NHL.com’s Joe Yerdon writes that Buffalo star center Jack Eichel says that he “hasn’t proven anything” despite a couple great seasons scoring over 20 goals and being nearly a point-per-game player last season. But the thirst for regular and postseason success drives Eichel, and calling his past work “mediocre,” it’s clear that the 2015 second overall pick is ready for his Sabres to turn the corner:
“It’s the third year, so if there’s ever a time to start winning and being a good team in this league, it’s right now. I think all the guys are pretty sick of losing and not playing in the playoffs. I don’t think I’m the only guy; I think I can speak for a lot of guys in the room, that we’ve got to be there at the end of the year.”
Set with a new general manager and head coach, a fresh approach may just be what the Sabres need to finally break through.
- The Tampa Bay Times Tom Jones wonders if the Bolts have another deep playoff run in the horizon. Or, as Jones asks, could last year’s playoff miss be the start of Tampa’s descent in the Atlantic, and Eastern Conference? He quotes head coach Jon Cooper, who says that after two deep playoff runs, anyone asks “what happens,” when a team completely misses the playoffs. The Lightning held a 2-1 advantage during the 2015 Stanley Cup Final before Chicago roared back to take three in a row. Two seasons ago, they came within a game of returning to the Final. General manager Steve Yzerman called it “humbling” while players say there’s a certain “hunger” to the playoffs this season. Though Yzerman says the expectations remain high, certainly no one thought that was a cause for decline. It was the injury bug that bit hard in Tampa and crippled any chances at postseason glory. Should they stay healthy, the Lightning a formidable opponent not only in the conference, but also the league.
- The other Floridian team also has a shot at making a playoff run opines the Athletic’s Dom Luszczyszyn. The Panthers, despite an off year in 2016-17 after such a strong 2015-16, are projected by Luszczyzyn to see a marked improvement based on his metrics. Anyone familiar with his work knows that Luszczyzyn uses advanced stats more than most writers. Similar to the Lightning, the Panthers suffered from injuries and just having Jonathan Huberdeau back a full season will do wonders for a team that was starved for goals in his absence. Ludzczyzyn admits that there isn’t much further to go down from here, but he advises that no one should sleep on the Panthers, either.