Buffalo Sabres Fans Have a Bigger Villain Now Than Jack Eichel
The Buffalo Sabres are leaving today for their Canadian road trip out west, which starts tomorrow night against the Edmonton Oilers. They will also play the Calgary Flames, Vancouver Canucks and Seattle Kraken this week, before coming back to Buffalo.
The Sabres are 1-1 after their Saturday afternoon loss to the Florida Panthers at KeyBank Center, 4-3.
The Panthers are expected to be a top five team in the NHL this season and while the Sabres had mistakes they want back in the game, they stuck with Florida for most of it.
However, the Sabres may have found a new villain and one that will be around a long time.
The Florida Panthers made a huge trade in the off-season, sending longtime forward Jonathan Huberdeau (along with other players) to the Calgary Flames for fellow star player, Matthew Tkachuk.
Tkachuk is a 24-year-old winger who is not only capable of scoring 70-80 points per season, but also getting under the skin of the opposing team. His play is not too dissimilar to the likes of past players like Claude Lemieux and Sean Avery, although he's also a very skilled player in the offensive zone.
Tkachuk's game in Buffalo on Saturday was so disliked by fans, he started getting booed when he touched the puck; which is only reserved for the most hates sports villains in Buffalo (Tom Brady, Jack Eichel).
During the game, Sabres forward Alex Tuch went after Tkachuk for a questionable hit on defenseman Henri Jokiharju.
It looked intentionally low.
When the final horn blew, another scuffle took place which included Tkachuk and Sabres defenseman, Rasmus Dahlin.
After the game, John Wawrow of the AP sent over this quote from Tkachuk to Lance Lysowski of The Buffalo News.
Tkachuk seems to imply the Sabres players acted in an inappropriate way after the whistle blew.
This game is why Tkachuk was brought to Florida. The Panthers needed someone who could annoy the other team and get them off his game. Huberdeau is a great talent but Tkachuk is really the entire package, for skill and his brand of toughness.
The problem with this is that you can cross the line at times and get yourself into penalty trouble, which can hurt your team. The NHL used to be filled with players like Matthew Tkachuk and his brother Brady (Ottawa Senators), but with no more fighting (other than rare occasions), that player is few and far between in today's NHL.
Based on Tachuk's play and his comments postgame, you can expect him to be an even bigger villain for Sabres fans than Eichel, simply because of his play and he's going to play Buffalo more than Vegas will.