Brakes Prevent Crashing Cars & Dreams

Let's slow down for a moment, Buffalo. Photo from wivb.com

Let’s slow down for a moment, Buffalo. Photo from wivb.com

There are some things that Buffalo fans are good at (such as driving into buildings at a terrifying rate of occurrence) and there are things that Buffalo fans are bad at, such as tempering expectations. The latter is incredibly apparent given the weekend that our local sports teams have had, and it’s only going to get worse before it gets better. Speaking with almost any fan, the Bills’ win against Indy has their 1-0 record well on the way to an undefeated season, and undoubtedly a Super Bowl ring. Buffalo also played host to prospect teams from New Jersey and Boston this past weekend, with the Sabres claiming the championship of the round-robin Prospects Challenge, so obviously, a Stanley Cup is well within reach.

One might ask what one has to do with the other; destroying buildings with sedans and over-zealous fandom, but I would think the correlation would be fairly easy to understand: Buffalo needs to learn to pump the brakes. Just like the aluminum framed windows of too many local businesses, the dreams of Buffalo sports fans too often come crashing down in splintered disappointment, and simply exercising some self-control could prevent a lot of heartbreak.

Maybe Shady needs to focus on breaking the line of scrimmage, not holding grudges...Photo from Yahoo.com

Maybe Shady needs to focus on breaking the line of scrimmage, not holding grudges…Photo from Yahoo.com

Sure, the Bills took down a team that was predicted to be a contender for the AFC Championship, but Super Bowl ready? So much was made of the trade for Lesean McCoy this past offseason, but 41 yards on 17 carries (2.4 yds per carry) does not a champion make. When your quarterback has as many rushing yards as your featured tailback, things did not go as planned. It would also benefit us as a city to take a deep breath and remind ourselves that Tyrod Taylor played an average game. His decision making was great – no sacks, no picks – but it was by no means a great game. Of course Buffalo should be excited about the win and the potential for the season, but let’s keep our playoff predictions on hold for a while. There’s a lot of football left to play, and for a quarterback with a 2:1 throw-to-run ratio, Taylor could easily end up tweaking a knee and spending some time on the sidelines.

In case you hadn’t heard, the Sabres drafted one hell of a hockey player last year. Jack Eichel donned the blue and gold and stormed the ice on Saturday night, striding through the neutral zone and drawing the New Jersey defender, setting up Nick Baptiste just 25 seconds into the game. The Sabres embarrassed the Devils, winning 6-2. The power play looked solid, the defense played well – it was a good game. Monday’s win against the Bruins’ prospects was a little tougher; the Sabres looked less confident against a more physical Boston team. The Sabres took the title in overtime, though, on a goal from none other than Jack Eichel himself, who is notorious for clutch scoring. It was a good story, and great for the youngsters to gain some confidence heading into training camp.

Eichel is definitely awesome, but let's be reasonable. Photo from nhl.com

Eichel is definitely awesome, but let’s be reasonable. Photo from nhl.com

In all honesty, though, any prospects team fielded by the Sabres should dominate pretty much any other team in the NHL. Aside from the Oilers’ Buffalo’s nauseating record has them picking in the top half of the field in every draft over the last five years. The team vacated nearly all of the veteran players over the past few seasons, and the result was a bottomless well of draft picks. GM Tim Murray has taken advantage, drafting and trading and molding this team into a machine of the future.

The key word, though, is FUTURE. These kids that took the ice for the Prospects Challenge were the best of their field by design. They were playing against other kids, who statistically were not as good as they are. If you’ve ever played beer league hockey, you’ve seen it – the team of guys who should move up, but don’t want to take the chance, so they stay down and pummel the competition into submission. That was our prospect team. The real test is yet to come, where they will face men who are bigger, stronger, and wiser. Men who have seen kids like them and know how to handle them. Experience is the one tool that our prospects don’t have, and it could be the difference between a good team and a great team this year.

bills

Before all of the hate-mail starts, I want to say that I am truly, honestly excited for this season. The Bills and Sabres have had spectacular offseasons, and have given the city and their fans plenty of reason to be excited, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves! As we go through the NFL and NHL seasons, let’s celebrate each victory, and let’s allow ourselves to enjoy teams that will undoubtedly be better than they have in a very long time, but let’s not set ourselves up for ultimate disappointment. Reasonable expectations will make the season more enjoyable. Everyone loves to smash down on the gas pedal, but the brake pedal is there for a reason – to protect grandmas in crosswalks and, apparently, to protect deli counters that once dwelled safely in the confines of South Buffalo convenience stores. Let’s slow down and enjoy the ride, lest we have it all come crashing down.

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Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Staal ‘not close’ on contract; Sharks tickets issues; Vasilevskiy’s health (Puck Headlines) | Jeffery Lipton - freelance writer - September 15, 2015

    […] • We all need to relax about how the Buffalo Sabres prospects fared in their rookie game. After all, the Sabres have been picking high in the draft for a while now. [What’s Going on in Buffalo] […]

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