The Sabres' 2009-2010 schedule has officially been released. The Sabres will open their season at home against Scott Gomez, Jaroslav Spacek and the rest of the new Montreal Canadians.
The most notable thing about the schedule right now would have to be the end. If you're one of the more optimistic Sabres fans who thinks we have a shot at the playoffs this year, certainly you're not foolish enough to think we'll cruise into them. The last couple seasons tell us the Sabres will need to win games down the stretch to get into the top 8. Well, six of the Sabres' final eight games will be on the road. After hosting the Lightening on Saturday, March 27th, the Sabres go to the Bruins, home for the Panthers, then at Leafs, at Candians, home for the Rangers, at Bruins, at Senators and ending it all (well, hopefully not all) in New Jersey against the Devils. If I'm correct in my assumption of the Sabres' eventual necessity to win in the home stretch, that will be a tough road-trip. Only time will tell, I suppose.
Click here if you would like to view the Sabres' schedule as a PDF.
Presumably, Kaleta is the first to sign because, of the three, he is the closest to the new model that Regier seems to be implementing in the current reshuffling of the Sabres. Regier has made it clear on numerous occasions that he feels the team has lacked a certain toughness or "grittiness" and players like Montador, DiPenta and Kaleta add that tangible "intangible" element.
After adding Montador, Regier was quoted as saying, "We need to get more 'compete' with our team ... Just the grittiness and the toughness that he brings and the character that he brings is a good ingredient to have in that room."
Personally, I would love to see the Sabres become a much grittier group. For too long, the scouting report on the Sabres has been 'sure they can skate, but give them a good shot in the teeth and you'll control the tempo.' Hopefully players in the locker room will get the message Regier is sending and step up their level of play.
We'll keep our eyes peeled to see what happens with Sekera and Stafford in the coming weeks.