Just like everyone expected, right?
The Buffalo Sabres sit near the top of the NHL with a perfect 3-0-0 record. They're the only team with three wins so far, although much of the league has only played two games. The sample size is silly small, but, hey, it's still fun, right? Heck, most expected this team to cap out at 20 wins with the lineup they had.
Montreal, Arizona and Vancouver are hardly needle-movers at this point. But to Buffalo's credit, they've played pretty darn good with a 40-year-old goaltender and without the team's best forward in decades. The team's depth is abysmal. The defense? Ugly. The goaltending? Uninspiring. But that's all on paper. In practicality, the Sabres have played some decent hockey, and the results are working in their favor.
Of course, we're still early, and it's expected that Buffalo will eventually fall back to earth. But the team is actually playing good hockey. The team is getting offense from a ton of unlikely sources such as Cody Eakin, Zemgus Girgensons and Jacob Bryson. Dylan Cozens is playing well, helping to cement himself as the future of the franchise. Craig Anderson, a 40-year-old starter that played just two games as Washington's third goalie last year, has a .939 save percentage and .89 goals-saved-above-average with just three goals against at 5-on-5 in two games. Again, it's a small sample size, but he's playing better than anyone really expected.
Under coach Don Granato, the Sabres are playing a fast, aggressive style of hockey that seems to be catching teams off guard. They don't have the skill to completely outplay teams, but they'll grind you down and make you hurt heading into the deep end of the game. The team has nothing to lose: they're not a real threat for the playoffs, the distractions have taken over and nobody believes in them. The Sabres have no pressure on them, and winning games, even this early, is a bonus.
Buffalo is a proud sports city. The team has been through so much and achieved so little over the past decade, yet fans still support the team in droves. The city loves to don the trademark blue and gold, even during the dark ages. The Jack Eichel situation has dominated the headlines in the city for the past year, something everyone involved would just like to move on from.
So, this early season winning streak - although in short supply - is something worth cheering about if you're a Sabres fan. The real challenge begins with Boston and Tampa Bay on the docket over the next few games. Let's not lie to ourselves: this still isn't a good hockey team. Beating up on Montreal and Arizona isn't going to change the tides. Right now, it's all about fun. And given the expectations of this season, there's a real reason to smile.
Sabres fans, enjoy this while it lasts. Let's not forget that 10-game streak in 2018-19 that gave fans false hope. The Eichel drama will still dominate the team's headlines. One thing to at least keep things interesting is following Rasmus Dahlin's season and judging just how good he can be, or whether or not Cozens is a legitimate top-line star to build around.
Or, heck, maybe the team will legitimately start punting the big boys off the map and surprise. Unlikely, but maybe this team can bring some unexpected joy this season.