After Buffalo’s first two games, it seemed as if the doom and gloom predicted by many pundits was coming to pass. Chalk it up to running into an unexpectedly hot – and cohesive – team in the New York Islanders.
Two games later, the outlook is much brighter. With Daniel Briere playing in Philadelphia and Chris Drury now in New York, several players have simply climbed the rungs on what is a very talented ladder.
The biggest surprise has been the team’s early reliance on the blueline for offense. Over the past couple of years, the Sabres’ offense has been primarily from the forwards, to the point where the team often put five forwards out for the power play.
Last season, Brian Campbell led all Buffalo rearguards with 3:30 of power play ice time per game. This season, Campbell, Jaroslav Spacek and Dmitri Kalinin all average at least four minutes of power play ice time per contest. The early results? Campbell has nine points to lead all NHL defensemen and Spacek has six.
Buffalo still has three offensive scoring lines, it’s just the offensive quality of each line has declined ever so slightly.
Derek Roy has five points in four games after leading the NHL in pre-season scoring. Tim Connolly, who didn’t suit up until the final two games last year, has five points in four games, as well.
In two games this season (he missed the first two with an injury), Ales Kotalik has four points. He has seen more than five minutes per game on the power play, compared to just more than two and a half last season.
The Sabres led the NHL in goals last season with 308. A lot of people are expecting a severe drop from that total this time around. I’m not one of them. I think this team still has the ability to score 300 – and I run all my fantasy teams accordingly…
Injuries, from a fantasy league perspective: It is looking as if Washington sniper Alexander Semin (ankle) will return to the lineup on Thursday…Toronto’s Simon Gamache looks good with three points in two games, but the party will likely be over for Gamache owners this weekend with Kyle Wellwood hoping to return to the lineup. With Wellwood and Alexei Ponikarovsky both back, the numbers game will push Gamache back to the American League’s Marlies…
Farm Report: Columbus prospect Derick Brassard is tied for third in AHL scoring with seven points in four games for Syracuse. Given the Jackets have tried defensive forward Michael Peca and winger Fredrik Modin as their No.1 center with weak results (Modin won just 42 percent of his faceoffs on the weekend), Brassard’s call-up will happen sooner rather than later.