Jhonas Enroth, Ville Leino and Thomas Vanek were the three stars in Wednesday’s 3-0 win over Columbus but it wouldn’t have been hard to find three to five more who were worthy of consideration. And the majority of candidates would come from the blueline.
Mark Pysyk was the Sabres ice-time leader, logging 23:04 of seemingly effortless, if not overlooked, play. On a night when the Blue Jackets had nearly 14 minutes in power play time, Pysyk led the Buffalo defense corps in shorthanded time on ice as well at 4:59.
His superior skating negated many opportunities with ease, allowing him to be in excellent position, and the biggest testament to his game was that you hardly noticed him.
Mike Weber may have been overlooked 15 times during Saturday’s marathon shootout, but he led all scorers in this game with three assists.
His cross ice pass to Cody Hodgson helped set up the Leino tally, and like Pysyk, Weber saw about four-and-a-half minutes while down a man. He continues to help mentor Rasmus Ristolainen as well. The Finnish rookie was steady over nearly 17 minutes of play, dressing in four of the Sabres six preseason games to date.
Tyler Myers garnered plenty of positive attention again for his play. See his post-game interview with us on the main page.
Myers was reunited with his old partner Henrik Tallinder for the first time this preseason and it seemed to pay immediate dividends at both ends of the rink.
As for Tallinder, who was partnered in previous games with Pysyk and Ristolainen, it was a night of good pinches, strong outlet passes, and nice instincts in the offensive zone. The best example of the latter was on the first goal of the game.
For nearly 45 seconds the Sabres worked a delayed penalty to perfection, playing keep away from a fatiguing Blue Jackets defensive unit, and moving it around through all six skaters. Tallinder had four touches during the sequence, including a little “sauce” to Steve Ott that even John Scott would have been proud of.
As the play worked towards its conclusion, Tallinder made a burst from the left point position, down to the faceoff dot, and then hard across the middle of the slot. This distraction helped create space for Weber to send a cross ice feed to Hodgson, whose shot was stopped before Leino pounced on the rebound. No assist for Tallinder on the play, but a lot of heady plays.
Tallinder played just shy of twenty minutes, leaned on bodies and/or absorbed hits when he had to, and, to use a Ron Rolston word from this camp, complimented those around him well.
When the veterans play with poise, there’s a greater likelihood the kids can have a positive impact, too. Mikhail Grigorenko, Zemgus Girgensons, Johan Larsson all fell into that category versus Columbus.
One more preseason game remains before we find out which players will have the chance to make an opening when the real season begins on Wednesday.