Preseason Game #1
Buffalo Sabres 4 (0-1-0)
Toronto Maple Leafs 7 (1-0-0)
The Sabres kicked off the Pre-Season with a 7-4 loss at the hands of the hated Toronto Maple Leafs. The Sabres jumped out to an early lead when Marek Zagrapan scored a power play goal just 45 seconds into the game. Unfortunately the Sabres were unable to hang on to the one goal lead and allowed the Leafs to score four unanswered goals and trailed 4-1 after two periods. The Sabres put together a third period comeback but they failed to tioe the game after the Leafs scored a shorthanded goal to put the game away.
It may look like a tough task to find bright spots in a 7-4 loss but there were some definite positives for the young Sabres lineup.
What went right
A Powerful Power Play
The Sabres were 3-for-7 on the power play and received power play goals from Marek Zagrapan, Phillip Gogulla and Jochen Hecht. The power play looked good all night and would have had five or six power play goals if not for the stellar play of goalie Justin Pogge. The Sabres peppered Cujo and Pogge with 12 shots on seven power play opportunities.
The power play was an area of concern coming into this season, and quite honestly it still is. A strong game like today is a great start and should give the team confidence. It seemed that the Sabres had plenty of offensive zone pressure and they got shots through to the goalie from the point.
Strong play from some prospects
The Sabres played a really young team with the only veterans being Jaro Spacek, Henrik Tallinder, Ales Kotalik, Daniel Paille, Drew Stafford, Jochen Hecht, Andrew Peters and Ryan Miller. The young lineup allowed some young guys to get noticed by Lindy Ruff, Darcy Regier and the rest of the coaching staff. Marek Zagrapan and Mark Mancari were two gusy who took advantage of their opportunities.
Zagrapan netted the Sabres fisrt goal at the 45 second mark and he added two assists as well. Zagrapan was a minus two on the game and I'm sure that will be the point made to him by the coaching staff. Zagrapan has not lived up to expectations thus far in his career and he has to be pleased with a three point effort in the first pre-season game.
Mark Mancari was one of the more noticeable gusy on the ice all evening and he was finally rewarded when he beat Justin Pogge at the 13:19 mark of the third period. Mancari played a over 17 minutes, including almost six on the power play and he finished a minus three. Like Zagrapan, that is an area the Sabres would like to see improve but once again he has to be happy with his offensive production. Mancari led the Sabres with six shots and his three hits were also a team best.
What went Wrong
Veterans need more practice
The young Sabres prospects were probably looking to the veterans to help them along but the bad night started with a horrible giveaway by Henrik Tallinder. Tallinder dropped the puck back into his own zone and it was stolen away by Dominic Moore who beat Ryan Miller short side. Tallinder wasn't the only player giving the puck away, Ales Kotalik had a momentary lapse in judgement in the second period that led the Leafs to a 3-1 lead. Tallinder and Kotalik were both a team worst, minus three. They held that title along with Mancari, Mike Card and Clarke MacArthur.
Seven is not Heaven
I'm guessing you won't win many hockey games when you allow seven goals. The golatending was certainly not terrible, despite allowing seven goals, but it could have been better. Ryan Miller allowed what many would consider a soft goal that allowed the Leafs to tie the score 1-1. Dominic Moore beat Miller to the short side on a shot from inside the faceoff circle. Beyond that there were no noticeable deficiencies but you would like to see your goalie make a couple of big saves and I don't remember being too enthralled by any saves made by Miller and Enroth the way I was with Pogge.
For all the accolades I gave the power play, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the short handed goals that was scored by Dominic Moore. I'm not sure if Sekera was not expecting his speed or if he just made a bad play but Dominic Moore blew by him and was tripped into Enroth forcing the puck into the net. If Sekera is going to an everyday player in the NHL, he will have to make better plays than that. Sekera is too talented to allow a player to blow right by him like Moore did.
Despite the Sabres dropping a 7-4 decision, it was fun to get to watch hockey again. Overall I'm not displeased with the Sabres effort but they need to cut down on the number of horrible mistakes. Thanks to everyone who joined the open thread including BeastMode who led the way with 41 comments. The other people who joined the open thread were yours truly, qdloser, Tony_O, and Sabres Center Ice. Join us tomorrow when the Sabres take on the Montreal Canadiens at the Roberval Community Center.