Sabres confident Guhle is the real deal
The Buffalo Sabres are pretty sure they have something special in Brendan Guhle.
Just to put management’s mind at ease, the rookie defenseman reinforced their beliefs on Saturday night in a Prospects Challenge game against the Boston Bruins.
Guhle scored a highlight video goal and assisted on two others as the Sabres, thanks to a potent power play, thumped the Bruins 7-4 at HarborCenter.
Hudson Fasching scored a pair of goals and rookie winger C.J. Smith also had a goal and two assists as the Sabres power play connected on 4 of 8 chances in a sometimes-chippy game.
But this was truly a night when Guhle took center stage, dazzling with his skating while also showing poise with the puck and tenacity in the defensive zone.
“I just wanted to come in and play my game and show them what I’m capable of doing,” said Guhle, Buffalo’s second-round pick (51st overall) in 2015. “They don’t want to see me trying to be something I’m not.”
OK, so let’s see what he has led us to believe he is:
a) a marvelous skater;
b) a smart passer;
c) a guy who possesses patience and awareness of everything on the ice;
d) someone who isn’t giving up easily.
Case in point for item D:
In the third period, as Guhle started to retreat to turn a possible Bruins 2-on-1 into a 2-on-2, he stumbled to the ice in the neutral zone. But he quickly got to his skates and, within a stride or two, was able to reach out with his stick and tie up the stick of puck-carrying Ryan Fitzgerald. Three or four strides later, the puck was headed back out of the Sabres zone.
“That’s will and power of be willing to compete,” coach Chris Taylor said. “I thought he skated really well but I liked his defensive game too.”
He was most noticeable offensively, however. His goal early in the second period gave the Sabres a 2-1 lead, coming off a little give-and-go with Smith. He fed Smith on the right-wing half-wall, then charged down the left wing to the net, slicing toward the crease just as Smith was returning the puck.
“Not too many guys, especially defensemen, would continue to drive to the net after dishing off,” Taylor said. “His first three steps he can pull away from anybody.”
It was the bounce-back game Guhle demanded from himself. He wasn’t pleased with his performance on Friday, when the Sabres lost 4-3 to the New Jersey Devils.
“We’re supposed to be leaders on this team and we weren’t very good last night, at least myself,” he said.
Notes: Rookie forwards Cliff Pu and Vasily Glotov each had two assists. … Goalie Jake McGrath, a Prospects Challenge invite out of Sudbury in the OHL, made 35 saves. … Defenseman Arvin Atwal, who played 39 games with ECHL Cincinnati last season (2-15-17, 98 penalty minutes) was a clear winner in a third-period fight with Jake Debrusk.