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Buffalo Sabres Player Grades: Game #1 vs. Ottawa

Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports
Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

For each game I will grade each player's performance in the game.

A: Evander Kane, Jack Eichel, Marcus Foligno, Zemgus Girgensons

Evander Kane was probably the Sabres best player against Ottawa. He caused multiple turnovers on the fore check, and most led to a quality scoring chance. Kane was hitting, skating incredibly hard, and even scored a wrap around goal, that was taken away due to a previous offsides. Kane had a secondary assist on Jack Eichel's goal.

Jack Eichel scored the Sabres only goal on a gorgeous shot that can be seen below. Eichel started off looking nervous. In the first 40 minutes he was timid, and had trouble generating many opportunities. However, in the 3rd period, Eichel turned on the jets. He was aggressive, made defenders miss with both dangles and speed, and put the puck on the net. On his goal Eichel swirled around the net, found the open space, and buried a perfect shot to put the Sabres back in the game. Considering he didn't kill the team in the first 2 periods, and almost brought them back on his shoulders in the 3rd, Eichel deserves an A.

Marcus Foligno had a great game. He did what he was supposed to do and more. Foligno skated hard, made no mistakes to my eyes that were glaring, and made a perfect assist on Jack Eichel's first career goal. It was also on the powerplay.

Zemgus Girgensons was his usual animal-like self. He was one of the most aggressive fore checkers in the game and contributed on multiple scoring chances. In particular, Girgensons tied up two defenders in front of the net on Eichel's backhand chance in the 2nd period. The play drew a penalty, and Girgensons allowed Eichel to get a shot on goal. The "Latvian Locomotive" was bumped up from the 3rd line to the teams best line with Eichel and Kane.

B+: Johan Larsson, Josh Gorges, Mark Pysyk

Johan Larsson started off the season by showing Dan Bylsma he should never be considered for a healthy scratch. Larsson didn't have the flashiest game, but every play he made seemed to be the right decision. At least three times, Larsson eluded defenders behind the net with a quick stop and go in the opposite direction. He did a good job creating space for himself and keeping the puck in the attacking zone. At some point all that possession will translate to goals.

Mark Pysyk must have a shirt that says "calm, cool, and collected" because he is exactly that. It's rare that you see a young defenseman so composed as he is. Rarely does he make an error. In this game Pysyk was his usual self. The one thing he didn't do well was getting shots through from the point. He also was half responsible for the offsides that disallowed the Kane goal.

B: Robin Lehner, Chad Johnson, Tyler Ennis, Jamie McGinn, Nicolas Deslauriers, Ryan O'Reilly

Robin Lehner was injured half way through the game, but before that he stopped 11 of 12 shots. After allowing a quick goal in the first minute of the game, Lehner rebounded nicely. He not only made the saves, but provided few rebounds for the Senators. Lehner was seen in a walking boot after the game, and will likely be out for an extended period of time.

Chad Johnson came into the game and kept playing as well as Lehner was. He stopped 8 of 9 shots, and also did very well with rebound control. Johnson also got a little lucky after losing his stick, and a mad scramble in front of him caused the puck to dribble just wide. The goal Johnson gave up, was not his fault, as Ristolainen failed to mark his man.

Tyler Ennis could've had a better game. He was still involved in the offense which is why he gets a B, however he failed to engage players with the puck repeatedly and was finding himself falling on the ice a lot.

Ryan O'Reilly made a big mistake on the Sens first goal. He was lazy on the backcheck. He had an opportunity to tie Turris up, but failed to and Turris buried the wrist shot.

C+: David Legwand, Cody Franson

C: Carlo Coliacaovo, Rasmus Ristolainen, Sam Reinhart

Ristolainen played very well on the offensive end, but dreadful in his own. Risto had a few bad turnovers, and was out of position on several occasions. But like I said, he was the teams best offensive defenseman vs. Ottawa.

Sam Reinhart doesn't belong in the NHL right now. He got drilled in the 1st period, and saw just 11 minutes of ice time. In comparison, his original linemates Eichel and Kane finished with 22 minutes of ice time. This was in large part because Reinhart couldn't keep up with their pace. He also didn't see almost any time in the 3rd when the Sabres were trying to comeback. On a positive note, Reinhart looks like one of the teams better passers, but he needs more than that to be productive.

D: Matt Moulson

I was not a fan of Matt Moulson vs. Ottawa. I thought he had an opportunity to tie the game on multiple occasions in all three periods. Moulson had opportunities, but couldn't catch passes to even get the shots off. Moulson also stayed on the ice too long on a shift in the late third that hurt the Sabres. Eichel and Kane jumped on the ice and Moulson stayed on. He was dead tired, and while Eichel was buzzing around and trying to generate chances, Moulson could barely move his feet. 

F: Mike Weber

The worst player on the ice for either team. Weber did a poor job at taking the puck away from forwards all night. He looked unsure all night which affected his partner Cody Franson. Franson likes to join the rush, and it looked like he couldn't because he didn't trush his partner Weber. Weber had an AWFUL turnover in the third period, basically handing the puck to Mark Stone who had an open shot in the slot to end the game. Luckily Chad Johnson came up with a big save.


Follow me @DiBiaseWBNY for all things Buffalo Sabres, and all shapes and forms of hockey.



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