The Sabres of October and the Sabres of today are two totally different teams. It's obvious in watching them play and by looking at the standings. In fact, if you take the Sabres' second-half record and stretch that into a full season, they would have 94 points. That's right in the playoff conversation.
Players say that is evidence that the culture of losing is changing.
"I think you could sense it a bit for sure," said forward Ryan O'Reilly. "There are a lot of habits, when you look at winning teams that they do, that make them successful. I think we lacked a lot of things."
"Coming into the start of the year with the new guys that we brought in and the guys that had made the team, the skill was there. The ability to play the game was there. But we didn't know how to play consistently the right way," said defenseman Josh Gorges. "The second half of the year, we figured a lot out of ourselves. Guys kind of bought into what their roles were and what they needed to do to help this team win."
"We did a lot of good things. We definitely changed the culture of the Sabres. That's what we wanted to do this season," said rookie center Jack Eichel. "You're never satisfied when you're not in the race (for the playoffs) and in the mix and potentially in a playoff spot. For what we did, you look at our last 40 games, good winning percentage."
Said defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen: "Everyone has to learn how to win. We have a lot of young guys here and a lot of guys who haven't won anything yet. We had to learn to win and still have to learn how to win. Hopefully next year we get more wins and we make the playoffs."
As for the world championships, Ryan O'Reilly says he will play for Team Canada. However Jack Eichel says he won't suit up for Team USA. He says he needs to step back and "take a deep breath for the first time in a while."