Preseason Overreactions: Sabres shutout Carolina, game result means nothing

20140923Real hockey was finally back at First Niagara Center for the first time since April on Tuesday night. Well, if you count preseason as real hockey. It kind of is. But it doesn’t count.

The scoreboard said 2-0 in favor of the Buffalo Sabres, who used a strong 35-save performance out of goaltender Jhonas Enroth to earn the victory over the visiting Carolina Hurricanes.

Drew Stafford and Tyler Ennis scored for Buffalo, as their line with Matt Moulson combined for both goals. All three were on the score sheet on each tally, with Ennis and Stafford finishing with a goal and assist each and Moulson assisting on both.

“We’ve got great chemistry, there’s not really much else to say,” said Stafford. “I think we can be an extremely effective line, from here on.”

Neither team made it through the game without incident (surprisingly not involving Patrick Kaleta) as Buffalo defenseman Mark Pysyk was injured on his first shift of the game, and Carolina lost forward Jordan Staal in the third period. Coach Ted Nolan said after the game that Pysyk would be “out a little while,” which could mean anything. The news seemed more dire for Carolina, as Staal was seen on crutches after the game, and if the play was any indication, could be out for months.

Buffalo returns to action Friday night as the Toronto Maple Leafs visit for the first of a home-and-home set.

  • Patrick Kaleta made his return to the NHL lineup (if you think preseason counts) and made it through the game without any remarkable issues. He did try to run a Hurricanes player through the Zamboni doors in the corner during the third, but otherwise behaved himself. You’d have to assume Nolan wants him around, and it’s on him not to screw up.
  • Kaleta’s linemate, Mikhail Grigorenko did an admirable job making it look like he wasn’t annoyed having to play with him and rookie Brendan Lemieux. Grigorenko’s strong play could help make the decision to send Reinhart back to junior. Just throwing that out there now.
  • Sam Reinhart didn’t shine, but later in the game, you began to notice some solid play. He made a very patient play with the puck in the defensive zone, the kind of confident move you’d expect of a savvy veteran, not a recent draft pick. He might end up playing every preseason game to help get him up to speed, but I’m still not sure he needs to be in the NHL quite yet.

  • Big game for Enroth. With a goaltender battle brewing that will extend deep into the season, starting off with a shutout is good for his case. Although I don’t know if 35 saves is too advanced of a statistic for Nolan’s use, but he looked good.
  • Andre Benoit wasn’t very noticeable. Maybe that’s a good thing.
  • Tyler Myers gets his share of abuse on this blog, but for preseason home game #1, he looked good. By “looked good” I mean he didn’t seem to make any massive mistakes and didn’t stick out much. There were some bad pinches offensively, but nothing that killed them. I still think he should be traded.
  • Game Presentation thought: They moved in-game host Lauren Hall from the press box to the seating bowl, letting her call promotions from around the arena. I really like this move, and a lot of other teams do it like this. It makes everything seem more connected. Sabres had done this before with Kevin O’Neill and Nicholas Picholas, but once the latter was booed out of the building, they kind of gave up on it. Positive adjustment.
  • Brian Gionta was somewhat unremarkable. Which is fine. Still weird adjusting to so many new players. Gionta and Andrej Meszaros primarily. Even seeing Moulson out there was odd. Preseason!

3MI Three Star Selections 
1. Jhonas Enroth, Buffalo
2. Tyler Ennis, Buffalo
3. Drew Stafford, Buffalo

Official Three Stars of the Game
1. Drew Stafford, Buffalo (GW Goal (1), assist)
2. Jhonas Enroth, Buffalo (35 saves, 0 GA)
3. Tyler Ennis, Buffalo (Goal (1), assist)

Quote of the night:

“You can do all you want during the summer, but to get out there and get a little rust off, it feels pretty good.” — Buffalo Sabres forward Drew Stafford

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Posted on September 24, 2014, in Sabres/NHL and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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