Heading into Week 2, the Buffalo Sabres are facing quite a few burning questions as they gear up to face the Tampa Bay Lightning tonight.
Earlier today, I openly wondered whether the Tage Thompson line would get going against a Tampa Bay Lightning team missing its star goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy. But that wasn’t the only burning question on my mind heading into Week 2, as the Blue and Gold saw several surprises (the good, and the bad) across their first two games of the year.
The Casey Mittelstadt line, which also includes Zach Benson and Jordan Greenway, was magnificent. And tonight serves as their first test of whether they will keep up their aggressive pace. Other than the Mittelstadt line, Buffalo struggled offensively, so we’ll see if they as a unit can take advantage of weaker goaltending. The Peyton Krebs line, however, is known for its strong defense. But we didn’t see it last week, so will that change starting tonight?
3 burning questions for the Buffalo Sabres heading into Week 2
1 – Will the Mittelstadt line continue to hold?
How good has the Mittelstadt line been throughout the Sabres first two games of the season? We know they put up five points so far, but when you check out their advanced statistics, it’s rather mind-boggling. At even-strength, Zach Benson has a Corsi For Percentage (CF%) of 57.1, followed by Mittelstadt, who sits at 56.4. Tage Thompson is third in that category, but Jordan Greenway is No. 4, at 55.6.
The Fenwick has Mittelstadt at No. 1, Benson at No. 2, and Greenway at No. 4, so there is very little deviation here. Mittelstadt is once again showing his gritty side as, despite committing three giveaways (an issue he had at the beginning of last year too), he’s also pacing the team with four takeaways.
In short, it’s clear that strong defensive teams like the New York Rangers and Islanders couldn’t find an answer in stopping this trio. And with their own good defense to match, the Mittelstadt line should make life tough for all three opponents this week.