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Hamilton Take 2: Sabres still have a lot of work to do if they want to make the playoffs

Hockey analyst Paul Hamilton takes a look at the Sabres where the team needs to be to make the playoffs.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — After the Buffalo Sabres got off to a 7-3-0 start, I allowed myself to wonder if they’re ahead of schedule. Before that, I never thought for a minute that this was a playoff year as my thinking was next season was the year to compete for a spot. 

The goaltending was unknown and rookies like Jack Quinn and JJ Peterka need time to find their NHL games. 

Injuries on defense were piling up, yet the Sabres were still doing well. The clues of the fall were there during those first 10 games. Twice, in their own arena, the Sabres played with fire coming back from 3-1 third period deficits to beat the Chicago Blackhawks and Pittsburgh Penguins. 

Reality struck last Thursday when the Sabres couldn’t handle the Carolina Hurricanes top players and started a four-game losing streak. You can’t be 4-4-0 at home with losses to the Montreal Canadiens and Arizona Coyotes and call yourself an improved team. Their home wins have come against Chicago, Pittsburgh, the Ottawa Senators and the Detroit Red Wings. Their two signature wins came on the road against the Edmonton Oilers and the Calgary Flames.

The Oilers win is the only game that Sabres new starting goalie Eric Comrie has allowed less than three goals in a game. In his first 10 games, Comrie has been average at best and through 14 games, the goaltending has not improved from last year. 

With that being said, this is Comrie’s first chance to be a starting NHL goalie and 10 games isn’t a large enough sample to know if it’ll work. 

The hope is always that your young players will come into the season and show huge improvement, but that’s not reality. This is the NHL and Quinn, Peterka and Peyton Krebs are having growing pains, but they’re talented youngsters that I feel will be producers in this league. 

The Sabres have had veteran inconsistency from Casey Mittelstadt, Alex Tuch, Kyle Okposo and Jeff Skinner. That’s another big reason why we’ve seen wild swings so early in this season.  

In the end, I didn’t start this season thinking that this was a playoff team and they’ve shown us that they're not. That doesn’t mean 75-to-80 is acceptable because it’s not. I am expecting a team that will make strides and get themselves over 90 points and ready to content for the playoff next season.

 Anything less is a disappointment.  

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