When Sabres fans found out that Marcus Foligno would be playing on the team's top line to begin the preseason, some eyebrows were raised.
How would the youngster fit in with more proven offensive weapons in Cody Hodgson and Thomas Vanek? Could he keep up with his two linemates and play much bigger minutes than last season? Could he match up against the much higher competition that the top line brings?
Early indications are positive, but Buffalo fans who remember their recent Sabres history should temper their excitement for the young Foligno.
In the 2011-12 season, a rookie named Luke Adam set the league on fire with 4 goals and 7 assists in his first 11 games, thanks to significant playing time between high-scorers Thomas Vanek and Jason Pominville. However, he would go on to score only 6 more goals and just 3 more assists in his next 41 games, including a sad 20 game pointless streak.
Fast forward to 2012-13, and Cody Hodgson started out hot, with 12 goals and 16 assists in his first 32 contests, but cooled off to the tune of 3 goals and 3 assists in his last 16 games.
The link between Adam and Hodgson? Both were unproven players given a significant opportunity on the top line. But while that opportunity came with a significant increase in line mate talent and offensive chances, it also came with an increase in minutes, defensive responsibility, and pressure.
So while it's great to see Foligno score two goals (admittedly two pretty goals) in last night's game, visions of the perfect "sniper-playmaker-grinder" line shouldn't be dancing through Buffalo fans' heads just yet. Things may turn out differently under Ron Rolston, but should the line combination stick, this will be the third attempt at this particular experiment.
By now, we've seen this before. We know the story beats by heart. This particular story might end differently, but seeing as how it's starting the same, I'll temper my excitement for now, and simply hope for the best.