The Sabres Observer
by @DaveDavisHockey on 07/16/14 at 02:19 PM ET
I know it was only a prospect scrimmage that's not to be overanalyzed, but at least allow me to say that I didn't get the warm fuzzy feeling that most of the other whopping 8,725 or so fans in attendance did.
Tim Murray watched the festivities from the 5th row in section 216. I'd love to know what he was thinking. I'm going to venture a guess.
From an offensive display standpoint, it had to have left him wanting more.
Three full periods with stopped time produced six goals, with one being an empty netter and another being a gift handed to Nicholas Baptiste courtesy of Andrey Makarov. That's not a lot of offense for a scrimmage. I suppose we could blame it on bad ice, but that's too easy.
Sabres fans just endured a season of watching a team put up the worst goals per game in the NHL since the 1930's. Goal scoring, not compete level, is what's most needed here.
These kids have a big part of Buffalo's Stanley Cup dreams in their hands. Unfortunately, those hands were too often shooting pucks high or wide of the net, or overpassing rather than even shooting at all.
Dan Catenacci looks as quick as a waterbug out there, but last night he showed quite an avoidance for putting the puck on net. He led the Amerks last season in games played yet ranked 11th on the team in shots on goal, so I'm guessing this isn't a new trend.
My favorite Mikhail Grigorenko play was when he made two slick moves to give himself some room to shoot. Too bad it hit the glass instead of the net.
Sam Reinhart looked like an intelligent and creative player who was a bit hamstrung by the bullseye on his jersey and having Brendan Lemieux and Joel Armia on his line.
The defense won the night, and pretty much everyone was pleased with the play of Nikita Zadorov. He's an exciting kid to watch as he hammers the heck out of people, and I'm thrilled that he's going to be a big part of this rebuild.
But I noticed two things about Zadorov. First was that he's definitely added a lot of weight, even for someone at his young age. Second was that there were two occasions where a small forward cut in towards the net from the outside, and the 6'5", 238 lb. Russian couldn't seal off the angle quickly enough.
That's not to say he had a bad night, because he didn't. But Tyler Myers a few years ago decided to put on some weight, and the results were disastrous. Hopefully Zadorov and the Sabres staff know what they're doing and can find the right playing weight so that he isn't too slow for the big leagues.
Rasmus Ristolainen looks like he's about ready for the NHL full-time, although it wouldn't hurt to give him more games in Rochester anyway.
As far as this group of prospects goes, the defense is ahead of the offense. Last night would've been more comforting had scoring chances been converted more often.
Sabres fans know better than to think that Cody Hodgson and Tyler Ennis will both be playing on the top two lines of their Stanley Cup team. Murray obviously will need a few of his forward prospects to pan out for his vision of a big yet offensively potent Sabres team to come to fruition sooner rather than later.
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About The Sabres Observer
Dave Davis has covered the Buffalo Sabres for various NHL accredited websites and newspapers since 2003. He was the senior writer and Sabres correspondent for The Fourth Period, covered hockey for Western New York Sports and Leisure Magazine, and has had articles featured on NHL.com, FOX Sports, Yahoo Sports and in New York Sportscene. Sabres news and notes can be found on his Twitter page.
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: [@DaveDavisHockey]