Over the course of a long 82-game NHL season, there will probably a moment for every team when the home fans decide to rain a few jeers and boos at their own squad.
But on Game 1 during the home opener when everything is supposed to be bright, shiny and optimistic?
Welcome to the state of the Buffalo Sabres in 2018.
Falling to the Boston Bruins — who were coming off a crushing defeat at the hands of the defending Stanley Cup champion Washington Capitals the night before — by a score of 4-0 Thursday night, the Sabres faithful were giving it to their team early and often.
Following the contest, Sabres captain Jack Eichel addressed the boos he and his teammates received.
“It’s not easy,” Eichel told reporters of the hostility of the Sabres fans after the game. “Obviously we want our fans to appreciate our effort, but in the same sense we’ve gotta be better for them and put a better product on the ice. We’ve gotta bear down, we’ve gotta score goals, we’ve gotta bring it for them.
“I think that their fuse is a bit short for us, and rightfully so. We haven’t played well for the last few years and that’s on us to put a better product on the ice. You appreciate the fans selling the place out tonight and for us not to score a goal, it’s disappointing. But we’re not gonna hang our heads here. It’s a long season.”
Though the impatience of Sabres fans seems rather ridiculous given the timing of this incident, they aren’t entirely unjustified in it, either. Buffalo hasn’t reached the post-season since 2011 and hasn’t sported a record of .500 or above since the lockout-shortened 2012-13 campaign.
Worse yet, despite his talent, the best finish Eichel has seen in his career was a seventh-place ranking in the Atlantic Division in his rookie season, 2015-16.
The Sabres have been bad for quite a long time and it appears their fans are fed up with the lack of results. As Eichel said, it’s a long season. But that might also mean a long season of crushing negativity from their staunchest supporters if their Game 1 performance was any indication of how things will go for the 2018-19 Sabres.