Sabres VS Hurricanes Preseason Game Recap 9/18/17

Final OT: BUF 2 CAR 3
Shots On Goal: BUF 35 CAR 28
Power Play: BUF 0/7 CAR 0/3
Hits: BUF 14 CAR 11
Blocked Shots: BUF 12 CAR 16

Goals:
CAR: Derek Ryan (1) assisted by Jeff Skinner (1) and Haydn Fleury (1)
BUF: Seth Griffith (1) assisted by Evan Rodrigues (1) and Cliff Pu (1)
CAR: Josh Jooris (1) assisted by Derek Ryan (1)
BUF: Jake McCabe (1) assisted by Taylor Fedun (1) and Evan Rodrigues (2)
CAR: Derek Ryan (2) assisted by Trevor van Riemsdyk

Lines:
Girgensons-O’Reilly-Okposo
Pouliot-Reinhart-Moses
Smith-Criscuolo-Bailey
Rodrigues-Pu-Griffith
Guhle-Ristolainen
McCabe-Fedun
Golobef-Nelson
Lehner
Ullmark

Recap:

The Sabres had a very slow and sloppy start to this first preseason game. They weren’t really passing well at all and they kind of woke up after Derek Ryan scored on a delayed penalty to put the Canes up 1-0 halfway through the first period.

Shortly after Ryan’s goal, Buffalo made a great transition up ice and got a two on one. Evan Rodrigues made a nice pass to Seth Griffith and ripped it past Smith to tie the game at one. Griffith and Rodrigues had themselves a good game tonight. Griffith looks like a guy who won’t look out of place at all in the event of a call-up when an injury occurs. Evan Rodrigues was fantastic tonight. He showcased his speed throughout the game and looks like he may be a lock to make the team out of camp. He was very impressive at the end of last season on his call-up and I won’t be surprised if he sticks around for the whole season. The first period would end tied at one apiece.

The Sabres went on the power play early on in the 2nd period and Rasmus Ristolainen had a brutal turnover that led to a two on one. Josh Jooris had the easy tap-in goal from Derek Ryan to give the Hurricanes the lead. Lehner was left hung out to dry by Ristolainen and Guhle. Although Ristolainen had that one horrendous play, I thought he still had a very nice showing tonight. I noticed that he was a lot more active in the offensive zone tonight. And that really goes for almost all of the defensemen. It was a very noticeable change with Phil Housley at the helm with the way that the Sabres are starting to play defense. Now it’s going to take some time for these players to adjust to his system but, I do think it’ll lead to much more offense from Buffalo’s defense which was almost nonexistent last season aside from Ristolainen.

Speaking of defensemen getting involved in the offensive zone, Jake McCabe wired the puck past Smith to tie the game just minutes after the Hurricanes took the lead.

There were no goals in the 3rd period and the game would have to be settled in overtime. Ristolainen had a beautiful pass to Girgensons for a breakaway but he was denied by the Canes netminder. Casey Nelson had a great chance to win the game on a partial breakaway but missed, there was a turnover at center ice, and then before you know it, Derek Ryan beats Linus Ullmark 5-hole and the game’s over.

Other Quick Thoughts:

1. Steve Moses

Moses was a standout for me tonight. He’s a really good skater and is very skilled. Moses is on an AHL contract with Rochester and will definitely help out the team. He may even get a shot to play on the United States Olympic Team. I find it interesting that Moses is in Buffalo’s training camp. Other players who are on AHL only deals aren’t here. So maybe they’re giving him a chance to earn a 2-way NHL deal?

2. Reinhart At Center With Pouliot

Samson looked fine at center to me tonight. He looked a little stronger in the puck battles along the boards and I noticed his great vision whenever he was out there. For some reason, people are taking issue with the idea of Reinhart moving back to center. That may be just because it just doesn’t look great to have your number two overall draft pick on the “3rd line” but, that really doesn’t matter at all. If the Sabres are icing a center core of Jak Eichel, Ryan O’Reilly, Sam Reinhart, and Johan Larsson, they’re gonna be in very good shape. Look at the Penguins when they won their 3 cups in the last 10 years. In 2009 they had Crosby, Malkin, and Staal as their top 3 centermen. In 2015 and 2016 they had Crosby, Malkin, and Bonino as their top 3 centers. Great center depth wins and you can’t deny that. I have no problem with Sam getting more time at center this season and if he does, I like the possibility of Benoit Pouliot playing on his left wing. Both are very smart players and if they can find an offensive weapon to play on their right wing, I can envision that being a deadly line.

3. Girgensons-O’Reilly-Okposo

This line was borderline dominant tonight. Unfortunately, they weren’t able to connect on any goals but it seemed like this could potentially be a good line for when the regular season starts. Girgensons looked like he discovered how to play the game of ice hockey again after being ruined in Dan Bylsma’s system for the last two seasons. And it was very reassuring to see Kyle Okposo play great tonight. I know that I’m not the only one who gets scared when a Sabres player comes back from a bad concussion and somehow is never the same again (Ennis and Connolly). Watching O’Reilly at the World Championships with Team Canada in the Spring, he looked great and I’m hoping that he can carry that success over to the regular season. I expect big things out of O’Reilly this year.

The Sabres next preseason game is on Tuesday night against the Pittsburgh Penguins at Penn State. The game will not be televised but you’ll be able to listen to it live on WGR Sports Radio 550.

Thanks for reading! Go follow us on Twitter and Instagram @sabresfanatics. You can also follow me on Twitter @JoeSFNHL.

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