Final Score: BUF 5 | TOR 2
Shots: Sabres 28 | Maple Leafs 25
Buffalo Sabres Goals: Okposo (19), Thompson (33), Skinner (31), Dahlin (10), Asplund (7)
Toronto Maple Leafs Goals: Liljegren (4), Kerfoot (13)
Plus 1: Owen Power’s First NHL Game
Quickly after Owen Power’s college team was knocked out of the Frozen Four hockey tournament, Sabres fans didn’t have to wait long for the official announcement of Power signing his entry level contract. There was a fair bit of anticipation leading up to his NHL debut against the Maple Leafs. I will provide some more insight in the final thoughts section of this article on his play.
Plus 2: Continued Strong Play Of Thompson And Skinner
It’s been some time since the Sabres had multiple 30 goal scorers… remember Drew Stafford? Tage Thompson and Jeff Skinner changed that this year, and continue to keep rolling. Both Skinner and Thompson scored, and often tend to lead all Sabres skaters in shots on goal or shot attempts on a regular basis. The line of Thompson, Skinner, and Tuch continue to keep rolling. Skinner and Thompson in particular seem to have excellent chemistry together; I hope this success continues into next season and beyond.
Plus 3: Sabres Win – Quite Apparent They Were The Better Team
Sustained offensive zone pressure was something that the Toronto Maple Leafs found hard to come by in this game against the Sabres. The Sabres did a fantastic job limiting the high quality chances the Maple Leafs had, and more often than not controlled the play of the game. Fantastic win and game for Owen Power to start his career in the blue and gold.
Great play by early on by Owen Power to break-up a 2 on 1 with Matthews looking for a tap-in goal. Once he develops more chemistry with his teammates, he can easily turn into a very dangerous player whenever he steps foot on the ice. There were multiple moments that his natural offensive instincts were apparent as he jumped up into the play on a few different instances while in the offensive zone. Also, I enjoyed coach Granato’s confidence in Power by playing him on the penalty kill against the number one power-play in the league. Great to see him end the game with a +2 rating; admittedly, Asplund’s empty net goal did help with that.
As much as we like the passion and intensity that Casey Fitzgerald plays with, on a good team I don’t see him as anything more than a 6/7 depth defenseman. He plays a hard physical game, but has had some notable miscues and doesn’t have the offensive skill-set to make up for some of his deficiencies. Given he’s 25, I don’t see his game developing much further than where it currently stands. I like how he plays with an edge and sticks up for his teammates, but he lacks some of the abilities that would allow him to elevate above a lower-tier bottom pairing defenseman. Prior to this game, he had 4 points in 29 games and is a -19, not a player I would consider a building block of the Sabres future.
I liked the physical play of John Hayden, and he certainly seemed to fit in better than Anders Bjork in his recent one game stint. I’m curious if Bjork figures into the Sabres future plans next season, and if so at what limited capacity?
Dahlin continues to look good, and set some good examples for Owen Power to emulate in this game. The assist that Olofsson dished on Dahlin’s goal was excellent to see. I’m curious what deal the Sabres offer Olofsson given this is his RFA year. After 30 games without scoring a goal, Olofsson has really picked up his play as of late and has been consistent since that drought was broken.
I would like to hear the opinion of our readers on the pairing of Dahlin and Samuelsson. A bit early for me to fully judge. I enjoyed the physical presence that Samuelsson provided, however it is a limited sample size and not certain of the height of his offensive ceiling.