The Buffalo Sabres needed to get creative after losing Tage Thompson, and things look pretty fun, if you want an honest opinion.
If there is one thing I’ll give Don Granato some credit for 24 hours out from the Buffalo Sabres road trip over the border against the Winnipeg Jets, it’s that he may just make the best out of a bad situation. Through 16 games, the Sabres have been pedestrian, to put it lightly, and one reason is because they can’t stay healthy.
Alex Tuch has missed time this year, as has Dylan Cozens, Mattias Samuelsson, Connor Clifton (via suspension), Zach Benson, Devon Levi, Eric Comrie, and now, Tage Thompson. Let me know if I’m forgetting anyone, but as you can see, it’s a LAUNDRY LIST of injuries just 16 games into the year. Oh, and Jack Quinn has yet to see the ice this season.
You look at these facts and it’s easy to say, “No wonder this team hasn’t played well.” Injury bugs do some odd things to teams, and unfortunately, it chose to bite the Sabres this season, and that has prevented them from building sound chemistry. The good news, however, is that Granato’s lines at practice look like they’re A LOT of fun, so let’s hope we see them in tomorrow’s game.
Buffalo Sabres coach could be making the best out of a bad situation
If you haven’t seen them yet, check out what the lines looked like during practice in the Twitter/X post below. You may see some surprises, but you may be somewhat enthralled by what Granato has cooked up:
Clearly, these lines look way different from my projection posted yesterday, but that’s unsurprising. As I always say, you need to take projections with nothing more than face value. But I love the fact Granato put a pair of power forwards that can score on the top line, even if Cozens hasn’t looked great in that realm yet.
At this point, we need to act as though there is no guarantee Zach Benson is heading back to the WHL. If the Sabres can’t strike a deal with Patrick Kane AND if Benson shows us good returns, then the kid’s staying in Buffalo, or at least that’s what common sense tells me.
The third line looks rather balanced (yeah, I’ll be optimistic), with a physical presence in Jordan Greenway, a steady veteran presence in Tyson Jost, and Victor Olofsson, who at least showed us he can still score when he wants to. The fourth line remains the same with a trio of defensive forwards – Rousek is just filling in for Peyton Krebs, who should start tomorrow night.
The big question is whether Henri Jokiharju (illness) will end up playing. Even if he does, it would be interesting to see him taking reps on the third pairing alongside Connor Clifton. One would think he will line up next to Clifton if he’s ready to roll since coming off of an illness. Second pairing minutes may not be the best idea, but he’s a better option than Erik Johnson and definitely Jacob Bryson on the third.
The first pairing of Samuelsson and Dahlin is something I agree with, but mainly because it’s so enticing to see Ryan Johnson lining up alongside Owen Power. While this may or may not be the case come game time tomorrow night, that would be such a fun pairing. It won’t be long until we get the actual lines for the Buffalo Sabres matchup, but what we saw today at least grants us an idea of what may be coming.