Key Takeaways from the Sabres 2022-23 Schedule

One of the more anticipated Buffalo Sabres seasons in recent history now has a schedule. The NHL released schedules for all 32 teams on Wednesday afternoon, giving Sabres fans a glimpse into what they hope will be another season on the upswing. It features some intriguing games that should be circled on your calendar and an opportunity for them to repeat their early-season success from last year.

Key Games for the Sabres

All Sabres vs. Maple Leafs Matchups

Dates: Friday, Nov. 19 in Toronto; Monday, Feb. 21 at home; and Sunday, March 13 in Toronto 

Even with the Sabres’ struggles in recent seasons, their rivalry with the Toronto Maple Leafs is alive and well. Last season saw the Sabres win three of the four games in their series, and tensions boiled over with Auston Matthews cross-checking Rasmus Dahlin in the head. Having the Sabres and Leafs competitive at the same time is good for the NHL and we are trending in that direction. Unfortunately, they only face-off three times this season and only once in Buffalo. These games will still give fans something to look forward to because of the bitter rivalry between the teams.

Tage Thompson Buffalo Sabres Bench Celebration
Tage Thompson, Buffalo Sabres Bench Celebration (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Playing the Leafs will provide a good measuring stick for the Sabres. In order to compete for a playoff spot, they’re going to have to beat good teams and the Leafs are among the league’s best. These games will be exciting ones for the team’s upward progression and are a massive highlight to their schedule overall.

Jack Eichel’s Second Game Back in Buffalo

Date: Thursday, Nov. 10 at home

Jack Eichel‘s first game back in Buffalo last season was an emotionally charged evening that seemed to signal the end of an era for both sides. The crowd at KeyBank Center was more energetic and charismatic that night than it had been for most of the last decade. It provided an interesting transition point for the organization and the player, as they both provided some closure to their messy break-up. 

Jack Eichel Vegas Golden Knights
Jack Eichel, Vegas Golden Knights (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

For the fans, not so much. Buffalo sports fans are nothing if not passionate, and if that passion is questioned in any way, shape or form, they take offense. Eichel’s post-game comments last season did not go unnoticed, and we can surely anticipate a lively KeyBank Center once again this season against the Golden Knights. 

Season Opener Against Ottawa

Date: Thursday, Oct. 13 at home

Last year, the Sabres got off to a great start with a 5-1 win against the Montreal Canadiens. This year it won’t be the Canadiens but it will be another Canadian team, as this year’s campaign will begin at home against the Ottawa Senators.

Related: Sabres’ Play Against Division Opponents Previews 2022-23 & Beyond

The anticipation for this game is a culmination of it being the home and season openers and Buffalo and Ottawa are similar teams in a lot of ways. Both organizations have done a good job restocking their prospect pipelines and are ready to see some returns from the young players on their rosters. While it will only be the opener and both teams will be shaking off the rust, it will be interesting to see how the Sabres match up with a comparable opponent.

Stanley Cup Champion Colorado Avalanche Visit Buffalo

Date: Thursday, Dec. 1 at home

The defending Stanley Cup Champions will head to Buffalo to kick off the month of December. The Avalanche won both games against the Sabres last season in a decided fashion, so this game provides another measuring stick of sorts. These games will show how they compare to the current champions, thus giving the organization a glimpse of how close they are to competing.

Nathan MacKinnon Colorado Avalanche 2022 Stanley Cup
Nathan MacKinnon of the Colorado Avalanche lifts the Stanley Cup (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

If nothing else, it will be an opportunity to see superstars Nathan MacKinnon and Cale Makar in person. The Avalanche are a significantly better team and it is a chance to see how one of the best teams in the NHL plays on a nightly basis. 

Sabres Have Opportunities Early in the Year to Rack up Points

Buffalo was shot out of a cannon to begin last season, going 5-2-1 in the month of October. Repeating their strong start is going to be a key piece of the puzzle if they want to compete for a playoff spot, and their schedule sets them up to do so. Only three of their first nine games are against teams who made the playoffs last season, making October a month the team needs to capitalize on. 

Those games include matchups with the Canadiens, Seattle Kraken, Chicago Blackhawks and Vancouver Canucks. All are very winnable and it will be disappointing if they are not able to pick up at least one point, if not two, in those games. Picking up points early on in the year is a great way to position yourself to play meaningful games down the late stretch of the season.

For the first time in a long time, there is excitement surrounding the release of the schedule for the Sabres. The steps this team took last season changed the way they were viewed and having fans plan the games they want to go to in early July is a great sign. Their slate next season is packed with intriguing games and that anticipation will only continue to build as the offseason progresses and we get closer to October.

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