Sep 17, 2013; Columbus, OH, USA; Columbus Blue Jackets center R.J. Umberger (18) shoots the puck against Buffalo Sabres goalie Ryan Miller (30) during the second period at Nationwide Arena. Mandatory Credit: Russell LaBounty-USA TODAY Sports

Knee Jerk Reactions: Buffalo Sabres Versus Columbus Blue Jackets

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Well, Buffalo Sabres fans: two preseason games are in the books for your boys in the blue and gold, and if I’ve learned anything in my years following professional sports, it’s that the preseason is a great indicator of what will happen in the regular season, all of which means . . . the Buffalo Sabres will go undefeated this season and win the Stanley Cup!

You heard it here first.

Okay, okay – I’m kidding.  Preseason games are nice little tune-ups, and they help to get us all excited about the upcoming NHL season, but it’s hard to get

Sep 17, 2013; Columbus, OH, USA; Buffalo Sabres left wing Johan Larsson (22) shoots the puck against the Columbus Blue Jackets during the third period at Nationwide Arena. The Sabres won 3-1. Mandatory Credit: Russell LaBounty-USA TODAY Sports

too excited about the Sabres’ current 2-0 preseason record when the starters for either side are sitting or getting severely reduced ice time.   I get that.

Still . . . so far, there’s some reasons to be excited about the near future of this young Sabres squad following tonight’s win on the road in Columbus.   For starters, the Sabres were much more disciplined tonight than they were against the Montreal Canadiens on Sunday, committing only 3 penalties (I’m sure the fact that Patrick Kaleta sat this one out had nothing to do with this, eh?).   Less penalties = less time spent being a man down = THAT’S GOOD.   (That’s my version of statistical analysis as it applies to hockey, by the way!)

Second, it would appear that the young guns currently residing in the 716 have come to play.  Marcus Foligno netted two goals tonight on 4 shots, Mikhail Grigorenko added one more and chipped in with 3 shots, Zemgus Girgensons added another point to his preseason scoring by assisting on Grigorenko’s goal, and Joel Armia made the most of his time on ice by squeezing off 4 shots of his own.  These prospects are doing what they can to make coach Ron Rolston and the rest of his coaching staff really have to think about how they are going to whittle this roster down to 23 players by opening night, because man, the competition is fierce!  Even if some of the younger players don’t make the cut, you have to believe they are forcing many other players to step up their game for fear of losing their job to the hungrier kids in the not-so-distant future, which is only going to make the Sabres better.

Finally, the Sabres looked strong in goal all night long tonight.  Ryan Miller logged just over 31 minutes of ice time and stopped 15 out of the 16 shots he faced, and Matt Hackett turned in his second-straight impressive effort by entering with the game tied 1-1 in the second and stopping all nine of the shots that he faced.  I’ll have more to say about Hackett tomorrow, but he is playing so well that, if I was Jhonas Enroth, I would ask Tyler Myers to share some of the mental-training techniques he has recently adopted.   I’m not convinced Enroth handles pressure very well as it is, and with Hackett breathing down his neck, Jhonas is going to need all the help he can get to retain his claim as the heir to Ryan Miller’s throne.

Two up, two down, and lots of good vibes in Hockey Heaven tonight!  Let’s keep the good times flowing, as the Sabres host the Carolina Hurricanes at the First Niagara Center on Thursday at 7 p.m.  Thanks for the read, and let’s go, Buffalo!!!!

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Tags: Buffalo Sabres Columbus Blue Jackets

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