Buffalo Sabres Player Grades: Game #5 at Tampa

Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports
Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports

A+ : Sam Reinhart

Reinhart continued his progress against Tampa Bay, netting his first career NHL goal. He was everywhere against the Lightning. It seemed as though Reinhart connected on every pass he made. The one that stands out was the backhand saucer pass to Ryan O'Reilly alone in front of the net. Reinhart also did a great job in front of the net. While I haven't believed its a role suitable for him, he excelled at it. His goal came from in front, and he had several other chances. On one occasion he hit the post from in front, and on another he had a shot that was saved, and couldn't reach the rebound even though he had an open net. Reinhart should continue to play on the top line with O'Reilly and Ennis as long as he plays like this.

A : Ryan O'Reilly

The only reason O'Reilly doesn't get the plus, is because he failed to score on a breakaway with minutes left. The Sabres had just been scored on, and it was an opportunity to tie the game. He was dynamite on face-offs, winning 60% of them.

A- : Mike Weber, Josh Gorges

This was Mike Weber's best game in years. He still made the odd "Mike Weber pass" to no one, but he did what he was supposed to. Weber hit hard, cleared the front of the net, and did nothing wrong. He even carried the puck through the neutral zone a few times. 

B+ : Chad Johnson, Mark Pysyk, Cody Franson, Evander Kane, Tyler Ennis

This was Chad Johnson's best game. He tracked the puck extremely well. Johnson let in just 2 goals, and the second one he had no shot at. Twenty out of twenty-two saves isn't great, but it's good. Johnson has been okay, but he's proving that he isn't a starting goalie. 

Kane needs to start scoring. It's been 5 games now. He's shooting the puck a lot, but they're not quality shots. They're shots from bad angles, and from far away. Kane needs to pass more, and focus on getting quality, not quantity. 

B : Jake McCabe, Marcus Foligno, Rasmus Ristolainen, Matt Moulson

McCabe played very good in general, but he allowed Nikita Nesterov to get by him on his breakaway goal in the 2nd period. 

C+ : David Legwand, Nicolas Deslauriers, Zemgus Girgensons

Deslauriers had a season low 5:20 minutes of ice time. It's interesting that Bylsma does not use him, but it doesn't matter much. 

Girgensons saw a season low 13:51 of ice time as he was bumped down to the 3rd line. You could see it was harder for him to produce offense with Foligno and Moulson. 

C : Jamie McGinn, Jack Eichel

This was Jack Eichel's worst game.  He still had his moments, but had several stupid mistakes. On one, he waited too long in his own end to make a decision, tried to deke his way out, and turned it over giving Tampa a   2 on 1. 

C- : Brian Gionta