Well, I would say that this was a successful week. Can we play the Flyers and the Islanders without John Tavares all the time? My dour mood about last weekend’s losses has faded, and I admit, I went a little overboard being negative about those games, but I really thought losing Evander Kane was a cruel blow, just as we were starting to play well.
However, we looked great this week, even though we lost to Pitt. Missing little Tigger Ennis really had us asking, “Who is going to score?”, but some of our grinders stepped up and came through and we went 3-4, not bad. Nick Deslauriers has shown what kind of a player he is and I LOVE IT. He is the kind of guy I want on our team. He skates hard, he hits the boards, he gets in front of the net and makes things happen. His goal on Friday against Philly coming out of the box, when he chipped it right over Neuvirth was beautiful and showed that even though he’s a bruiser, he has good hands.
In the same game, I loved how Big Z parked himself in front of the net on the power play and Oh Oh Oh O’Reilly just blasted her home short side over Neuvirth’s shoulder, what a shot! I said it earlier, but this guy is our future captain. He has consistently shown this season that the “C” belongs on his sweater. I like Gionta and respect his career and I do think he’s a good captain at this moment in time, but eventually that role will shift to O’Reilly – He is the real deal and I’m glad we were able to get him.
Against the Islanders last night we looked a little flat in the first two periods and in the third, a friend remarked that we didn’t look like we were going to score. I said don’t worry man, were gonna get one here and right after, Matty Moulson poked her in to tie it up, and then moments later Sammy Reinhart got #2 on the season and with that, the game was won. This was a third period comeback and the type of win that is a hallmark of good teams – they find a way to win.
With O’Reilly leading us on the ice we are showing mettle that we haven’t seen out of the Sabres in years. I just love watching him play, and I love watching Big Z and the Eichel skate. We have a good core now, and once Begosian and Kane eventually come back, we are gonna have a fun, exciting team. I’m not going to go start talking playoffs because that would be absurd to prognosticate about that on November 1, but we are competitive RIGHT NOW. We haven’t been competitive in like 4 years! We can hang with a lot of the teams in the Eastern Conference RIGHT NOW, and yeah, we got smoked by Montreal, but for F’s sake, they were in the Eastern Conference finals last year. So I am pretty happy right now with how we are playing and I am sure Dan Byslma is pleased with the effort this week also.
One other thing to note is that Linus Ulmark, the 22 year old Swede, got his second win of the year last night and his second in a row. If he can seize this job and keep us in games, we could really go on a nice little run and start earning some points in the standings.
After one month, I am pretty happy with Tim Murray’s off season moves, Dan Bylsma as our new coach, Ryan O’reilly as our new awesome Two-Way center, and Jack Eichel as the leading candidate for rookie of the year. His goal against the Flyers on Friday was just dirty, absolutely filthy hands and a laser wrister going against the grain to beat Neuvirth.
So let’s keep her going and keep skating hard. I just can’t say enough about our power play this season and the way our guys cycle in the zone and keep the pressure on the opposition. Philly had no answer for us on Friday.
Another thing to note is that last year, it took us until game 72 of the season before we had outshot 8 opponents for the year – we’ve already done it this year. That is a big deal I feel like. We had 53 shots against Pittsburgh the other day! Now before somebody jumps down my throat with “Oh, just because they got a lot of shots, that doesn’t mean they’re good, that doesn’t translate into goals or wins, blah blah blah…”, but guess what Debbie downers? You miss every shot you don’t take. I say keep up the pressure, keep firing pucks on net, and keep up the forechecking and pressure in the offensive zone. This is what translates into more wins than losses. Go Sabres.
Philip Wilkins is a Baltimore Orioles fan, Buffalo transplant. Grew up in Connecticut but born in Maryland. Graduate of the University of Colorado at Boulder – Go Buffs! Lived in San Francisco after college. Moved to Buffalo in 2009 after spending a half-year abroad in Australia and New Zealand. Life-long Baseball, Hockey, and Football fan. Sabres fan since NHL ’94 for Sega Genesis came out with the Sabres’ top line of Alexander Mogilny, Pat LaFontaine and Dale Howerchuck with Alexei Zhitnik and Richard Smehlik on D and Domink Hasek in net – best lineup in the game!
“I believe that the Sabres were robbed in ’99 when Hull’s skate was in the crease. Now Buffalo is home and I am looking for a Cup and a Super Bowl in short order. We have the talent and the coaching and the ownership – what is stopping us?”
Go Bills, Go Sabres, Go Bisons!