Sabres Plus/Minus: Preseason Game 3
A decent effort renders the Sabres scoreless
Final Score: Toronto: 3 - Buffalo: 0
Shots: TOR - 34; BUF - 29
+1 - Dylan Cozens
In a night where the team went scoreless, Dylan Cozens was noticeably the best performer for the Sabres. He displayed his speed in transition, was strong on the forecheck, and flashed some playmaking skill in the offensive zone. With an especially strong 1st period - creating multiple turnovers which resulted in scoring chances - the 2019 first-round pick had the Maple Leafs on their heels. What makes this more impressive was that he and his linemates, Conor Sheary and Arttu Ruotsalainen, went up against 2018-19 Norris trophy candidate Morgan Rielly and new Leaf Cody Ceci.
+1 - Linus Ullmark
Another player with a noticeably strong night was Linus Ullmark. Finding himself in a bit of a duel with Fredrik Andersen, the Sabres netminder ended up on losing end. Despite this, however, Ullmark made some incredible point-blanc saves, stopping all six of the high-danger scoring chances he faced at even-strength.
+1 - Jake McCabe
The preseason is about the individual, after-all, so why not go three-for-three on players in our “Plus” column? Jake McCabe, wearing an “A”, looked like the steady presence the Sabres have slotted him to be at this point in his career. He led the team in corsi-for percentage at 62.5%, led the in ice-time, and was the first man to come to Curtis Lazar’s defense after taking a hit from behind into the boards late in the 3rd period. While the preseason is mainly time to evaluate the youngsters, it was good to see a veteran like McCabe dominate inferior talent as he should.
-1 - Finishing Plays
As alluded to above, the Sabres struggled all night to find the back of the net. Despite registering a near even amount of scoring chances, whether it was Andersen standing on his head or the Sabres’ lack of finish, the team was unable to come up with a solution to the issue. Even when Andersen was replaced by backup Michael Hutchinson in the 3rd period, the area behind the Leafs’ goalmouth remained clean.
-1 - Smith - Mittelstadt - Okposo
On the other end of the spectrum, the Maple Leafs’ star line shined. This line, which included Andreas Johnsson, Auston Matthews, and William Nylander, was clearly dominant throughout the entire game. Interestingly, their most common on-ice opponents were C.J. Smith, Casey Mittelstadt, and Kyle Okposo. While putting Mittelstadt in a position to face top talent is probably good for evaluation, on this night it proved to be bad for results. The Sabres line only managed a 36.84 corsi-for percentage and surrendered a goal to the Matthews line at even strength.
-1 - Henri Jokiharju
After an impressive preseason debut alongside Rasmus Dahlin, Henri Jokiharju showed some of his struggles in this game. While still honing creative passing skill, the defender perhaps forced a few plays that resulted in costly turnovers. He was on the ice for two of Toronto’s goals and will have to show an ability to have success away from Dahlin going forward in order to solidify a spot with the big club.
-1 - 3rd Period
Despite controlling play for much of the first two periods, the Sabres became dormant when they needed offense most - down 2-0 heading into the in the 3rd period. It was a disappointing effort, considering they left the team’s replacement goaltender, Hutchinson, relatively untested. The bottom line is you have to score goals to win the game, and on this night the team failed to do so.