1. Attitude of gratitude: There's an old adage that if you feel good, you play good. The Sabres feel really good. There's a belief at the foot of Washington Street that things are going their way and will continue to do so. Confidence can carry teams a long way. Folks in Pegulaville believe.
2. No more holes? The Sabres needed playoff experience, so they added center Ville Leino. They needed a brute on the back end, so they added defenseman Robyn Regehr. The power play needed a boost, so they added Christian Ehrhoff. Add it all up, and they hope it brings what else they need: the Stanley Cup.
3. Big rebound by Miller: Ryan Miller walked in on the first day of training camp and said last year wasn't good enough. The goaltender failed to follow up on his "best goalie on the planet" season. He dedicated this summer to revitalizing his game and enhancing his personal life. He's ready to be elite again.
4. Going to great depths: Injuries happen. It's how teams deal with them that defines a winner. The Sabres have the depth to handle a few setbacks. They're carrying an extra defenseman, and they have three more in the minors ready to step in. The forward ranks are stocked, too, so the organization is in a good place.
> Four reasons for pessimism
1. Unfamiliar surroundings: The Sabres roster moves certainly bolstered the talent level, but games aren't won on talent alone. The Sabres need to become a team, and it could take awhile. One-third of the defense corps is new, and communication in the team's own zone might be off.
2. Inexperience behind the bench: Lindy Ruff has changed his coaching staff, trading the longtime experience of associate coach Brian McCutcheon for first-time assistants Kevyn Adams and Teppo Numminen. The fresh ideas should benefit the system, but there is a learning curve for every job.
3. It's hard to repeat: Jordan Leopold and Drew Stafford are coming off career years. Tyler Ennis and Nathan Gerbe performed admirably during their first full seasons. Although the Sabres expect everyone to continue to improve, it just doesn't happen. Some players' games will take a step back.
4. The best got better: The Sabres are Eastern Conference contenders, but they're not alone. Washington added proven puck-stopper Tomas Vokoun. Philadelphia one-upped that move with the addition of goalie Ilya Bryzgalov. The Cup champion Bruins have their core. There's no easy route to a championship.