Who knew spending a little money in the NHL could get things done?
All you have to do is ask any Buffalo Sabres fan the difference between this year and last and they'll tell you how amazing it is to have a confident owner, with deep pockets, who actually loves his team. That's what Terry Pegula has done for this team.
Aside from a brief hiccup against the lowly Carolina Hurricanes after returning back to the United States from a two-game European swing to start the season, Buffalo has looked outstanding. This really is a team with a new-found confidence and an owner who's not afraid to spend a little coin.
Ryan Miller looks to be back to his form of two years ago. Times were a little rough last year, but he now has Jhonas Enroth spelling him and everybody has so much more confidence in him.
That should allow Miller to take more than 10 or so games off without problems. After him you have the team's superstar forward Thomas Vanek. He has had one season where he has looked like a superstar and seems to have finally gotten back to that level and done it as the centerpiece, rather than a wingman to Drury and Briere.
Jason Pominville is leading admirably AND scoring (five points in five games). Drew Stafford is looking like the goal scorer everybody thought he was. Derek Roy is back and scoring. Christian Ehrhoff is taking the pressure to score off Tyler Myers by scoring at a point-per-game pace.
You know what the best part is? Because Buffalo has multiple highly skilled players, they have the ability to win even when some of those players (Brad Boyes, Ville Leino, Tyler Myers) struggle.
This really is a different team from what Sabre fans are used to. Even when the team had a post-lockout renaissance, everybody knew during that second year that there were players like Briere and Drury, who would most likely be offered far more money than the past ownership would offer.
Those days are over.
Pegula has not only elevated the Sabres, but he showed his love for the sport itself by upgrading Penn State's hockey arena so that they could play at the Division I level with the rest of the Big Ten. Then, he turns around and buys the Sabres, takes off the general manager's handcuffs, and the team automatically does an about face.
Lets face it, things are looking up in Buffalo and not just for the Bills.