Sens Week Ahead: Oct 4 to 10
Meaningful hockey is back!
Prev game : Blue Jackets, Friday, October 2nd (preseason)
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Meet the new-look Buffalo Sabres!
The addition of Jack Eichel, Ryan O'Reilly, Evander Kane, Cody Franson and Robin Lehner should make for a much more competitive Sabres lineup... but much more competitive than where they were last year still means probably not a great team.
Lehner is, of course, the addition most relevant to Sens fans. He has not had a very good pre-season overall. He shut out the Leafs, but allowed 11 goals in his three other games and has an overall SV% of .884. His worst game of the bunch was the one against Ottawa - though it was also his first game since his concussion in February.
Lehner (and Chad Johnson) aren't likely to get much help from the blue line either. The Sabres are likely to improve from their shots against per game from last year, but again, they can do that and still not be very good.
The biggest improvement should be in the offensive output. Scoring in general has been higher in the pre-season, but the Sabres have managed over four goals per game on average. Even accounting for the pre-season factor, the signs are there that they will have no problems blowing their 1.87 goals per game from last season out of the water.
Prev game : @Red Wings, Friday, October 9th
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The Sabres should make the long climb out of the basement this year - meet their possible replacement!
It's hard to even say what the team will look like by Saturday - as of this writing they still have 41 players on their roster, though that does include some obvious cuts as well as Horton.
One thing that's probably easier to predict about their lineup is the goaltenders - with the back to back, and his history against Ottawa it's probably a good bet that James Reimer will be the starter for this one. Reimer has also had a better pre-season than Jonathan Bernier has. Bernier's only game above .900 was against the Sens b-team from the split squad game.
While their pre-season results haven't been very good, with wins only in their first three games where the rosters are the furthest from NHL-level, their underlying numbers have actually been surprisingly good. They've had the upside of the possession in every game but the split squad one in Ottawa - and some of them have been by significant margins. Is pre-season the explainaton for that, or are the Leafs showing the potential to be a better team than many are expecting?