Behind Marchand, Boston Survives Scare in Buffalo

 Chris Stewart brought energy to the crowd early at the First Niagara Center 

Chris Stewart brought energy to the crowd early at the First Niagara Center 

Ted Nolan got the rebound performance that he was looking for Thursday night at the First Niagara Center.  After a disastrous game Tuesday night in Toronto, the Sabres demonstrated a much higher compete level albeit in a 3-2 overtime loss to the Boston Bruins.  “I liked our effort, I’m just frustrated we couldn’t come out with two points.”

Chris Stewart sparked the club with a great fight versus the all too familiar Milan Lucic just 51 seconds into the first period.  Although there was no runaway winner, both Stewart and Lucic got a few great shots in what was a great, clean fight.

After a scoreless 1st period, Buffalo scored their first powerplay goal of the season after beginning the season on a dreadful 0-33 start.  Drew Stafford was credited with the goal and was assisted by Tyler Ennis and Tyler Myers.  After a Bruins goal that was redirected in by Mike Weber, Buffalo got back on the board with a Tyler Ennis goal.  The opportunity was set up by Torrey Mitchell who played a solid all around game as he demonstrated why he was deserving of the bump to second line play.  Mitchell hopped out of the penalty box and an ideal time and delivered a great cross-ice pass to set up the one time goal. 

A bend but don’t break mentality was demonstrated by the Sabres in the third period as they led 2-1.  They broke.  Brad Marchand scored his first of two goals on the night with 5:30 remaining in the third.  In overtime, Buffalo broke again as Marchand hammered the game winner after sustained Boston pressure.

 My Observations and Opinions:

-Although Ted Nolan refused to comment post-game, many people believe that Sam Reinhart will be sent back to Juniors tomorrow morning.  His nine game stint in Buffalo was neither a success nor failure.  As he matures physically, fans will see tremendous growth in his game.  There are reasons to be excited about Reinhart in 2015.

 Sam Reinhart tallied just one assist in his first nine games as a member of the Buffalo Sabres

Sam Reinhart tallied just one assist in his first nine games as a member of the Buffalo Sabres

-Torrey Mitchell was outstanding.  Well, not outstanding but it was easily the best I have seen him play all year.  He appeared confident with the puck and was very active and smart defensively. 

-#HodgsonWatch---I think we may be close to seeing Cody Hodgson as a healthy scratch.  He was non-existent as he racked up 8:46 of ice-time playing with the fourth line.

-Tyler Myers logged 29:09 of ice time as he anchored the first line defense as well as the primary PP unit.  I understand that nearly a half hour of ice time will likely negatively effect anybody but it is hard to look past his obvious sluggishness.  Passes weren’t crisp and he looked out of sorts at times while controlling the PP unit. 

-Sabres were outshot 37-15.  Drew Stafford said he and his teammates did not feel this was the case. “It certainly didn’t feel like we were outshot like that.  We thought maybe some of the guys up top had it wrong.”  Stafford also rightly called the Toronto game from earlier this week as “pathetic and gross”.

-The Bruins played a sloppy game although stats do not necessarily justify this notion.  If not for the typical, late Brad Marchand heroics, the Bruins would fall to 5-7 and would be in upheaval.  Any loss to the Sabres at this point is a major loss. 

-The NHL market for Chris Stewart will certainly become interesting as we slowly but surely get closer to the deadline.  Although his play has been somewhat inconsistent to date, he showed tonight why he can be a spark plug for any team.  I look at him as a Steve Ott type player with more offensive ability.