Observations from Buffalo’s 4-3 Prospects Challenge loss to New Jersey
The Sabres started out slowly, came on strong in the second period, and almost won the game in the third before losing 4-3 in OT to the Devils.
Camp invitee Colin Blackwell had a pair of goals for the Sabres while Cliff Pu had the other. Ryan Kujawinski had a hat trick for New Jersey.
The Buffalo prospects let the Devils kids skate circles around them early in the game. The Sabres didn’t seem hungry enough or engaged to fight harder for loose pucks. As the period went on, they seemed to get more involved but were still outshot 12-5 in the first period. Pu showed a really great release on the shot that resulted in his goal as the period ended tied 1-1.
The Sabres came out much stronger in the second, outshooting New Jersey 14-7 but only able to come away tied at 2-2. Buffalo had three power plays and were able to get their legs going, doing a much better job of getting the first pass out of the zone and attacking on the rush. Brandon Hagel, C.J. Smith and Vasily Glotov all had great scoring chances but were denied by Devils goalie Evan Cormier.
Both teams traded goals in the third (Blackwell, Kujawinski), but the Devils were the better team for most of the period.
New Jersey won it in overtime when a missed Justin Bailey shot turned into a rush going back the other way. Michael Kapla got the winning goal.
Shots on goal were 38-31 Devils.
Some quick observations on notable players:
Bailey was flying around the ice and was in on a lot of chances, but as has been too often the case with him, the results didn’t show up on the score sheet. He had zero points and one shot on goal.
Brendan Guhle once again put his great skating ability on display. What’s interesting to me about Guhle is that he seems to know how much he can get away with when cheating in the offensive zone. There were a number of times when he looked like he was caught pinching but was able to fly back to his own zone and break up the play going the other way. I’m curious to see how daring he’ll be in the preseason games against some of the big boys.
Alex Nylander had no points and three shots on goal. He moved around well but his passes were off at times. Every game I see of him confirms that he’s a talented player who needs more seasoning in Rochester.
Nicholas Baptiste had no points and one shot on goal. I guess you could say he had his moments, but overall he wasn’t much of a factor in this one.
Cliff Pu scored a goal and had an impressive game overall with the exception of just a few hiccups, most notably a third-period scoring chance that resulted in his passing the puck into Nylander’s skates instead of taking the shot.
It’s obvious why the Sabres, and a number of other teams, were interested in Will Butcher. He moves the puck very well and could be close to being a decent NHL player very soon.
Nico Hischier sure seems to be on his way to a great NHL career. He’s a really smooth skater and had some quality scoring chances. In the second period he batted the puck out of mid-air and stickhandled through two Sabres seemingly in one fluid motion. Then he was stopped on a dangerous wraparound chance in the third.
Kevin O. will take over this space tonight as the Sabres face the Bruins. Game time once again will be 7:00 at HarborCenter.