Its’ been three games since I have posted and the Sabres have had decent success, regardless of some roster issues that have increased ice time on their star players. There has been some spirited play with pockets of mundane boredom, but overall the boys are hanging in there. They have found ways to win, and overall are getting decent net-minding from Levi and Ookie Pookie Lukki.
Consistency, trying to eliminate senseless turnovers, understanding the tempo of the game, and making adjustments. Our coaching staff has seemed to be narrowing the gap in what it takes to win or lose in the modern NHL. The message needs to be clear, taking shifts off just doesn’t work or you will find yourself riding the pine. Our forward ranks are basically playing with a limited third line, but I appreciate the recognition of Granato to pair down what he rolls out at crucial moments in the game. Having confidence to trust someone to eat minutes is hard at times but he seems to be getting it done. It can put you to sleep, but doing it early in the season is essential while you figure out what you are dealing with.
Back to my title...
The Buffalo Sabres have seemed to finally found a player who can saddle up next to Rasmus Dahlin. In the three games that he has played, Ryan Johnson looks comfortable and confident. The skating is fluent and his transition game is solid. At 6’0” and 170 pounds he is not going to be a crusher, but positionally he gets to the right spots and does not look like he is intimidated whatsoever. This kid has not even coming close to playing himself out of the lineup. It is a nice problem to have when you have been looking for a complimentary body to start in your top six. Our defensive core suddenly looks a lot better than it did a couple of weeks ago. After being on the ice for only 8:20 against Toronto, he logged 19:26 and 18:00 minutes in the next two contests. If glass man Samuelsson can stay healthy, it looks like the core that would be stepping out on the frozen surface is formidable. Clifton, or our other sizable Johnson just might have to be watching from the press box…
If you haven’t been living under a rock you are realizing we have one of the best players in the league. This guy can move and stickhandle with the best, and he uses his large frame to shelter the puck. He clearly overwhelms defenders when he is on his game and pressing. After watching his first few years trying to find his way it is night and day. We are witnessing that patience in development can work. In one of his first stints with the club he suffered a shoulder injury that put him out long term, but he never quit. We have someone special here Buffalo. Just look at this pass from him at a critical part of the game against Minnesota. Reference his shorty against Toronto the other night. He is working hard on a regular basis and driving play. Keep it up big guy..
Buffalo Sabres, 7-6-1, vs. Pittsburgh Penguins, 6-6-0
Saturday, November 11 at 7:30 pm
PPG Paints Arena, Pittsburgh, PA
Sit back and take in our Sabres on back-to-back evenings against one of the older teams in the league. Crosby, Guentzel, Malkin, and Karlsson will be throwing everything that they can at us in the early going. Keep calm and let UPL find his groove. The travel is not that far and fatigue can be mitigated by having a quick, precision start. It is not physical, it is mental. Get some points out of the contest, and take a couple of days to breath and heal before you take on the vaunted Bruins on Tuesday.
Notes from your mother’s hedges..
As I have said the stars are carrying this team but the sustainability is precarious at best. Our third line is non-existent, and there are spots available for anyone who wants to have an out of body experience and elevate their game. It is time for management to make a substantial move to solidify our depth. Patrick Kane, a major trade using prospects and draft choices without affecting the core, something. If Quinn can come back in full form before our record suffers, that would be great, but let’s try and get ourselves to the next level. Do it for the fans. Do it for Buffalo. With the emergence of Johnson, we have a few extra bodies that are expendable as well.
Peterka is making the best of his opportunity and showing us all that he is a formidable NHL asset. This kid is only getting better and he is proving himself with an amazing start. The sky is the limit if he keeps up the tenacity.
Congratulations to Matt Savoie on playing in his first NHL game. Not many moments of shock and awe, but we must reserve our judgements until a larger body of work can be analyzed. I am nervous that he looked tentative. I am also skeptical about his size and compete level. Please prove me wrong number 93.
Thanks again everyone. Enjoy the rest of the weekend and the Bills on Monday Night -