The upcoming Buffalo Sabres season will be all about managing expectations. I don’t think they’re going to be Stanley Cup contenders, so let’s not get too far ahead and start printing “Wagon” shirts. But I do think that, for the first time in a long time, Buffalo fans will have a team that doesn’t disappoint them terribly. This Sabres team was able to do some serious damage this year. Most of the losses will come from big man Tage Thompson.
Tage Thompson is 6’7″ in streetwear. He’s probably closer to a 6-foot-9 roller skate. He finally had a breakout season last year, when he scored 38 goals and 68 points in 78 games, which earned him a small, seven-year, $50 million extension, which Effective after the end of the season. So you’d think Tage Thompson could basically get through the preseason. He’s a $50 million guy. He doesn’t need to struggle with inconsequential games.
But that’s not Tage Thompson’s style. The big man doesn’t care if it’s preseason or not, he’ll still make it very clear that no one is messing with the Sabres this year. So he went out against Carolina last night, completing an elusive first-period Gordie Howe hat-trick.
First, he picked up his second assist in the 2v1, which ended with Vinnie Hinostroza’s goal leading 1-0 about seven minutes into the game.
Thompson took a hook penalty on the next shift after that goal. But I’m starting to think it’s part of the plan, as he came out of the box and immediately ignited Ethan Bear as he scored a silky goal with 2 in just 11 minutes. A score of -0 wins. night.
So, halfway through the first quarter, he already had a goal and an assist on the scoresheet. I’m not saying Tiger Thompson is necessarily looking for a fight, but what if the opportunity presented itself? The big guy had to scrap it to finish that Gordy. Luckily for him, he didn’t even have to wait for halftime as Jalen Chatfield levelled Vinnie Hinostroza in the neutral zone and Thompson needed to see it all to unleash his fury with just over 4 minutes left in the first quarter. .
The slope of the mutants is pretty good. I wouldn’t call Tage Thompson a “fighter”. He won’t let people sleep there. But the guy is big enough that he rarely loses a fight. Well, when you’ve got a potential 40-plus-ball scorer who’s lined up to make over $7 million a year, he’s throwing hands like that in the preseason and his batting looks like As clean as possible? Well, that’s just a warning to the rest of the league that the Buffalo Sabres won’t mess up this year. The first Gordie Howe hat-trick was as gritty as they made it.
The Sabres still need something more, but this team is in a good position. Happy for Buffalo.