No matter the circumstances, preseason or regular season, it’s hard to know what to expect after Sunday’s shitshow in Toronto. The circus of the last couple days really had nothing to do with tonight’s game, and it showed.
Not a fight, scrum or scrap to be seen, as the Buffalo Sabres rode the solid goaltending of Jhonas Enroth and steady defense in front of him to a 3-0 win over the visiting Columbus Blue Jackets.
Buffalo jumped out to a lead early in the second period as Ville Leino finished a rebound from a Cody Hodgson shot as the team skated 6-on-5 on a delayed penalty. With Enroth on the bench for the extra attacker, the team generated multiple chances before Leino scored his first of the preseason.
That was all the offense they’d need, as Enroth stopped 26 shots to earn his first win.
“I don’t think it was that tough of a game on me, actually,” said Enroth. “Overall it was a pretty easy game.”
Third period goals by Mikhail Grigorenko and Zemgus Girgensons provided the insurance for the Sabres, who moved to 4-1-1 on the exhibition season. Defenseman Mike Weber added assists on all three Buffalo goals.
Buffalo has one more game before they play for keeps, Friday night in Carolina.
- Joel Armia played his last shift late in the second period and would leave the game with a hand injury. His line with Grigorenko and Girgensons looked really good, so it was disappointing that he disappeared. Sabres coach Ron Rolston was unsure of his status after the game.
- Weber’s three secondary assists look better in the box score than they did on the ice. He honestly had a pretty good game. Funny how he’s turned from a fringe defenseman to a solid veteran in the matter of a year or two.
- Hey Sabres, maybe don’t have your PR arm brag about the fact you didn’t bother to televise 6 of the team’s 7 preseason games. That needs to change next year, because things like Sunday should convince you that it’s worth the effort. Read the rest of this entry
In the Buffalo Sabres’ return to their home rink for their first home game of the preseason slate, a squad littered with young talent overcame a sloppy first 30 minutes to storm away with a 5-2 win over visiting Metropolitan Division rival, the Carolina Hurricanes.
Johan Larsson, acquired at last year’s trade deadline in the Jason Pominville deal, scored twice for Buffalo, who moved to 3-0-0 on the preseason campaign.
Trailing 1-0 after one period of play, Joel Armia scored his first of the preseason to tie the game. After surrendering another goal just minutes later, Larsson scored his first of the game, tipping in a Brayden McNabb point shot to deadlock the score after two periods.
Buffalo would go on to score three unanswered goals in the third, led by Cody Hodgson’s redirection of a Thomas Vanek pass with just under six minutes to go. Larsson and McNabb (who finished with a goal and two assists) would score insurance goals before the clock ran out.
The Sabres also got a very strong performance out of Ryan Miller, who played his first full game after splitting duties with Matt Hackett in Wednesday’s win over NHLBettingTips.com Metropolitan Division underdog Columbus. Miller stopped 34 of 36 shots to get the win.
While an undefeated record in preseason only means so much, the Sabres now face a home-and-home with Toronto. The Leafs will visit First Niagara Center on Saturday night for a Hockey Night in Canada broadcast.
- Really like Johan Larsson’s game tonight. The guy does everything you’d want him to do. He goes to the net, wins draws (71% on 17 draws) and shows a lot of hustle. He could force his way into a roster spot, but if he doesn’t, he won’t be in Rochester long.
- Best guy on the ice for Carolina tonight? You guessed it: Andrej Sekera. Led Carolina with 23:03 of ice time, showed a lot of possession of the puck, and save for the two third period goals he was on the ice for, was really, really good. The Canes are gonna love him. Compher better pan out.
- Brayden McNabb’s game has been hit-or-miss for a little while, but tonight his work in the offensive zone is evident in the boxscore. That shot can generate a lot of opportunities, whether it’s going straight in, or he’s putting it in places that guys can tip it. He needs to show that if he wants to stick. Read the rest of this entry
For the first time since the Sabres still wore black and red, the franchise selected a European player in the NHL Draft, and they went big.
With the 16th overall pick, Buffalo selected right wing Joel Armia from Assat of the Finnish league.
Armia is a 6’3″ winger whose primary talent is putting the puck in the net. The scouting report sounds familiar:
“He’s big and tall but surprisingly mobile for a player of his size. He has a very good feel for the game and moving the puck well with his linemates. He has a heavy wrist shot that he gets off quickly and is always looking for the empty spots on the ice. He’s a sniper with a good selection of shots. You might have to look for him during some shifts, but then, suddenly, he scores the winner.”
Oh. So, he’s Thomas Vanek?
Here are some quick thoughts on the pick:
- When the World Juniors were in Buffalo this past winter, I spent a good amount of time watching Armia specifically during Finland games. I knew he was one of the top draft-eligible guys in the tournament, and honestly, I didn’t notice him much. He did show flashes of brilliance, but they were few and far between. He had one assist in the tournament.
- Seeing Armia’s highlight video, you can see the talent. Kid can score goals. He has that touch and confidence around the net that translates at any level.
- I was convinced the Sabres would go with a center, especially with Mark McNeill still on the board. I’m surprised they went winger, with as deep as they are at this position.
- Another thing to keep in mind: Darcy Regier has depth charts set up for years down the road. When he makes moves, he has those in mind. Drafting a big scoring winger, you’d have to think part of the pick is knowing that Vanek or Stafford might not be around down the line.