Buffalo Sabres at Columbus Blue Jackets: Reactions


Fans of the Buffalo Sabres “tank,” meet your anti-tank commander – his name is Michal Neuvirth. In his last 6 games, he has averaged facing 38.5 shots per night, stopping over .950 percent of the shots.

Honestly, this was probably the most exciting Sabres game that I have watched this season. The team seemed invigorated on the heels of pushing the best team in the league, the Nashville Predators, to a shootout last game. The Sabres had their feet moving all night, and incorporated a solid mix of defense and offense.

Despite being handed a mish-mash lineup of players, Ted Nolan was getting the best out of them, and hopefully silenced the anti-Nolan contingent of you for at least a few days. An already patchwork lineup that was mixing in the likes of Mark Pysyk, Jake McCabe, and Johan Larsson, got the job done tonight.

Mix in the fact that Zemgus Girgensons and Tyler Ennis, the Sabres top 2 scorers, were lost in this game, and it makes the victory much more delicious.

Back to Pysyk – can anyone explain why he has been buried in Rochester all season? The guy is clearly more than NHL ready. Personally, I would place him above Mike Weber, Andrej Meszaros, Andre Benoit, and even the dynamic rookie duo of Rasmus Ristolainen and Nikita Zadorov on the defensive depth chart. The guy was calm, cool, and collected all night long, and added a nifty goal. Watching him play hockey was as relaxing as listening to the voice of Morgan Freeman reading a bedtime story. Pysyk ended up with a +3 in this game – instantly making him the plus/minus leader for Buffalo this season! No other Sabres are on the plus side, by the way.

Jake McCabe had a solid game for himself. Paired with Ristolainen, they were unnoticeable tonight – which means they did a great job.

The Sabres broadcast team sounded pleased with Benoit, but I will disagree here. The guy was out of position all night, even high up in the slot during many Blue Jackets plays, and it was up to Sabres wingers to cover for his idiocy. Benoit does not even deserve a spot on the last place team in the NHL, and was shone up by multiple Sabres rookie defensemen tonight.

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A few games ago, the New York Rangers trotted out a goalie that I never heard of – MacKenzie something or other, and it happened again tonight, when Columbus sent out Anton Forsberg. He allowed Cody Hodgson to score one of the WEAKEST goals all season. For me, this was THE highlight of the game, as Hodgson reacted like Ralphie in Christmas Story finding the Red Ryder BB Gun. Only his 3rd goal all season, Hodgson played inspired hockey for the rest of the game, and ended up being one of the best forwards on the ice tonight.

I will end this with my thoughts on trade rumors. I do not want to see Chris Stewart go (unless, of course, management knows that they cannot re-sign him). I also do not like the thought of Nikita Zadorov being shipped out, just getting a flight pushed back and not hearing an alarm clock. A future blueline of Josh Gorges-Bogosian, Zadorov-Ristolainen, McCabe-Pysyk is a blistering thought. While I understand the value that GM Tim Murray may be placing on Ryan O’Reilly, is he really worth it? He has shown no loyalty to the Colorado Avalanche, and there are no guarantees that he would extend with the Buffalo Sabres in one year. If anything, he will likely be asking for more money than he is worth – just look what happens when teams like Toronto overpay for David Clarkson, or when the Devils overpay for Ryan Clowe.

Next: Pysyk Leaves Calling Card

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