Buffalo Sabres Player Grades: Game #3 vs. Columbus

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

A+ : Jack Eichel, Ryan O'Reilly, Matt Moulson

Jack Eichel made Columbus look like one of the college teams he tormented last season. The Blue Jackets were intimated by his speed, backing off every time he came at them. This gave Eichel lots of time and space to make his magic happen. In the 2nd period Eichel set both Marcus Foligno and Evander Kane with separate chances in front that should have been goals. Eichel played like a superstar in this game, not a superstar prospect.

O'Reilly played his best game as a Sabre by far. The highlight of his night was a power play goal in the 3rd period to give the Sabres a two goal lead. He had a wide open shot, and buried it. The Blue Jackets couldn't take the puck from O'Reilly when he had the puck. Whenever he had it, you weren't taking it from him. He also had an assist in the game, 5 shots on goal, and won 65% of his face-offs. 

Moulson led the Sabres with 3 points. He made a great spinning pass to set up O'Reilly on his goal, assisted on Eichel's goal, and slid a set up from O'Reilly on his own goal past Sergei Bobrovsky. Moulson only played 14 minutes, so if he can produce like that on the power play while playing on the 3rd line, that's just a showing of how deep the Sabres forwards are. 

A : Tyler Ennis, Jake McCabe, Cody Franson, Rasmus Ristolainen, Josh Gorges

Ennis was unstoppable at times. He was dangling through everyone, making people miss, and ripping shots on net. Dan Bylsma said it was his best game right away in his press conference. He had a few turnovers, but he looked Patrick Kane like in this game. If he plays like that all the time, he'll be an all-star. 

Jake McCabe shouldn't be taken out of the lineup after tonight. He made great passes from his own end throughout the game, and played sound defensively. McCabe also gave the Sabres an added offensive element from the backend. On one occasion McCabe looked like he was going to lose the puck, but he put the puck between the defenders legs and got the Sabres an odd man rush. Carlo Colaiacovo better get used to the press box if McCabe keeps playing like that.

Franson led the Sabres with 6 shots on goal. He seemed to connect on every single pass he made no matter how long it was. Franson played well in his own end too.

Ristolainen was like a cannon tonight. Firing shots on all cylinders. 

B+ : Mark Pysyk, Zemgus Girgensons, Jamie McGinn, Nicolas Deslauriers

Mark Pysyk, smooth and steady. Always.

Jame McGinn ended the night with two assists. He always finishes his checks and this game was no different.

Deslauriers gave his team a bit of a spark when he fought Jared Boll in the 2nd period. For fighting one of the tougher guys in the league, Deslauriers did well. He's also like a rapid dog around the net. He just goes there whether he has the puck or not. During a delayed penalty in the 1st period, he took the puck from behind the net, busted through two defenders to get in front, and almost got a good shot away. 

B : Mike Weber, Marcus Foligno, Evander Kane, Johan Larsson, Chad Johnson, Sam Reinhart

Mike Weber didn't play horrible. Thats the best he can do. 

Chad Johnson played good enough. He was never challenged that much. Columbus only had 24 shots in the game, and seemed like they never had the puck. Johnson was better with his positioning than against Tampa. 

Reinhart played better, but still not good enough. He definitely battled better, throwing his body around, and blocking a few shots. His best moment was on the Sabres first goal. Reinhart went to the front of the net, didn't let the defenseman remove him from his spot, and screened Bobrovksy for the Ristolainen goal. He had a few bad passes that were turnovers, so he needs to do a little better if he wants to be an NHL regular this year. Byslma only played him just over 9 minutes. 

C+ : David Legwand

Gorges started off bad. He made a bad pass out of his zone to Girgensons that couldn't be completed. Than the Blue Jackets got the puck, and Gorges took a holding penalty. That's not what you want from your most experienced defenseman, and one of the leaders on your team. He did turn it around afterwards, and played decent the rest of the way. 

The Sabres next take on the Florida Panthers, Thursday night at 7:30pm. 

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