With realignment an eventuality now, it's time that we start focusing on new rivalries-to-be and old rivalries-to-be-renewed. We're reaching out to the fans who know the teams best to get to know more about them and what to expect.
The Team: Buffalo Sabres
The Blog: Die By the Blade
The Head-to-Head Record (W-L-T): 50-53-13
The Last Meeting: January 16, 2012 @DET (5-0 W)
The Brief History: Since joining the league in 1970, the Sabres have managed to play 116 games against the Red Wings and none of them have been in the playoffs. There was a ten-game in this rivalry from December 1979 to January 1982 where the Wings went winless against the Sabres (9 losses and 1 tie). Recently, it's been more Red Wings-friendly, as Detroit has won eight of the last ten meetings between these clubs since 2003.
Roster-wise, Detroit fans will no doubt recognize Ville Leino from the Sabres' roster; although he went to Buffalo as a free agent, since it was Philadelphia who acquired a struggling Leino from the Wings. The most-notable player transaction between the two franchises was the trade which sent Vyacheslav Kozlov and Detroit's first-round draft pick in 2002 over to Buffalo in return for Dominik Hasek, who you may or may not have heard of.
Getting to know you: Continuing our series on our new Division rivals, we've got Andy Boron from Die by the Blade to introduce us to the Sabres and their fans. We asked the same five questions which should help acquaint us with the group. Also, if we're going to be conversing with them, we might want to take heed of their community guidelines, which are completely agreeable, except for the last sentence.
1. First off, tell us the most important things we need to know about your team.
The Sabres are at an odd point in their franchise's history. Many fans are excited by the young talent in the pipeline, like Cody Hodgson, Mikhail Grigorenko, and Brayden McNabb. However, if you ask them, most folks would also say that they strongly dislike, if not hate, the current makeup of the Sabres. Depending on who you ask, they're either inconsistent, mentally soft, not talented enough, or all three. Getting rid of Lindy Ruff was an emotional but necessary decision, and I think most people are looking forward to shaking things up even more. The Sabres team you face next season will likely look radically different, in both personnel and style, than they do this year.
2. Who on your team are we going to hate the most?
Take your pick between Steve Ott and Patrick Kaleta. They're both rats with a bit of talent, but let it be known that Kaleta has rounded himself into an honest-to-goodness shutdown forward with rattish tendencies, rather than just a reckless hitting machine. Oh, and you'll hate Thomas Vanek, but in the same way that we'll hate Pavel Datsyuk.
3. Why should the Wings fear you?
Um, I honestly don't know.
4. What do you fear most about the Wings?
The Sabres are the worst puck possession team in the league this season, something the Wings traditionally excel at. I worry that Buffalo may never actually touch the puck during our first game.
5. What about the rest of our new division will our fanbases have no problem agreeing on?
The Bruins suck.