Sabres can’t let losing skids turn into season meltdowns

Sports

Buffalo Sabres’ Curtis Lazar, Brandon Montour, Henri Jokiharju and Rasmus Ristolainen, from left, sit on the bench in the closing seconds of the team’s NHL hockey game against the Arizona Coyotes on Saturday, Feb. 29, 2020, in Glendale, Ariz. The Coyotes won 5-2. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – There’s a reason Sabres fans are “cautiously optimistic” whenever the team is doing well or on a winning streak. That’s because they understand the heartbreak.

During these nine seasons without making the playoffs, there have been those “glimpses” of success that general manager Jason Botterill talked about during his end of the year zoom call with reporters on Wednesday.

That’s what makes fans excited but also reasons they don’t get their hopes up because there have been utter meltdowns that have followed those flashes of success.

“Once again we started out great and we just didn’t manage our ups and downs as much as we needed to. There were times we were playing really good hockey and then times we went through a slump and we just couldn’t seem to get out of it,” Sabres defenseman Jake McCabe said.

The ten-game winning streak that had the Sabres in first place in the NHL last year is a good example. What followed was a collapse in the second half of the season. After the ten-game winning streak ended, the Sabres only managed to win 16 more games that season.

Fast forward to this season and as Buffalo won nine of its first 13 games of the season and found itself within striking distance of a playoff spot just six points out at the trade deadline on February 24th. What followed was another collapse in the form of a six-game losing streak that started on their western road trip.

It’s those lapses in seasons that cause the Sabres to miss the postseason.

“We had too many poor streaks to combat the good streaks this last year. We started off really, really well and then every team is gonna hit a skid. It’s bound to happen and one of the keys to making the playoffs and playing well all season is to manage those skids. We need to find a way to do better at that,” Sabres forward Kyle Okposo said.

“I think with Ralph [Krueger] in charge this year coaching us, we were able to flip it around quicker this year as opposed to last year and we were able to get some positive momentum.”

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