Quick Hits: Sabres vs. Canadiens


Thousands of Buffalo Sabres fans descended upon the KeyBank Center tonight for the opening of the 2016-17 National Hockey League season. A handful even got to see DJ Kool perform the Sabres popular goal song, “Let Me Clear My Throat.”

Little did those fans know at the time, that would be the highlight of their evening.

Buffalo came out absolutely flat in their season opener. Montreal began the game by playing the perfect road game, instilling their game plan early. The Canadiens wanted the Sabres to play their game and that is exactly what happened.

Montreal was also able assert their offensive dominance throughout all three periods. Brendan Gallagher clearly was one of the top stars of the game, netting his first two goals of the season.

Al Montoya also was very impressive in back-up duty, starting for Carey Price, who is currently suffering from the flu.

Tonight’s game featured a lot of poor play from defensive players, including a large amount from Josh Gorges, who found himself a part of the problem on two of Montreal’s 4 goals.

Gorges found himself thrust into a larger role this evening, after Dmitry Kulikov was unable to go with a bruised tailbone he suffered earlier in the month.

On the bright side, Matt Moulson started his season mostly on the right foot. Moulson failed to take his man, which allowed ex-Sabres great Torrey Mitchell to score the game’s second goal, but Moulson made up for it after depositing a great Sam Reinhart pass into the net later on in the game.

Don’t let the lopsided score point you in the wrong direction – Robin Lehner was very good this evening. The four goals on the scoreboard were mostly due to defensive breakdowns, but Lehner was all over the crease and found himself making a few spectacular saves.

The Buffalo Sabres take the ice again this Sunday night, when they start a 4-game road trip in Edmonton. Puck drops at 7 PM ET.

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    • Injuries suck.

Before this game was even played, the Buffalo Sabres already found themselves shorthanded, both offensively and defensively.

You know by now, but Buffalo’s lord and savior Jack Eichel is out “weeks, not days” following a high ankle sprain. The injury has been broken down ad nauseam by now but if you don’t know, that usually sits at 4-6 weeks of absence on the quick side. Expect this injury to linger throughout the year, but remember..Eichel at 75 or 80 percent is better than some players at 100 percent.

Two big offseason acquisitions also missed making their Sabres home debut tonight. Both Dmitry Kulikov (bruised tailbone) and Kyle Okposo (bruised knee) found themselves close to a return but not close enough for Dan Bylsma to comfortably slide them into tonight’s lineup.

Don’t forget about Evander Kane getting hurt during tonight’s game. Check out the tweet below if you missed it.

(Update: Evander Kane taken to the hospital for further evaluation.)

    • First Goal of the Season.

Matt Moulson – for real. Where is Ashton Kutcher? I’m being Punk’d.

    • GMTM Extended (!!!) / Speaks on Eichel

The Buffalo Sabres ownership wasted no time this season to lock-up Tim Murray, ex-head of tank-related efforts and now head of re-construction efforts. Murray’s contact comes well deserved, we’ve definitely witnessed this franchise improve under his tenure.

Now, the franchise needs to make the next step and graduate from annual draft lottery contenders to playoff contenders.

Jack Eichel, expected to be a big part of that playoff push, was a topic of conversation when Tim Murray spoke about his contract extension.

Murray admitted to the media that Eichel’s injury is likely to keep him out more “6 to 8 weeks”, which likely tells us that Eichel is dealing with a Grade 2 high ankle sprain.

There is no immediate need to trade for a replacement, according to Murray. Directly from Murray’s mouth, players on the roster will get a shot at filling the role left empty by Eichel’s injury. If necessary, players from Rochester will be given a chance. Murray said if that option also failed, he would begin to scour the trade market.

    • Hey, this is neat!

A fantastic video for the pre-ice entrance of the Sabres, if you’re into that thing.

  • Tweet of the night.

Written by Ryan Wolfe

Ryan Wolfe is the founder and editor-in-chief of BLTD Sports. He can be heard on the BLTD Podcast. Ryan's writing is also featured over at TheHockeyWriters.com.

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