Another Slow Start
The Buffalo Sabres are struggling to start games with any energy, getting outshot 12-0 in the opening minutes last night. It's a problem that's existed since Lindy Ruff was still coaching in Buffalo, and it's a problem that bad teams (or bad coaches) suffer from.
It was absolutely bizarre how much you looked like the Sacco-era Avs out there. I accidentally found myself cheering for you guys from time to time because it felt so familiar. The slow start, the digging yourselves a hole by hanging the goalie out to dry, the 3rd period "little too late" push – classic Sacco Avs. It was very strange watching that from the other side.
I wish I could tell you "it will get better soon!", but it might not. Depending on your prospect pool, it might take some painfully low finishes over the next few years to make it happen. I really hope this poor start is just a cold snap and that you don’t have to go into full-scale rebuild mode like we did, but sometimes there are no other options. It’s been a long 5 years, but at least we’re finally seeing the silver lining. For us, it’s Duchene, Landeskog, MacKinnon, and O’Reilly. Watching them play like they did tonight (well, at least for the first half) makes it all worth it.
Zadorov Solid In NHL Debut, Ristolainen Sent Down
Nikita Zadorov made his NHL debut last night, and didn't look out of place at all. Ron Rolston praised him in his post game presser as being one of the only players out there who looked like he had any experience in the league. He only played 11:01, but was effective in those limited minutes moving the puck and laying down three hits.
Rasmus Ristolainen was moved down to Rochester to make room for Zadorov, and Rolston said that the Sabres version of Big Z would be seeing more minuted in the future after the game he played. Ristolainen has been up-and-down so far, and it will be interesting to watch how the demotion affects his development in the short term. This team obviously isn't going anywhere this season, so if some time in the AHL might benefit #55, then I don't see any problem with it.
Three Things To Watch For
1. How will the Sabres youngsters look in comparison to the Avs?
In general, the Sabres couldn't keep up with the young Avs, especially through the first two periods, but there were some bright spots. Gabriel Landeskog and Ryan O'Reilly looked like seasoned pros out there, while on Buffalo's side, Marcus Foligno and Cody Hodgson both scored, and Nikita Zadorov looked very comfortable in his NHL debut.
2. Can anyone on the Sabres eclipse the elusive three-point mark?
3. Will the Sabres rookies' killer dance moves lead them to victory?
2. - ditto
3. - Wait, we're allowed to put Sabres players here?
Comment of the Game
Just when I want to say he sucks, he does something like that, a pretty as you please pick up, loop, and skate away free. If he can just stop doing stupid thigs, he could be good.