The Buffalo Sabres continue its tough open to the 2015-16 schedule with a matchup with the defending Eastern Conference champion, Tampa Bay Lightning.
The Sabres out-played the Lightning in the first period, out-shooting the Bolts 11-8, and put Tampa Bay on edge early.
In the second period, the Lightning struck first with a goal from Erik Condra, but Nick Deslauriers tied the game five and a half minutes later. Before the end of the period, Nikita Kucherov would give the Lightning the lead once again as a Buffalo penalty had just expired.
In the third period, Tampa Bay would add on two more goals to drop Buffalo by a 4-1 score, and drop the Sabres to 0-2-0.
So what did we learn from the Sabres from game two of the season? I’m going to let Ryan take it from here.
Oh hey everyone! Game 2 of the long National Hockey League season took place this afternoon at the First Niagara Center.
The Buffalo Sabres played host to the Eastern Conference powerhouse Tampa Bay Lightning. Clearly, today was a perfect opportunity for a young Sabres franchise to make a statement.
- Nicolas Deslauriers played like a man possessed
Man, what a day for fourth-liner Nicolas Deslauriers.
In his team-low 8:17 TOI today, Deslauriers was all over the ice in a great way.
Deslauriers’ final line for today: 1 shot, 1 goal, 3 hits, 2 takeaways and 1 blocked shot.
A lot of production in a little amount of time.
Every so often your bottom six has to step up, and today was the day for Deslauriers. Unfortunately, the rest of the offense has yet to click.
We were shocked at times last season with how Deslauriers stepped into a bad situation and played hard every single night. So far this season, he’s impressed in a limited role.
- Chad Johnson Might Just Work
I know a lot of people these days don’t like to talk about players and the “eye test” but Chad Johnson absolutely passed the eye test this afternoon.
Johnson allowed four goals but following the game head coach Dan Bylsma stood up for Johnson. “We gave them (Tampa Bay), essentially, three goals,” Bylsma said.
The defense was not particularly good, but it is one of those many growing pains expected with a young hockey team.
With the absence of Robin Lehner, Chad Johnson’s role will absolutely increase. Johnson showed today that he should be able to step up and handle more consistent playing time.
Is Johnson going to be a legit number one? I’m not sold he will be THAT guy, nor should I be, but he’ll need to be good if the Buffalo Sabres want to stay afloat in the absence of Robin Lehner.
- Marcus Foligno Not Good
I’m not too sure how visible this was on television, but it was very, very obvious in the arena.
Throughout most of today’s game, Marcus Foligno was paired with Evander Kane and Jack Eichel.
Throughout most of today’s game, Marcus Foligno struggled while being paired with Evander Kane and Jack Eichel.
Foligno was struggling with handling the puck and anticipating passes from both Kane and Eichel, often leading to turnovers or broken plays. Offensive ineptitude at its finest.
We’ve seen Marcus Foligno struggle the past few seasons with the Buffalo Sabres, but games like today really make you wonder if this is a microcosm of something bigger.
Many Sabres fans seem to have pipe dreams for Foligno but it is becoming more evident that Foligno belongs in the bottom six, not sitting on top line minutes (or playing big minutes on the power play) with guys like Kane and Eichel.
- Ryan O’Reilly fitting in
While Ryan O’Reilly felt “pretty useless out there” in Thursday night’s season opening loss to the Ottawa Senators, he began to turn the tables around Saturday afternoon against the Lightning.
O’Reilly went 11 for 14 (79%) in faceoffs, including 4 for 4 against Tampa Bay’s captain Steven Stamkos (thanks for the nifty stat, Sabres!).
He also recorded a team-high three shots-on-goal.
While O’Reilly has felt like he might not be gelling or fitting in with this offense, I’m going to go out on a limb here and say he’ll be just fine with this talented group of guys in due time.
The Buffalo Sabres play the Columbus Blue Jackets on Monday afternoon, coincidentally on Columbus Day. We’ll likely have more on injured goaltender Robin Lehner on Monday, along with another recap.
Keep it locked to BLTD Sports for more!