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5 Observations: Hurricanes top Sabres 3-2 in OT

5 Observations: Hurricanes top Sabres 3-2 in OT
Posted at 10:11 PM, Sep 18, 2017

It's officially hockey season. On Monday night Sabres fans got what they've been clamoring for-- Phil Housley behind the bench as Buffalo's head coach. To the dismay of a half-filled KeyBank Center, his debut was spoiled by the Carolina Hurricanes, falling 3-2 in overtime. 

Five observations from Monday's game:

The Housley Effect

Defensemen are allowed to join the rush. Who would've thought?  Since joining the Sabres, Housley has said several times he wants his defensemen to be active at both ends of the ice.

Although it's a small sample size, we saw that against the Hurricanes. It seemed like whenever I looked up there was a defender jumping into the play. This was most evident in the second period when both Taylor Fedun and Jake McCabe jumped into the play, rushing down the ice. McCabe converted on a nice pass from Fedun, firing a wrist shot top corner to tie the game at two. 

At times the Sabres defensemen got caught and things got a little shaky but more often than not, a forward was there to cover the blue line. After the game, Housley reiterated that he wants his defensemen to attack, as long as they are smart about jumping into the rush. 

Reinhart looks comfortable down the middle

How many times have we heard it before? The Sabres are exploring moving Sam Reinhart to center. On Monday evening he got his chance during the first preseason game of the year and looked calm, cool and collected.

Reinhart has said during camp he doesn't have a preference where he plays, he just wants to prove himself and continue getting better every day. Like many, I pencilled Reinhart into the right-wing spot on the Jack Eichel line, but the more he plays down the middle in the preseason the more likely it is we see him at center on October 5. 

In the face-off circle, Reinhart was average and at times he tried to make the perfect play but after the game, Housley said he was pleased with how Reinhart looked. 

PUrty passing 

Okay, I'll admit that I smirked when writing that. Cliff Pu followed up a strong Prospects Challenge with an impressive preseason debut, recording an assist on the Sabres first goal of the season. 

Pu got the puck at the far blue line and hit Evan Rodrigues with a perfect saucer pass to break out of the zone and set up a two-on-one. Rodrigues made an equally as impressive pass to a streaking Seth Griffith, who had a virtually open net. In the second period, Rodrigues added another assist on the Sabres' second goal.

Griffith and Rodrigues will more than likely end up in either Rochester or Buffalo. Pu, on the other hand, appears to be heading back to the London Knights of the OHL for his fourth season. If the last few weeks are any indication of what's to come, Sabres fans have a lot of reasons to be excited about the 69th overall pick in 2016 draft. Nice things appear to be on the horizon. 

Speaking of....

Rodrigues had an outstanding night. It seemed like every time he was on the ice something good happened for the Sabres. 

In overtime he had a minor slip, both literally and figuratively, allowing a Hurricanes odd-man rush, but Linus Ullmark bailed him out. The two assists on the score sheet stand out but his play all night gave him a leg-up in the competition to earn an opening night roster spot. 

When speaking with the media after the game, Housley praised Rodrigues and said he had an outstanding game. For what it's worth, I thought he was the Sabres best player on Monday. 

Pitiful power play 

Let's not get carried away because it's only the preseason but the Sabres failed to convert on any of their seven attempts. To top it off, they allowed a short-handed goal on a misplayed puck from Rasmus Ristolainen.

At times they were generating some decent pressure but failed to find the back of the net.