Eleven games into the season, the Buffalo Sabres aren’t doing bad so far. Plenty of players have been producing, including captain Jack Eichel (11 points) and newcomer Jeff Skinner (12 points). But as always happens on a team, there are some players who need to step up their game as the season continues.
Here are five of them:
Evan Rodrigues (10 gp, 0 goals, 4 assists)
Rodrigues isn’t actually off from where he was 10 games into his season last year - he had 3 points (2-1) in his first 10 games, but those didn’t come until December. He’s never been the biggest scorer, but it’s not unreasonable to expect him to step up and get the puck in the net.
PS - congrats to Rodrigues, who missed the Sabres’ last game because he’s entered the world of parenthood.
Patrik Berglund (10 gp, 1 goal, 1 assist)
Honestly? Berglund’s play has been a bit of a snooze-fest for me. His offensive production last season wasn’t bad: 26 points, including 17 goals, in only 57 games played. As it stands right now, he’s not on par with that. Obviously, coming to a new team has to be taken into consideration, but the fact that it took him eight games to get a goal - and that it was simply an empty-netter - isn’t exactly promising.
Johan Larsson (5 games, 0 goals, 1 assist)
Larsson has missed a handful of games this season, but I’d like to see him step up going forward. He failed to register a shot on goal in Saturday’s game in Columbus - his third of five games this season where he was held without a shot. Put more shots on net, find a way to get them through, and good things will come.
Vladimir Sobotka (8 games, 1 goal, 0 assists)
Sobotka is averaging one shot on goal per game and has just one goal so far this season. Again, like Berglund, he’s getting accustomed to a new team, but if he can step up, that’d be great. The 31-year-old put up 31 points in 81 games last season with the Blues, but he’s on pace for only eight or nine points this season, if he were to appear in every game going forward.
Zemgus Girgensons (11 games, 0 goals, 3 assists)
Point-wise, Girgensons is actually on pace for his best season since 2014-15. With three assists in 11 games, he’s on pace for 22 points if he plays the entire season (which he has yet to do in his NHL career). Last season, it took Girgensons four games to register his first point (which was a two-assist affair against San Jose) and five games for his first goal; he then went on a 21-game pointless streak. Finding some points and consistency this season could help boost Girgensons and his teammates up.
What other Buffalo Sabres players do you think need to step up offensively?