With some sensational rookies in the mix and Jeff Skinner replacing Ryan O’Reilly, this is a new-look Buffalo Sabres team. Still, during an opening night 4-0 loss to the Boston Bruins, there were familiar sounds: the boos of their home crowd.
It’s tough to blame Sabres fans for being frustrated, even if it was just the first of 82 games (and 41 at home).
After all, this is a team that hasn’t made the playoffs since 2010-11, and hasn’t won a series since 2006-07. The Sabres haven’t just gone through the growing pains of a stilted rebuild; they’ve been an absolutely agonizing team to watch, finishing with 62 or less standings points in three of their last five seasons.
For all the hope ultra-hyped top pick Rasmus Dahlin brings, Thursday carried the “same old, same old” feel.
Consider how easy it looked for Zdeno Chara on the first goal Buffalo allowed in this young season:
Fans are beyond the point of losing patience with a lack of progress with this Sabres team, and players seem to know it.
“When you aren’t giving them the product that they want, that they deserve ... tonight it just wasn’t there for the whole game,” Kyle Okposo said, according to The Athletic’s John Vogl. “It’s something that has been all too common here. It’s our job to change that.”
Jack Eichel also recognized that “their fuse is a bit short for us, and rightfully so.”
When you consider the struggles of the Panthers and Hurricanes, it’s not as if the Sabres are the only team that hasn’t seen the postseason in quite some time. That said, it’s the sheer depths of failure that really stings, as fans rarely get much of anything to cheer about. Buffalo couldn’t even muster a token goal in their season opener, and they’ve peaked with 81 standings points since the last lockout.
The swiftness of fans booing the Sabres not just in the first game, but after the first period says a lot about how frustrated they’ve become. Dahlin’s debut ended up being a mere afterthought last night.
This is far from the first time that there’s been a cascade of boos in Buffalo during this putrid stretch. Consider this brief history of Buffalo boos:
- Eichel seemed a bit peeved - though “not opinionated” - about fans boos the team before an eventual comeback win last season (in February 2017).
- This team’s relationship with “tanking” hit what might have been a new low in 2014-15, as Sabres fans cheered the Coyotes and booed their team, as both squad was better off improving their lottery odds in March 2015.
- This Pierre LeBrun tweet is pretty amusing considering its timing (October 2015), and how well it would have fit in October 2018. Woof.
A few boos as the second period ended here in Buffalo. Normally I would say be patient, folks. But Sabres fans have been through a lot!— Pierre LeBrun (@PierreVLeBrun) October 9, 2015
- Late in the 2012-13 season, Steve Ott found Sabres fan booing “completely ridiculous.” Little did he know ...
Oh, and for some added comic relief:
"Over my time, I've seen fans boo a lot of things. This is the first time I've seen them boo a tornado warning." -Rick Jeanneret— Buffalo Sabres (@BuffaloSabres) April 4, 2014