Jake McCabe played great against the Columbus Blue Jackets. He was flying up the ice on offensive zone rushes, carried the puck well, and made crisp and clean passes. The former second round pick replaced Carlo Colaiacovo in the lineup, and skated with former Amerks partner Mark Pysyk. The two look very comfortable together, always knowing where each other were.
McCabe played in only 9 NHL games before this season, and he looked like a rookie in those games as he should. In his first game of this season, he did not look like a rookie. He looked confident with his decisions with and without the puck. On one occasion McCabe was caught in a 2 on 1. McCabe proceeded to lay out to block both the shooters pass lane, and path to the net which forced an arrant pass. On another occasion early in the 3rd period, Pysyk jumped up in the offensive rush. You can see McCabe stop and stay back in a safe position. The Blue Jackets stole the puck, and rushed down on another 2 on 1. McCabe took away the pass, and the shot by the Blue Jacket forward went wide.
What was most impressive was McCabe's offensive ability. On several occasions McCabe made a man miss with his stick handling, creating rushes for the Sabres. The Sabres don't have much of that from their back end. Rasmus Risolainen can, but thats it. Cody Franson is very good offensively, but isn't a good enough skater to create rushes. McCabe has shown that he is capable.
Coach Dan Bylsma did limit McCabe's minutes. He played just over 12 minutes, including just 4 shifts in the 3rd period. However, he did go to the locker room in the 3rd period after taking a high stick to the mouth. McCabe only played 20 seconds on the power play, so that could increase if he plays consistent. At the moment the Sabres only power play defensemen have been Risto and Franson.
No matter what his role is, Jake McCabe should not go back to Rochester for the time being. The Sabres waived Matt Donovan which makes it look like McCabe will stick. With Zach Bogosian still injured however, it'll be tough for McCabe to stay in the lineup once he comes back.
McCabe just needs to keep playing the way he did against Columbus, and maybe he can take over Mike Weber's spot in the lineup. With him and Pysyk having such good chemistry, he should at least be staying in Buffalo for the time being.
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