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Friday, December 2, 2022

The Buffalo Sabres are ready for the bright NHL spotlight

Jack EichelBuffalo’s latest return to Buffalo is more than just Jack Eichel.

The former Sabers captain is a starter. What’s happening in Buffalo this season goes way beyond the surface.

When the league-leading Vegas Golden Knights duel on Thursday, it will be the second time Eichel has faced his old team since finalizing his messy divorce in November 2021. That trade of the club’s second overall pick in 2015 marked the beginning. of his next chapter, and hopefully the best, a slow but steady build to being a contender again.

Executing that vision has been Buffalo’s mission this season through a respectable 7-6-0 start. It’s what makes Thursday night important to the Sabers, not as a game against Eichel, but as a game of genuine importance to them.

“I think we embrace it. Like, let’s embrace this game,” Buffalo captain kyle okpo said. “It’s a big game, and we haven’t been in big games in the last 10 years because we haven’t been in the playoffs. Let’s try to build something so that we can play in these games and make them mean something and move up.” to the occasion like the few times we did it last year. Let’s get on with it. I don’t think there will be more pressure, but let’s accept the challenge.”

Buffalo was in a different place when that first Eichel circus made landfall on March 10. The Sabers ranked in the bottom five of the standings at 19-32-8, while Vegas had a 32-23-4 record in between. . Still, the hometown team took care of business in a 3-1 win which included Eichel being roundly booed by the Sabers faithful, and that was just during his tribute video.

Whether it was the poor reception or the dismal result, Eichel didn’t hold back in postgame comments that fans are sure to remember Thursday night.

“It was the loudest thing I’ve ever heard in this place,” Eichel opined last spring. “Really. It only took seven years and I left for them to get into the game.”

And those boo birds?

“They should just [have been] booing because they wish he was still here.”

Eichel has long since left Buffalo after a turbulent six-year relationship and an acrimonious separation. The Sabers had high hopes when they drafted him, envisioning a surefire superstar center to lead the rejuvenation of the franchise. That never happened. During Eichel’s tenure, including three seasons as captain, the Sabers failed to finish above .500, let alone make a postseason appearance.

The lack of results on the ice was quite frustrating. The breaking point for both parties was more personal. He came off Eichel’s neck injury in early 2021; he wanted to repair the disc problem with artificial replacement surgery never before performed on an NHL player. Buffalo wouldn’t allow that, and Eichel wouldn’t budge, so Sabers GM Kevyn Adams stripped Eichel of the captaincy in September 2021, then traded him to the Golden Knights in exchange for a package that included Alex Touch Y Peyton Krebs.

Vegas immediately gave Eichel the green light to undergo his procedure. After a long rehabilitation, Eichel debuted with the Golden Knights in February. A month later, he was leaving Buffalo with zero points and a minus one rating against his old club.

Eichel’s successful start to this season (six goals and 15 points in 14 games) ties in with how good the Golden Knights have been, producing their current eight-game winning streak and rising to the top of the NHL standings with 11-2-0. His hot hand could add extra flavor to the upcoming matchup.

Buffalo has been running in the opposite direction, dropping three in a row after going 7-3-0 out of the gate. It’s another reason why Thursday carries so much weight. The Sabers remember how they greeted Eichel the last time; That passion works in your favor. But he’s going head-to-head with the best of the NHL who could be the ultimate Depression buster.

“Everyone knows what happened last year,” Okposo said. “We’re just going to play by ear and try to feed off the crowd. We know people are obviously excited for this game. And we’re excited to get to our game and show that we can compete and that we can play some of the best teams in the Make no mistake about it, that’s what these guys are and they’re playing extremely well and they’re the No. 1 team in the league. So we’ve got a great test and I hope to use that energy from the crowd.”

DON GRANATO COULD feel the trap coming.

He didn’t like how the Sabers practiced Monday after losing games on the road to Carolina and Tampa Bay. Buffalo had Arizona in town on Tuesday before their matchups against Vegas and Boston. Granato knew it would be easy to miss the Coyotes. And the Sabers did, losing 4-1 to create a three-game spiral throughout the season.

Which, conveniently, leads directly to facing the leaders of the Pacific and Atlantic Divisions back to back.

“I didn’t like it,” Granato said of Arizona’s game’s place on the schedule. “Now, didn’t I like it, did I bring some negative energy to that? That’s something I have to look at as well. You can come back after that game and you can probably say, ‘I told you so,’ because it played the way it played out. That’s one where we wish we had performed better.”

Difficult lessons are part of the learning process. So is creating, and then becoming attached to, an identity. Granato’s approach is to unload that on his players, so it becomes second nature regardless of whether his opponent is raising or floundering.

Vegas is definitely in the first category. Eichel has been one of the main contributors to making it so. Granato, like Okposo, thinks those are positive things for the Sabers. He gives Buffalo a shake to shake off the current impasse.

“We don’t know what the environment will be [on Thursday], but it could be quite energized,” Granato said. “That’s great. That’s exciting. It’s good for our boys. You have to recognize that these are two teams that made a great trade with very good hockey players both ways. Anyone who plays against his old team always wants to do well. break the monotony of a [82-game season]. But the outcome will be decided by who can get to your game and play it. I think our guys are totally committed and focused on that. I think the other side is added fun and flavor.”

Eichel’s trade allowed for a true homecoming, and that was Tuch’s. The New York center player grew up a fan of the Sabers. This season he is already headed for a potential career year, with seven goals and 11 points in 13 games. Meanwhile, the 21-year-old Krebs is inching along with two assists in 11 games. It’s all part of the process.

Granato didn’t know what to expect from either Tuch or Krebs when he switched to Eichel. Looking back, he has no complaints about how that trade turned out, or what they’ve added since.

“I’m very happy with where they are,” Granato said. “I can’t remember my expectations from when we first received them, but I feel like they’ve contributed a lot to our team and the direction we’re going and they’re both players that are going to grow with our group.” that’s there.”

TAGE THOMPSON NO matter who is on the other side of the ice.

Eichel or not Eichel. There is a job to do.

I try not to focus on all that [hysteria]”he said. “Our thing is to focus on the game, what we have to do to win. Outside noise is just outside noise. It’s a good challenge, and I think we’re ready for it.”

eric comrie agrees The Sabers’ goalkeeper could feel it during practice Wednesday. Buffalo’s arrogance was making an appearance. Comrie was pleased to welcome him back.

“You start to see how trust is built,” he said. “And morale comes back a little bit, everyone starts to be more positive, and that’s when things start to click again. It always happens that at first your attitude starts to drop and then all of a sudden your game starts to drop.” and then all of a sudden your attitude starts to come back and your game starts to come back. So I think there’s a huge correlation between positivity and positive things happening on the ice.”

All Buffalo has to do now is translate that against Las Vegas. The Sabers have dealt with some injuries lately, including in Rasmus Dahlin (who missed the Tampa Bay game with an upper body ailment), mattias samuelsson (lower body) and Henri Jokiharju (facial fracture). This recent stretch has given Buffalo its first experience of adversity this season. It won’t be the last.

But the Sabers have not forgotten their identity and neither do they plan to, regardless of the old friends now waiting in the wings.

“I think we have a very good team,” Thompson said. “I think everyone here believes that too. So I don’t think it’s a surprise to anyone in this room that we’re coming out hot. We’re going through a bit of a slump right now, but we’ve got a good shot.” [against Vegas] to get back to the win column, so we just have to turn the page and move on.”

– Article Written By @ from www.bing.com

Nicole Aniston
Nicole loves to write and works as a corporate communications expert by day. She's been working in the field for quite some time now. Her training in media studies has provided her a wide perspective from which to tackle various issues. Public relations, corporate communications, travel, entrepreneurship, insurance, and finance are just few of the many topics she's interested in covering in her work.
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