The Buffalo Sabres lost in a 5-2 meltdown vs. the Toronto Maple Leafs at the Kraft Hockeyville Game, but a few good things came out of it.
Okay, maybe “a few good things” is a far-fetched statement. The Buffalo Sabres have played their worst game so far of the preseason, and most of the contest was nothing short of migraine-inducing.
That said, there was just one good thing that jumped out at me throughout the game’s 60 minutes, plus a lot of bad and ugly. So without further ado, let’s get into a few observations.
When you lose 5-2, there is little to love and a lot to criticize, but Dylan Cozens looked outstanding. He found Jeremy Davies in the first period, who scored to tie the game at one, and he also created a chance that turned into Henri Jokiharju’s eventual goal.
All eyes will be on Cozens this year, as he looks to prove that his 68-point outburst was no outlier. Regardless of whether he hits the 68-point mark again, Cozens’ ability to create and also play solid defense will take his game further.
The Sabres logged just 15 measly shots on goal compared to Toronto’s 41. When you look at those numbers, it’s easy to see why this team lost 5-2. Even if Luukkonen and Michael Houser enjoyed solid outings, you aren’t winning many hockey games when you’re so inept offensively.
Tonight, Buffalo will play a sound Pittsburgh Penguins team who will have plenty of aging NHL stars on the ice. Regardless of what the Sabres lineup looks like, they need to put up more production tonight.
Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen’s performance was the worst of the three goaltenders competing for time in the net. Luukkonen logged just an 0.892 save percentage, stopping 25 of 28 shots on goal. He allowed one goal that should have been a routine stop, while the other two occurred on breakaways.
Still though, you would like to see Luukkonen step up and make a play on the puck. Breakaways have been the 24-year-old’s Kryptonite for a while now, and you would think he’d have spent the offseason addressing the issue. Maybe he did, but until it shows up in a game, I’m remaining skeptical.
Source: Observations: Quick strikes in second against Luukkonen send Leafs past Sabres by Mike Harrington, Buffalo News
(Statistics provided by NHL.com)