Quick Hits 2/5/17

After an eventful All Star Game weekend the Sabres came out completely flat against the Montreal Canadiens losing 5-2. A game the Sabres want to forget. Coming out on Thursday the Sabres looked like a totally different team. They were flying all over the ice and were pushing the pace early, something they haven’t done all season. Robin Lehner played one of his best games as a Sabre making 42 saves in the overtime loss. Last night the Sabres played a complete game pushing the pace on an Ottawa team that looked tired off the get go. Robin Lehner got his first shut out of the season against his former team continuing his solid play.

Now some thoughts…

1. Robin Lehner played phenomenal against the Rangers and Senators after the tough loss to the Canadiens on Tuesday. Although it was an OT loss, Lehner continually made big saves against the Rangers, including this one on Michael Grabner.

Lehner followed his impressive performance on Thursday with a 37 save shutout against his former team. Although it seemed like the Senators didn’t have many high danger scoring chances, Lehner was on point with the few that came his way. This save on Mike Hoffman was one of his best of the night.

A lot of fans have been calling for the Sabres to upgrade at goaltending but like I’ve said before Lehner is a solid goalie. He’s a young guy at 25 and has a lot of room to grow. He has let in the odd goal but with time he has the potential to be a very good goalie. The past two games have shown his true potential.

2. Dan Bylsma continues to blow my mind with his roster decisions. Josh Gorges seems like a great guy and leader but Taylor Fedun has proven to be a solid bottom pairing defenseman. Fedun moves the puck well but has been prone to take some bad penalties, especially in the last week which could have played a factor in the decision to put Gorges in over him. Nonetheless Gorges struggles to get the puck out of the zone and adds no offensive ability. Please, Dan, put in Taylor Fedun.

3. Tyler Ennis is not the player he once was or hoped to be. He’s a small player but seems to have lost his step. Obviously coming off of a sports hernia it’s going to affect him but moving forward I don’t see him ever coming back. He still has some skill, as showcased on Thursday when he somehow managed to kick the puck to him self then setting up Cody Franson for the tying goal, but he is consistently knocked off the puck. At a cap hit of $4.6 million I don’t see any team taking him. I recently tweeted out saying I would protect Ennis in the expansion draft but with the way things are going I wouldn’t now.

4. All the guys here at Sabres Fanatics have been putting together our top 20 Sabres prospects and it made me realize how deep the Sabres prospect system is. Really goes to show how good the Sabres scouting department is. Tim Murray had that reputation of having a good eye for talent coming in and I’d say he’s done an excellent job stocking the cupboard after trading guys like Lemieux, Armia, Compher, Zadorov, and Grigorenko. He’s done especially well in the later rounds drafting solid prospects like Will Borgen in the 4th round, Giorgio Estephan in the 6th round, and even Brandon Hagel has been impressive this year after getting selected in the 6th round.

5. The Sabres will likely be sellers at the deadline this year unless they go on a run here in the next month. Pierre LeBrun reported that the Sabres will trade Dimitry Kulikov at the trade deadline if the Sabres are out of the playoff race. It’s likely that the Sabres end up trading Anders Nilsson, Brian Gionta, and Cody Franson as well with all of them becoming UFAs this summer. Pierre LeBrun also reported that the Sabres are looking to trade for a 4th line center. Derek Grant was placed on waivers this morning so we’ll see if the Sabres put in a claim as they have the first shot at him.

Sabres play the Devils tomorrow night in New Jersey. Puck drop is at 7 PM EST.

Thanks for reading!

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