Score: Columbus: 4, Buffalo: 1
Shots: COL-33, BUF-29
For the second consecutive game, Buffalo gave up a goal on the opponent’s first shot. It’s a nightmare situation for a team that couldn’t keep the puck out of the net a year ago. After the opening disappointment, Linus Ullmark went on to stop the next 19 shots, which is good news. The bad news is that Andrew Hammond allowed two goals on 13 shots. While it’s unlikely that Hammond contends for an opening night spot, one would want to see a sharper performance.
There are times when you hear about the toss-in on a trade and you think, “Well, maybe the kid can bring something to the table.” In this instance, it appears you may have been wrong. On the opening goal, Sobotka pinwheeled like a loose turnstyle, losing track of the man and the puck and forcing Ullmark to try to make a save in a high-danger area. It is difficult to imagine that there aren’t players better suited for Sobotka’s roster spot.
Plus-1: Defensive scoring
Jake McCabe scored the team’s only goal, returning to the ice from a shoulder injury that had left him in the press box since early March. It was nice to see the D get involved - last year’s leading goalscorer from the blue line had only five even strength goals. Hopefully this is a trend that carries through into the regular season.
Plus-1: Young Guns
Rasmus Asplund contributed an assist on McCabe’s goal. Despite the loss, it was good to see some of Rochester’s standouts get some big-club experience. Though Columbus didn’t ice its playoff team from last season, it had a few of its bigger names skate, and Buffalo’s youth played fairly well overall against them.
Minus-1: Face the Mittle
Casey Mittlestadt had a treacherous night at the faceoff dot. His 23 percent is well below his career average of...40 percent. This key possession metric is going to be really important as Mittlestadt begins his second full season if he’s going to establish himself as a viable option at center going forward.
Young players were tested. Some did better than others. This is a preseason game; no one is putting too much stock in the results. Hopefully we see a little more of what the team has to offer as a whole in the games this weekend.