have played only one divsion game at home

Perhaps it is frontrunners piling on with negativity, maybe there is a certain columnist who doesn’t know a lick about hockey pumping his own tires, it could be a combination of loads of negativity that was piled on at the wrong time. This team is far from perfect, depending on their matchup I still question how they would fare in a first round series. Still, there is a reason they are in first place in the Northeast and second in the conference. It isn’t just because of the penalty kill or Jhonas Enroth. Nor do they have the perfect formula for winning, but the fact that the fans and media seem so fast to turn over on this team is astounding. There is a good chance this is a “built for the regular season” team, but that doesn’t discount their success thus far.

The Sabres have managed to carve out a strong start to the season, something that will allow them to maintain, not chase the leaders, over the remainder of the year.

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