I love the Flyers, and no other team. I want us to win a Cup, and there is no other team that I accept as an alternative. There are 29 other fanbases that feel the same way about their own club. We all have one goal, and we all have an effect on one another. Since our Fansided Network is doing a 30 day preview to get ready for the 2011-12 season, I’ll be looking at how much of a threat each team is to our own Cup hopes. Today, we have the Buffalo Sabres.
Their biggest acquisition was Ville Leino. We know very well what he’s capable of doing, with the right linemates. And although he’s not a superstar, and he might be a bit overpaid, he should still be a big help for a pretty good team. Coach Lindy Ruff gets the most out of his players, and he’s the longest tenured coach in the NHL for that reason. Aside from Ryan Miller in net, there are no other superstars on the team. Thomas Vanek was on that path, but injuries slowed him down a bit. Still, when he’s on his game, he’s one of the best scorers in the league. Other than that, this team is a bit on the smaller side, and uses their team speed to be successful. Last season, they pushed their first round matchup with the Flyers to 7 games, when they should have been knocked out in 4 or 5.
I look at the Sabres as a bunch of well coached pests. They have a bit of talent sprinkled throughout the lineup, and win games because of pure hustle and sticking to their system. we play them 4 times this season (November 2, December 7, February 16, and April 5). The first three games will be a test to se how the Flyers are coming together. We’re still a more talented bunch on paper, but that doesn’t always translate to success on the ice. The final game of the series will be even more crucial, because one or both of these teams may be fighting for a playoff spot in the final days of the regular season.
The most important thing to look for against the Sabres is an early lead. They don’t play a boring brand of defensive hockey, but they do play a defensive system nonetheless. They have a goalie that can lock down almost any lead. That’s why it’s important to come at them hard and get a lead. Like most teams, it causes them to move up, leaving their own end exposed. Patrick Kaleta is a pain in the ass, and it would be a nice side story if someone would put him in his place. There’s a few guys on their team like that. Overall, it should be a fun season series, against a team that I think we’ll be rather close to in the standings.
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