The Buffalo Sabres closed out their run through Florida last night with a loos to the Tampa Bay Lightning. For the most part, the Buffalo Sabres were running the ice and controlling play. They scored their sole first period goal of the year thus far, and they held that lead until the second period. The real story of the night was one of the Sabres rookies; Sam Reinhart. For last night’s game, coach Dan Bylsma promoted the young winger to the top line for his hard work on the bottom two lines, and it paid off very quickly.
Early in the first period, the Buffalo Sabres were putting some intense pressure on the Lightning, especially their goaltender Ben Bishop. Tyler Ennis made a charge to the net to take a shot, and then again picked up the puck behind the net. He threw the puck back in front where Sam Reinhart was waiting to deposit the puck for the Sabres first tally of the game, and his first goal ever in the NHL.
Over the past couple of games, Sam Reinhart has been grinding out on the third and fourth lines. He has been making his way to the front of the net to create scoring chances, and has been playing better defensively. Those two traits found him with a promotion from coach Bylsma. Reinhart was promoted to the top line to play alongside Ryan O’Reilly and Tyler Ennis.
The Sabres have been lacking offense a bit recently and adding Reinhart to the first line would only benefit both the team and the rookie himself.
It could be argued that Reinhart only was able to produce by playing with top notch players, but the reality is that the kid is full of natural offensive talents. He was not producing on a bottom six role, but he was doing everything that he was supposed to in that role so he earned a shot to use his true skills. He did not disappoint at all.
I hope to see Sam Reinhart remain in the top six role for a little bit of time. He and Tyler Ennis seem to have some very good chemistry, and he is a great compliment to O’Reilly as well. Jack Eichel and Evander Kane have chemistry on the second line already and Brian Gionta is rounding out those three well enough, so Reinhart’s natural place is the top line.
Though he may not be “ready” or developed enough to be a top line talent, playing there will at least show him how he has to play in order to get there someday. That lesson alone is worth letting him play there for a few games (a technique I suggested a while back when people were criticizing Mikhail Grigorenko).
By having the young man play against top league talents for a few games, he will be able to learn what skills he has, and the ones he needs to acquire. Reinhart is s ridiculously smart hockey talent, and he will learn a lot by being in his new role.
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